In 1950, facing artistic and legal persecution by Senator Joe McCarthy because of her inclusion on Louis Budenz’s list of 400 concealed communists, single mother Hannah Weinstein fled to Europe. There, she built a television studio and established her own production company, Sapphire Films, then surreptitiously hired scores of such blacklisted writers as Waldo Salt, Ian McClellan, Adrian Scott, and Ring Lardner Jr., and “Trojan-horsed” more than 300 half-hours of programming back to the United States, making a fortune in the process. With the exception of a French producer, no other woman on the continent was creating television content at this time, and Weinstein was the only one who was head of her own studio. Before she became one of the more powerful independent production forces in 1950s British television, Hannah Weinstein had a distinguished career as a journalist, publicist, and left-wing political activist. She worked for the New York Herald Tribune from 1927, then began a career in politics when she joined Fiorello H. La Guardia’s New York mayoral campaign in 1937. She also organized the press side of the presidential campaigns of Franklin D. Roosevelt and later (in 1948) of Henry Wallace.
Using declassified FBI and CIA files, interviews, and the personal papers of blacklisted writers and other sources, Red Sapphire depicts how for the better part of a decade, Weinstein was a leader in the left’s battle with the right to shape popular culture during the Cold War . . . a battle that she eventually won.
Julia Bricklin has been called a “great storyteller” of nonfiction. Her debut book, America’s Best Female Sharpshooter: The Rise and Fall of Lillian Frances Smith (University of Oklahoma Press, 2017), was honored by its inclusion in the William F. Cody Series on the History and Culture of the American West. Bricklin’s Polly Pry: The Woman Who Wrote the West—an eagerly anticipated biography about the first female reporter on the Denver Post—was released by TwoDot in September 2018 and was a 2019 Spur Award Finalist for Best Biography. The Notorious Ned Buntline: A Tale of Murder, Betrayal, and the Creation of Buffalo Bill was published in 2020 (TwoDot). Bricklin has also written numerous articles for academic journals and magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, Civil War Times, Financial History, True West, and California History.
Bricklin grew up in southern California, obtained a journalism degree at Cal Poly–San Luis Obispo, and worked in the TV/film industry before obtaining her master’s degree in history at Cal State–Northridge. Bricklin writes for the podcasts American History Tellers, Legends of the Wild West, and Infamous America, and is a regular contributor to a history segment on public radio KPCC.