Recommended Readings: Updated List
There have been plenty of books written about Hollywood’s contribution to the war effort. One of the most well known books is Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profit, Propaganda, Shaped World War II Movies by Clayton R. Koppes and Gregory D. Black. It is one of my favorite of the bunch of books I have on this topic. It is also one of most thorough in terms of the relationship between Hollywood and the Roosevelt Administration. It was no small task for Hollywood to get into the war effort and the government wanted to make sure their message to American audiences and to those abroad was on point with their aims.
The next book is The Hollywood Propaganda of World War II by Robert Fyne. Fyne’s book dives more into the propaganda side of Hollywood films. During the war years more than 300 films were produced with some element of propaganda. These movies had specific goals: Glorify America’s fighting forces and those of the allies, vilify the enemy, and boost the morale of the home front. Fyne examines the motifs, stereotypes, portraying fiction-as-fact, and distortions of the films produced.
The last book is Five Came Back by Mark Harris. It may shock people to learn that Frank Capra, the director behind classics such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It’s a Wonderful Life put his career on hold to go into service for Uncle Sam. Like many of Hollywood’s immigrants, he felt a calling to serve his new country. For some, it was a way to push back against criticism. Harris tells the story of how Capra, William Wyler, John Ford, John Huston and George Stevens gave up their careers for a few years to bring the war home to American audiences. Three of the most notable wartime documentaries came from these men: Capra’s Why We Fight series, Ford’s The Battle of Midway, and Wyler’s The Memphis Belle.
These are just three of the books in my library I will be talking about in the future.