In 1950, facing artistic and legal persecution by Senator Joe McCarthy because of her inclusion on Louis Budenz’s list of four hundred 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 McLellan Hunter, Adrian Scott, and Ring Lardner Jr., and “Trojan-horsed” democratic ideals back to the United States through more than three hundred half-hours of programming, 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 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. She lives in Studio City, California.
Red Sapphire is a fascinating portrait of a trailblazing woman. Hannah Weinstein was one of television’s first female showrunners and pioneered the idea of “prestige TV” with her highly successful historical series such as The Adventures of Robin Hood. She was also a single mother and political exile with the courage to employ many victims of the Hollywood blacklist on her productions. Julia Bricklin’s meticulously researched book reveals the indomitable will and enviable powers of persuasion that fueled Weinstein’s astonishing achievements in a male-dominated industry. Bricklin writes with verve, wit, and a deep appreciation for what it means to live a life of political engagement. This is an engaging and overdue account of Weinstein’s story.
Red Sapphire brings Hannah Weinstein's dramatic story to light with white-hot intensity. Julia Bricklin, against the odds and despite many historical gaps, crafts a page-turning portrait of a public relations writer-turned-political powerhouse who finds a second life as a filmmaker, which is where the maneuvers really begin. Weinstein's tireless work on behalf of blacklisted writers and democratic activism could not be more timely.
In Red Sapphire, Julia Bricklin has doggedly uncovered a fascinating—and inspiring—heroine of the Hollywood Blacklist. Like many women of the era, Hannah Weinstein has, until now, been buried in the footnotes (and redacted FBI files) of history, but Red Sapphire is a crucial antidote.
Meticulously researched and beautifully told, this immersive biography pulls us straight into the gripping history of an extraordinary heroine. Bricklin builds the story of Hannah Weinstein’s remarkable life via so much stunning detail that we can visualize it unfolding before us, as if we were watching it on the screens Weinstein once commandeered.
The strength of this well-researched book lies in the abundance of information it provides about Weinstein’s contributions to the often entangled worlds of entertainment and politics . . . readers seeking to understand the McCarthy era and how it resonates today, as well as those interested in women working at the intersection of media and politics, will find this book of interest. Illuminating reading.
"Written with the pulsating pace of a thriller, this book will likely attract readers and scholars interested in political journalism, women in film and television, and mid-20th-century pop culture history."