Framing History: The Rosenberg Story and the Cold War

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In this book Virginia Carmichael offers a provocative new interpretation of the Rosenberg story. Carmichael argues that this social drama produced many stories serving multiple interests and functions, many of which confront the politics of both writing and reading. She also demonstrates that this story's resistance to closure-manifest in its repeated tellings in historiography, biography, literature, and the visual and performing arts-suggests its lasting cultural impact on a nation coming to terms with the end of the cold war era.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Freelance writer Carmichael has a valuable idea: to use the complicated story of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as an open-ended narrative whose various versions have been attempts either to construct history or to critique the official version of history. Carmichael's academic prose may limit the book's readers to specialists, though she does examine popular culture. Carmichael begins by delineating the conservatives' official, Cold War version of the Rosenberg narrative, which led to public acceptance of the concept of ``the Soviet atomic spy ring.'' She reveals how this version of the narrative exploited Ethel Rosenberg's remoteness from ``sterile cultural images of the ideal 1950s wife.'' Carmichael also analyzes the critique of the Rosenberg story in art and books, such as in E. L. Doctorow's novel The Book of Daniel , which suggests the possibility of dissent in a post-McCarthy society; and in Robert Coover's novel The Public Burning , ``a devastating critique of masculist hegemony.'' Carmichael concludes that in art and in history there are moments when the repressed elements of our consciousness are liberated. (Nov.)
Studies a story that won't fade away, tracing the politically motivated official story and looking closely at its representation in literature, drama, and the visual arts. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816620418
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Series: American Culture Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue: Motives of Narrative
Pt. I The Rosenberg Stories: History
1 Cold War Frame Narrative 3
2 Embedded Story 49
Pt. II The Rosenberg Stories: Culture
3 Culture as Critique in the Post-Rosenberg Era 125
4 The Book of Daniel 131
5 The Public Burning 157
6 Closure 187
7 Framed Arts 195
Epilogue: Political Projection and Gathering the Splits 219
Notes 223
Bibliographical Note 269
Bibliography 275
Index 287
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