Larry Tye is a New York Times bestselling author whose most recent book is a biography of Robert F. Kennedy, the former attorney general, U.S. senator, and presidential candidate. Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon explores RFK’s extraordinary transformation from cold warrior to fiery leftist.
Tye’s first book, The Father of Spin, is a biography of public relations pioneer Edward L.Bernays. Home Lands looks at the Jewish renewal underway from Boston to Buenos Aires. Rising from the Rails explores how the black men who worked on George Pullman’s railroad sleeping cars helped kick-start the Civil Rights movement and gave birth to today’s African-American middle class. Shock, a collaboration with Kitty Dukakis, is a journalist’s first-person account of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), psychiatry’s most controversial treatment, and a portrait of how that therapy helped one woman overcome debilitating depression. Satchel is the biography of two American icons – Satchel Paige and Jim Crow. Superman tells the nearly-real life story of the most enduring American hero of the last century.
Tye, who graduated from Brown University, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1993-94. He taught journalism at Boston University, Northeastern, and Tufts.
ABC’s action-comedy series Batman (1966–68) famously offered a dual address in its wildly popular portayal of a comic book hero in a live action format. Children uncritically accepted the show’s plots and characters, who were guided by lofty ideals and social values, while adults reacted to the clear parody of the values on display. In Batman, author Matt Yockey argues that the series served as a safe space for viewers to engage with changing attitudes about consumerism, politics, the Vietnam war, celebrity, race, and gender during a period when social meaning was increasingly contested in America.
Yockey examines Batman’s boundary pushing in four chapters. In “Bat-Civics,” he analyzes the superhero as a conflicted symbol of American identity and considers the ways in which the Batman character parodied that status. Yockey then looks at the show’s experimentation with the superhero genre’s conservative gender and racial politics in “Bat-Difference” and investigates the significance of the show’s choices of stars and guest stars in “Bat-Casting.” Finally, he considers how the series’ dual identity as straightforward crime serial and subversive mass culture text set it up for extratextual production in “Bat-Being.”
The superhero is a conflicted symbol of American identity—representing both excessive individualism and the status quo—making it an especially useful figure for the kind of cultural work that Batman undertook. Batman fans, from popular culture enthusiasts to television history scholars, will enjoy this volume.