The Home Front, 1938–1945
The Mind’s Eye (four cassettes), 5½ hours, $19.95. CODE: MER-1
The decade that has passed since the radio veterans Edward Brown, Frank Gorin, and William B. Williams put this series together has done nothing to diminish its warmth and power. Four stereo cassettes take the listener to the home front during World War II—and also to the fighting fronts. The narrative begins with a Depression-worn nation jittery enough to be spooked by Orson Welles’s radio drama of Martians landing in New Jersey and follows that nation’s fortunes as it makes its way toward total victory. The public figures of the era speak for themselves—Churchill and Hitler, Lou Gehrig and Charles Lindbergh, de Gaulle and MacArthur and FDR—but what gives these tapes their immediacy is the artful blending of the texture of daily experience into the titanic story they tell. Bogart says goodbye to Bergman, a hitsmith announces that we’ll make “a wooden kimono for the mikado,” Fibber McGee’s closet spews forth its contents, and of course the Andrews Sisters sing. The result is always vivid, and sometimes thrilling.