on July 5, 2012
There were definitely some interesting parts of this book, but I found myself skipping several pages of "name dropping" of people I didn't really know (perhaps this was meant for a much older generation). I found myself far more interested in what the family was experiencing during this man's busy life, but those parts were stretched out quite a bit. I enjoyed hearing about the gardens of their Aptos farm and the drifter, the shoplifting, and Mrs. Crum's struggles as a single parent while her husband was absent. I would have loved to see more of this laced in.
The first half of the book was very slow for me, but the second half picked up. This poor family experienced significant tragedy, up and downs. I believe the author was trying very hard to write a biography of her father, but perhaps what she doesn't realize is that we the readers can learn quite a bit about a person from the impressions he gave his family. There was more of this in the second half of the book, as she and her mother began to talk more about her father's struggles. Still quite a bit of "name dropping" but now about people I know - Rita Hayworth, Jimmy Hoffa, etc. I suppose it would be difficult to write a biography of this man without namedropping, as he was a lawyer and journalist at points in his life - he knew a lot of people.
If you are interested in learning more about the HUAC, The Hollywood 10 and the fears of communism in American during this time, Rita Hayworth, Teamsters, and FBI phone tapping (oh that tricky Hoover!) you will truly enjoy this book. The man touched a lot of lives and wanted to help a lot of people - I don't doubt that - but the writing style was a struggle for me.
on February 22, 2010
I was looking for context for the Hollywood Blacklist. Although Bosworth's father, Bart Crum, played a fairly minor role in the Blacklist affair, as he defended only two of the accused screenwriters, nonetheless his involvement was crucial. He was a liberal Republican in a crowd of New Dealers, fellow travelers, and Communists. In the end he wasn't able to get off scot free. Bosworth lets the reader draw conclusions about what led to Crum's suicide. It's a horrible story and bears repeating, over and over again.
Bosworth is also good at delineating the personality and actions of her mother, a charming hostess who was also capable of drowning puppies in the bathtub.
Finally, the description of 1940's upper-middle-class milieu is superbly done.