And you thought the ’70s were Hollywood’s most paranoid decade?

J. Hoberman’s ninth book takes us through one of Hollywood’s least-celebrated, most interesting periods (1946–56), and doubles as a history of postwar America itself: It’s a meticulous rendering of an often-misremembered time.

The author—who writes for The Village Voice and London Review of Books—is especially interested in the industry’s response to the Cold War: He looks at the blacklist, Joe McCarthy, and the “Red Menace” as well as John Wayne, Anthony Mann, and Marilyn Monroe. (An Army of Phantoms is the follow-up to Hoberman’s excellent book on 1960s cinema, The Dream Life, and the second volume in a planned trilogy.) He also delves deeply into specific films and genres—Hoberman’s a trenchant critic—and some of his close readings are revelatory.

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.

And you thought the ’70s were Hollywood’s most paranoid decade?