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Dark Days in the Newsroom Audiobook

Dark Days in the Newsroom: McCarthyism Aimed at the Press

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Publisher's Summary

Dark Days in the Newsroom traces how journalists became radicalized during the Depression era, only to become targets of Senator Joseph McCarthy and like-minded anti-Communist crusaders during the 1950s. Edward Alwood, a former news correspondent, describes this remarkable story of conflict, principle, and personal sacrifice with noticeable élan. He shows how McCarthy's minions pried inside newsrooms thought to be sacrosanct under the First Amendment, and details how some journalists mounted a heroic defense of freedom of the press while others secretly enlisted in the government's anti-communist crusade.

Relying on previously undisclosed documents from FBI files along with personal interviews, Alwood provides a richly informed commentary on one of the most significant moments in the history of American journalism. Arguing that the experiences of the McCarthy years profoundly influenced the practice of journalism, he shows how many of the issues faced by journalists in the 1950s prefigure today's conflicts over the right of journalists to protect their sources.

The book is published by Temple University Press.

©2007 Edward Alwood (P)2017 Redwood Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"An excellent book...This is going to be a valuable addition to the books on the subject and an important component to a journalism students' library." (Jarice Hanson, University of Massachusetts)

"This book is particularly evocative as the nation faces a debate about national security and press freedom." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Anonymous 08-28-17
    08-28-17
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    "Strong but with faults"
    If you could sum up Dark Days in the Newsroom in three words, what would they be?

    a good retelling, it was original but it could have been better written and less repetitive at times


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Not very original ending. the meat and potatoes of the book in my perspective was the HUAC material and the discussions of the early origins of the Communist Party in America and the great bio of Heywood Brown who I sense is largely forgotten now in our history. How this all ties in with the issues of the 1st Amendment, Freedom of speech and the 4th estate are what makes the book interesting.


    What does Robert Thaler bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He's the saving grace of the audio. He gives quite a few different voices to the period, nails the speech of that time, even does an excellent Joe McCarthy. Without this fellow driving the narrative the story would sag. Striking voice and presentation. Why the hell whoever does the hiring can't route around and find more quality like this is beyond me. I have often been appalled at the sub par delivery of so many of the 'readers' that they hire, its like Russian roulette picking out a book even some of the guys and gals who do hundreds of books can be beyond awful, there just doesn't seem to be much quality control For a manuscript like this one which is potentially pretty dry, its essential to find a narrator like this one with style and substance.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    the story is a manuscript more or less of that period with many original details presented in journalistic form and many factoids about J Edgar Hoover, McCarthy, Randolph Hearst, the background machinations of the newspaper guilds,the Unions,the American Communist Party and the FBI all vying in power struggles for supremacy


    Any additional comments?

    It was worth my money but it could have been better if the author wasn't quite so academic and at times repetitive. The narrator sells it. Also the technical arguments and points made by the writer can be a bit ponderous, is that the right word? Don't know, I just finished the listen and will let it sit a while

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    pete 08-03-17
    pete 08-03-17
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    "ambitious, original"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    yes because its an original and unbiased depiction of the Red Scare of the 40s and 50s, provides excellent context and the author does not side immediately with the accused as is so prevalent in previous decades


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Dark Days in the Newsroom?

    I was not familiar at all with the infamous Venona Cables which were communiques from Moscow to Communist Party operations in the U.S. in the 30s and I think the 40s. There were thousands of these kept confidential until much later. The realization that Party officials or commissars in Russia were at times quite incompetent in their spy operations was both funny and probably quite typical. That they were directly funding flights and travel expenses abroad for certain American reporters was disturbing and very interesting


    What does Robert Thaler bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I was able to listen with ease over 2 short days. Thaler has weight and flair. I think they hired the right guy. I just wish Audible would do that more often, hire the right guy for the job, I have in the past been stuck with some real lemons


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    the passages about Harvey Matusow, the government stooge who was a working informant and insinuated himself into Joe McCarthy's inner circle were highly entertaining. I mean the man was quite obviously unstable and a chronic liar who fabricated numbers,names,events,you name it, to further his own ends. He could be compared to some of the leakers today in Washington. Matusow claimed there were 125 paid Communists on the staff of the NYTimes but the Staff only employed 76 people at that time. Listening to Joe McCarthy operate at the hearings was revealing to say the least, you really get a feel for the guy.


    Any additional comments?

    the writer was well balanced in his approach. I commend him for that. There are two sides to this story, he covers the victims and those falsely accused, but also covers how the Guilds and Newspapers were infiltrated by Communists especially in the 30s what were the reasons and context for all this. Very informative. My criticism would be that at times like in the Valerie Plame comparisons in the book the story gets a little hard to follow but other than that its a big winner and I want to see what else this writer comes up with in the future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    julie 07-31-17
    julie 07-31-17
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    "Well Done"
    What made the experience of listening to Dark Days in the Newsroom the most enjoyable?

    Was somehow easy to understand a very complex time. I am presently studying this period in history in a seminar at our college. Alwood makes it more approachable by introducing a fair number of characters from then people like J. Edgar Hoover, Edward R. Murrow,etc.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I both liked and did not like the Senator Eastland who went after the Communists in the hearings. The story gave me a choice to decide for myself.


    What about Robert Thaler’s performance did you like?

    He has authority. A fine voice but can be warm too. I don't know. Sometimes he sounded like a guy from the news reels back then.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Yes. The woman who wrote for the newspaper who was black listed. It was heartbreaking. She had worked for the same paper for over 25 years and then was released for being associated with the Communist Party.


    Any additional comments?

    The writer did a very,very good job discussing a particularly difficult and important period in our history. It forces me to address what is happening now. How much of a free press do we have? Who is influencing reporters today? How do I separate truth from pure fiction and lies?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe 07-26-17
    Joe 07-26-17
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    "A very good listen, especially now"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Dark Days in the Newsroom to be better than the print version?

    Cannot say. The writer is concise and thorough and I think original. The audio gives it warmth and weight and even humor I would say


    What did you like best about this story?

    it made me think about what is going on now. At what point does innuendo become fact? How is accusation made real. What is propaganda and what is truth? The revelation years later that there were thousands of cables from Moscow to Communists in America and to some newspapermen and that they were directives was astounding. Not unlike some of the possible revelations looming today. I don't know...


    Which scene was your favorite?

    oh well, there were many. I just finished it .- Transcripts of the hearings, the HUAC material acted out was well illustrated and at times shocking to say the least. I loved the segments on Heywood Broun, I didn't know anything about him before. For that matter the feeling of the 50s came thru clearly in quite a portion of the audiobook , the union organizing, the attempt by Communists to infiltrate the guilds, the funding by Communists of the international travel of some American journalists in WWII was - alarming. On the other side the destruction of families,friendships,careers thru simple name dropping, the fabrication of lists of names,dates etc. the hysteria of the period is hard to imagine in this country


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I finished it in 2 long sittings, quite fascinating


    Any additional comments?

    I had to open my mind for this one. There were several dimensions to the Red Scare and the newspapers involvement in it. This I didn't know before. Some challenged all the paranoia and many added fuel to the fire. Where would I stand in all this if I was living then? It makes me want to really learn what the hell is going on today in Washington. The efforts by some newspaper boards to stifle free speech was sadly apparent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julius 07-20-17
    Julius 07-20-17
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    "Superb retelling"
    What made the experience of listening to Dark Days in the Newsroom the most enjoyable?

    I have on many occasions listened to quite a number of histories. This particular one places me right down in the period. I cannot say how exactly. I am too young to have a sensibility for that era but the audiobook gives me that opportunity. I had no idea just how much fear had gripped the country under the Red Scare and how persistent this state of affairs was.


    What other book might you compare Dark Days in the Newsroom to and why?

    Maybe "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" which I absorbed last year, a similar style I would say, or the Civil War Volumes that Shelby Foote penned so well and which were so engaging.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I believe that the material examining McCarthy, his tactics, his interview style and the collaborators who worked with him was very interesting. All the different voices. I only wish there had been more of it but I suppose the writer is saving material for what may well be a sequel or 2nd volume.


    Any additional comments?

    I grew to love the ambience in this book, it spoke like a journal or diary oftentimes and confronted head on issues of that day.- The Red baiting, the destruction of lives and innocent families, the deep set fears about Communism, the attacks and attempted infiltration of the American press, I was surprised to learn of the shenanigans of the FBI and particularly J. Edgar Hoover. I know he was no angel but the government involvement in the infiltration of the Press was shocking.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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