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An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood Paperback – August 8, 1989
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Almost all of the major studios were founded by men who more or less fit Gabler's description. There are a number of major and minor characters in Gabler's story, the most prominent being Adolph Zukor, who was instrumental in creating Paramount; Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal; William Fox of Fox Pictures, which later merged with Twentieth Century; Louis B. Mayer, who built MGM into Hollywood's largest studio; Harry and Jack Warner of Warner Brothers; and the belligerent Harry Cohn of Columbia.Read more ›
Neal Gabler states early on that the moguls' vision of "America" shaped not only the fictional realities of their films but the reality of America itself, in that it was through Hollywood that we developed much of our self-image. Apart from passing mentions, however, such as noting that our later vision of a lost, small-town America was largely shaped by memories of the Andy Hardy series beloved by Louis B. Mayer, he does not develop that important thread.
There are also a few frustrating narrative lapses that set me to reviewing the index to see if I'd missed something (which I hadn't). The author leads us through the story of Paramount's Adolph Zukor, whom he presents as perhaps the most important and emblematic of the moguls, to a point at which Zukor is poised to seize a commanding role in the national distribution of films. Gabler then cuts away, and when we return to Zukor we find that his expansionist efforts have failed and his position at the studio is now in jeopardy, though we are not shown how.
I recommend this as a fascinating beginning to an exploration. I hope there will be more books like it to develop the story further. Perhaps, in time, we will even see books that will treat the same questions with regard to popular music, comedy, and other fields so shaped by the Jewish people.
As Gabler wrote of these industry leaders: "What united them in deep spiritual kinship was their utter and absolute rejection of their pasts and their equally absolute devotion to their new country....something drove the young Hollywood Jews to a ferocious, even pathological, embrace of America. Something drove them to deny whatever they had been before settling here" (p. 4). Gabler believes that these Jewish leaders "colonized the American imagination" (p. 7). Over time, their films embodied American values; the irony is that they were made by people alienated from that culture. As Gabler concludes, "the Jews reinvented the country in the image of their fiction" (p. 7).
This is a very interesting and useful study of the role of film in defining the American character in the early twentieth century.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great work on the history of the movie industry from its inception to the end of the studio system. A must read for movie history aficionados.Published 6 months ago by prime devoted shopper
This book is so tied up in family anecdotes (and there are many families) that I found myself not caring about any individual.Published 7 months ago by C. Shumate
A true gem if you are looking for historic facts, keeps such a good pace that it's very difficult to put this book down.Published 11 months ago by Arturo T
Fascinating inquiry of the Jewish Hollywood movie moguls. Focusing on the big personalities, Gabler emphasizes how they both shaped Hollywood and were shaped by Hollywood.Published 12 months ago by Neku
This book is not just about a religious tribe pioneering the birth of movieland but also the humanity and pathos that inspired the Big Bang of 20th century cinema. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Tail End Boomer
This book recounts the stories of the individuals who created the American motion picture industry and Hollywood. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Michael Lapelosa