J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the Movies: The FBI and the Origins of Hollywood’s Cold War by John Sbardellati is reviewed in the March 23, 2012, edition of Library Journal XPress Reviews:
“Sbardellati (history, Univ. of Waterloo, Ont.) presents a convincing case for the important role of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI in contributing to the Second Red Scare that followed World War II. To Hoover, communism not only ran counter to the American way of life but, when present in film content, also posed a threat to national security. Sbardellati draws upon FBI documents to detail how Hoover, beginning in 1942, directed his agents to undertake a massive, secret review of the Hollywood film industry. He pointed to the presence of communists in Hollywood to justify his fear that new film productions—particularly social-problem films—contained propaganda. When the House Un-American Activities Committee investigated Hollywood in 1947, it used the FBI’s findings as the basis for targeting suspected ‘Reds’; this led to the creation of the Hollywood blacklist and a more conservative Cold War film culture. Verdict: Sbardellati’s thorough research on Hoover’s early investigations of Hollywood makes this a great choice for readers interested in 20th-century American cultural history.”—Chris Martin, Univ. of Dayton Lib.