Cover image for While America watches : televising the Holocaust
While America watches : televising the Holocaust
Shandler, Jeffrey.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xviii, 316 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1650 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1992.8.H63 S53 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The Holocaust holds a unique place in American public culture, and, as Jeffrey Shandler argues in While America Watches, it is television, more than any other medium, that has brought the Holocaust into our homes, our hearts, and our minds. Much has been written about Holocaust film and literature, and yet the medium that brings the subject to most people--television--has been largely neglected. Now Shandler provides the first account of how television has familiarized the American people with the Holocaust. He starts with wartimenewsreels of liberated concentration camps, showing how they set the moral tone for viewing scenes of genocide, and then moves to television to explain how the Holocaust and the Holocaust survivor have gained stature as moral symbols in American culture. From early teleplays to coverage of theEichmann trial and the Holocaust miniseries, as well as documentaries, popular series such as All in the Family and Star Trek, and news reports of recent interethnic violence in Bosnia, Shandler offers an enlightening tour of television history. Shandler also examines the many controversies that televised presentations of the Holocaust have sparked, demonstrating how their impact extends well beyond the broadcasts themselves. While America Watches is sure to continue this discussion--and possibly the controversies--among manyreaders.

Author Notes

Jeffrey Shandler is assistant professor in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Shandler, a fellow in the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, posits that television, more than any other medium, has made the American public aware of the horrors of the Holocaust. He divides his book into three chronological parts: 1945 to 1960 ("Creating the Viewer"), 1961 to 1978 ("Into the Limelight"), and 1979 to 1995 ("A Household Word"). The late 1940s and the 1950s were basically a period of "omission" and "avoidance" of the subject on television, but the second period witnessed a major watershed in the medium's coverage--the war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 and the Holocaust miniseries in 1978. Between then and 1995, Shandler notes, Holocaust television coverage burgeoned, with the Holocaust survivors appearing in a variety of roles--as witnesses, authorities, activists, creators of memory culture, or the very embodiment of memory. "Besides fostering a more nuanced understanding of Holocaust television," the author says, "I hope that this study has also made a case for appreciating, rather than denouncing or ignoring, its discomforting nature." --George Cohen

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. xi
Part 1 1945-1960 Creating the Viewerp. 1
1 the Image as Witnessp. 5
2 """"This is Your Life""""p. 27
3 the Theater of Our Centuryp. 41
Part 2 1961-1978 into the Limelightp. 81
4 the Man in the Glass Boxp. 83
5 a Guest in the Wastelandp. 133
6 the Big Eventp. 155
Part 3 1979-1995 a Household Wordp. 179
7 the Rise of the Survivorp. 183
8 the Master Paradigmp. 211
Conclusionp. 257
Notesp. 263