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American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film

Trevor McCrisken, Andrew Pepper

Paperback i (Printed to Order)

Hollywood has a growing fascination with America's past. This is evidenced in the release of a rash of films of this genre in the past 25 years. This book offers an analysis of how and why contemporary Hollywood films have sought to mediate American history. It is the first book to explore, comprehensively, the post-Cold War period of film-making, and to consider whether or how far contemporary films have begun to unravel the unifying myths of earlier films and periods. It also considers why such films are becoming increasingly integral to the ambitions of a globally-focused American film industry.

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American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film: Introduction
1. Lessons from Hollywood's American Revolution
The Patriot
2. Rattling the Chains of History: Steven Spielberg's Amistad and Telling Everyone's Story
3. Hollywood's Civil War Dilemma: To Imagine or Unravel the Nation?
Ride with the Devil
Cold Mountain
4. Saving the Good War: Hollywood and World War II in the Post-Cold War World
Saving Private Ryan
The Thin Red Line
Pearl Harbor
5. Oliver Stone and the Decade of Trauma
Born on the Fourth of July
Heaven and Earth
6. From Civil Rights to Black Nationalism: Hollywood vs. Black America?
Mississippi Burning
The Hurricane
Malcolm X
7. Hollywood's Post-Cold War History: The Righteousness of American Interventionism
Three Kings
Black Hawk Down
Selected Bibliography.

About the Author

Trevor McCrisken is Lecturer in American Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. Author of American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam: US Foreign Policy since 1974 (Palgrave, 2003).


American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film is a well researched, well argued and generally well written work of scholarship... It brings together for analysis a significant group of Hollywood historical films... Here there is a kind of critical mass that allows the authors to make important suggestions about the treatment of major issues such as gender, race and war in both Hollywood and the larger American culture in the last 15 years.
- Professor Robert Rosenstone, California Institute of Technology
A succinct and disciplined book… will undoubtedly find a place in the expanding canon of works on American history and Hollywood film.
'Scholars who explore the relationship between film and history generally adopt one of two approaches: they write about film on history or they write about history on film. Trevor McCrisken and Andrew Pepper manage to combine the two approaches in a succinct and disciplined book that is intended for a broad audience. The authors deftly manage to present Hollywood dramas as cultural products of their time and simultaneously reflect on how various filmic interpretations of America's past contrbute to shaping and extending the historical record itself… the book will undoubtedly find a place in the expanding canon of works on American history and Hollywood film.' - Australasian Journal of American Studies, December 2006
This is an accessible, enjoyable study of movies dealing with events from American history … this study … deserves a wide readership among students and aficionados of both American history and Hollywood films.
The essays are presented in an engaging and ernest style … the analyses are probing and provocative: models of the kind of creative questioning that leads to fresh insights.