Five Came Back: A Story Of Hollywood And The Second World War by Mark HarrisFive Came Back: A Story Of Hollywood And The Second World War by Mark Harris

Five Came Back: A Story Of Hollywood And The Second World War

byMark Harris

Paperback | February 24, 2015

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Now a Netflix original documentary series, also written by Mark Harris, premiering on March 31,2017: the extraordinary wartime experience of five of Hollywood's most important directors, all of whom put their stamp on World War II and were changed by it forever 

Here is the remarkable, untold story of how five major Hollywood directors—John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston, William Wyler, and Frank Capra—changed World War II, and how, in turn, the war changed them. In a move unheard of at the time, the U.S. government farmed out its war propaganda effort to Hollywood, allowing these directors the freedom to film in combat zones as never before. They were on the scene at almost every major moment of America’s war, shaping the public’s collective consciousness of what we’ve now come to call the good fight. The product of five years of scrupulous archival research, Five Came Back provides a revelatory new understanding of Hollywood’s role in the war through the life and work of these five men who chose to go, and who came back.


“Five Came Back 
. . . is one of the great works of film history of the decade.” --Slate

“A tough-minded, information-packed and irresistibly readable work of movie-minded cultural criticism. Like the best World War II films, it highlights marquee names in a familiar plot to explore some serious issues: the human cost of military service, the hypnotic power of cinema and the tension between artistic integrity and the exigencies of war.” --The New York Times
Mark Harris is the author of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood, which was a New York Times notable book of the year and was named one of the ten best nonfiction books of the decade by Salon. An editor at large at Entertainment Weekly, a columnist for Grantland, and a contributing editor at New Yor...
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Title:Five Came Back: A Story Of Hollywood And The Second World WarFormat:PaperbackDimensions:528 pages, 8.4 × 5.4 × 1.1 inPublished:February 24, 2015Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143126830

ISBN - 13:9780143126836

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Reviews

Read from the Book

ONE “The Only Way I Could Survive”HOLLYWOOD, MARCH 1938–APRIL 1939In the spring of 1938, Jack Warner hosted an industry dinner for the exiled novelist Thomas Mann. A Nobel laureate whose outspoken opposition to Hitler and his policies had led to the revocation of his German citizenship, Mann was then Germany’s leading anti-Nazi voice in the United States. His presence at a Hollywood event was, if not a call to arms, at least a call to wallets. It was also a political coming-out of sorts for Warner and his older brother Harry, who, just three weeks after the Anschluss, were ready to commit themselves—and, more significantly, the company they and their brothers Albert and Sam had founded in 1923—to the fight against the Nazis. The day before the dinner, the studio had shut down its offices in Austria. It had stopped working with Germany four years earlier.The fact that Warner Bros. was at the time the only studio to take such a step suggests the extreme uneasiness that characterized the behavior of the men, almost all of them Jewish, who ran Hollywood’s biggest companies. Freewheeling and entrepreneurial within the confines of the industry they had helped to create, they approached politics only haltingly and after agonized deliberation. While bottom-line imperatives were unquestionably a part of their calculus, their trepidation also emanated from an accurate understanding of their fragile place in American culture; to confront any national or international issue that might turn the spotlight on their religion was to risk animosity and even censure. The motion-picture business was still just thirty years old; most of the people who had built it were first- or second-generation Americans who were still viewed warily by the large portion of the country’s political power structure—to say nothing of the press and public—that had in common a tacit and sometimes overt anti-Semitism. The moguls knew they were perceived as arrivistes and aliens whose loyalties might be divided between the adoptive nation that was making them wealthy and their roots in their old homelands.As Hitler consolidated his power in the 1930s, studio chiefs tended to express their Jewish identity in personal, one-on-one appeals and in the quiet writing of checks to good causes, not in speeches or statements, and certainly not in the movies they oversaw. Mostly, they stayed quiet; the decorous country-club discretion of MGM’s Louis B. Mayer was much more the norm than the recent behavior of the Warners (real name: Wonskolaser), Jewish immigrants from Poland who didn’t tiptoe around their hatred of Fascism and of Hitler and were increasingly unafraid to go public and to use their position to influence others. The Warners were ardently pro-Roosevelt (unlike most of the other studio czars, who were business-minded antilabor Republicans), and Harry, who was the eldest and very much the voice of his studio, had recently urged all of his employees to join the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League for the Defense of American Democracy, the movie industry’s first and strongest anti-Hitler rallying and fund-raising organization.

Editorial Reviews

“Mr. Harris has a huge story to tell, and he does so brilliantly, maintaining suspense in a narrative whose basic outcome will be known ahead of time. Five Came Back is packed with true stories that, according to the proverb, are stranger than fiction. Mr. Harris's story of five particular directors at one particular moment of history tells us much about the motion-picture industry, about the nature of filmmaking and, more generally, about the relation of art to the larger demands of society . . . [A]n inspirational, if cautionary, tale of the triumph of the individual over the collective, of personal vision over groupthink, and ultimately of art over propaganda.” --The Wall Street Journal“Five Came Back . . . is one of the great works of film history of the decade.” --Slate “A tough-minded, information-packed and irresistibly readable work of movie-minded cultural criticism. Like the best World War II films, it highlights marquee names in a familiar plot to explore some serious issues: the human cost of military service, the hypnotic power of cinema and the tension between artistic integrity and the exigencies of war.” --The New York Times “Five Came Back, by Mark Harris, has all the elements of a good movie: fascinating characters, challenges, conflicts and intense action. This is Harris’s second brilliant book about movies. Both books demonstrate meticulous research and exceptional skill at telling intersecting and overlapping stories with clarity and power.” --The Washington Post “A splendidly written narrative.” --The New Yorker “Can't-put-it-down history of World War II propaganda film.” --San Francisco Chronicle“Meticulously researched, page-turning.” --The Los Angeles Times “Definitive. In these lush, informative pages, Harris indeed reaffirms his commitment to writing the old-fashioned way, the way that evinces profound respect for his craft, his material and his readers.” --Cleveland Plain Dealer “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. Every chapter contains small, priceless nuggets of movie history, 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. Narrative nonfiction that is as gloriously readable as it is unfailingly informative.” --Booklist (starred) “A comprehensive, clear-eyed look at the careers of five legendary directors who put their Hollywood lives on freeze-frame while they went off to fight in the only ways they knew how. As riveting and revealing as a film by an Oscar winner.” --Kirkus Reviews“Insightful. Harris pens superb exegeses of the ideological currents coursing through this most political of cinematic eras, and in the arcs of his vividly drawn protagonists…we see Hollywood abandoning sentimental make-believe to confront the starkest realities.” --Publishers Weekly “Harris surpasses previous scholarship on the directors who are the focus here… This well-researched book is essential for both film enthusiasts and World War II aficionados.” --Library Journal