Invasion of the Mind Snatchers

Feb 13, 2011

"Eric Burns, a bona fide TV historian, has pulled off a difficult task—he has brought our early, grainy television history to life in living color. His book is a tour of our times, from cowboys and Indians, and scoundrels and healers, to televised hearings and game show hosts. Invasion of the Mind Snatchers is a television-lover's portrait of how we got here, for better or worse, and Burns reminds us that what we were watching all those years was our own history unfolding." — Brian Williams, Anchor and Managing Editor, NBC Nightly News

"Eric Burns's book is delightfully entertaining and richly informative. As a lifelong consumer and perpetrator of television programming, I consider it essential reading." — Richard Thomas, Actor

When the first television was demonstrated in 1927, a headline in The New York Times read, "Like a Photo Come to Life." It was a momentous occasion. But the power of television wasn't fully harnessed until the 1950s, when the medium was, as Eric Burns writes, at "its most preoccupying, its most life-altering."

In Invasion of the Mind Snatchers, Emmy-award-winning broadcaster Eric Burns chronicles the influence of television on the baby boomer generation. Spellbound by Howdy Doody and The Ed Sullivan Show, those children often acted out their favorite programs, purchased the merchandise promoted by performers, and were fascinated by the personalities they saw on screen, often emulating their behavior. It was the first generation raised by TV, and Burns looks at both the promise of broadcasting as espoused by the "inventors and how that promise was both redefined and lost by the corporations who helped spread this revolutionary technology."

Invasion of the Mind Snatchers offers the most comprehensive overview of television programming during the fifties. Burns covers the most important programs and figures, ranging from Milton Berle and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen to Senator Joseph McCarthy and Edward R. Murrow. His lively writing style and choice of programs and genres provides an impressive synthesis of early television programming.

"There are many bold, intelligent, and thought-provoking observations, opinions, and connections throughout this superb book." — David Weinstein, author of The Forgotten Network: DuMont and the Birth of American Television

courtesy Temple University Press

Originally aired November 23, 2010.