Paraview Pocket Books

October 1, 2007

Nick Redfern’s Celebrity Secrets: Government Files on the Rich and Famous
Review from The Sunday New York Times Book Review
September 9, 2007

Pop Culture Chronicle
CELEBRITY SECRETS: Government Files on the Rich and Famous. By Nick Redfern. (Paraview Pocket Books, paper, $14.)

The most important periodical of our time, Us Weekly, has already put it best: Stars, they’re just like us. They abuse narcotics, consort with enemies of the state and haggle with prostitutes over services rendered. We know this because our government, when it was not otherwise occupied battling the menaces of Nazism and Communism, was keeping tabs on our most celebrated actors, artists and musicians, with a doggedness that would put any tabloid editor to shame. Redfern, a freelance journalist, knows this because he obtained declassified files the C.I.A., F.B.I. and other federal agencies kept on outspoken stars like Frank Sinatra and John Lennon, and on such seemingly upstanding citizens as John Wayne and John Denver. From Jimi Hendrix’s Army file, we learn that this future rock god “requires excessive supervision at all times” and “cannot function while performing duties thinking about his guitar.” From F.B.I. documents, we discover that Abbott and Costello were scrutinized for slipping suspicious “key words” into their radio shows. And in Marilyn Monroe’s F.B.I. records, we are told that Norman Mailer is “an eccentric but well-known author.” In small doses, these factoids are good for a laugh. But Redfern’s book paints a progressively damning portrait of a government obsessed with pop culture’s power and paranoid about controlling its message, as unnerved by the possibility of a riot breaking out at a Beatles concert as it is by the thought of Rock Hudson portraying an F.B.I. agent in a motion picture.


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