Five Came Back
Five Came Back by Mark Harris.
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC(February 27, 2014)
*Starred Review* It’s hardly news that the movies affect and are affected by the broader canvas of popular culture and world history, but Harris—perhaps more successfully than any other writer, past or present—manages to find in that symbiotic relationship the stuff of great stories. He turned that unlikely trick in Pictures at a Revolution (2008), about the five Best Picture nominees in 1967 and how they defined a sea change in Hollywood and in society at large, and he does it again here. The number is once more five, but this time it’s five acclaimed directors who went to war in the 1940s to make propaganda films and came home changed by what they saw and what they did. The stories of what John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston, William Wyler, and Frank Capra did in the war are dramatic (Ford filming the opening salvo in the Battle of Midway from a rooftop; Wyler riding along on bombing missions over Germany; Stevens filming the horrific scenes at Dachau), but they are also stories of personal redemption, frustration, and even dishonesty (Huston receiving acclaim for the authenticity of his documentary San Pietro, which was made up almost entirely of reenactments). Every chapter contains small, priceless nuggets of movie history (Joseph Goebbels thought Wyler’s Mrs. Miniver was “an exemplary propaganda film” and hoped the Germans could copy it), and nearly every page offers an example of Harris’ ability to capture the essence of a person or an event in a few, perfectly chosen words (describing Huston as a “last-call bon vivant”). Narrative nonfiction that is as gloriously readable as it is unfailingly informative. --Bill Ott
Since my dear "sis" in England got me reading the Mitfords, and their lives contained a LOT of history, especially around WWII, I think I have become slightly obsessed with reading versions of that time period in America. I've read more than I care to remember on Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin, I have more books waiting about them and about Eisenhower and now I found this book about Hollywood and WWII !
I have to admit this was no "page-turner"... but... I did find it very interesting how Hollywood legends "went to war" with their camera's ..which is why when we now watch historical things about that war we see many parts that were filmed by these men.
In doing so much of WWII is also covered with a different perspective . It's like saying (the truth) that there is always many sides of the same story depending on whose seeing it.
So.. if you want excitement and a fast paced book , this would not be for you, but if you hold interest in WWII and Hollywood..then you might like this book.
I, for one, am glad I didn't give up on it.