Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers
Stu Levitan’s guest this hour is Greg Mitchell, whose twelfth book The Beginning Or The End: How Hollywood – And America – Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, is just out from the good people at the New Press, and getting rave reviews. https://thenewpress.com/books/beginning-or-end
“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 his twelfth book, 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. I had the pleasure of interviewing Greg eight 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 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.
He 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, writes for The Daily Beast and blogs at gregmitchellwriter.blogspot.com
I was between shows in 2016 when Greg published “The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill,” – you may notice a theme emerging — so I am very pleased to welcome to Madison BookBeat one of my writing heroes, Greg Mitchell.