Naming Names

Naming Names

Victor S. Navasky

Language: English

Pages: 528

ISBN: 0809001837

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

With a New Afterword by the Author

"An astonishing work concerning personal honor and dishonor, shame and shamelessness. A book of stunning insights and suspense." ―Studs Terkel

Half a century later, the investigation of Hollywood radicals by the House Committee on Un-American Activities still haunts the public conscience. Naming Names, reissued here with a new afterword by the author, is the definitive account of the hearings, a National Book Award winner widely hailed as a classic. Victor S. Navasky adroitly dissects the motivations for the investigation and offers a poignant analysis of its consequences. Focusing on the movie-studio workers who avoided blacklists only by naming names at the hearings, he explores the terrifying dilemmas of those who informed and the tragedies of those who were informed on. Drawing on interviews with more than 150 people called to testify―among them Elia Kazan, Ring Lardner Jr., and Arthur Miller―Naming Names presents a compelling portrait of how the blacklists operated with such chilling efficiency.

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dead! They are nonpersons. Isaac Babel doesn’t exist. When the Soviet world comes to Park Avenue, Babel becomes a nonperson. “After the war Yuri Jelagin, who wrote Death in the Arts, escaped to this country. He came to see me and told me that he had gotten a postcard with nothing on it which told him where Babel was. When I went to the Writers Congress in the USSR in 1934 as an avowed Young Communist, Babel spoke, and I hadn’t been aware it was the first time he’d [spoken publicly] since 1928.

who gets jobs and who doesn’t.” But Jacoba isn’t sure exactly what to think. “I was brought up with one kind of thinking—heroes and villains. Then naturally when confronted with the other evidence, you know you love your father and you want to try to understand what he did, so I go back and try to find out some other kind of basis for what might have gone on. I don’t think politics had as much to do with what was going on then as a kind of personal paranoia that went on between people—who said

twenty-five years earlier, “I was unable not to acknowledge that person’s presence, and I am physically unable to insult him…. I can’t do it. There are many of them whom I do not want to see—most of them, in fact—whom I find embarrassing to see. But, you know, to concentrate on them is to forget the enemy. The enemy was the goddamned Committee.” It wasn’t that Trumbo advocated automatic amnesty for all informers—he was more selective than that. When Kazan’s name came up, for instance, he said:

conspiracy charges might be leveled at witnesses, former Communists could plead the Fifth Amendment with impunity. Not Gang. He claimed that since their motivation was to avoid informing, admittedly an insufficient legal reason to invoke the Fifth, they had no valid recourse to the privilege against self-incrimination. “When I told people that was my legal position, that I could not represent a client who to my knowledge was going to plead the Fifth Amendment when I did not think it applied—they

however, and the ideological battle was fought out in the journals of the left. Thus Joseph Words had written in the New Masses in 1945 that although psychoanalysis made a lot of important advances and contributions to our understanding of personality (“it strengthened scientific materialism at a time when religious idealism was influencing certain schools of psychiatry, it helped shatter taboos against an examination of sexuality and the family,” etc.), it nevertheless had four basic defects

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