Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Book Review "American Cinematographers in the Great War"

We were pleased to receive a review recently on our book about the American cinematographers of World War I by the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television.

Leen Engelen in her review qualified our book as a "pioneering study" on this subject. Apart from the extensive research both in America and Europe the book review mentions our work on locating and identifying lost World War I films, such as Wilbur H. Durborough's On the Firing Line with the Germans (1915).

"One of the particular strengths of this book", Engelen writes, "is that the authors manage to rime extremely detailed accounts on the cameramen and their films with clear insights into the wider contexts, such as the development of the news business in the war years and the Great War as a global propaganda war." As an example, she mentions the chapter on press tycoon William Randolph Hearst and his influence on modern war reporting by sending his cinematographers to Europe.

Adventure Stories

"Accounts of American correspondents hiding from bombshells in the coal cellar of an Antwerp townhouse or secretely filming at a Marxist demonstration in Petrograd read as exciting boys' fiction adventure stories of young men with cameras, left to their own devices and inventiveness on the battlefields around the world", the review concludes.

Thank you for this review!  Like the main characters that we described we also felt we were on a great adventure while researching and writing this book. These American cameramen were among the first film correspondents and the Great War served as a strong driving force to innovate the media on a completely new scale and level. This was something people couldn't have imagined a few years before the outbreak of war in 1914. For the first time in modern history wars were being extensively filmed.

The review by the Historical Journal of Film, Radio & Television (December 2016) can be read and downloaded here.

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