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Cold War, Cool Medium / Edition 1

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2003 Hardcover Good Item may show signs of shelf wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. Includes supplemental or companion materials if applicable. Access ... codes may or may not work. Connecting readers since 1972. Customer service is our top priority. Read more Show Less

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New York, New York, U.S.A. 2003 Hard Cover First Printing Fine in Fine jacket 8vo-over 7?"-9?" tall. "Conventional wisdom holds that television was a coconspirator in the ... repressions of Cold War America, that it was a facilitator to the blacklist and handmaiden to McCarthyism. But Thomas Doherty argues that, through the influence of television, America actually became a more open and tolerant place. Although many books have been wrtten about this period, COLD WAR, COOL MEDIUM is the only one to examine it through the lens of television programming. " This book has 305 pages and is illustrated throughout. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Conventional wisdom holds that television was a co-conspirator in the repressions of Cold War America, that it was a facilitator to the blacklist and handmaiden to McCarthyism. But Thomas Doherty argues that, through the influence of television, America actually became a more open and tolerant place. Although many books have been written about this period, Cold War, Cool Medium is the only one to examine it through the lens of television programming.

To the unjaded viewership of Cold War America, the television set was not a harbinger of intellectual degradation and moral decay, but a thrilling new household appliance capable of bringing the wonders of the world directly into the home. The "cool medium" permeated the lives of every American, quickly becoming one of the most powerful cultural forces of the twentieth century. While television has frequently been blamed for spurring the rise of Senator Joseph McCarthy, it was also the national stage upon which America witnessed -- and ultimately welcomed -- his downfall. In this provocative and nuanced cultural history, Doherty chronicles some of the most fascinating and ideologically charged episodes in television history: the warm-hearted Jewish sitcom The Goldbergs; the subversive threat from I Love Lucy; the sermons of Fulton J. Sheen on Life Is Worth Living; the anticommunist series I Led 3 Lives; the legendary jousts between Edward R. Murrow and Joseph McCarthy on See It Now; and the hypnotic, 188-hour political spectacle that was the Army-McCarthy hearings.

By rerunning the programs, freezing the frames, and reading between the lines, Cold War, Cool Medium paints a picture of Cold War America that belies many black-and-white clichés. Doherty not only details how the blacklist operated within the television industry but also how the shows themselves struggled to defy it, arguing that television was preprogrammed to reinforce the very freedoms that McCarthyism attempted to curtail.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

Doherty succeeds in illuminating both the history of television in the US in the 1950s and television's relationship to the era's anticommunist crusade.... this volume carefully examines the often-overlooked political side of 1950s television. Essential.

Film & History - Michael C. C. Adams

thoughtful and nuanced

Television Quarterly - Douglas Gomery

Cold War, Cool Medium, by Thomas Doherty, ranks as one of the seminal books ever written about the history of television and politics in the USA.....Doherty brilliantly challenges this conventional wisdom and indeed turns it upside down. He skillfully, systematically, and clearly demonstrates that early television helped the USA become a more tolerant nation, and provided for more open discussion.

Journal of American Culture - John Shelton Lawrence

Doherty's Cold War, Cool Medium earns its place as a subtle new map of America's politics during television's toddler years. It offers fine-grained images for television's political pontification and purifications from the late 1940s to mid-1950s.... For the study of this awkward period in America's television culture, it is hard to imagine a better text for discussions with students. Colleagues who lived in that era will read it with pained appreciation.

The Journal of American History - Brenda Murphy

fresh and important insights...an accurate and engrossing account for the nonspecialist, and its methodology provides a revealing context for the specialist as well

Film & History - Michael C.C. Adams
thoughtful and nuanced
Australasian Journal of American Studies - Jennifer Frost

Cold War, Cool Medium is an excellent overview of television and American culture at a pivotal moment in United States history. It is also wittily written, with Doherty's sense of humour and irony coming through on nearly every page.

Journal of American Studies - Adam Piette

It is not only readable, enlightening and amusing, it does what all good books on the televisual Cold War should do: it can distinguish between hype and substance.

American Historical Review - Michael Curtin

Doherty delivers an enlightening and critical reassessment of television, culture, and politics in the early 1950's.

Technology and Culture - Megan Mullen

Cold War, Cool Medium is an engaging and complex account of US commercial television during the 1950's.

American Studies - Vincent Brook

[A] superbly written analysis of the link between the rise of American television and the fall of Senator McCarthy.

Film Quarterly - Christine Becker

Cold War, Cool Medium is engagingly written, offering prose that is brimming with wit and insight.

Cineaste

Invigorating and wide-ranging scholarship... The heart of Cold War, Cool Medium is a lively and compelling retelling of the effect of McCarthyism on television.

Television Quarterly
Cold War, Cool Medium, by Thomas Doherty, ranks as one of the seminal books ever written about the history of television and politics in the USA.....Doherty brilliantly challenges this conventional wisdom and indeed turns it upside down. He skillfully, systematically, and clearly demonstrates that early television helped the USA become a more tolerant nation, and provided for more open discussion.

— Douglas Gomery

Journal of American Culture
Doherty's Cold War, Cool Medium earns its place as a subtle new map of America's politics during television's toddler years. It offers fine-grained images for television's political pontification and purifications from the late 1940s to mid-1950s.... For the study of this awkward period in America's television culture, it is hard to imagine a better text for discussions with students. Colleagues who lived in that era will read it with pained appreciation.

— John Shelton Lawrence

The Journal of American History
fresh and important insights...an accurate and engrossing account for the nonspecialist, and its methodology provides a revealing context for the specialist as well

— Brenda Murphy

Film & History
thoughtful and nuanced

— Michael C. C. Adams

Boston Globe

Thomas Doherty's groundbreaking new volume, Cold War, Cool Medium, [is] a sweeping examination of the collision of television and McCarthyism, and one of the most searching looks at the intersection of popular and political culture in years.

Reason Magazine

Doherty's excellent Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture [is] more timely than its title suggests.... [Doherty] has penned an engaging revisionist account of mass hysteria, forcefully arguing against critics who cast television in its early days as a co-conspirator in conducting witch hunts and stifling dissent.... Doherty's history of the early political uses of television is never less than fascinating.

Film Comment

A witty, often riveting account of the simultaneous rise of television and McCarthy.

New York Observer

A wide-ranging, impressionistic portrait of the era... Mr. Doherty, a professor of American studies at Brandeis University and a noted film historian, deftly recaps this familiar story.

Choice

Doherty succeeds in illuminating both the history of television in the US in the 1950s and television's relationship to the era's anticommunist crusade.... this volume carefully examines the often-overlooked political side of 1950s television. Essential.

Australasian Journal of American Studies
Cold War, Cool Medium is an excellent overview of television and American culture at a pivotal moment in United States history. It is also wittily written, with Doherty's sense of humour and irony coming through on nearly every page.

— Jennifer Frost, University of Auckland

Journal of American Studies
It is not only readable, enlightening and amusing, it does what all good books on the televisual Cold War should do: it can distinguish between hype and substance.

— Adam Piette

American Historical Review
Doherty delivers an enlightening and critical reassessment of television, culture, and politics in the early 1950's.

— Michael Curtin

Technology and Culture
Cold War, Cool Medium is an engaging and complex account of US commercial television during the 1950's.

— Megan Mullen

American Studies
[A] superbly written analysis of the link between the rise of American television and the fall of Senator McCarthy.

— Vincent Brook

Film Quarterly
Cold War, Cool Medium is engagingly written, offering prose that is brimming with wit and insight.

— Christine Becker

Publishers Weekly
Television was a provocative medium almost from its inception. It brought the horrors of McCarthyism into American homes-some claimed it abetted the effort-but it also allowed viewers an opportunity to see ethnic minorities (The Goldbergs) and watch political debate (Meet the Press). Ultimately, it aided the decline of anti-communist hysteria. "Television became an artery as vital to the pulse of American life as the refrigerator," writes Doherty, Brandeis University film studies chair. He simultaneously explores TV's wonders and skillfully exposes the power of pressure groups on the new medium, which acted out the psychosis that dominated the 1950s. Relying on thorough and enlightening research, Doherty notes the ironies, anti-Semitism and class prejudices that underlined Sen. Joe McCarthy's ascension on the heels of HUAC, the House Committee on Un-American Activities. TV and the blacklist were the weapons of choice for McCarthy-styled politicians, whose ambitions and paranoia assaulted the decencies and legalities America held dear. In its embryonic stages, TV needed to fill airtime, hence, Doherty reports, "commitment to free expression and open access was self-interest." Americans saw the Hollywood Ten testify, but they also saw African-American performers on The Ed Sullivan Show, solid dramas on Playhouse 90 and the first presidential press conference. Television brought Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's Life Is Worth Living into living rooms, tethering Catholics to Americanism. Edward R. Murrow's See It Now, coupled with McCarthy's disastrous attacks on the army and rumors of homosexuality, contributed to his downfall. Doherty chronicles the medium and its players with style and scholarship, breaking his subject down by theme and focusing on particular programs throughout. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Doherty (American & film studies, Brandeis Univ.) makes his third contribution to the publisher's new but already voluminous series, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of TV's first great reality show-the Army-McCarthy hearings. To frame his vivid reconstruction of that genuine drama, he provides a compressed but seriously intelligent history of how TV grew out of, but departed from, Depression-era radio; the legacy of the Popular Front; the difficulties inherent in working from the scant kinescopic documentation of broadcastings infancy; and the rise of the Un-American Activities Committee, the Hollywood blacklist, and J. Edgar Hoover's somewhat unpredictable role in seemingly all of American life for half of the last century. Along the way, he concludes that Edward R. Murrow was a morally impressive (but manipulative) character indeed. This is not the definitive book on the Cold War, proto-TV, or Joe McCarthy, and Doherty never makes that claim; but thoseinterested in these matters will do well to either begin or end their background reading here. Recommended for academic and public libraries alike; note that while Doherty's prose is generally straightforward, he does write out of the cultural studies tradition.-Scott H. Silverman, Bryn Mawr Coll., PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231129527
  • Publisher: Columbia University
  • Publication date: 11/1/2003
  • Series: Film and Culture Ser.
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 318
  • Product dimensions: 0.88 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Doherty is a professor in the American studies department and chair of the film studies program at Brandeis University. He is the author of Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II; PreCode Hollywood: Sex, Immorality and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934; and Teenagers and Teenpics: The Juvenilization of American Movies in the 1950s, and is associate editor of the film journal Cinéaste.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

I. Video RisingA Television GenealogyRed and Other MenacesMcCarthy: Man, Ism, and TelevisionII. The Gestalt of the BlacklistThe Blacklist BackstoryPressure Groups and Pressure PointsInstitutional PracticesIII. Controversial PersonalitiesThe Goldbergs: the Case of Philip LoebI Love Lucy: the Redhead and the BlacklistIV. Hypersensitivity: The Codes of Television CensorshipFaye Emerson's Breasts, Among other ControversiesAmos 'n' Andy: Blacks in Your Living RoomV. Forums of the AirEgghead SundaysDirect AddressThe Ike-onoscopeVI. Roman Circuses and Spanish Inquisitions"Kefauver Fever": The Kefauver Crime Committee Hearings of 1951HUAC-TVWringing the Neck of Reed Harris: The McCarthy Committee Voice of America Hearings of 1953VII. Country and GodI Led 3 Lives: "Watch Yourself Philbrick!"Religious BroadcastingLife Is Worth Living: Starring Bishop Fulton J. SheenVIII. Edward R. Murrow Slays The Dragon of Joseph McCarthyTV's Number One Glamour BoyMurrow Versus McCarthyThe "Good Tuesday" HomilyTo Be Person-to-Personed"A Humble, Poverty Stricken Negress": Annie Lee Moss Before the McCarthy CommitteeMcCarthy Gets Equal TimeIX. "The Speaktacular": the Army-McCarthy Hearings, April 22-June 17, 1954Backstory and Dramatis PersonaeGavel to Gavel CoverageClimax: "Have You No Sense of Decency?"Denouement: Reviews and Post-MortemsX. Pixies: Homosexuality, Anti-Communism, and TelevisionRed Fades to PinkAiring the Cohn-Schine AffairXI. The End of the BlacklistThe Defenders: The Blacklist on TrialPoint of Order!: The Army-McCarthy Hearings, the MovieXII. Exhuming McCarthyism: the Paranoid Style in American Television

Columbia University Press

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