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Blood and Champagne: The Life and Times of Robert Capa Hardcover – July 25, 2003

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"It does seem to me that Capa has proved beyond all doubt that the camera need not be a cold mechanical device," John Steinbeck wrote of photojournalist Robert Capa in a quote that launches this well-written, exhaustively researched biography. "Like the pen, it is as good as the man who uses it. It can be the extension of mind and heart." That’s quite a compliment coming from an author like Steinbeck, but then Capa won the respect and friendship of some of the brightest talents of his generation; other admirers and poker buddies included Ernest Hemingway and John Huston, and among his many loves was actress Ingrid Bergman. Capa won fame slogging through the blood and grime to capture vivid images of five different wars, from the Spanish Civil War (where he wasn't above staging some of his photographs), through the landings at Omaha Beach on D-Day (which he chronicled for Life magazine as the only journalist to wade ashore with the first wave of G.I.s), to the early days of the Vietnam conflict (where he was killed in action at the age of 41 while covering the French army, soon to be replaced with disastrous results by the Americans). Born a Hungarian Jew named André Friedmann, another great writer, John Hersey, famously dubbed the swarthy chain-smoking photographer "the Man Who Invented Himself," and author Alex Kershaw contends that one of his greatest achievements was the legend that he created for himself. A California journalist who contributes to The Guardian and The Sunday Times Magazine, among others, Kershaw brings Capa and his times to life with bright, vivid writing and telling anecdotes, using a fascinating personal odyssey to put the man's professional accomplishments in perspective. "Capa was the first photographer to make photojournalism appear glamorous and sexy," he writes. Of course, that distinction and all others take a back seat to the photos themselves, and this book’s only shortcoming is that it does not include any examples of the great man’s work.--Jim DeRogatis

From Publishers Weekly

Robert Capa was the archetype of the intrepid war photographer. Asserting that "if your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough," Capa braved combat in the Spanish Civil War, hit Omaha Beach in the first wave on D-Day, and jumped behind German lines with American paratroopers, returning with visceral pictures-like the famous (and possibly staged) "falling soldier" photo of a Spanish Republican militiaman who had just been shot-that defined our idea of what modern war looks like. "Profligate, passionate, impulsive," Capa was a ladies' man who liked nice togs, hobnobbed with the rich and famous, got caught up in anti-Fascist and Popular Front politics, and played poker compulsively when he was not risking his life in combat-in other words, he practically invented the persona of the celebrity photojournalist. He also co-founded the pioneering Magnum photo agency, which gave freelance photographers ownership and control of their photos. Journalist Kershaw gives an engrossing account of Capa's impossibly romantic life, elegantly evoking both the horror of the front lines and the glamour of wartime Madrid, London and Paris, where Capa befriended the likes of Ernest Hemingway and romanced the likes of Ingrid Bergman. Packed with arresting anecdotes and character studies, Kershaw's biography is a worthy companion to Capa's work. Photos.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (July 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312315643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312315641
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,413,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A great, cinematic read - a shame that the estate did not allow photographs, but they never will. Yet this book is so vivid and esxciting that you don't notice the images not being there - you see them in your head. Really tremendous research, so much more objective than the authorized hagiographer Whelan's account, and this will one day be a movie - it just feels so right. A great, great tale told very well by Kershaw. Best bio on a photographer ever written.
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By A Customer on January 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is a story, told to be thrilling and informative and will stand the test of time as the best book written about the trade of war photography. It should be a film because the action and character development are well plotted. And if you want to know, close up, about the great moments of the last century, then here is a ring-side seat on history in the making too. Inspiring stuff. If only there were more biographies written like this.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think this book is well written and covers the subject. The problem is that after reading this I have come to the conclusion that Robert Capa is not the photographer I thought he was. So his life is disappointing in many ways, but I can't take that out on the author.
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