Cover image for The noir forties : the American people from victory to Cold War
The noir forties : the American people from victory to Cold War
Lingeman, Richard R.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Nation Books, [2012]

Physical Description:
xi, 420 pages ; 24 cm
Prologue: Confessions of a Cold Warrior (I) -- Victory Dreams -- DOA -- Reconversion Jitters -- Home Strange Home -- The Big Walkout -- Red Dawn on Sunset Strip -- Urban Noir -- The Guns of March -- The Lonely Passion of Henry Wallace -- Korea : Drawing a Line -- Epilogue: Why Korea? Why Nagasaki? -- Confessions of a Cold Warrior (II).

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Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
E813 .L56 2012 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E813 .L56 2012 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E813 .L56 2012 Adult Non-Fiction New Materials
E813 .L56 2012 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E813 .L56 2012 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Author Notes

Richard Lingeman , the longtime Senior Editor of the Nation , is the author of Sinclair Lewis and Theodore Dreiser . He lives in New York City.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Lingeman inquires into America's shift from New Deal liberalism to conservatism through the lenses of America's late-1940s cultural and political scenes. He strives to see the change in society's mood, whether induced by military demobilization, labor strikes, or Roosevelt's succession by Truman, as it was reflected in the period's signature movie genre, film noir. Summarizing the plots and productions of numerous titles, from the famous (Double Indemnity) to the less widely known (Detour), he juxtaposes noir's expressions of alienation and cynicism, for example, against societal indicators of anxiety and divorce. Mixing in polls of popular complaints about prices and housing and reviews of popular songs and pulp fiction, Lingeman eventually devises an end-point of sorts with the ascendance of anticommunism, the blacklisting of Hollywood figures, and the exhaustion of film noir's creativity. A work that never resolves whether it's film history, political history, or lamentation for liberalism, Lingeman's survey becomes everything by turns. Film noir is its attraction, and noir aficionados will decide whether Lingeman's allied subjects, including his army service, interest them--or flip by them in the hunt for the next noir critique.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this candid reappraisal of America's postwar era, Lingeman (Don't You Know There's a War On?), a veteran senior editor of the Nation, covers the years between the end of WWII and the beginning of the Korean War, focusing specifically on the shift of the American mood during this time from one of vague apprehension to a pointed distrust of the nation's stability. The author shows how this decline into a noir sensibility was abetted by the homecomings of battle-scarred veterans, anxiety over future international conflicts, and the vicious anticommunist crusades in Hollywood and Washington, D.C. In "unlocking the psychology" of the general mood, Lingeman traces how this dark disposition manifested in literature, music, and film, but the book's greatest triumph is in its depiction of the gradual change in the American populace's collective journey from the pessimism of the Great Depression, through the hope of a burgeoning postwar middle class, to a climate of fear in the McCarthy era and on into the cold war. Lingeman served the U.S. for two years in the '50s as a counterintelligence operative in Japan, and this "historical enlargement of [his] smaller personal memories" is an insightful and illuminating blend of history and cultural criticism. (Dec. 4) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Lingeman (senior editor, Nation; Sinclair Lewis: Rebel from Main Street) shows his skills in this cultural history of the years just after World War II and into the 1950s (in spite of the title). Hollywood films serve as his anchor, and his thesis is that the real America was not MGM but film noir. Some films Lingeman refers to are well known, e.g., Double Indemnity, but he examines plenty of B films. His wide-ranging book moves beyond mere film studies to take in such markers of the era as radio's Your Hit Parade, the Korean War, the House Un-American Activities Committee, the labor troubles of 1946, and Henry Wallace's 1948 presidential campaign. Despite the breadth of topics, nothing here feels shallow or rushed. Particularly good is the author's parallel discussion of The Best Years of Our Lives, the 1946 Best Picture Oscar winner, and the real-life struggles of returning veterans-the shortages of housing and jobs, class issues, and the difficulties many had readjusting to peace. Likewise, he sees The Day the Earth Stood Still as a prism for examining fears of nuclear war. VERDICT There's a lot of material here and it all flows together seamlessly. This is a great book for buffs of both film and history persuasions.-Michael Eshleman, Hobbs, NM (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In the opening of his book, Lingeman, (senior editor at The Nation) states that he thinks of it as "a memoir in the form of history." This telling comment reveals both the book's strengths and its limitations. Covering much of the same ground Tom Engelhardt did in The End of Victory Culture (CH, May'95, 32-5266), Lingeman tells a somewhat meandering tale that alternates between personal reminiscences from his richly interesting life to observations of what he calls the "noir culture" that arose in the US between the end of WW II and the start of the Korean War five years later. Lingeman's authorial voice is equal parts raconteur and academic; his narrative generally engages the reader, but sadly falls short of adding a great deal of insight into the cultural history of the period. Wheeler Winston Dixon's Film Noir and the Cinema of Paranoia (CH, Sep'09, 47-0169) is just one of several outstanding scholarly books that have covered Lingeman's historical thesis in greater depth. In sum, Lingeman's story reads well, but it does not add considerably to understanding of the early days of the Cold War. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers. D. C. Maus State University of New York College at Potsdam

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. ix
Prologue: Confessions of a Cold Warrior (I)p. 1
1 Victory Dreamsp. 17
2 D.O.A.p. 39
3 Reconversion Jittersp. 63
4 "Home Strange Home"p. 109
5 The Big Walkoutp. 143
6 Red Dawn on Sunset Stripp. 167
7 Urban Noirp. 193
8 The Guns of Marchp. 241
9 The Lonely Passion of Henry Wallacep. 291
10 Korea-Drawing a Linep. 333
Epilogue: Why Korea? Why Nagasaki? Confessions of a Cold Warrior (II)p. 363
Notesp. 379
Creditsp. 401
Indexp. 403