“Crackling dialogue, gritty characters, a fierce, unblinking stare at acts of brutality.”—Anne Tyler, The New York Times Book Review.
A brilliantly panoramic novel spanning a quarter-century of American life, John Gregory Dunne’s The Red White and Blue tells the story of California's high-profile Broderick family, a tale beginning in the tumult of the 1960s. The clan includes a billionaire San Francisco patriarch, his sons the celebrity priest and Hollywood screenwriter, and his daughter, wife to the brother of the American president. Rounding out the front-line cast is Leah Kaye, a politically radical lawyer once married to the screenwriter Jack Broderick, an ex-newspaperman and the book's narrator.
The influence of wealth in American politics. A California agricultural strike. A South American election. The black-power movement. Hollywood movers and shakers. All of this and more is deftly navigated as Dunne sets his main characters and big-canvas forces in motion. Jack himself is pulled into the swirl, his ironic detachment proving insufficient bulwark against dramas that grow darker, more dangerous and more personal as Dunne’s epic unfolds.
A robust, bitterly comic portrait of America in the Viet Nam era and after, with a storyline headed towards tragedy, The Red White and Blue — appearing here in digital format for the first time — is John Gregory Dunne at his most ambitious and far-seeing, his gaze sweeping from coast to coast and from decade to American decade.
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About the Author
John Gregory Dunne was born May 25, 1932 in Connecticut. He inherited a love of reading from his grandfather, an Irish immigrant who became a prosperous citizen of West Hartford, where Dunne was raised.
After graduating from Princeton in 1954, Dunne briefly volunteered for the army. He then moved to New York City, where he worked at an ad agency and as a staff writer for Time magazine. It was during this time in New York that he met his future wife, fellow writer Joan Didion.
Dunne and Didion married in 1964 and moved to California. They adopted a daughter, Quintana Roo. Dunne’s essay collection QUINTANA AND FRIENDS is named for her. Dunne and Didion were welcomed by Hollywood, and co-wrote four screenplays together, including an early draft of A STAR IS BORN.
Dunne’s first book, DELANO: THE STORY OF THE CALIFORNIA GRAPE STRIKE, was published in 1967. As The New York Times Book Review lauded, “Crackling dialogue, gritty characters, a fierce, unblinking stare at acts of brutality—these elements mark the novels of John Gregory Dunne.” Another significant element in Dunne’s writing, and what informed many of his books, is the city of Los Angeles, especially its dark side. His next major book, THE STUDIO, is an inside look at 20th Century Fox, a piece of reportage that is still hailed as one of the most shrewdly observed portraits of the movie business ever written. In DUTCH SHEA, JR, a provocative, tragic (though, typical of Dunne’s writing, simultaneously uproariously funny) novel, a criminal lawyer “working out of L.A.” must work through his guilt over his past following his divorce and the murder of his adopted daughter. Dunne’s TRUE CONFESSIONS is a novel inspired by the media’s obsession with the “Black Dahlia” murder.
In the late 1980s, Dunne and Didion returned to New York, but Dunne’s fascination with Los Angeles endured. He covered the trial of O.J. Simpson for The New York Review of Books, and wrote MONSTER: LIVING OFF THE BIG SCREEN about his work on early drafts of the Disney film UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL. Dunne’s writing often questions the American fascination with fame, as depicted in his PLAYLAND, which the Washington Post called “[Dunne’s] version of ‘THE GREAT GATSBY,’” and in his THE RED WHITE AND BLUE, a complex, thrilling political narrative. Dunne also published CROONING, a collection of essays on politics, the movie business, California, and the trials of being a magazine writer.
His last book, NOTHING LOST, was published posthumously. Dunne died in 2003, after suffering a heart attack.