For over five decades, the FBI kept intelligence files on dozens of American writers. Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Pearl S. Buck, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Norman Mailer, and many others had come under suspicion of subversion, espionage or immorality. Yet not one was ever convicted of a crime.
In this 1988 clip, writer E. L. Doctorow, who died earlier this week at the age of 84, talks about the role of writers in American society. He says the best writers are a nuisance to society, always preferring the uncomfortable truth to the comfortable lie.