Media Marathon

A Twentieth-Century Memoir

Media Marathon

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 30 b&w photographs Published: January 1996

Author: Erik Barnouw

American Studies, General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs, Media Studies > Communication

One of the most respected and honored historians of the media, Erik Barnouw has been called a major national resource by The Nation. Norman Corwin dubbed him America’s Gibbon. He is the writer, says critic John Leonard, “from whom the rest of us steal instead of doing our research.” Media history is his subject, and, as this memoir makes so delightfully clear, it has also been Erik Barnouw’s life. Barnouw’s story, told with wit and charm in Media Marathon, is the story of American culture adjusting to the twentieth century, of new media repeatedly displacing the old in a century-long competitive upheaval.
Born in Holland in 1908 and an immigrant to the United States at the age of eleven, Barnouw spent his early working years in an astounding array of occupations—actor and stage manager, lyricist, translator, director, producer, teacher, and union official. This varied background, described here in rich detail, informs his writings about the world in which he moved, specifically regarding the shifting channels of twentieth-century mass communication. Telling his story through a series of personal profiles of the famous, the infamous, and the little known but powerfully influential, Barnouw recounts the events that took him from the vaudeville stage to the Library of Congress, where he became the first chief of its newly formed Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recording Sound Division. Thornton Wilder, Pearl S. Buck, Joshua Logan, Dwight Eisenhower, Lynn Fontanne, Tallulah Bankhead, and Akira Iwasaki—these are among the featured characters in the drama of American media, rendered here in striking close-ups.
From The Hague to retirement in Vermont, with stops in India, Japan, and Russia, Barnouw’s remarkable story gives readers the chance to relive crucial chapters of modern media history—and to relive them with one of that history’s masters as an incomparable guide. A book for those interested in the “mass media,” its evolution, and role in society, Media Marathon will appeal to students, scholars, and general readers alike.


“A soft-spoken, enjoyable memoir, shaped as a series of character sketches of interesting and distinguished people [Barnouw] has encountered.” — Nathan Ward, New York Times Book Review

“Award-winning communications scholar and filmmaker Erik Barnouw, now deceased, has left us an extraordinary legacy of scholarship essential for understanding the world of media as it developed during most of the twentieth century.” — William T. Murphy , Journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists

“Eric Barnouw’s memoir is a follow through on his celebrated work as one of the most perceptive chroniclers of our generation. It is personal history at its best.” — Studs Terkel


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Price: $54.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Erik Barnouw is the author of, most notably, the three-volume History of Broadcasting in the United States, as well as a condensed version, Tube of Plenty, and is editor-in-chief of the International Encyclopedia of Communications. At the time of his death in 2001, he was Professor Emeritus of Dramatic Arts at Columbia University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Prologue 1

John Mulholland 6

Thornton WIlder 14

Joshua Logan 21

Tony Wons 32

Billy Halop 47

Peal S. Buck 59

William A. Hart 73

Lynn Fontanne 81

Dwight D. Eisenhower 93

Frank and Anne Hummert 112

Tallulah Bankhead 124

Dr. L. E. Smith 133

Bud Leyra 143

M. G. Ramachandran 155

Clifford J. Durr 167

The Kaufman Brothers 182

Akira Iwasaki 193

Robert Osborn 218

Daniel J. Bornstein 233

Epilogue 250

Chronology 253

Index 257
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1728-9
Publicity material