Larry Bassett's Reviews > Trumbo: A Biography of the Oscar-winning Screenwriter Who Broke the Hollywood Blacklist

Trumbo by Bruce Cook
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bookshelves: 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 substantial wealth but he continued to vacillate between wealth and near poverty for many years.

The audible book is presented in a most interesting way. The author gathered information for this biography by interviewing Mr. Trumbo and many of his contemporaries. The structure of the Story insinuates the author into the plot as his presence interacting with the interviewees As well as his own opinions are plainly displayed. I thought the technique was handled very well and the audible version also done very well.

Dalton Trumbo was a very interesting personality. He was a communist for a period of time, probably accurately considered left-wing for all of his life, but mostly a very strong determined personality. He had a complex world code.

The characters in the book are mostly men. The women included were wives and Hollywood starlets. Other than those roles women were mostly not included in the movie making industry.

If you consider yourself a progressive, you should definitely read this book and learn something about an era that was known For its rabid anti-communism. The HUAC in the house of representative’s and McCarthy in the Senate displayed the political focus for many years.

The author clearly leans in the direction of admiring Dalton Trumbo but he tries to suggest the reality of some contrary views. Trumbo seems to be One of those characters whom people either love or hate. There is also some debate about whether he could have been a more successful artist as a writer of novels instead of a screenwriter of movies. One of the things you will learn from this book is a little bit about how movies were made in that era and how all the different players in the process came together to create the final product.

Trumbo wrote the well-known book Johnny Got His Gun Which he also made into a movie. Many of the movies that he participated in making we’re made under other names during the blacklist period. Having experienced poverty he was pretty enamored of making a lot of money. And he did that regularly. But because of the blacklist among other things his financial state was pretty erratic. There were times he had to borrow money and times he help to support other people in the industry having a hard time financially because of the blacklist. He was scrupulous about repaying his debts but pretty easy about forgiving his debtors.
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Reading Progress

February 19, 2019 – Started Reading
February 19, 2019 – Shelved
February 19, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
February 19, 2019 – Shelved as: biography
February 19, 2019 – Shelved as: audio
February 20, 2019 –
40.0% "“I don’t think it’s pacifism to be against war. I think it’s just decent.” Trumbo has been not only labeled a communist by the HUAC but also a pacifist. He was at one time the former But never really the latter."
February 20, 2019 –
60.0% "The HUAC was established in 1938 in a democratically controlled house of representative’s when FDR was president."
February 21, 2019 – Finished Reading

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