While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust / Edition 1

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The Holocaust holds a unique place in American public culture, and, as Jeffrey Shandler argues in While America Watches, it is television, more than any other medium, that has brought the Holocaust into our homes, our hearts, and our minds.
Much has been written about Holocaust film and literature, and yet the medium that brings the subject to most people—television—has been largely neglected. Now Shandler provides the first account of how television has familiarized the American people with the Holocaust. He starts with wartime newsreels of liberated concentration camps, showing how they set the moral tone for viewing scenes of genocide, and then moves to television to explain how the Holocaust and the Holocaust survivor have gained stature as moral symbols in American culture. From early teleplays to coverage of the Eichmann trial and the Holocaust miniseries, as well as documentaries, popular series such as All in the Family and Star Trek, and news reports of recent interethnic violence in Bosnia, Shandler offers an enlightening tour of television history.
Shandler also examines the many controversies that televised presentations of the Holocaust have sparked, demonstrating how their impact extends well beyond the broadcasts themselves. While America Watches is sure to continue this discussion—and possibly the controversies—among many readers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Shandler is a diligent and perceptive observer, and his book offers as comprehensive a review of a half century of flashing images as one could reasonably expect in a single volume."—Columbia Journalism Review
Walter Goodman
Shandler is a diligent and perceptive observer, and his book offers as comprehensive a review of a half century of flashing inages as one could reasonably expect in a single volume.
Columbia Journalism Review
Kirkus Reviews
This first book by Shandler, a teaching fellow in New York University's department of Judaic studies, examines one of the few relatively neglected areas of Holocaust scholarship-its treatment by American television. In recent years, as Shandler notes in his introduction, there's been much discussion of the Holocaust's so-called Americanization. With the success of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the subsequent opening of several others around the US, questions of cultural appropriation and appropriateness have emerged prominently in the debate over how best to remember the mass murder of six million Jews by the Nazis. Ironically, Shandler observes at several pivotal moments, the history of television and the history of Holocaust memory coincide rather neatly. He traces three stages in television's coverage of the Holocaust: the "[creation] of the viewer" in the 1950s; the emergence of the Holocaust as an important topic in the '60s and '70s, spurred by the Adolf Eichmann trial in1961 and by the TV miniseries Holocaust in 1978; and the 1980s and '90s, when the subject has come to seem almost omnipresent on our various screens. Shandler's most valuable contribution is that he has reviewed hours of footage until now unavailable to all but scholars. He recounts TV dramas from the 1950s, hosted or directed by such luminaries of the medium as Rod Serling and Paddy Chayefsky, and offers tantalizing bits of trivia, such as the fact that '30s radical documentarian Leo Hurwitz directed American television coverage of the Eichmann trial. But the author seems curiously reluctant to take a position on many key issues, and he allows quotations from others to speak in atediously balanced fashion. And his writing is the dullest and deadest of academic prose. A regrettably lifeless examination of a potentially charged topic. (28 photos, 2 illustrations, not seen) .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195139297
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 340
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Shandler is currently a Dorot Teaching Fellow in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. He lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 Creating the Viewer (1945-1960) 1
1 The Image as Witness 5
2 "This Is Your Life" 27
3 The Theater of Our Century 41
Pt. 2 Into the Limelight (1961-1978) 81
4 The Man in the Glass Box 83
5 A Guest in the Wasteland 133
6 The Big Event 155
Pt. 3 A Household Word (1979-1995) 179
7 The Rise of the Survivor 183
8 The Master Paradigm 211
Conclusion 257
Notes 263
Index 307
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