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3.67  ·  Rating details ·  586 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Dalton Trumbo was the central figure in the "Hollywood Ten," the blacklisted and jailed screenwriters. One of several hundred writers, directors, producers, and actors who were deprived of the opportunity to work in the motion picture industry from 1947 to 1960, he was the first to see his name on the screen again. When t
Paperback, Movie Tie-In Edition, 352 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1977)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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Tom Mathews
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I was in high school, during the Vietnam War, I read Johnny Got His Gun, a book that changed forever the way I thought about war. The author was Dalton Trumbo, a name I had never heard of before that time. I’ve heard a lot about him in the decades since.

Trumbo was arguably the best and certainly the best know screen writer in the history of Hollywood. His screen credits include Kitty Foyle, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, The Brave One, Roman Holiday, Exodus, Papillion, and Spartacus. What he i
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm very happy I read this book after seeing the movie. It made me appreciate this man all the more. A true human that was meant to be a literary inspiration, and fought! He didn't back down from homeland enemies that wanted to diminish him and his talent. This story of his life honestly made me realize that as a writer I'll never be finished telling my stories, and I would improve each time I told one. I would never stop growing and choosing writing as a chosen profession I would always be in a ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Trumbo" is the story of Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood screenwriters targeted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, headed by Joseph McCarthy. The 1950s were a very tenuous time politically for the United States of America. The country was still reeling from everything that happened during World War II and the Red Scare was making waves around the world. An overzealous Congress attacked many innocent people in the name of trying to figure out who the communists were in Hollywoo ...more
Dec 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Trumbo was born in my hometown of Montrose, CO, but no one ever mentioned him there once during my childhood or schooling- though he unquestionably accomplished more than anyone else from western CO. As a part of the "Hollywood Ten" he was blacklisted as a communist in 1950 & thus removed from conversation in his conservative hometown. A very interesting person, Trumbo wrote one of my favorite books: And Johnny Got His Gun. ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers, students of early 20th century politics, the blacklist
A very good book solidly written and overflowing with quotes and first-hand information. It didn't rise to a 4 or 5 star book simply because it rarely surprised me or gave me more than the basics. While I got a lot of details and particulars about events and many secondary sources and people, I didn't feel I got to know Trumbo or his wife nearly as much as I expected. ...more
Larry Bassett
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, biography
This book predominantly covers the Hollywood blacklisting era of the 1940s 50s and 60s. During that period about 100 people in the movie industry were subpoenaed by the house un-American activities committee HUAC and about 20 people refuse to cooperate. 10 were sent to prison for contempt of Congress.

Dalton Trumbo was primarily a screenwriter. He was blacklisted for a decade or two but continued to work by working under other professional names. He grew up in a low income family and Rose to sub
Aug 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
There's a lot wrong with this movie, but it is a valuable case study of Hollywood Communism, so let's give it the attention it deserves:
The myth goes like this: The Hollywood Ten were innocent victims of a villainous “Red Scare,” perpetrated by paranoid, delusional right-wingers who abused the noble artists' constitutional rights. It's an enduring narrative, and “Trumbo” is hardly the first mass-media presentation of the evil “Blacklist” and the “wreckage” it caused to its victims, who were –
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
I received this book free from the publishers which, to be honest, was slightly annoying considering how I'd bought the damn thing a few weeks beforehand. Nevertheless it's a great book. This is the best biography I've read to-date. It's particularly interesting to me because it deals with an incredibly successful writer, a screenwriter who even in later life still seems fixated on becoming a successful novelist despite having several novels published and critically acclaimed. A writer who manag ...more
Hollywood should make fewer movies about Joseph McCarthy and more about Joseph Stalin.
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
I found this book when I was looking for something new at hoopla. Dalton Trumbo was a favorite of mine when I was a lot younger than I am now. Saw Johnny Got His Gun when it came out back in 1971 and was blown away by it. Of course the movie never did anything, but because of the movie I read the book, and became a fan.

Of course, back then I didn't know anything about the Hollywood Ten and the blacklist. I knew about McCarthy and his "Red Hunt" and I knew that some actors left Hollywood because
Oct 28, 2015 rated it liked it
I received this audio book as part of the Early Reviewers program from and upon listening to it had to wonder why, since this book was written in 1977 and its author is now dead. I guess it's because the movie based on it is being released in November, so they are hoping to generate interest in the book.

Dalton Trumbo is a seminal character in the Red Scare of the late 1940's and early 1940's. As pat of the original Hollywood 10, he went before the House Un-American committee in
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not quite as good as I’d hoped. Charlotte Chandler’s biography of Billy Wilder is brilliant and I naively thought, given the blacklist story this would be as good if not better.

The book is written more like a biography of Bruce Cook and the time he spent writing and researching Trumbo.
I’ve never read a biography where the author makes himself a character; it doesn’t really work here. He’s also very biased in an obvious and awkward way.

The numerous acronyms for the various Hollywood guilds, unio
Divya Rao
Feb 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
This was a solid, well-researched biography. It feels a lot like it's written by someone who remembers the Cold War a lot more palpably than I do, and so veers towards the hagiographic. That said, it probably presents the best case for that as possible--it sounds like, ego and all, Trumbo was legitimately brave in the face of inappropriate Congressional inquiries, and phenomenally persistent and productive during his years on the blacklist.

That said, while I'm glad I read it, I think that it wo
Neal Alexander
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Biography of the prolific screenwriter who was jailed for refusing to answer the House Un-American Activities Committee’s questions. After his release, he carried on writing despite the blacklist, and two of his screenplays won Oscars under pseudonyms. Some producers worked with him because he had to accept lower pay as long as he was a non-person. Gradually, he and others loosened the grip of the blacklist till he could be credited properly. His last project was Papillon, on which he worked in ...more
Ms. Mystery ☔️
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This biography is a look into the compelling life of blacklisted, Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. It's intriguing and gives you insight into the whole blacklist history and how Dalton's life was effected by it and those around him. I found the audio book very interesting and thorough in covering his life. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to see the new film about Trumbo, writers, people in the film industry, and screenwriters. I received this book for free through Goodreads ...more
Patrick Book
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
A very interesting and lengthy study of a very talented man in a very unusual situation. Very illuminating, as I had no real knowledge of the Hollywood blacklist and the people involved.

Given that it's very prominent now because of the movie, it's important to remember this was written almost 40 years ago, since it's written in a very present tense.
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
The first bit of this book was great - well-written, capturing an interesting person's life on paper. As soon as it switched into the politics and the trial relating to him being a "communist", it got really boring really fast. I stopped 230 pages in, reading about 50 pages past when I lost interest in the hopes it would pick up again. Nope, just more of the same, more tedious than anything. ...more
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
Trumbo, written by John McNamara, based on the book by Bruce Cook
8 out of 10

Notes and thoughts on other books are available at:

- and

Trumbo is a very entertaining film.
Considering that the hero was a communist, many people would reject it.

Having lived under a communist regime, I also have qualms about the protagonist and his wrong sympathies.
They used to say, and this is apparently an anecdote, not one of the multitudes of jokes
Brenden Gallagher
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
The parts of the story that you pick up "Trumbo" for are wonderful. Bruce Cook offers a thoughtful, thorough, and penetrating account the Hollywood Blacklist, the events that led up to it, and the backlash. In particular, the accounts of HUAC hearings, the naming of names, and the subsequent imprisonment of the Hollywood 10 are rivetting.

Additionally, the chapters on the artists living in exile, and how some found success after the Blacklist and others didn't is really interesting. Along the wa
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this from First Reads giveaways, the Movie Tie In edition, a couple years ago and finally got around to reading it!

I really enjoyed this one, but it is a biography, which means its not the most terribly exciting story ever. However having said this, it was informative and interesting, and I felt I got a good idea of what kind of guy Dalton Trumbo was.

This book really makes me want to watch the movie, and possibly learn more about Trumbo, not to mention want to know more about the era of t
The technical detail here makes this a tedious read in portions. However, the details are very necessary since Trumbo's life loops and twists and returns to people he knew twenty or thirty years before. Many of his stories lay open-ended for years. Much of his intent and the intent of those who tried to help or hurt him were unknown until after the Black List of Hollywood Writers was broken. Much of the historical importance is documented well. There are only a few references to this being a cau ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
This is the 1977 biography of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, the most famous of the "Hollywood Ten" who made headlines in the late 40's and early 50's for refusing to name names or admit to being communists when called to testify before congress, which was the basis of the film Trumbo.

The book was an interesting look at the blacklist and the people involved. The author, Bruce Cook, interviewed almost all of the principal people affected. He also had access to Trumbo and unrestricted access to his
Shanelle Vassell
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is an honest biography of Dalton's life, complete with a number of details and interviews.

I enjoyed reading the book, but found the references to be thick and over saturated. A number of directors, actors and affiliates are casually introduced only to be never mentioned in the story again. Perhaps, because of my age, this littering of names was actually an attempt to showcase the spread of Dalton's success. But the names are, for the most part, unrecognizable for me.

I appreciated the
Carol Chapin
Oct 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This was the story of Dalton Trumbo, one of the "Hollywood Ten" who were blacklisted by the House Unamerican Activities Committee in 1947. Trumbo was the first to come off the blacklist, in 1960. I was impressed by Trumbo's ability to write prolifically - a trait that made him invaluable as a screenwriter, as he could write scripts rapidly and make changes on the fly. His most famous novel, "Johnny Got his Gun" looks very worth reading. I was also impressed by his ability to deal with the lot de ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-own-this-book
Since I love movies, I'm also interested in the workings of the industry. I knew a little about "the Blacklist", but not a lot about Trumbo's part. So, before seeing the movie, starring Bryan Cranston, I wanted to read the book upon which it is based. Quite a bit of information is thrown at you from all directions. While I think the author meant it to be chronological, there's so much back and forth, that at times, it was hard to follow. He relies on his notes from interviews and original source ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If I went in to this review trying to be overly intellectual I would do horribly and do the book no justice. So I will instead write a simple one.

I bought this book on a whim. It was a dollar, and I was interested in seeing the movie because I like Bryan Cranston.

I have still not seen the movie, but after reading this book, I want to see it all the more because of Dalton Trumbo.

I am sad that more people have not read this book, and political views aside, Trumbo seemed like a decent fellow.
Rochelle Bradley
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this it was really interesting, I didn’t know much about the blacklisted screenwriters in America during the 1950s. It goes into detail about the house of un-American activities committee and what a witch hunt there was to weed out the communists in Hollywood. So these screenwriters had to either write scripts under friends names or make up pseudonym. The story of Dalton Trumbo’s life is also really interesting from his early years to him looking back on his life.
Christine Sinclair
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dalton Trumbo was a mensch. He held true to his ideals, worked like a demon to support his family and created numerous memorable screenplays, including Roman Holiday, Exodus and Spartacus. He also broke the blacklist in Hollywood and received an Oscar, with his name on it, in 1975 for The Brave One (released in 1956). A final fitting tribute to a brave man. (The foreword by John McNamara, who wrote the screenplay for the 2015 film, is a great story in itself.)
Aug 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: x2020-challenges
I really wanted to like this book so much more than I did. I almost liked the preface better than the book. There was something about the writing of the actual book that felt choppy and repetitive. It was mostly a linear story, but it there were enough occasions when things skipped a bit and then circled back, but not in a way that made the flow natural.

Trumbo is an interesting guy. He was talented.

The blacklisting. The whole of McCarthyism era. Man.
Jeremy Carter
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Bruce Cook has written a very well researched biography of Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter who was blacklisted in the late 40's lasting until 1960, when his name was finally back on screen. Mr. Cook outlines how Trumbo's life influenced his writing and thinking. The Blacklist was a sad time in our history and we are just now learning the scope of it. ...more
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Bruce Alexander Cook was an American journalist and author who also wrote under the pseudonym Bruce Alexander. He wrote historical fiction and nonfiction.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Cook's first book was a nonfiction work, The Beat Generation, published in 1971. His first novel was Chicago-based Sex Life, in 1978.

He wrote four novels feat

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“Trumbo was that, certainly: a prodigy of the will. He hung in there—survived, prevailed, even triumphed on a couple of occasions. Ultimately, that is why he is worth our attention.” 1 likes
“The craft of writing – whether novels, screenplays, essays or whatever – held a special fascination for Trumbo. And his work always showed great technical proficiency.” 1 likes
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