Norman Corwin's Letters Hardcover – Sep 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Corwin, now 84, is esteemed as the poet of radio's best years, which he maintains lasted from 1938 to 1948, ``the shortest Golden Age in history.'' He is best known for ``On a Note of Triumph,'' broadcast on May 8, 1945, on the surrender of Nazi Germany, but he should also be remembered for his letters, collected here by Langguth ( A Noise of War ). They reveal a tolerant and generous New Deal liberal whose correspondents included movie stars Bette Davis and Charles Laughton, newscaster Edward R. Murrow, scientists, politicians, book editors, media critics and writers. It is interesting to read his judgments of authors: he considers Eliot's The Cocktail Party sterile and rhapsodizes about works written by Studs Terkel and Norman Cousins. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Corwin (Trivializing America, LJ 12/1/83) is Mr. Radio: writer, programmer, advocate, interviewer, and network honcho. As a wit, punster, master of the terse reply, and arguer and persuader, he is a practitioner of ornate English. Written to everyone under the sun, his letters from 1927 to the present show us a knowledgeable, humane, and committed artist/advocate. Whether writing to family about personal matters or to world figures about issues and events, Corwin documents the history of radio, offering a unique view of America. Only lightly edited, this collection could use more narrative connections and an index of correspondents and subjects. Still, it is a heady trip. Corwin provides the best comments: "Phew!...Many interjections are called, but phew is chosen."-Thomas E. Luddy, Salem State Coll., Mass.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Corwin was the epitome of what early radio and TV was originally expected to be; a first class outlet of quality entertainment and public service. The commercial aspects of the media blinded broadcast executives. They set aside public service and cashed in on the commercial side of broadcasting. Corwin's book of letters gives you an intimate look over his shoulder as he writes to relatives, friends, and many famous figures in America and the world. He is somewhat irreverent in language, but that was Corwin in letter mode. An interesting and revealing read.
When I thought of Corwin, that was pretty much my outlook. My life began with the emergence of Big Time Radio and Corwin was part of those decades. Now, being an old radio program fan, I only thought of him when I would buy one or another of the few things someone had dug up, from who knows where, in which he had had a hand. Just a few weeks ago, the end of 2014, in watching my disc of 'Lust for Life', as the credits rolled by, I saw his name as scriptwriter. From there, it was to Amazon to see if there were any books about him; yes, and this was the one I bought.
Amazingly, he had lived until 2011, dying at the age of 101 (his father lived for 110 years). The last letter in the book is dated 1994, the first, 1927. When he became a journalist early in life (he did not go to College), he began to keep carbon copies of all his letters, which came to about ten thousand when the idea of publishing them appealed to him since a lengthy biography upon which he had worked for years, in his limited spare time, appeared beyond completion.
Throughout this lengthy work, his letters are rich in expressions of his life and work, in his interest in the lives and creations of his correspondents, and in his views of the media, politics and life of the people of the United States and the world. They are very personal expressions and very analytical when that is what is called for. They are well written. To this reader, they were fascinating and, as intended, were read as a single story, not as something to be dipped into now and again, as one wanted something brief to fill a limited reading need. They should be of interest to anyone with a concern in radio, television, movies, stage and the concert world, since he participated in all of these. They also, peripherally for the most part, give expression to the outlook of a lifelong Democrat and Liberal who stoutly remained convinced, at least for the years to age 84, that the political opposition was no better than the back end of a jackass. I was not disturbed by this fact, partly because it is a quite minor part of the totality of the letters and, partly, because, while not sharing much that he expresses about the period following World War 2 and the death of FDR, it was interesting to see the views of a man dedicated to decent human values, no matter how distant from mine was his outlook on how and who might best help the achievement of these. If you are a reader with strongly held opposing views you might well find the book a bit irritating. No matter what the difference in political views, if you want to get some insight into the problems of carrying through a project in any of the media upon which he touched and upon some aspects of the media of the period in which he lived, then this is an excellent vehicle to achieve that purpose.