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Shooting the Truth: The Rise of American Political Documentaries Hardcover – December 30, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0275987602 ISBN-10: 0275987604 Edition: annotated edition

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Shooting the Truth highlights the rise of one of the recent louder voices in the marketplace--the political documentary."

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American Journalism



"Author James McEnteer analyzes the politics of a range of documentaries of recent decades, providing chapters which evaluate four artists in depth and use their approaches and works as a foundation for revealing political documentary contents, approaches and growing popularity. While the analysis is particular to these artists as far as selected films used as examples, its implications hold many insights on the documentary film as a whole. College-level audiences of film studies in particular will want to read this."

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California Bookwatch/Midwest Book Review



"Is the modern political documentary an alternative to the television industry's failure to sustain a commitment to the public interest? According to McEnteer the transition began with the firing of Edward R. Murrow in the 1950s over the controversies he raised in the pioneering television show See It Now and is thriving with such producers as Big Noise and the Guerilla News Network. Along the way he closely tracks the work of Barbara Kopple, Michael Moore, Errol Morris and Robert Greenwald, with forays into other documentary filmmakers whose conclusions run contrary to what the government and Big Media offer. He describes how deception works on both sides of the great issues, how political filmmakers influence public opinion and sometimes policy, and focuses for a chapter on the films on all sides of the 2004 presidential campaign."

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Reference & Research Book News



"The rise of political documentaries in the US may be a reaction to the decline of the liberal television network news-gathering operations, which are hemorrhaging viewers to less professional cable news outlets such as the right-turning Fox channel. As television news has become partisan and trivialized, claims McEnteer, viewers hungry for news have turned to nonfiction films; he points out that eight of the ten top-grossing documentaries of all time were released since 2002. Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which grossed $120 million, became the bellwether for anti-Bush, antiwar polemical documentaries. Defining nonfiction film as propaganda, the book concentrates on films that challenge official government narratives and offer competing alternative narratives of their own. McEnteer devotes chapters to such major talents as directors Errol Morris and Barbara Kopple, the more widely known ambush artist Michael Moore, and Robert Greenwald (best known for Outfoxed); Moore remains front and center. This book on the latest permutations of documentary films was as inevitable as it is welcome. Essential. All readers; all levels."

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Choice

Review

"McEnteer has written a lively, insightful and much-needed analysis of the re-emerging genre of American political documentaries. He explores why such films have attracted so many viewers in recent years, and examines both the films and the political landscape in which they have been made. The book is an important contribution to the growing literature on documentary films." (Richard L. Zweigenhaft, Dana Professor of Psychology and Director of the Communications Program, Guilford College)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger; annotated edition edition (December 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275987604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275987602
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,035,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Donovan, Editor/Sr. Reviewer on April 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Political documentaries are popular now as never before yet behind this popularity has been a wealth of effort to bring them to public attention: an effort documented in SHOOTING THE TRUTH: THE RISE OF AMERICAN POLITICAL DOCUMENTARIES. Author James McEnteer analyzes the politics of a range of documentaries of recent decades, providing chapters which evaluate four artists in depth and use their approaches and works as a foundation for revealing political documentary contents, approaches and growing popularity. While the analysis is particular to these artists as far as selected films used as examples, its implications hold many insights on the documentary film as a whole. College-level audiences of film studies in particular will want to read this.
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This is a 6 Star and Beyond book and is so categorized at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog, where one can browse all 1600+ of my non-fiction reviews sorted into 98 categories and easily found with keywords--I've tried for years to get Amazon to give us this functionality and finally created it for my own work.

I was so impressed, so engaged, so absolutely educated by this author that I spent no less than four hours, and it might be as much as six, creating a table of all 120 films that he mentioned, with the directors, the year of release, and hot links. The complete list with hot links is at Phi Beta Iota, and should have been an appendix--I certainly give the list to the author should he wish to post it anywhere.

A few highlights:

1) VHS players are still relevant for the non-fiction crowd, but DVD conversions are around 85%.

2) Amazon is doing extremely well, better than I expected, in carrying all these titles. Only a handful had to be linked outside of Amazon.

3) Although the broadcasting networks stomped down hard on anything remotely resembling intelligent and truthful issue discussion in 1950's, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) killed the truth once and for all in 1984 by ending public service as an element of spectrum allocation, what this book really did for me is open my eyes to the wealth of offerings from both the four specific directors whose work the book showcases, and the many others.

4) My time spent creating the list of 120 films, adding the links, is an example of social production such as Yochai Benkler discusses in
...Read more ›
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