Prof. LeRoy Bannerman has sketched Norman Corwin's entire career, from his first childhood experiments at writing to recent television and stage ventures. The bulk of the book covers the three "golden" decades when Corwin's name meant absolute magic to a nationwide radio audience.
From his invitation to join the CBS Radio Network in 1938 as producer and writer of a poetry program, until his later successes in the 1960s producing for the United Nations, Corwin represented the acme of radio creativity. "The Columbia Workshop," "Twenty-Six by Corwin," with the specials, "We Hold These Truths" and "On a Note of Triumph" were genuine events in the cultural life of this country.
Drawing heavily on Corwin's unpublished memoirs, Bannerman gives us a fairly complete year-to-year, even week-to-week and sometimes day-to-day, narrative of Corwin's work at the time: the writing deadlines, the network pressures, the production details that consumed Corwin's life ceaselessly. Sometimes these details are illuminated; occasionally they tire the reader who would like to delve more deeply into the creative processes that were producing such a sustained burst of genuine originality.
For there isn't any doubt, even though memory has evaporated, leaving only the titles and a remembered sense of enchantment, that Corwin grasped the possibilities of radio writing like no one else: His sense of its fluidity, its intimacy, its range of emotional life, its ability to swing the listener from distant stars to the neighbor's footsteps, gave him an instrument to express feeling and ideas that were extraordinarily in touch with the country at the time. Although the book is generous with short quotations from a few of Corwin's major works, a detailed account of one script, such as "The Odyssey of Runyon Jones," would have been welcome.