Most helpful critical review
2 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2008
I'd call this "the Danielle Steele biography of Robert Capa." Capa ranks as one of the great war photographers, but I'm not sure that warrants the romantic, People Magazine treatment of some of Capa's less laudable personal traits. Gambling with other peoples' money, bragging about sexual conquests, bringing prostitutes home to the friend's house where he's living for free, embezzling money from Magnum, and in general, refusing to behave as a grown-up make for good reading. But why the need to trollup these common male bad habits into something positive? He also lied about his communist leanings so as to get himself and his relatives into the USA. As any good commie knows, back then you could live a lot better in the USA than in Joe Stalin's socialist paradise. I guess that's why writer Kershaw, himself a bit of a commie, moved from Britain to the US. To make more money. The book is the result of some very meticulous and time-consuming interviews. But if a writer is going to say dumb things like describing Life Magazine as "more than ever a cheerleader for American aggression in the Far East," then why not just make everything up? Why bother to talk to anybody? Kershaw consistently sticks to the commie view of America, despite the fact that by the time he wrote the Capa book communism had been rejected by everybody except phony intellectuals and former KGB operatives in places like Berkeley, California and Cambridge, Massacusetts. "Watching an imperial power kill peasants" is how Kershaw describes the journalistic opportunity of the Korean war, apparently forgetting that the US participated in a UN action against the Chinese communists. So why didn't Capa report to the Chinese and shoot pictures from their side? Afraid he'd loose his "imperialist" passport?
Lastly, the book contains none of the photographs which are the real reason why Capa is worthy of a book. Kershaw says Magnum refused because it was not an "authorized biography." Seems to me anybody who wants to pay for the use of the photos will get Magnum's cooperation. Either Kershaw ran afoul of somebody who said "no," like maybe Cornell Capa, or else he didn't want to pay the fairly modest fee for publication rights. And one more thing. If English Kershaw is going to live and write in America, maybe he should spend ten bucks on a dictionary which explains American spelling.
I give this pulp semi-fiction a firm thumbs down.