Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review: Trumbo by Bruce Cook

Title: Trumbo
Author: Bruce Cook
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publish Date: September 8, 2015
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "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 that happened, it was Exodus, one of the year's biggest movies.This intriguing biography shows that all his life Trumbo was a radical of the homegrown, independent variety. From his early days in Colorado, where his grandfather was a county sheriff, to Los Angeles, where he organized a bakery strike, to bootlegging, to Hollywood, where he was the highest-paid screenwriter when he was blacklisted (and a man with constant money problems), his life rivaled anything he had written. His credits include Kitty FoyleThe Brave OneThirty Seconds Over TokyoSpartacusLonely are the Brave, and Papillon, and he is the author of a power pacifist novel, Johnny Got His Gun."

My Two Cents:

"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 Hollywood. Trumbo was one of the screenwriters that was caught up in all this and was originally blacklisted. This is his story.

This book is being re-released as there is a movie soon to come out about Trumbo that stars Bryan Cranston, star of "Breaking Bad." It's no wonder that this book is being made into movie because it really is both an interesting and important story to tell. To me, so many of the things that happened during the 1950s and the Red Scare are a really scary part of American history. This country was founded on the principles of freedom and independence and some of the ways that Congress tried to silence anyone who had a different opinion than themselves was incredibly scary. Trumbo was a very outspoken guy who wrote stories and pamphlets and wasn't afraid to speak out about his beliefs. Unfortunately this got him swept up in McCarthy's witchhunt.

The author of this book drew on many first-hand accounts from Trumbo and those that knew him well. We definitely get a great sense of the man. Before reading this book, I really didn't know much about him. I knew that the Red Scare and the likes of Joseph McCarthy ended up ruining the lives of those that were named and those that "named names" during crazy congressional hearings. Trumbo is one of the screenwriters that was black listed and he had to physically remove himself from the country so that he and his family would be safe. Even with the political climate today, I'd like to think that something like House Committee on Un-American Activities isn't something that could possibly exist. As with any history, I think it's important to be aware of it so that we can never repeat it. The author did a great job of bringing Trumbo to life and I'm definitely glad that I read this before seeing the movie!


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