Mad as Hell -- The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies by Dave Itzkoff, Times Books '14, $27, 287 pages, ASIN #0805095691. Index, notes, no bibliography, grouping of b&w glossy images.
Who could have predicted the release in 1976 of the motion picture Network, whose TV anchorman lead becomes totally unhinged, shrieking out the newsroom window from high above the street, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this any more!"
But as ludicrous as the scenario seems to be, consider that it came not long after the United States itself appeared ready to come unhinged by the Watergate scandal. The lessons of that national episode helped screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky envision how America thinks about corporate and media power.
One thing's for sure: mention "I'm mad as hell!" to any American over 50 today, and he or she will recall for you the national sensation that Network became, together with its excellent cast, including Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, and Robert Duvall; and directed by Sidney Lumet. And lest anyone forgot, Network won four Academy Awards.
Author Dave Itzkoff is a culture reporter at The New York Times, where he writes regularly about film, TV, theater, music and popular culture. The New Yorker has written two previous books.
The Divided Mind of the Black Church -- Theology, Piety & Public Witness by Raphael G. Warnock, New York University '14, 262 pages, ASIN #0814794467. Index, bibliography, notes, unillustrated.
From the dust jacket:
"What is the true nature and mission of the church? As a community formed in memory of Jesus Christ and informed by the gospels, what exactly is it called to do? Is its proper Christian purpose to save souls or to transform the social order? As it seeks to bear witness to the 'kin-dom' of God, does it do that best by giving itself over to the work of personal piety or public witness?
"These questions are especially fraught when the church is one built by an enslaved people and formed, from its beginning, at the center of an oppressed community's fight for personhood and freedom. Such is the central tension in the identity and mission of the black church in the United States.
"For decades the black church and black theology have held each other at arm's length. Black theology has emphasized the role of Christian faith in addressing racism and other forms of oppression, arguing that Jesus urged his disciples to seek the freedom of all peoples. Meanwhile, the black church, even when focused on social concerns, has often emphasized personal piety rather than social protest. With the rising influence of conservative evangelicalism, biblical fundamentalism, and the prosperity gospel, the divide has become even more pronounced."
Author Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock serves as Senior Pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA.
Brotherhood of Fear by Paul Grossman -- A Willi Kraus Novel, St. Martin's Press '14, $25.99, 312 pages, ASIN #1250011590.
Regular readers of History Wire are often alerted to a mark of respect accorded newly-published books, well before such major awards as the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award are handed out. So it's worth noting that author Paul Grossman's debut nobel, The Sleepwalkers, won a starred review from Library Journal, and his next, Children of Wrath, won the same accolade from both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Followers of author Grossman should keep their fingers crossed -- it wouldn't surprise us if Brotherhood of Fear was in a position to further adorn its author's trophy shelf.
From the dust jacket:
"It's Paris, 1933. A refugee with no papers, no legal status, and few resources, Willi Kraus lives in fear of deportation back to Nazi Germany. However, his reputation as a top sleuth precedes him, and he's soon enlisted to work as a private eye -- if under shady circumstances.
"Despite his apparent good fortune, he is a stranger in a very strange land. France is gripped by a fog of disillusionment, anxious about the tides of fascism rising along her borders. Seduced by a sultry but troubled young French girl and befriended by France's most flamboyant financier, Willi finds himself unwittinly drawn into their baffling world."
Author Paul Grossman is a longtime teacher of writing and literature at the City University of New York.