Cover

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Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface: Doing Television History

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pp. ix-xiv

This project was sparked by my interest in the peculiar cultural politics of the Cold War. In part, my fascination was marked by a sense of distance and wonder—the hyperbolic anti-Communism of the early 1950s seemed so anachronistic as to be comically naïve. Television, of course, is central to this too-common assumption about the superiority and sophistication of the present. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvi

There is always a tinge of hubris in acknowledgments; the longer the litany of appreciation, the more it resembles a giddy declaration of wealth. Still, my sister always tells me that it’s a kindness to allow people to help you, and to not let one’s creeping sense of unworth stand in the way of good will. ...

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Introduction: The Agent and the Nation

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pp. xvii-xl

In 1966, amid an explosion of espionage programming on American television, the men’s magazine Esquire devoted a special issue to “Spies, Science, and Sex.” The issue begins with a full-page image of Robert Vaughn, newly famous as secret agent Napoleon Solo of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Vaughn slouches self-confidently, shoulders thrust back, his hands in the pockets of his crisp shark-skin suit. ...

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1. Documentary Melodrama: Homegrown Spies and the Red Scare

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pp. 1-25

Spies were everywhere in 1950s American media culture. Villains and heroes, they emerged from the shadows just long enough to affirm America’s worst fears of Communist infiltration. The Red Scare of the late 1940s and early 1950s insisted that Communist spies lurked behind every curtained window and at the corners of every film set, ...

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2. I Led 3 Lives and the Agent of History

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pp. 26-48

In May 1949 Herbert Philbrick, an advertising executive for a Paramount Pictures theater exhibition chain in Boston, stepped out of the shadows and into the witness box to give the star testimony in a widely publicized case against eleven Communist leaders. Through banner headlines, the nation learned that for nine years Philbrick had been a secret member of the Communist Party. ...

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3. The Irrelevant Expert and the Incredible Shrinking Spy

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pp. 49-72

In 1958 two new American spy programs entered into production. Hoping once again to capitalize on the profits to be gleaned from “real realism,” NBC contracted to air Behind Closed Doors, a reality-based espionage drama developed and produced by Screen Gems, the Columbia Pictures short-films unit that had expanded into the burgeoning television market.1 ...

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4. Parody and the Limits of Agency

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pp. 73-112

In his obsequious history of the FBI (complete with a preface by J. Edgar Hoover), Frederick Collins wrote that the ideal FBI agent must “absorb the high ideals of the Bureau, [and adopt] that self-effacement or ‘passion for anonymity’ which is essential to the continued effectiveness of an FBI special agent.”1 ...

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5. I Spy a Colorblind Nation: African Americans and the Citizen-Subject

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pp. 113-143

In the cover photograph of his 1964 Blue Note album Speak No Evil, jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter confronts the camera from behind a veil of bamboo. In the soft-focus foreground, an anonymous Asian woman gazes across the frame, aloof to (or unaware of) Shorter’s presence. In the image, the musician has slipped the bounds of the North American continent, caught in a trans-Pacific tangle. ...

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6. Agents or Technocrats: Mission: Impossible and the International Other

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pp. 144-175

By the mid-1960s, American espionage programs had largely abandoned reality-based narratives, favoring dramatic realism over the documentary variety. Sometimes, the failures are as telling as the commercial triumphs; screenwriter Jay Dratler spent several unsuccessful years developing a series called OSS: Of Spies and Stratagems that evoked the documentarist style of the 1950s. ...

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Conclusion: Spies Are Back

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pp. 176-190

The most succinct expression of the 1960s TV spy’s alienation from the state was not an American program but rather a short-lived British import that aired for a single summer season in 1968 on CBS. The Prisoner, created by and starring Patrick McGoohan, considers the consequences of a top secret agent’s resignation from civil service. ...

Notes

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pp. 191-220

Index

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pp. 221-236