100 books like Show Trial

By Thomas Doherty,

Here are 100 books that Show Trial fans have personally recommended if you like Show Trial. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community, 1930-60

Brian Neve Author Of Film and Politics in America: A Social Tradition

From my list on Hollywood blacklist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Years ago, as part of my research, I interviewed Elia Kazan and Abraham Polonsky, two key figures in the blacklist story, and two men who were on different sides in terms of how they responded to the postwar Congressional investigations. These personal encounters – in New York and Los Angeles – fed a fascination with the anti-Communist purge in Hollywood, its dramaturgy, and the way filmmakers of that generation were caught up in it in different ways. There are more specialized works but the books recommended provide a substantive introduction to this still globally resonant topic, calling attention to the problematic and still difficult relationships between citizenship and cultural identity.

Brian's book list on Hollywood blacklist

Brian Neve Why did Brian love this book?

When I was growing up there was, amongst enthusiasts of American film, much excited if not always well-informed discussion of the Hollywood Blacklist. This was the book that first provided chapter and verse, documenting the phenomenon and placing it in the context of American history, the politics of Hollywood, the industry unions, and the role of the studios from the 1930s onward. There is important research on key organizations such as the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, and the Committee for the First Amendment. This is still the best, most empirically grounded, and most comprehensive treatment – the classic history.

By Larry Ceplair, Steven Englund,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Inquisition in Hollywood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history of political struggle in Hollywood back to the formation of the Screen Writers Guild in 1933 with the culmination of the blacklists of the House Un-American Activites Commmitee. The definitive work on the blacklist ear.


Book cover of Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist

Brian Neve Author Of Film and Politics in America: A Social Tradition

From my list on Hollywood blacklist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Years ago, as part of my research, I interviewed Elia Kazan and Abraham Polonsky, two key figures in the blacklist story, and two men who were on different sides in terms of how they responded to the postwar Congressional investigations. These personal encounters – in New York and Los Angeles – fed a fascination with the anti-Communist purge in Hollywood, its dramaturgy, and the way filmmakers of that generation were caught up in it in different ways. There are more specialized works but the books recommended provide a substantive introduction to this still globally resonant topic, calling attention to the problematic and still difficult relationships between citizenship and cultural identity.

Brian's book list on Hollywood blacklist

Brian Neve Why did Brian love this book?

In Tender Comrades, those with experience of the Blacklist tell their stories, prompted expertly by the editors. The book explores the experiences of around forty individuals who were part of the left-wing and liberal community that thrived in Hollywood from the 1930s and 1940s. They involved themselves in political causes and issues, while contributing to some of the key films of that era. The book also captures first-hand accounts of the dynamics of the ‘naming’ process, and how people responded to it – some of them by leaving the country. It is a fascinating story of the impact of these events on private lives and political choices.

By Patrick McGilligan, Paul Buhle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tender Comrades as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This text offers an account of the McCarthy era in Hollywood. Using oral history techniques, the authors involve 30 of those who were suppressed and unable to talk at the time, owing to the prevailing anti-Communist witch-hunt.


Book cover of Naming Names

Brian Neve Author Of Film and Politics in America: A Social Tradition

From my list on Hollywood blacklist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Years ago, as part of my research, I interviewed Elia Kazan and Abraham Polonsky, two key figures in the blacklist story, and two men who were on different sides in terms of how they responded to the postwar Congressional investigations. These personal encounters – in New York and Los Angeles – fed a fascination with the anti-Communist purge in Hollywood, its dramaturgy, and the way filmmakers of that generation were caught up in it in different ways. There are more specialized works but the books recommended provide a substantive introduction to this still globally resonant topic, calling attention to the problematic and still difficult relationships between citizenship and cultural identity.

Brian's book list on Hollywood blacklist

Brian Neve Why did Brian love this book?

I was in New York waiting to interview Elia Kazan, a somewhat notorious figure in the history of the blacklist, when I first spotted a newly published book that sought to explore events from the perspective of those involved, both those who cooperated with the Committee and those who refused to do so. Drawing on oral histories and interviews, Navasky’s book focused on the motives and rationales of those (like Kazan) who ‘named names’ and those who pleaded the fifth amendment or took other routes to avoid becoming, in the author’s nuanced but ultimately uncompromising judgment, an informer. This book prompted later writing and debate; it is full of raw detail about the painful decisions that filmmakers of this era were forced to make. 

By Victor S. Navasky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Naming Names as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the National Book Award: The definitive history of Joe McCarthy, the Hollywood blacklist, and HUAC explores the events behind the hit film Trumbo.

Drawing on interviews with over one hundred and fifty people who were called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee—including Elia Kazan, Ring Lardner Jr., and Arthur Miller—award-winning author Victor S. Navasky reveals how and why the blacklists were so effective and delves into the tragic and far-reaching consequences of Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunts.
A compassionate, insightful, and even-handed examination of one of our country’s darkest hours, Naming Names is at once a morality…


Book cover of Communism in Hollywood: The Moral Paradoxes of Testimony, Silence, and Betrayal

Brian Neve Author Of Film and Politics in America: A Social Tradition

From my list on Hollywood blacklist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Years ago, as part of my research, I interviewed Elia Kazan and Abraham Polonsky, two key figures in the blacklist story, and two men who were on different sides in terms of how they responded to the postwar Congressional investigations. These personal encounters – in New York and Los Angeles – fed a fascination with the anti-Communist purge in Hollywood, its dramaturgy, and the way filmmakers of that generation were caught up in it in different ways. There are more specialized works but the books recommended provide a substantive introduction to this still globally resonant topic, calling attention to the problematic and still difficult relationships between citizenship and cultural identity.

Brian's book list on Hollywood blacklist

Brian Neve Why did Brian love this book?

While several books have offered accounts of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings and the blacklist in the entertainment industry, Alan Casty questions liberal perspectives on the subject, and develops a distinctive perspective. In particular he challenges what he sees as an overly simple moral take on the actions of those who cooperated with HUAC and those who did not. He discusses the role of the Communist Party in Hollywood and the impact of Cold War politicsand the politics of Stalin and the Soviet Union—on the decisions that politicians and witnesses took. There is particularly interesting material here on Robert Rossen’s experience, as someone who ‘resisted’ the Committee but later cooperated with it. This Is the best account of those that challenge the dominant perspectives in the literature. 

By Alan Casty,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Communism in Hollywood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Much has been written about the history of Communism in America, including the Party's appeal to many in the Hollywood community of the 1930s and 40s. While several books have offered standard accounts of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings and the blacklist in the entertainment industry, Alan Casty provides a fresh and provocative perspective. In Communism in Hollywood: The Moral Paradoxes of Testimony, Silence, and Betrayal, Casty challenges the absolute dualisms of the period: cowardly informers and heroic martyrs. Drawing on newly available material, Casty illustrates the control by the international Communist movement and the role of the…


Book cover of You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again

Maureen Callahan Author Of American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century

From my list on American pop culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Maureen Callahan is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning investigative journalist, columnist, and commentator. She has covered everything from pop culture to politics. Her writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, New York, Spin, and the New York Post, where she is Critic-at-Large. She lives in New York. For Shepherd, Callahan has selected her favorite books about American pop culture, which is currently dominated by her favorite subgenre, true crime.

Maureen's book list on American pop culture

Maureen Callahan Why did Maureen love this book?

The New York Times called this memoir “The Hollywood Chainsaw Massacre!” and it still stands as one of the best. Phillips, who died New Year’s Day 2002, was a self-described “nice Jewish girl from Great Neck,” Long Island who loved the movies, movie stars — and books. She was sharp, unsparing, and became the first female producer to win an Oscar for Best Picture. The closest comp title, I think, is The Kid Stays In The Picture by the late Robert Evans, but Phillips does him better in eviscerating no one so much as herself. And this is someone who describes Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood as “very sweet, but . . . smells terrible,” before asking, “Why don’t the English like to bathe?” An observation that could get one canceled today.

By Julia Phillips,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“The Hollywood memoir that tells all . . . Sex. Drugs. Greed. Why, it sounds just like a movie.”—The New York Times
 
Every memoir claims to bare it all, but Julia Phillips’s actually does. This is an addictive, gloves-off exposé from the producer of the classic films The Sting, Taxi Driver, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind—and the first woman ever to win an Academy Award for Best Picture—who made her name in Hollywood during the halcyon seventies and the yuppie-infested eighties and lived to tell the tale. Wickedly funny and surprisingly moving, You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This…


Book cover of Musts, Maybes, and Nevers: A Book About The Movies

Glenn Frankel Author Of Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic

From my list on Hollywood memoirs that tell the truth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked for 27 years at The Washington Post, where I won a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. But when I returned home in 2006, I wanted to write about my own country, and what could be more American than the movies? They’re a wonderful looking glass into the past, and my books explore the making of an iconic movie and the historical era in which it was created. My recent ones have recounted the making of The Searchers, starring John Wayne, and High Noon, the Gary Cooper classic and its connection to the Hollywood blacklist, a time of vicious conflict eerily similar to our own troubled era.

Glenn's book list on Hollywood memoirs that tell the truth

Glenn Frankel Why did Glenn love this book?

As Hollywood’s Golden Age sputtered to a close and the old studio behemoths collapsed, United Artists became the Little Studio That Still Could, thanks largely to the discerning eye and risk-taking appetite of David Picker, its young head of marketing and production. Under his leadership, UA made deals that snagged the James Bond series, the Beatles’ two feature films, and Woody Allen’s best movies. Picker’s formula was simple—sign the most intriguing filmmakers in America and Europe to low-budget, one-movie contracts and then leave them alone to do their finest work. Picker praises his pals and lacerates his foes, including Robert Altman, Otto Preminger, and most especially Bill Cosby, whom he despised long before the sexual assault allegations. Anyone recall Cosby’s woeful Leonard Part 6?

Book cover of Experimental Film

Paul Jessup Author Of Glass House

From my list on horror that will blow your mind (kaboom).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved weird horror from a young age, and that passion only grew as the years went on. It all started when I was ten, and I got an anthology of classic horror for my birthday. Inside I read The White People by Machen, Cast the Runes by MR James, and The Colour Out of Space by Lovecraft, and I was hooked. Ever since then I chased that same thrill of the horror that is so out there and strange it just breaks your brain and changes you inside out. I have a feeling I’ll be chasing that obsession until the end of my days.

Paul's book list on horror that will blow your mind (kaboom)

Paul Jessup Why did Paul love this book?

Another fun bit of psychedelic folk horror, combined with a really cool history of the experimental films of Canada.

The narrator is compelling, and the whole time you feel the pull of her obsession to the film she’s looking into, even if it unsettles her and terrifies her at the same time. Love that pull of danger, wanting to look, to see, but knowing that doing so will probably kill you…

It's like horror novel catnip.

By Gemma Files,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Experimental Film as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The award-winning author of the Hexslinger Series "explores the world of film and horror in a way that will leave you reeling" (Jeff VanderMeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy).

Former film teacher Lois Cairns is struggling to raise her autistic son while freelancing as a critic when, at a screening, she happens upon a sampled piece of silver nitrate silent footage. She is able to connect it to the early work of Mrs. Iris Dunlopp Whitcomb, the spiritualist and collector of fairy tales who mysteriously disappeared from a train compartment in 1918.

Hoping to make her own mark on…


Book cover of Blue Movie

Nathan Abrams Author Of Kubrick: An Odyssey

From my list on fiction and nonfiction books about movie directors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was old (or young) enough to have only seen two Kubrick films in the cinema: Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut. I began teaching film studies and Hollywood in 1998, and I have been teaching and researching Kubrick intensively since 2007, visiting his archive in London on numerous occasions. At one point, I held the record for the researcher who had spent the most hours in the Archive. I also met Christiane and Jan and spoke to many others who knew and worked with Kubrick. Having been familiar with Robert Kolker’s work, it became clear that collaborating with an international authority on film was a necessity as well as a pleasure.

Nathan's book list on fiction and nonfiction books about movie directors

Nathan Abrams Why did Nathan love this book?

This novel follows a famous Hollywood director called Boris Adrian but known as "King B" who is shooting a big-budget arthouse porn film.

The auteur was allegedly based on Kubrick, with whom Southern collaborated on Dr. Strangelove, and the book is dedicated to "the great Stanley K" whom Southern alleges wanted to make such a film. As Southern also had screenwriting credits for Easy Rider and Casino Royale, it offers a first-hand account, albeit fictionalized, of someone who worked with the director but also with others in Hollywood.

By Terry Southern,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Blue Movie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With a new introduction by Marianne Faithfull

“Terry Southern writes a mean, coolly deliberate, and murderous prose.” ―Norman Mailer

King B., an Oscar-winning director, is now determined to shoot the dirtiest and most expensive X-rated movie ever made. Displaced to Liechtenstein (which, in order to boost tourism, has negotiated the exclusive rights to show the film for ten years) and fueled by suspiciously rejuvenating vitamin B-12 injections, the set of The Faces of Love is fraught with monstrous egos and enormous libidos ― the kind of situation that could only come from the imagination of the irrepressible Terry Southern.


Book cover of Hollywood: The Oral History

Chris Yogerst Author Of The Warner Brothers

From my list on bringing Hollywood history to life in the present.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Hollywood’s Golden Age when I first watched Psycho. From there, every new film and book from or about the era has been a journey into Hollywood’s history. I got into higher education and writing because I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with others as much as I enjoy the learning process itself. What interests me most about Hollywood history is how the industry has interacted with American and global history. Hollywood has always had either a front-row seat or a seat at the table of history in the making. Not always on the right side of history, but always fascinating. 

Chris' book list on bringing Hollywood history to life in the present

Chris Yogerst Why did Chris love this book?

Wasson and Basinger are two other authors where you simply want to read everything they’ve written.

The reason I picked Hollywood: The Oral History for this list is that you have several hundred pages of Hollywood players telling their own stories. What could be better?? We get the scoop from stars, grips, screenwriters, carpenters, producers, directors, publicists, and everything in between.

What was it like to work in Hollywood in 1949? This book has your answer. What was the transition from Old Hollywood to New Hollywood like, this book has the goods. 

By Jeanine Basinger, Sam Wasson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hollywood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Essential . . . thrilling . . . invaluable.' Irish Times

'Absorbing . . . rippling with fun and atmosphere.' Sight & Sound

'Hollywood's ultimate oral history.' New Yorker

The greatest conversation in the history of Hollywood.

From the archives of the American Film Institute comes a unique picture of what it was like to work in Hollywood from its beginnings to its present day. Hollywood: The Oral History, lets a reader 'listen in' on candid remarks from the biggest names in front of the camera - Bette Davis, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Jane Fonda, Harold Lloyd - the biggest…


Book cover of Skywalking: The Life And Films Of George Lucas

Peter Krämer Author Of American Graffiti: George Lucas, the New Hollywood and the Baby Boom Generation

From my list on the life and films of George Lucas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have turned my childhood fascination with Hollywood into an academic career. For four decades I have explored, not least through extensive archival research, all aspects of the history of American cinema – films, filmmakers, studios, production histories, marketing campaigns, critical reception, audiences. Among other books, I have published three volumes in the British Film Institute’s Film Classics series (on Buster Keaton’s The General and Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey). I have focused on some of the most highly acclaimed, most commercially successful, most ardently loved, and most influential movies of all time. The starting point for my work is always my passionate engagement with particular movies.

Peter's book list on the life and films of George Lucas

Peter Krämer Why did Peter love this book?

There have been so many books about George Lucas’s most famous creation, the Star Wars saga, and about the man himself.

As far as biographical accounts are concerned, Dale Pollock’s volume (initially published in 1983, and updated in 1990 and 1999) has to be given a lot of credit for being the first to properly introduce this unique filmmaker, whose life and career have been so full of unexpected twists and turns, to the world – and to me!

Pollock’s well-researched and very readable book set a high standard for all the writers following in his footsteps.

By Dale Pollock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Skywalking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Filled with revelations about the origins and making of American Graffiti, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Return of the Jedi, this only full-length biography of filmmaker and cinematic visionary George Lucas has been updated with a substantial new chapter that discusses the revamped Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition, the Star Wars prequels, the filming of the first installment, and the controversial ways in which Lucas's approach and success continue to alter the landscape of the film industry.


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