On the 76th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, an encore presentation of Stu Levitan’s conversation from last August with Greg Mitchell, about his twelfth book The Beginning Or The End: How Hollywood – And America – Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, published by the good people at the New Press, and getting rave reviews.
“The Beginning or the End” was a B movie about the A bomb, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in February, 1947. It promised to disclose what it called “the biggest, best-kept secret in the history of the world – the men, the magic, the machines behind the world’s strongest force – the atom bomb.” The movie was, the studio declared in all caps with exclamation points FACTUAL! AUTHENTIC!”
Well, not quite. Because a movie set in motion by scientists wanting the world to know the truth was taken over by the military and the White House needing the world to believe a lie. How that happened is the business that occupies Greg Mitchell in The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood – and America – Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It’s not just a great yarn with some surprising participants, it’s also an urgent warning about secrecy, manipulation and suppression.
Those are frequent topics in Greg Mitchell’s oeuvre. Stu had the pleasure of interviewing Greg nine years ago this week for a related book, his important expose Atomic Cover-Up: Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki and the Greatest Movie Never Made. Since then, the movie Greg made based on that book, and the previously suppressed footage, has won film festival awards from Rio to Venice. Among Greg’s earlier books, two fascinating looks at politics in California. The Campaign of the Century, about Upton Sinclair’s radical campaign for Governor in 1934, which won the Goldsmith Book Prize, and Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady, about Richard Nixon’s redbaiting campaign for the Senate against Helen Gahagan Douglas in 1950.
Greg is a former editor of Editor and Publisher magazine, Nuclear Times and has an important place in the history of rock and roll journalism, as the editor at Crawdaddy magazine who commissioner the first major profile of Bruce Springsteen before his first album was even released. Bruce returned the favor by writing the preface to the 2013 edition of Greg’s So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits–and the President–Failed on Iraq. Greg is on Twitter at GregMitch, and you can subscribe to his free newsletter at gregmitchell.substack. com