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Scoundrel Time

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  532 ratings  ·  57 reviews
In 1952, Hellman joined the ranks of intellectuals and artists called before Congress to testify about political subversion. Terrified yet defiant, Hellman refused to incriminate herself or others, and managed to avoid trial. Nonetheless the experience brought devastating controversy and loss. First published in 1972, her retelling of the time features a remarkable cast of ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by Back Bay Books (first published 1972)
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Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Garry Wills's Introduction to Scoundrel Time informs without entertaining us -- a "fact," not a fault; there is, after all, nothing amusing about the anti-Communist "witch hunts" in mid-twentieth-century America. Wills prepares us for Lillian Hellman's personal account of the period during which she, like other writers, actors, and directors, had to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Lives -- many lives -- were ruined by lies told as a way of avoiding being blacklisted ...more
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In Lillian Hellman’s memoir entitled Scoundrel Time, the renowned playwright addresses the subject of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and its investigations into alleged Communist infiltration of the entertainment industry in the 1940s and 50s from the perspective of her own personal experience as a subpoenaed witness. Hellman opens with a brief summation of the anti-Communist hysteria of the period – which began in earnest after the end of World War II with increasing tensions bet ...more
Dec 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
Lil never let honesty or a fact trouble her dementia. In the 17thcentury, she'd have been burned as a witch.
May 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book by Lillian Hellman is a scathing indictment of the House Un American Activities Committee. The book recounts the sorted history of HUAC and how she prepared for her one day testimony with the leftist attorney, Joseph Rauh. Rauh devised a unique defense: Hellman would openly talk about herself and her own experiences. However, she would take the fifth amendment if HUAC wanted her to comment about so called Communist affiliations for people she knew. Rauh and Hellman’s strategy worked we ...more
Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
A readable and engaging account of what it was like to be an artist during the "Communist Scare" and subsequent Senator McCarthy witchhunt during the 1950's. Friends ratted on each other to cover their own self-interests and guilt by association ruled the day. Not for Ms. Hellman however. Unintimidated she stood for what she believed in and that reputation is as much a part of her memory, as are her fine works. Worth reading if you are interested in that period or in her particularly. Reading th ...more
Gregory Knapp
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, memoir
Looking back on the Mary McCarthy/Hellman feud one is left to say, (1) Hellman was a playwright for decades before she wrote her "Memoirs." Why would anyone look to a brilliant literary artist for factual truth??? And, 2) WHO CARES if the Memoirs are factually correct? They are BRILLIANT stories!!!
Daniel Polansky
All my books were done and I stole this from the beach house I been staying at for a bus ride to a plane (I already had a book for the plane, but heaven forbid I spend an hour not looking at printed text.) Anyway it’s fine, I’m not sure why I read it really or why anyone else would either. Hellman is interesting and upright in her refusal to cowtow to McCarthy etc but this isn’t particularly riveting or, really, that detailed.
Christian Engler
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Desensitized for a long time to the stressful pain of the infamous McCarthy period, Scoundrel Time must have been a most cathartic memoir for Lillian Hellman to write; it is, of the autobiographical trilogy, the most unfeigned and succinct of the three books. Her voice resonates, echoes, and behind hers, the voices of other 'Red Scare' victims closely follow. This is not her book alone; it is a book belonging to a past, present and future generation of people who were, are, and regrettably will ...more
Aug 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Scoundrel Time is a gripping read. There is no plot, really; it’s simply a non-fiction account by Lillian Hellman of the McCarthy era and its consequences — mostly its consequences for Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett, with whom she was romantically involved for thirty years.

For those who don’t know, Lillian Hellman was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952, in part, it seems, because they knew that Hammett had been a member of the Communist Party. Instead of testi
Myra Rose
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was the second time I read this book. The first time was right after it was published, more than 30 years ago. The book was a great read that time, but this time it was a profound one. Written by one of America's premier female playwrights about her experience as an 'unfriendly' witness during the McCarthy hearings, I kept thinking that history continues to repeat itself in many ways. She had such insight into the climate of American politics, history and culture for the time, but would nev ...more
Aug 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the memoir about Hellman's experiences during the McCarthy era. Her significant other, Dashiell Hammett is imprisoned and she is forced to testify in front of the House UnAmerican Actvities Commission. Here is the famous quote: "I will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions."
Zebardast Zebardast
Jun 16, 2007 rated it liked it
ye dastane jaleb az hamsare dashil hamet (ke ghablan moarefish kardam).filmesham kheili ma'roofe.
Aug 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Lillian Hellman writes about her appearance before the McCarthy Committee and provides a unique view into that destructive time in America's history.
Sep 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-lit
This book, along with Nonconformity gave me an insight into the McCarthy trials. Hellman's stand and her lines about freedom and justice is awesome!
Brett Warnke
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a memoir worth reading. Hellman's dry humor and understatement are effective at capturing the politically-engaged writer caught in crooked times. She writes deftly about America: its short memory, its thirst for belief, and its compromised intellectuals. She concludes with a perfect line: "I, and many like me, took too long to see what was going on in the Soviet Union. But whatever our mistakes, I do not believe we did our country any harm. And I think they did. " The "scoundrels" were o ...more
Aug 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
We should never forget the scoundrels of the 1950s, and reading the third of Lillian Hellman's memoirs is worth the time. I expect to take a look at the other books in her memoir oeuvre in addition to some of her plays, most notably The Little Foxes.

"Truth made you a traitor as it often does in a time of scoundrels" (85).

"We are a people who do not want to keep much of the past in our heads. It is considered unhealthy in America to remember mistakes, neurotic to think about them, psyc
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first time reading anything by Ms. Hellman, and I found it to be an entertaining read on a rather unfunny subject. Who knows how much of it is true (the dinner with Clifford Odets was particularly unbelievable and felt like something out of a Coen Brothers movie) but, as the old adage goes, never let the truth ruin a good story.
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
This is a book that tells one person's story of a very turbulent time in our collective American past which should be anachronistic but is, unfortunately, a bit too like our current milieu to be avoided. quick and very interesting read for anyone with the common sense to recognize that the times we are living in are creeping up to an "Un-American" committee being formed again.
Mar Ina
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quite interesting read about McCarthy era hearings and how Hollywood was targeted at that time.
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book started out well but then somewhere in the middle it just started to really DRAG to the point where I dreaded reading it. I did manage but barely.
Mary T
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is impossible to read Lillian Hellman without recalling Mary Mccarthy's savage comment.
Nov 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
This review is so completely in the "outside factors coloring your impressions" zone, I'm not even sure how to begin.

Well, let's start with the slog that is the introduction by Garry Wills. Good heavens, this made the composition of dust look interesting. It starts off so promisingly, with the friendly Commission testimony of Robert Taylor, in which he flip-flops on himself so many times it's hard to determine just where he stands (other than that he hates those darned nasty Commies, of course)
Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
like so many of my books, i picked this up at the bookthing because the title caught my eye. the mccarthy era has always interested me, so i picked it up.

i almost stopped after about 40 pages (30 of which are the introduction, which i'd recommend skipping), but it's only 150 pages, so i decided to stick with it.

summoned before the house un-american activities committee in 1952, hellman refused to name other people who might be communists, but was willing to talk about herself. because of this,
روزگار رذل، یا آن گونه که به فارسی ترجمه شده "روزگار بدسگالان"، روایتی ست از خاطرات لیلیان هلمن از دوران "مک کارتی"، خاطراتی دردناک از زنی که بخاطر ایستادگی بر سر ارزش هایش، بسیاری چیزها از دست داد. "روزگار رذل" اگرچه حکایتی است از گذشته اما برای حال و آینده روایت شده، برای نسل هایی که هستند، و از پی می آیند، قربانیان تاریخی که تحریف شده، و می شود. لیلیان هلمن خود گفته است که شرح این مصائب کار آسانی نبوده، و آنچه گذشته او را از داوری سرراست، در مورد عاملان این دوره، باز می دارد؛ "داوری در مورد م ...more
I bought this book even though I have no real interest in American history or macarthiasm, but purely on the basis that one of the Hammett collections I have has an amazing introduction by Hellman and she sounded like a very interesting woman. This short book is about her dealings with the anti-american hearings in 1952 and how it affected her life, and to a lesser extent Hammett's life. It was an interesting snap shot of the time. Sad to see how much control the people at the hearings had, the ...more
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah Funke
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
Starts off kind of choppy and makes you think she should have stuck to screenplays and scripts, but once she stops talking about how confusing it all is to write about, she does ok. She skips around in time a bit, which I found annoying (not confusing, I'm not an idiot, it was just not too pleasant to read) but the voice is clear and the anecdotes and perspective are interesting. It wasn't as chilling or moving as I thought it would be, but there's a bit I liked about some deer.

She has occasion
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
This memoir of the Ms Hellman's experience with the HUAC made me feel like I was there.
It does expect us to know a little backround, but it is quite intimate and "shows" rather than "tells" what it was like to come into Sen. Joe McCarthy's spotlight.
There have been suggestions that Ms Hellman was either not entirely truthful, and/or no longer had an intact memory when she wrote this. I was not able to determine what was true or untrue.
However, there are some facts. She did indeed live with Mr H
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A powerful, personal, insightful, acerbic memoir of the McCarthy years as seen by Ms Lillian Hellman. Pulls no punches. Skewers those who need skewering and does not make herself out to be any more of a hero than she was. Think this is history? Think again. Substitute terrorist for communist and there you are. Instead of "card-carrying" we have "links", as in "links to Al Qaeda". And instead of hearings we have "drone strikes on targets of opportunity". Chilling.
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Lillian Florence "Lilly" Hellman (June 20, 1905 – June 30, 1984) was an American dramatist and screenwriter famously blacklisted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) at the height of the anti-communist campaigns of 1947–52.

Hellman was praised for sacrificing her career by refusing to answer questions by HUAC; but her denial that she had ever belonged to the Communist Party was e
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