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Sunday, May 22, 2016

My Book: "Hollywood Bomb"

This is a disturbing--if rollicking--tale that I've written about in brief but finally got to explore at length, and it's published in e-book form: Hollywood Bomb:  Harry S. Truman and the Unmaking of 'The Most Important' Movie Ever Made (Sinclair Books).  That's a poster for the 1947 MGM film at left, and you'll find the trailer below.  It's my 15th book, if you're keeping score at home, and can be read on iPads, Kindles, and so on, for just $2.99.

A film titled The Beginning or the End was to be, in the words of MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer, "the most important" movie ever made.  But that was before it was distorted, even censored, with President Truman playing a key role. Continuing the book blurb:

Hollywood Bomb traces the wild, and largely untold, episode from its start, just hours after the first atomic device was exploded over Hiroshima, Japan, in August 1945.  MGM was already trying to sew up exclusive rights to make the first celluloid epic about The Bomb.  A rival studio raced to catch up with a script written by...Ayn Rand.

Who provided the key source for MGM in early September 1945?  Young actress Donna Reed, whose high school science teacher had worked on the bomb project at Oak Ridge and now wanted to warn the world about its dangers. 

It seemed, for a time, that the big-budget MGM film would serve as a warning to mankind about the dangers of going too far down the nuclear path, with the potential to rally public opinion against The Bomb before it was too late to halt an arms race that would eventually bring 50,000 nuclear warheads into the world.  It even questioned Truman's decision to drop the bomb.

But that was before the making, and unmaking, of The Beginning or the End ended that chance, thanks in large part to intervention by the U.S. military and President Truman. At the White House, Truman even edited several versions of the script, deleting parts of his dialogue and adding distortions to buoy his decision to drop the bomb.   And, in what must have been a first for Hollywood, actors slated to play two presidents in the same movie were fired after protests—from a former First Lady (Eleanor Roosevelt) and from the sitting President (Truman).  My piece at The Nation elaborates. 

Also intimately involved in this lively, often amazing tale, was a colorful cast of supporting players, including (besides Ayn Rand):  Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, producer Hal Wallis, actors Donna Reed, Hume Cronyn and Brian Donlevy, Walter Lippmann,  and Cardinal Spellman, among others.  Once again, here's the link to Amazon.

My two previous books on this general subject were Hiroshima in America (with Robert Jay Lifton) and Atomic Cover-up.  Here's the trailer.  A fake and dopey "Inquiring Reporter" format.


cristopherpetralia@gmail.com said...


Michael Carlson said...

Barbara Billingsley liked it! Actually isnt it good to know that 'inquiring reporters' like MGMs have now become legitimate news sources?