Naming Names With a New Afterword by the Author

Victor S. Navasky

Hill and Wang



Trade Paperback

528 Pages



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Winner of the National Book Award

Half a century later, the investigation of Hollywood radicals by the House Committee on Un-American Activities still haunts the public conscience. Naming Names, reissued here with a new afterword by the author, is the definitive account of the hearings and a National Book Award winner widely now hailed as a classic. Victor S. Navasky adroitly dissects the motivations for the investigation and offers a poignant analysis of its consequences. Focusing on the movie-studio workers who avoided blacklists only by naming names at the hearings, he explores the terrifying dilemmas of those who informed and the tragedies of those who were informed on. Drawing on interviews with more than 150 people called to testify—among them Elia Kazan, Ring Lardner Jr., and Arthur Miller—Naming Names presents a compelling portrait of how the blacklists operated with such chilling efficiency.


Praise for Naming Names

"The moral issues raised by the Hollywood blacklist remain fearfully complex, and Victor Navasky confronts them with almost exquisite precision."—The New York Times

"Navasky has done a splendid job bringing this enormous mass of facts to coherence and meaning, judging its ethical import so rigorously and fairly. Naming Names is must reading."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"An astonishing work concerning personal honor and dishonor, shame and shamelessness. A book of stunning insights and suspense."—Studs Terkel

"His achievement is unarguably . . . [Navasky] establishes himself as that rare historian who can, like a novelist, illuminate the boundaries where power and conscience meet."—Time

"The sort of book that ought to be required reading in the journalism classrooms of the nation as an example of how a writer can simultaneously convey a tough-minded point of view and be scrupulously fair."—New York Daily News

"Navasky has written an important book about the McCarthy era . . . What makes [his] book striking is its fairness."—The New York Times Book Review

"Remarkable . . . Navasky appears in these pages as a compassionate, if uncompromising, man . . . Thoughtful, instructive, and courageous."—Newsweek

"One of the indispensable books not only for understanding a critical era in Hollywood and in American political life, but for coming to grips with the whole subject of American films and the role they have played in twentieth-century American culture."—American Film

"Navasky has managed to function brilliantly as lawyer, historian, and psychologist all at once. Naming Names is a miracle of vividly responsible scholarship. At last I have a solid understanding of why so many important people behaved the way they did."—Kurt Vonnegut

"I had anticipated the astoundingly comprehensive research; and need make only passing reference to the real voices—anguished, courageous, bitter, self-serving, defiant, pitiful, or burned—that sing through these pages. To me the greatness of this book has to do with the scrupulously patient, compassionate, but unerring moral analysis undertaken by the author like some sort of Virgil picking his way through a modern Hell. This isn't a work of gossip, nor merely a cultural history, although it will be read as such: to me it is a text in moral instruction, a lesson in the enormous social consequences of private failures of spirit . . . Everyone will have to read Naming Names and take a position on it."—E. L. Doctorow

"The first treatment of the subject I have seen which understands both the ambiguities and the political and ideological history that made that time such an ugly one in Hollywood."—Frank Mankiewicz

"A great investigative reporter recreates one of the saddest eras of American life in all its complexities and drama. Naming Names is not so much a story of symbols or causes as of tormented human beings."—Tom Wicker

"I read Naming Names with fascinated stupefaction. It is a unique, valuable, and dramatic description of a society without defenses against the destruction of its own best values. I hope everyone with even half a care for justice, civil rights, or simple individual eccentricity reading Naming Names."—Nicholas von Hoffman

"The most intense moral argument that I, at least, have seen brought to bear in a very long time . . . Despite being addressed to the issues of the 1950s, it is current today . . . Navasky has given us a portrait of human beings under pressure which, in its fullness, is as lifelike as any Hollywood has ever given us. Anyone who thinks political choices are necessarily simple should read Naming Names."—Mother Jones

"A landmark book . . . A stunning essay on the nature of understanding betrayal and the problem of forgiveness . . . Naming Names is both a wrenching book and one that counts."—Village Voice

"Absolutely first-rate reporting, unsettling human drama, and shrewd meditation on political morality."—Newsday

"Offers a timely opportunity to examine how the domestic cold war determined the way we live now . . . The issues that Navasky raises in this meticulously researched, scrupulously fair, brilliantly argued book are part of America's unfinished business."—Soho News

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Victor S. Navasky

  • Victor S. Navasky, a graduate of Yale Law School, is publisher and editorial director of The Nation. The author of Kennedy Justice, he is Delacorte Professor of Journalism at Columbia University. He lives in New York City.