OVERRIDE

The Ten-Cent Plague

The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America

David Hajdu

Picador

In the years between the end of World War II and the mid-1950s, the popular culture of today was invented in the pulpy, boldly illustrated pages of comic books. But no sooner had comics emerged than they were beaten down by mass bonfires, congressional hearings, and a McCarthyish panic over their unmonitored and uncensored content. Esteemed critic David Hajdu vividly evokes the rise, fall, and rise again of comics in this engrossing history.

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Prologue
Sawgrass Village, a tidy development about twenty-five miles east of Jacksonville, Florida, is named for the wild marsh greenery that its turf lawns displaced. It has 1,327 houses, each of them pale gray on the outside. On the inside, the one at 133 Lake Julia Drive is a dream shrine—a temple not to the past, like many other homes of retirees, but to a life imagined and denied. All the walls in its eight rooms, as well as the halls, are covered with framed paintings by Janice Valleau Winkleman, who moved there from Pittsburgh with her husband, Ed, in 1982, when he ended his four-decade
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  • David Hajdu @ KPL

    Hajdu discusses The Ten-Cent Plague at the Kalamazoo Public Library

  • David Hajdu talks about The Ten-Cent Plague at Google

    Writer David Hajdu visits Google's Mountain View, CA headquarters to discuss his book "The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America." David Hajdu is the author of Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn and Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina. This event took place on March 21, 2008, as part of the Authors@Google program.

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REVIEWS

Praise for The Ten-Cent Plague

"Marvelous . . . a staggeringly well-reported account of the men and women who created the comic book, and the backlash of the 1950s that nearly destroyed it....Hajdu’s important book dramatizes an early, long-forgotten skirmish in the culture wars that, half a century later, continues to roil."--Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A-)

"Incisive and entertaining . . . This book tells an amazing story, with thrills and chills more extreme than the workings of a comic book’s imagination."--Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"A well-written, detailed book . . . Hajdu’s research is impressive."--Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today

"Crammed with interviews and original research, Hajdu’s book is a sprawling cultural history of comic books."--Matthew Price, Newsday

"To those who think rock 'n' roll created the postwar generation gap, David Hajdu says: Think again. Every page of The Ten-Cent Plague evinces [Hajdu’s] zest for the 'aesthetic lawlessness' of comic books and his sympathetic respect for the people who made them. Comic books have grown up, but Hajdu’s affectionate portrait of their rowdy adolescence will make readers hope they never lose their impudent edge."--Wendy Smith, Chicago Tribune

"A vivid and engaging book."--Louis Menand, The New Yorker

"David Hajdu, who perfectly detailed the Dylan-era Greenwhich Village scene in Positively 4th Street, does the same for the birth and near death (McCarthyism!) of comic books in The Ten-Cent Plague." --GQ

"Sharp . . . lively . . . entertaining and erudite . . . David Hajdu offers captivating insights into America’s early bluestocking-versus-blue-collar culture wars, and the later tensions between wary parents and the first generation of kids with buying power to mold mass entertainment."--R. C. Baker, The Village Voice

"Hajdu doggedly documents a long national saga of comic creators testing the limits of content while facing down an ever-changing bonfire brigade. That brigade was made up, at varying times, of politicians, lawmen, preachers, medical minds, and academics. Sometimes, their regulatory bids recalled the Hays Code; at others, it was a bottled-up version of McCarthyism. Most of all, the hysteria over comics foreshadowed the looming rock 'n' roll era."--Geoff Boucher, Los Angeles Times

"A compelling story of the pride, prejudice, and paranoia that marred the reception of mass entertainment in the first half of the century."--Michael Saler, The Times Literary Supplement (London)



 


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • David Hajdu

  • David Hajdu is the author of Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn and Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña and Richard Fariña.

  • David Hajdu Copyright Michelle Heimerman

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The Ten-Cent Plague

The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America

David Hajdu

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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