The Ten-Cent Plague

  • by David Hajdu
  • Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
  • 11 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the years between World War II and the emergence of television as a mass medium, American popular culture as we know it was first created in the bold, pulpy pages of comic books. The Ten-Cent Plague explores this cultural emergence and its fierce backlash while challenging common notions of the divide between "high" and "low" art.David Hajdu reveals how comics, years before the rock-and-roll revolution, brought on a clash between postwar children and their prewar parents. Created by outsiders from the tenements, garish, shameless, and often shocking, comics became the targets of a raging generational culture divide. They were burned in public bonfires, outlawed in certain cities, and nearly destroyed by a series of televised Congressional hearings. Yet their creativity, irreverence, and suspicion of authority would have a lasting influence.

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What the Critics Say

"Every once in a while, moral panic, innuendo, and fear bubble up from the depths of our culture....David Hajdu's fascinating new book tracks one of the stranger and most significant of these episodes, now forgotten, with exactness, clarity, and serious wit." (Sean Wilentz, Professor of History, Princeton University)
"This book tells an amazing story, with thrills and chills more extreme than the workings of a comic book's imagination." (The New York Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Art can't hurt you

This well researched book clearly details how Comic Books were used as a quick easy target for the difficult problem of violence in society. One can't help but see the parallels to current events as we scapegoat video games as the cause of violence in young people, even though violent crime has gone down as the sale of video games has gone up over the last 5 years. It is precisely the same dynamic described in this book.

A fair criticism is that there are too many sources referenced. I would have liked less quantity and more in depth interviews. However, as a fan of old EC Comics, I enjoyed hearing from all of the people who created them; many who lived through the ban went on to create modern comics. And all of the first person dialog brings the tone of the times to life.

Now I understand why my grandmother, to my horror, threw away all of my comics when she discovered them in my room in 1962. She thought I was headed for a life of crime!

The narration was excellent.

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- Flapjack

Very frightening

Most people believe that we live in a country where freedom of the press is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. This book, which is very well written, shows a slice of our history in which this right was removed. What was done to the comic book industry was the equivalent of Salem witch hunts. I was horrified and nauseated at the descriptions of massive comic book burnings. I had no idea that this event occurred and reminds me that we have to be ever vigilant to attempts by people who attempt to dictate what my morals and tastes should be. This book was gripping and very informative.
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- Paul

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-18-2008
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.