The Cold War Romance of Lillian Hellman and John Melby

Robert P. Newman, Author University of North Carolina Press $40 (392p) ISBN 978-0-8078-1815-2
She, of course, was the famed playwright ( The Little Foxes ; Watch on the Rhine , etc.); he was a rising star in the State Department, specializing in Asia. They met in 1944 and began an affair which, surviving a bruising encounter with McCarthyism due to Hellman's alleged Communism, continued on and off till her death in 1984. Efficiently written and solidly based on the letters the pair wrote each other, this is the entwined story of their affair and their involvement with the House Un-American Activities Committee, the FBI, the Passport Office and the State Department Security Office. Hellman may have been a member of the Communist Party, briefly, in her youth, but as we see here, she was not a Communist ``in any significant sense,'' nor was she, as J. Edgar Hoover thought, disloyal to the U.S. Despite his impeccable record, Melby was fired by John Foster Dulles, a classic case of ``guilt'' by association. Through these two cases, Newman ( Recognition of Communist China ) has neatly recapped the Cold War hysteria of the time. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
Paperback - 292 pages - 978-0-8078-6575-0
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