An Army of Phantoms
An Army of Phantoms
American Movies and the Making of the Cold War
New Press, Paperback, 9781595588333, 383pp.
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Called "the most detailed year-by-year look at Hollywood during the first decade of the Cold War ever published, one that takes film analysis beyond the screen and sets it in its larger political context" by the Los Angeles Review of Books, An Army of Phantoms is a "delightful" and "amazing" (Dissent) work of film history and cultural criticism by J. Hoberman, one of the foremost film critics writing today, addressing the dynamic synergy of American politics and American popular culture.
By "tell[ing] the story not just of what's on the screen but of what played out behind it” (The American Scholar), Hoberman orchestrates a colorful, sometimes surreal pageant wherein Cecil B. DeMille rubs shoulders with Douglas MacArthur, atomic tests are shown on live TV, God talks on the radio, and Joe McCarthy is bracketed with Marilyn Monroe. From cavalry Westerns, apocalyptic sci-fi flicks, and biblical spectaculars, movies to media events, congressional hearings and political campaigns, An Army of Phantoms "remind[s] you what criticism is supposed to be: revelatory, reflective and as rapturous as the artwork itself" (Time Out New York).
An Army of Phantoms is an energetic and adventurous book, in a curious hybrid genre; scholarly, even encyclopedic, yet written occasionally in a style akin to the Hush-Hush columns of L.A. Confidential.” London Review of Books
Hoberman’s blend of galloping pace, incisive detail, and insistent engagement with multiple, often contradictory readings of the period’s most emblematic films made for utterly compulsive reading. [T]here’s something majestic about the reach of Hoberman’s ambitions, the breadth and rigor of his research, and especially the curatorial vision brought to historical data. . . .An Army of Phantoms may prove to be the definitive text on its subject.” Film Comment
An Army of Phantoms belongs in every home, right next to the copy of Naming Names.” The Nation
[R]emind[s] you what criticism is supposed to be: revelatory, reflective and as rapturous as the artwork itself. Four stars.” Time Out New York
[A]n epic: an alternately fevered and measured account of what might be called the primal scene of American cinema.” Cineaste
If one movie is a manufactured fantasy,’ Hoberman writes, a decade’s worth is a stream of consciousness that insinuates itself into a shared national narrative.’ As film critic for the Village Voice since the 1980s, Hoberman has been our finest interpreter of that stream of consciousness....Hoberman tells the story not just of what’s on the screen but of what played out behind it.” The American Scholar
[An] amazing book.” Dissent
An Army of Phantoms is the most detailed year-by-year look at Hollywood during the first decade of the Cold War ever published, one that takes film analysis beyond the screen and sets it in its larger political context.” Los Angeles Review of Books
[O]ne of the many virtues of An Army of Phantoms is how assiduously Hoberman collects prequel moments to our contemporary national fissures.” Bookforum