1. Jeff Guinn’s biography, Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson is now out in paperback. Guinn’s book has new information about Manson’s upbringing and how Manson came to San Francisco in 1967, after serving time in prison, and used what he learned from pimps, the Bible, Scientology and ’60s counterculture to attract followers — mostly young women — and teach them to follow and fear him.
In the interview Guinn explains his method of writing history: 

"What I do in all of my nonfiction books is I try to pick an era in American history that I want to write about. Once I pick that era, then I try to find some iconic individual or event. The theme, the theory behind all my books, is that history doesn’t happen in a vacuum. So I look for interesting times in our nation’s history, when all of the different threads of things would come together to make one moment possible, be it a wonderful moment, be it something horrific like the Tate … murders. But really, the purpose of the book is to, through Charlie Manson, show the context of the 1960s."


Charles Manson Photo: Michael Ochs Archives View in High-Res

    Jeff Guinn’s biography, Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson is now out in paperback. Guinn’s book has new information about Manson’s upbringing and how Manson came to San Francisco in 1967, after serving time in prison, and used what he learned from pimps, the Bible, Scientology and ’60s counterculture to attract followers — mostly young women — and teach them to follow and fear him.

    In the interview Guinn explains his method of writing history: 

    "What I do in all of my nonfiction books is I try to pick an era in American history that I want to write about. Once I pick that era, then I try to find some iconic individual or event. The theme, the theory behind all my books, is that history doesn’t happen in a vacuum. So I look for interesting times in our nation’s history, when all of the different threads of things would come together to make one moment possible, be it a wonderful moment, be it something horrific like the Tate … murders. But really, the purpose of the book is to, through Charlie Manson, show the context of the 1960s."

    Charles Manson Photo: Michael Ochs Archives

  2. charles manson

    1960s

    history

    interview

    fresh air

    biography

    jeff guinn

  1. Today we talk to Matt Bai, author of All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid.  The book centers on Gary Hart’s 1987 sex scandal that destroyed his political ambitions, and how it was a turning point in how the media cover politics, emphasizing quote character issues, over political experience.  
'All The Truth Is Out' Examines How Political Journalism Went Tabloid

Dave Davies: Historically, before 1987 [and the Gary Hart sex scandal], what were the standards employed by journalists in covering politician’s private lives? 

Matt Bai: It’s too facile to say that private lives were never in issue in politics or presidential politics. You certainly can’t say that character wasn’t an issue, we always cared about these things. But by and large, if you’re looking at 20th century politics, let’s say, and even going back before then, the personal lives or private or marital transgressions of national candidates became germane to the debate only when they burst out into the open and affected your political standing. So if you look at someone like Nelson Rockefeller, who in the 1960s divorced his wife, married a much younger staffer, it was quite scandalous, particularly in the Republican Party—that affected his standing with republican voters, it was a political story and it was covered. Chappaquiddick, of course, we all know. Ted Kennedy’s marital troubles, his wife’s issues, all of those things were covered in the context of political standing and how it affected your campaign. 



What we didn’t have were journalists going out and playing detective or playing private investigator and trying to bring into the public arena what were considered private behaviors that were generally off-limits.  So that in the case of say a Franklin Roosevelt, a John Kennedy, a Lyndon Johnson, all of whom we now know were not angels in their private lives, by the standards most of us have for our marriages, but none of that was considered news. Even later when it was understood that John Kennedy had not only extramarital affairs but associations in terms of the mafia and a mafia mistress, that were really, I would consider quite reckless and I think most people would—most of that was treated as something separate from his presidency. He still gets very high marks as a president. 


Photo: Marilyn Monroe and JFK, via JKFlibrary.org  View in High-Res

    Today we talk to Matt Bai, author of All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid.  The book centers on Gary Hart’s 1987 sex scandal that destroyed his political ambitions, and how it was a turning point in how the media cover politics, emphasizing quote character issues, over political experience.  

    'All The Truth Is Out' Examines How Political Journalism Went Tabloid

    Dave Davies: Historically, before 1987 [and the Gary Hart sex scandal], what were the standards employed by journalists in covering politician’s private lives? 

    Matt Bai: It’s too facile to say that private lives were never in issue in politics or presidential politics. You certainly can’t say that character wasn’t an issue, we always cared about these things. But by and large, if you’re looking at 20th century politics, let’s say, and even going back before then, the personal lives or private or marital transgressions of national candidates became germane to the debate only when they burst out into the open and affected your political standing. So if you look at someone like Nelson Rockefeller, who in the 1960s divorced his wife, married a much younger staffer, it was quite scandalous, particularly in the Republican Party—that affected his standing with republican voters, it was a political story and it was covered. Chappaquiddick, of course, we all know. Ted Kennedy’s marital troubles, his wife’s issues, all of those things were covered in the context of political standing and how it affected your campaign. 

    What we didn’t have were journalists going out and playing detective or playing private investigator and trying to bring into the public arena what were considered private behaviors that were generally off-limits.  So that in the case of say a Franklin Roosevelt, a John Kennedy, a Lyndon Johnson, all of whom we now know were not angels in their private lives, by the standards most of us have for our marriages, but none of that was considered news. Even later when it was understood that John Kennedy had not only extramarital affairs but associations in terms of the mafia and a mafia mistress, that were really, I would consider quite reckless and I think most people would—most of that was treated as something separate from his presidency. He still gets very high marks as a president. 

    Photo: Marilyn Monroe and JFK, via JKFlibrary.org 

  2. history

    politics

    tabloid

    fresh air

    matt bai

    journalism

  1. I think people have those innate capacities or they don’t. The crisis draws it out of them. It allows them to see who they really are. And that’s why I chose the title, The Man He Became. I think he was that man before he became sick, but he only discovered who he really was through the ordeal of polio. So it gave him a kind of confidence in his own strength that perhaps no one can have until you’re tested.

    — 

    Historian James Tobin on FDR’s polio

    Roosevelt’s Polio Wasn’t A Secret: He Used It To His ‘Advantage’

  2. history

    FDR

    president

    james tobin

    fresh air

    interview

  1. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright likes to be at the cross-section of religion and culture.  He has written about al-Qaida, Scientology and now, what happened behind-the-scenes at the Camp David Accords in 1978.  His book, Thirteen Days in September, takes a look at what Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin wanted to gain—and what they had to lose.
Wright tells Fresh Air today that both Sadat and Begin came close to walking out and how President Carter reacted: 

"Implicitly, [Carter] was threatening war because he was saying that if there’s another war, [the U.S.] is going to be on Israel’s side and Egypt will be alone and friendless in the world. It was a very sobering moment. Carter told me that he had never been angrier in his entire life. It was clear that he made a real impression on Sadat. Sadat had already ordered the helicopter; he had packed his clothes; he was out of there. He was worried that he was going to be asked to give up too much at Camp David and he wouldn’t be able to justify it when he got home.
[Begin] didn’t really have a position. He didn’t want to agree to any of the terms that Carter was putting forward. Finally, he began to realize that he was going to have to agree with something in order to preserve the relationship with the United States. Carter told him that if he left Camp David, he was going to make sure that the American people knew who was to blame [for the collapse of the peace talks]. He was going to go to Congress; he was going to lay it on them.
One of [Carter’s] speechwriters was told to draw up a speech in which Carter was going to ask the Israeli people to overthrow their government, through a vote, but imagine! You can’t believe how that would be received in Israel or even the Congress of the United States. Things had gotten so personal at the point. Carter believed so strongly that peace was worth it, but he was about to blow everything to smithereens — if either of these men walked out, they were going to pay a price and he wanted to make sure they knew it.”
View in High-Res

    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright likes to be at the cross-section of religion and culture.  He has written about al-Qaida, Scientology and now, what happened behind-the-scenes at the Camp David Accords in 1978.  His book, Thirteen Days in September, takes a look at what Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin wanted to gain—and what they had to lose.

    Wright tells Fresh Air today that both Sadat and Begin came close to walking out and how President Carter reacted: 

    "Implicitly, [Carter] was threatening war because he was saying that if there’s another war, [the U.S.] is going to be on Israel’s side and Egypt will be alone and friendless in the world. It was a very sobering moment. Carter told me that he had never been angrier in his entire life. It was clear that he made a real impression on Sadat. Sadat had already ordered the helicopter; he had packed his clothes; he was out of there. He was worried that he was going to be asked to give up too much at Camp David and he wouldn’t be able to justify it when he got home.

    [Begin] didn’t really have a position. He didn’t want to agree to any of the terms that Carter was putting forward. Finally, he began to realize that he was going to have to agree with something in order to preserve the relationship with the United States. Carter told him that if he left Camp David, he was going to make sure that the American people knew who was to blame [for the collapse of the peace talks]. He was going to go to Congress; he was going to lay it on them.

    One of [Carter’s] speechwriters was told to draw up a speech in which Carter was going to ask the Israeli people to overthrow their government, through a vote, but imagine! You can’t believe how that would be received in Israel or even the Congress of the United States. Things had gotten so personal at the point. Carter believed so strongly that peace was worth it, but he was about to blow everything to smithereens — if either of these men walked out, they were going to pay a price and he wanted to make sure they knew it.”

  2. fresh air

    interview

    lawrence wright

    history

    israel

    egypt

    camp david accords

  1. On Monday, Maureen Corrigan spoke to Fresh Air about her book, So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures.  When Gatsby was published in 1925 it was a flop, but World War II turned that around. In fact, the Atlantic just published an article about the Armed Services Editions—books that were given to soldiers to keep in their uniform pockets so they had something to read to take their mind off of the death and destruction. 
Here’s what Yoni Appelbaum of Atlantic says: 

Some of the selections [for the Armed Services Editions] were idiosyncratic. In 1945, Council picked out an older novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald that had never achieved popular success. It sold just 120 copies the previous year, and another 33 in 1945 before going out of print. The 155,000 copies of The Great Gatsby that they shipped out to the troops dwarfed all its previous print runs combined. Buoyed by that exposure, it would go on to become one of the great publishing successes of the 20th century.

Learn more about Gatsby’s incredible revival here.  View in High-Res

    On Monday, Maureen Corrigan spoke to Fresh Air about her book, So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures.  When Gatsby was published in 1925 it was a flop, but World War II turned that around. In fact, the Atlantic just published an article about the Armed Services Editions—books that were given to soldiers to keep in their uniform pockets so they had something to read to take their mind off of the death and destruction.

    Here’s what Yoni Appelbaum of Atlantic says: 

    Some of the selections [for the Armed Services Editions] were idiosyncratic. In 1945, Council picked out an older novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald that had never achieved popular success. It sold just 120 copies the previous year, and another 33 in 1945 before going out of print. The 155,000 copies of The Great Gatsby that they shipped out to the troops dwarfed all its previous print runs combined. Buoyed by that exposure, it would go on to become one of the great publishing successes of the 20th century.

    Learn more about Gatsby’s incredible revival here

  2. fresh air

    interview

    the great gatsby

    the atlantic

    world war II

    history

  1. David Bianculli says the new 14-hour PBS documentary series The Roosevelts: An Intimate History  is Ken Burns' best yet:


"Each of these Roosevelts, if studied individually, would be fascinating. But looking at them together like this is a revelation – a sort of storytelling synergy, where the whole ends up being even more valuable than the sum of its parts."


Photo: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt with their children in Washington, DC, June 12, 1919. (credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Hyde Park, NY)

    David Bianculli says the new 14-hour PBS documentary series The Roosevelts: An Intimate History  is Ken Burns' best yet:

    "Each of these Roosevelts, if studied individually, would be fascinating. But looking at them together like this is a revelation – a sort of storytelling synergy, where the whole ends up being even more valuable than the sum of its parts."

    Photo: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt with their children in Washington, DC, June 12, 1919. (credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Hyde Park, NY)

  2. PBS

    roosevelt

    history

    documentary

    fresh air

    david bianculli

  1. When The Great Gatsby was published in 1925, it flopped. In fact, it didn’t get its second wind until World War II when it was given to soldiers to carry in their pockets—over 123,000 copies were distributed. 
Today we talk about the history of Gatsby and why it endures. Fresh Air’s book critic Maureen Corrigan just wrote a book about this very subject. It’s called “So We Read On,” a reference to the final words of Gatsby, “And So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
In the conversation, Corrigan tells us that Gatsby has quite a few film noir tropes: 

"Gatsby almost has the form of a film noir, where you have this voiceover with [narrator] Nick Carraway remembering things that have taken place in the past, things that can’t be changed, events that can’t be changed.
It’s a violent story. There are three violent deaths in Gatsby. It’s a story in which you get bootlegging, crime, explicit sexuality — and remember this is 1925 when it was published, so it’s pretty racy for its time.
… We don’t explicitly read about [sex] but in Chapter Two, Nick is taken along by Tom Buchanan … on a joy ride into Manhattan where Tom takes Nick to … a drunken party in The Love Nest. So we know that there’s infidelity — a lot of innuendo — about people having sex outside of marriage and a lot of drinking.
And, most importantly, film noir, hardboiled detective fiction and The Great Gatsby — they’re all stories that are obsessed with the presence of fate. There’s a very fated feel to Gatsby. Events that occur in the novel, they’re foretold many times. That car crash in which Myrtle Wilson is killed, Tom’s mistress, there are two other car crashes that preceded that car crash. So a lot of events are predicted in this novel.”


Photo: Benn Mitchell 

    When The Great Gatsby was published in 1925, it flopped. In fact, it didn’t get its second wind until World War II when it was given to soldiers to carry in their pockets—over 123,000 copies were distributed. 

    Today we talk about the history of Gatsby and why it endures. Fresh Air’s book critic Maureen Corrigan just wrote a book about this very subject. It’s called “So We Read On,” a reference to the final words of Gatsby, “And So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

    In the conversation, Corrigan tells us that Gatsby has quite a few film noir tropes: 

    "Gatsby almost has the form of a film noir, where you have this voiceover with [narrator] Nick Carraway remembering things that have taken place in the past, things that can’t be changed, events that can’t be changed.

    It’s a violent story. There are three violent deaths in Gatsby. It’s a story in which you get bootlegging, crime, explicit sexuality — and remember this is 1925 when it was published, so it’s pretty racy for its time.

    … We don’t explicitly read about [sex] but in Chapter Two, Nick is taken along by Tom Buchanan … on a joy ride into Manhattan where Tom takes Nick to … a drunken party in The Love Nest. So we know that there’s infidelity — a lot of innuendo — about people having sex outside of marriage and a lot of drinking.

    And, most importantly, film noir, hardboiled detective fiction and The Great Gatsby — they’re all stories that are obsessed with the presence of fate. There’s a very fated feel to Gatsby. Events that occur in the novel, they’re foretold many times. That car crash in which Myrtle Wilson is killed, Tom’s mistress, there are two other car crashes that preceded that car crash. So a lot of events are predicted in this novel.”

    Photo: Benn Mitchell 

  2. the great gatsby

    noir

    literature

    books

    interview

    fresh air

    crime

    history

  1. Arthur Allen's book, The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl, tells the story of two scientists—one Christian and one Jewish—who battled typhus and sabotaged the Nazis during WWII. 
Transmitted by body lice, typhus killed untold numbers of soldiers and civilians during the war. Today’s interview explores the labor-intensive process of making the vaccine and the way the lab sabotaged the Nazis by weakening their vaccines and sneaking doses into Jewish ghettos. 
Allen explains how the Nazis used lice imagery after they invaded Poland: 

"The Nazis … always described the Jews as "vermin" and sometimes used the word "lice." …And this was an ideology that was belittling and obviously also associating Jews with sort of filth and contamination, parasitism — all of these things that you metaphorically can link lice to.
[The Nazis] made it very concrete after they took over the first Polish cities, that there were signs that went up all over Warsaw, for example … that would have a picture of a bearded Jew with a louse that said, “Lice, Jews, typhus,” to make that association in the minds [of] Poles — the idea of keeping them from protecting Jews, [of] seeing Jews as part of this invasive, parasitic, dangerous force that they had to avoid and exterminate.”


German anti-Jewish propaganda: “Jews, lice, typhus.” Poster printed in Warsaw in 1941 and distributed throughout the GG. Courtesy of ŻIH. View in High-Res

    Arthur Allen's book, The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl, tells the story of two scientists—one Christian and one Jewish—who battled typhus and sabotaged the Nazis during WWII. 

    Transmitted by body lice, typhus killed untold numbers of soldiers and civilians during the war. Today’s interview explores the labor-intensive process of making the vaccine and the way the lab sabotaged the Nazis by weakening their vaccines and sneaking doses into Jewish ghettos. 

    Allen explains how the Nazis used lice imagery after they invaded Poland: 

    "The Nazis … always described the Jews as "vermin" and sometimes used the word "lice." …And this was an ideology that was belittling and obviously also associating Jews with sort of filth and contamination, parasitism — all of these things that you metaphorically can link lice to.

    [The Nazis] made it very concrete after they took over the first Polish cities, that there were signs that went up all over Warsaw, for example … that would have a picture of a bearded Jew with a louse that said, “Lice, Jews, typhus,” to make that association in the minds [of] Poles — the idea of keeping them from protecting Jews, [of] seeing Jews as part of this invasive, parasitic, dangerous force that they had to avoid and exterminate.”

    German anti-Jewish propaganda: “Jews, lice, typhus.” Poster printed in Warsaw in 1941 and distributed throughout the GG. Courtesy of ŻIH.

  2. typhus

    jewish history

    WWII

    science

    history

    holocaust

    aruthur allen

    fresh air

    terry gross

  1. We asked New Yorker staff writer Dexter Filkins to talk with us about ISIS, how it compares to Al-Qaeda, the power it now has in Iraq and Syria, and how it’s war is beginning to destabilize neighboring countries. 
Here Filkins gives some context about the divisions in the Middle East:

"The modern Middle East was formed really, all but on the back of an envelope after World War I. You had the Ottoman Empire, ruled out of Istanbul, which governed most of the Middle East, collapsed after World War I and the British and the French basically just took out the pen and started drawing the borders and those are the borders we have today and they don’t represent much of anything other than the whims of the colonial powers at the time. They’re not aligned with tribal identities or religious or sectarian or ethnic groups or mountains or rivers or anything. I mean, look at Iraq. It’s a bunch of straight lines drawn with a ruler."


Photo by Lynsey Addario/NYT View in High-Res

    We asked New Yorker staff writer Dexter Filkins to talk with us about ISIS, how it compares to Al-Qaeda, the power it now has in Iraq and Syria, and how it’s war is beginning to destabilize neighboring countries. 

    Here Filkins gives some context about the divisions in the Middle East:

    "The modern Middle East was formed really, all but on the back of an envelope after World War I. You had the Ottoman Empire, ruled out of Istanbul, which governed most of the Middle East, collapsed after World War I and the British and the French basically just took out the pen and started drawing the borders and those are the borders we have today and they don’t represent much of anything other than the whims of the colonial powers at the time. They’re not aligned with tribal identities or religious or sectarian or ethnic groups or mountains or rivers or anything. I mean, look at Iraq. It’s a bunch of straight lines drawn with a ruler."

    Photo by Lynsey Addario/NYT

  2. iraq

    ISIS

    dexter filkins

    middle east

    history

    interview

    fresh air

  1. This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, a movement to open the polls to blacks in Mississippi and end the state’s white supremacy. 
Freedom Summer was organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which recruited 700 college students—mostly white students from the North—to come down to Mississippi to help African Americans register to vote. 
A new documentary called Freedom Summer airs on PBS tomorrow. The film’s director Stanley Nelson, and longtime journalist and one of Freedom Summer’s organizers Charles Cobb joined Fresh Air to discuss the movement. Cobb explains how SNCC trained the students for their entry into the violent South: 

Charles Cobb: We could show people how best to try and protect yourself from actual physical [harm] – what to do if you’re attacked by a mob, how to cover your body, how to protect somebody who you’re with without engaging in fistfights or whipping out a pistol… We could show people how to do that. We had some experience in that because we all came out of the sit-in movement and were used to being surrounded by mobs of hostile whites.

    This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, a movement to open the polls to blacks in Mississippi and end the state’s white supremacy. 

    Freedom Summer was organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which recruited 700 college students—mostly white students from the North—to come down to Mississippi to help African Americans register to vote. 

    A new documentary called Freedom Summer airs on PBS tomorrow. The film’s director Stanley Nelson, and longtime journalist and one of Freedom Summer’s organizers Charles Cobb joined Fresh Air to discuss the movement. Cobb explains how SNCC trained the students for their entry into the violent South: 

    Charles Cobb: We could show people how best to try and protect yourself from actual physical [harm] – what to do if you’re attacked by a mob, how to cover your body, how to protect somebody who you’re with without engaging in fistfights or whipping out a pistol… We could show people how to do that. We had some experience in that because we all came out of the sit-in movement and were used to being surrounded by mobs of hostile whites.

  2. civil rights

    documentary

    PBS

    freedom summer

    voting

    racism

    mississippi

    history

  1. One of the most intriguing figures of 20th-century warfare is T.E. Lawrence, the British army officer who immersed himself in the culture of the Arabian Peninsula’s Bedouin tribes and played a key role in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Turks during World War I. He became a well-known and romanticized figure in post-war England, and was immortalized in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.
Scott Anderson spent four years researching Lawrence and three other young men who were involved in the momentous events of the Middle East during and after the war. (Those other men include an American, a German and a Jew living in Palestine.) What Anderson discovered about Lawrence is different from, but every bit as interesting as, the popular image of the man. 

Anderson on Lawrence’s affinity for understanding Arab culture:

"He spent three or four years as an archaeologist in northern Syria. He was one of those people … that goes to a foreign place and just seem[s] to have an instant recognition and affinity for a foreign culture, and Lawrence certainly had that with the Arabs.


"… He really studied the whole idea of the way society worked, the clan structure and the tribal structure. When he got to Arabia, those same structures and the lines of what land belonged to which tribe were even more ferocious … and Lawrence really understood this in a way that virtually no other British officer in the area understood it."


Photo: T.E. Lawrence outside his tent with staff; Marist Special Collections B&W glass plate 1262.36 via ClioHistory View in High-Res

    One of the most intriguing figures of 20th-century warfare is T.E. Lawrence, the British army officer who immersed himself in the culture of the Arabian Peninsula’s Bedouin tribes and played a key role in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Turks during World War I. He became a well-known and romanticized figure in post-war England, and was immortalized in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

    Scott Anderson spent four years researching Lawrence and three other young men who were involved in the momentous events of the Middle East during and after the war. (Those other men include an American, a German and a Jew living in Palestine.) What Anderson discovered about Lawrence is different from, but every bit as interesting as, the popular image of the man. 

    Anderson on Lawrence’s affinity for understanding Arab culture:

    "He spent three or four years as an archaeologist in northern Syria. He was one of those people … that goes to a foreign place and just seem[s] to have an instant recognition and affinity for a foreign culture, and Lawrence certainly had that with the Arabs.

    "… He really studied the whole idea of the way society worked, the clan structure and the tribal structure. When he got to Arabia, those same structures and the lines of what land belonged to which tribe were even more ferocious … and Lawrence really understood this in a way that virtually no other British officer in the area understood it."

    Photo: T.E. Lawrence outside his tent with staff; Marist Special Collections B&W glass plate 1262.36 via ClioHistory

  2. T.E. Lawrence

    lawrence of arabia

    scott anderson

    arab revolt

    history

  1. Brothers Dave and Phil Alvin (of The Blasters) join Fresh Air to play songs from their Big Bill Broonzy tribute album. In this short video they play Broonzy’s guitar, an artifact of Chicago Blues history. 

  2. big bill broonzy

    blues

    chicago

    music

    history

    dave and phil alvin

  1. Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. During World War II a handful of Hollywood’s most celebrated directors and filmmakers enlisted and risked their lives—not to fight, but to film combat. Mark Harris wrote a book about these filmmakers and the unprecedented relationship between the military and Hollywood in his book Five Came Back. Here’s what Harris said about filming D-Day: 

George Stevens (for the Army) and John Ford (for the Navy) were really the ones that came up with a concerted plan. … It involved hundreds of cameras, hundreds of cameramen, dozens of cameras fixed to the front of landing vessels.
What is ironic is that most of the footage that was shot at D-Day was destroyed. Many of the stationary cameras didn’t function. The cameramen miraculously almost all survived, but a lot of their footage didn’t. So there was no way to create a clear narrative, chronological structure of what happened at D-Day out of the footage. What there was was an extraordinary amount of raw footage that was then collected from every camera, and every cameraman, that hadn’t malfunctioned. It was all sort of packed up, sent to England and edited, apparently, into several hours of continuous footage that was shown to the War Department back in the United States.
Most of the most shocking footage, the most realistic footage, the best footage, if you will, from D-Day was much too raw and frightening and upsetting to be shown to home front audiences. So while movie theaters across the country advertised for 10 days with signs outside that said, “Ten Days Until First Footage Of D-Day” … the actual footage that made its way to theaters was a very carefully manicured selection of stuff that was acceptable to show …
Most of the D-Day footage was not shown until much, much later. And really, you’d have to go forward to the movie Saving Private Ryan, the first part of which is a recreation of D-Day that is in part inspired by that never-seen footage.


Photo: U.S. infantrymen wade from their landing craft toward Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (Credit:U.S. Coast Guard/National Archives, Washington, D.C. via Britannica  View in High-Res

    Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. During World War II a handful of Hollywood’s most celebrated directors and filmmakers enlisted and risked their lives—not to fight, but to film combat. Mark Harris wrote a book about these filmmakers and the unprecedented relationship between the military and Hollywood in his book Five Came Back. Here’s what Harris said about filming D-Day: 

    George Stevens (for the Army) and John Ford (for the Navy) were really the ones that came up with a concerted plan. … It involved hundreds of cameras, hundreds of cameramen, dozens of cameras fixed to the front of landing vessels.

    What is ironic is that most of the footage that was shot at D-Day was destroyed. Many of the stationary cameras didn’t function. The cameramen miraculously almost all survived, but a lot of their footage didn’t. So there was no way to create a clear narrative, chronological structure of what happened at D-Day out of the footage. What there was was an extraordinary amount of raw footage that was then collected from every camera, and every cameraman, that hadn’t malfunctioned. It was all sort of packed up, sent to England and edited, apparently, into several hours of continuous footage that was shown to the War Department back in the United States.

    Most of the most shocking footage, the most realistic footage, the best footage, if you will, from D-Day was much too raw and frightening and upsetting to be shown to home front audiences. So while movie theaters across the country advertised for 10 days with signs outside that said, “Ten Days Until First Footage Of D-Day” … the actual footage that made its way to theaters was a very carefully manicured selection of stuff that was acceptable to show …

    Most of the D-Day footage was not shown until much, much later. And really, you’d have to go forward to the movie Saving Private Ryan, the first part of which is a recreation of D-Day that is in part inspired by that never-seen footage.

    Photo: U.S. infantrymen wade from their landing craft toward Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (Credit:U.S. Coast Guard/National Archives, Washington, D.C. via Britannica 

  2. d-day

    world war II

    mark harris

    film

    hollywood

    history

  1. Fresh Air’s book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Hotel Florida: Truth, Love and Death in the Spanish Civil War by Amanda Vaill, a romantic biography with “enduring mystique:” 

Amanda Vaill isn’t after anything as quixotic as trying to “set the record straight” on the Spanish Civil War; instead, she delves deeply into the lives of three couples whose chronicling of the war shaped public perception. Some of her subjects — like Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn and war photographer Robert Capa — are famous; others, like photographer Gerda Taro and Spanish journalist Arturo Barea, should be better known. Their paths crossed in Spain and all six spent time in the Hotel Florida, “a ten-story marble-clad jewel box” in Madrid, where journalists, diplomats, prostitutes, pilots and spies drank together and dived for cover as bombs whistled over the city at night. Ultimately, what Vaill seems to be mulling over in this book is the age-old question of what war does to people: whether it brings out altruism or naked self-interest. Spoiler alert: In Vaill’s account Hemingway fails the sniff test.
View in High-Res

    Fresh Air’s book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Hotel Florida: Truth, Love and Death in the Spanish Civil War by Amanda Vaill, a romantic biography with “enduring mystique:” 

    Amanda Vaill isn’t after anything as quixotic as trying to “set the record straight” on the Spanish Civil War; instead, she delves deeply into the lives of three couples whose chronicling of the war shaped public perception. Some of her subjects — like Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn and war photographer Robert Capa — are famous; others, like photographer Gerda Taro and Spanish journalist Arturo Barea, should be better known. Their paths crossed in Spain and all six spent time in the Hotel Florida, “a ten-story marble-clad jewel box” in Madrid, where journalists, diplomats, prostitutes, pilots and spies drank together and dived for cover as bombs whistled over the city at night. Ultimately, what Vaill seems to be mulling over in this book is the age-old question of what war does to people: whether it brings out altruism or naked self-interest. Spoiler alert: In Vaill’s account Hemingway fails the sniff test.

  2. madrid

    history

    biography

    book review

    maureen corrigan

  1. In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 28th), we wanted to share a part of our interview with Mark Harris. He’s the author of Five Came Back, a book about five Hollywood filmmakers and their pivotal role in documenting World War II. 
Director George Stevens filmed at the concentration camp Dachau. Faced with the horrific sight of skeletal bodies, crematoria, and immense suffering, Harris says, “he was no longer interested in making a documentary, what he was doing and what he knew he was doing from the first hour that he was there was gathering evidence.” Harris explains how later this footage was used: 

"The footage that he shot proved to be extraordinarily important in the Nuremberg Trials, where it was compiled into two evidentiary movies, one of which was specifically designed to show Nazi atrocities and the other of which was designed to prove that this had been a long-term plan on the part of the Nazis — essentially to prove intent …
The defendants were forced to sit there and watch them, and many people feel that they were essentially turning points in the trial … not in that these guys were ever going to be found innocent, but in bringing home just how horrible what they had done was. Famously, a couple of German lawyers for the defendants said that after seeing the footage that Stevens had compiled, they couldn’t even stand to be in the same room with their own clients.”


Photo: Gate at Dachau  View in High-Res

    In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 28th), we wanted to share a part of our interview with Mark Harris. He’s the author of Five Came Back, a book about five Hollywood filmmakers and their pivotal role in documenting World War II. 

    Director George Stevens filmed at the concentration camp Dachau. Faced with the horrific sight of skeletal bodies, crematoria, and immense suffering, Harris says, “he was no longer interested in making a documentary, what he was doing and what he knew he was doing from the first hour that he was there was gathering evidence.” Harris explains how later this footage was used: 

    "The footage that he shot proved to be extraordinarily important in the Nuremberg Trials, where it was compiled into two evidentiary movies, one of which was specifically designed to show Nazi atrocities and the other of which was designed to prove that this had been a long-term plan on the part of the Nazis — essentially to prove intent …

    The defendants were forced to sit there and watch them, and many people feel that they were essentially turning points in the trial … not in that these guys were ever going to be found innocent, but in bringing home just how horrible what they had done was. Famously, a couple of German lawyers for the defendants said that after seeing the footage that Stevens had compiled, they couldn’t even stand to be in the same room with their own clients.”

    Photo: Gate at Dachau 

  2. holocaust

    concentration camp

    world war II

    holocast remembrance day

    jews

    history

    genocide