Popular History03.04.2010 | Hot Topics, Faculty
The University of Dayton can now add Hollywood movie set to its résumé.
At the end of February, a film crew shot footage of University of Dayton history professor Larry Schweikart teaching a class in Sears Recital Hall. The crew also interviewed former Soviet Union refugees on campus and filmed at St. Paul's Orthodox Church in Dayton and the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
The scenes were filmed for an upcoming movie called Rockin' the Wall, which tells the story of rock and roll music's part in ending the Cold War and bringing about the dissolution of the former Soviet Union.
The movie is based on a chapter in Schweikart's upcoming book, 7 Events that Made America America: And Proved that the Founding Fathers Were Right All Along.
"The communists kept out television and literature, but as Mikhail Gorbachev said, 'We couldn't keep out rock and roll,' " Schweikart said.
The movie is a documentary told from the perspective of rockers who played at the time on both sides of the Iron Curtain and from survivors of communist regimes who recalled the lifeline that rock music provided. Schweikart's message is that behind the Iron Curtain, where the mere act of expressing one's individuality constituted a potential act of revolution, music provided a unifying force upon which the anti-communist struggle gained ground.
To date, the crew has interviewed Robby Krieger of The Doors, David Paich of Toto, Hollywood composer John Van Tongeren, Jimmy Haslip of the Yellowjackets, and Leslie Mandoki, a European star who escaped from communism.
Future interviews are scheduled with Mother's Finest, Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals, and Mark Stein of Vanilla Fudge, as well as legendary producer Shadow Morton and Pete Rivera of Rare Earth.
"Rock music is expressly American," said Schweikart, who was a drummer in a rock band for more than 10 years, opening for bands such as Steppenwolf and Mother's Finest. "The music starts together and ends together, but there's always a solo in the middle. Americans know how to come together to work for a common goal, but we also have to be able to express our individuality."
The film is planned for summer release, and the book is due out in July.
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'New York Times' Best-Seller
Although Schweikart says he doesn't read The New York Times, the newspapers' readers may soon be reading Schweikart.
A Patriot's History of the United States, which Schweikart co-authored with University of Washington Tacoma history professor Michael Allen, will climb to No. 13 on The New York Times Best-Seller List (paperback nonfiction) on March 7. It debuted at No. 18 on Feb. 28.
Schweikart and Allen wrote the book in 2004 as an antidote to what they considered liberal bias in popular history textbooks, including the similarly titled A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Originally released in 1980, that book is also experiencing a resurgence, listed at No. 10 on the March 7 paperback nonfiction best-seller list.
The New York Times list is just the latest recognition of the popularity of Schweikart's history book. A Patriot's History has spent four weeks in the top 100 lists at both Amazon.com (currently No. 4) and BarnesandNoble.com (currently No. 3). It was the No. 1 best-seller at both sites for weeks.
Schweikart attributes the boost in sales in the last month to his appearance on Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck, as well as Beck's endorsement of the book. Schweikart was one of three guest historians on Beck's Jan. 29 program focused on progressivism.
Since then, Schweikart has written two articles for Glenn Beck's blog titled "The Revolutionary Debt Bomb - And How the Founders Fixed It!" and "America's Forgotten Depression ... and Roaring Recovery!"
In addition, Schweikart taped 10, one-minute video clips to air on Beck's Web site featuring information from his most recent successful book, 48 Liberal Lies about American History. Beck has also invited Schweikart back onto his show later this month.