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The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact with Hitler Hardcover – 22 Aug 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; UNKNOWN edition (22 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674724747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674724747
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 17.8 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 464,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Full of startling and surprising revelations, presented in exemplary fashion, without any moralizing or sensationalism. "The Collaboration" shows how Hollywood and especially the big studios went along with German demands to censor movies not only before but especially after the Nazi seizure of power. --Richard J. Evans

"Urwand draws on a wealth of previously uncited documents to argue that Hollywood studios, in an effort to protect the German market for their movies, not only acquiesced to Nazi censorship but also actively and enthusiastically cooperated with the regime's global propaganda effort." --Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times, 25/06/13

The Collaboration unfolds a story that rather knocks the shine off the golden age of cinema. [...] Urwand has done some energetic digging in the archives, quoting letters, memos and newspaper reports to uncover a shameful policy of compromise and kowtowing on the part of the studio bosses. And what lends the story its peculiar irony is that those bosses who did their utmost to appease the crazed ideology of Nazism were by and large Jews themselves. --Anthony Quinn, The Guardian, 16/10/2013

"Urwand has dug deep in the German archives and found evidence that the Nazis' business dealings with some of the studios were much closer than previously realised." --J. Hoberman, London Review of Books, 19 December

Mentioned in Best Films Books of 2013 It often feels that film book publishers have run out of ideas. Does the world really need another Audrey Hepburn photo album or a biography of Marilyn Monroe? The Collaboration felt genuinely original and eye-opening as Ben Urwand systematically revealed the way major Hollywood studios were willing to protect their financial interest in the German market of the 1930s by appeasing the Nazi regime. The road to hell was paved by a thousand concessions." --Allan Hunter, Glasgow Herald, 14 December 2013

"Presents a new and original take on 1930s Hollywood" --Joel Finler, Camden New Journal, 5 December 2013

Mentioned in Best Films Books of 2013 It often feels that film book publishers have run out of ideas. Does the world really need another Audrey Hepburn photo album or a biography of Marilyn Monroe? The Collaboration felt genuinely original and eye-opening as Ben Urwand systematically revealed the way major Hollywood studios were willing to protect their financial interest in the German market of the 1930s by appeasing the Nazi regime. The road to hell was paved by a thousand concessions." --Allan Hunter, Glasgow Herald, 14 December 2013

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an engrossing book written it would appear by someone who is more of a historian than film buff.There are a number of issues that I would disagree with.In particular his categorising "Confessions Of A Nazi Spy" as an insignificant B picture.The point is that it had a budget of $650000 which was normal for an A picture at the time and it starred A lister Edward G Robinson,so it was by no means an insignificant picture.The author also has a tendancy too often to drift off into American politics.There is far too much about Gabriel Over The White House and about Huey Long.However despite these points I found this book to be a fascinating insight into a rather shameful episode in Hollywoods past.With the recent controversy over The Interview it shows that things don't change that much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nyholm Tommy V on 19 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A lot of interesting information of Hollywood films from 1930 to beginning of war. If you like classic films and second world war history this is the Book for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Braden on 31 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I came across this book by accident,a newspaper article. A very interesting and enlightening subject an excellent read,highly recommended. D. B.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marnie on 29 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover
One of the best books I have ever read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 38 reviews
68 of 79 people found the following review helpful
Flawed analysis of its Subject 6 Sept. 2013
By Robert M. Fells - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have decided to revise my review here due to new information - a lot of it - that I was unaware of when I originally wrote this review. Mr. Urwand is a good writer and his book remains fascinating to read, but he seems better suited to the field of fiction rather than non-fiction.

Arthor Urwand seems to depend somewhat on the readers' benefit of hindsight - that everybody knows you can't do business with Nazis - as if this was a no-brainer to everybody in the early and mid-1930s. One of the greatest prophets of Nazi thuggery during that time was Winston Churchill, but many preferred to believe that he was an alarmist and just posturing politically. But more troubling is Urwand's flawed analyses of the few films that the studios did produce in the 1930s to highlight anti-Semitism and the Nazi threat.

THE HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD (1934) stands as the one significant film produced by a major studio that tackled anti-Semitism and drew a distinct parallel from the 19th century time frame of its story to modern-day Nazi Germany. Urwand correctly observes that the reaction to ROTHSCHILD resulted in the studios swearing off the topic until after the Second World War. The problem is that Urwand blames the film itself for the resulting ban. The author provides an extensive review of ROTHSCHILD, even quoting the film's dialogue to make his points.

Unfortunately, he engages in selective quotes and omits a few others that would give a different impression of the narrative. For example, Urwand complains that in the film's prologue, old Meyer Rothschild is portrayed as a stereotypical Shylock character, seeking to cheat the tax collector by keeping a set of phony books and offering the taxman a bribe. Germany was delighted and used ROTHSCHILD excerpts for propaganda. But this sequence doesn't play the way Urwand depicts. Dialogue conveys that Meyer usually pays tax of 2,000 gulden but the tax collector arbitrarily imposes 20,000 gulden unless Meyer pays him a bribe. This substantially changes the viewer's impression.

I could cite more examples from ROTHSCHILD but this is a review, not a rebuttal. Suffice it to say Urwand doesn't appear to be a vintage film buff for he fails to tell his readers that the anti-Semitic character in ROTHSCHILD is played by Boris Karloff, clearly portraying a civilized type of Frankenstein monster. Likewise, Urwand calls Hollywood's first anti-Nazi film, CONFESSIONS OF A NAZI SPY (1939), a "cheesy" B picture when it was very much an A picture with an all-star A-list cast. As has been observed, everybody is entitled to their own opinion but not to their own facts. Where were the fact-checkers for Harvard University Press?
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The Collaboration is a seamy insider look at how Hollywood did business with the odious Hitler regime 9 Sept. 2013
By C. M Mills - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
When I stroll through my library I see my shelves bulging with books on the Nazi era in history. And yet...I have added a new tome on a new aspect of the evil regime which ruled Germany from 1933-45 bringing death, murder and destruction to millions of people. The book is "The Collaboration" whose topic is the pact Hollywood made in the 1930s to do business with Germany. Like IBM, General Motors and other huge American corporations the Hollywood studios wanted their film product to do well overseas. Germany loved American films including Hitler. The Fuehrer watched films almost every evening enjoying everything from Mickey Mouse cartoons to King Kong to Greta Garbo costume dramas such as "Camille." Even though most of the moguls in Los Angeles were Jewish they still wanted their hand in the rich pie of German revenues.
Ben Urwand of Harvard has done study of this little reported nexus between the movies and the murderous regime in Berlin.
Much of the book deals with separate movies and how they were received in Germany. Hitler had three critical responses to film. A movie was good, bad or "switched off" (meaning that Hitler ordered the film projector to stop running the film of the evening).
The book is rich in interesting quotations. A sampling of them include:
"An important fact about Hollywood movies in this period, however, is that they were extremely popular in Nazi Germany."-p. 7
"The studio heads, who were mostly immigrant Jews, went to dramatic lengths to hold on to their investment in Germany."-p. 9
"Every night before going to bed Adolf Hitler watched a movie. He picked the title himself from a list presented to him at dinner...After the movie, he started to talk again. He quickly gave his opinion of what he had seen."-p. 10
"The members of Hitler's inner circle also knew that one of his favorite actresses was Greta Garbo."-p. 13
"The Nazis, in complete consistency with their anti-Semitic policies, were insisting that all cultural workers in Germany be of Aryan descent."-p. 62
"...the Jew, once so prominent in American culture, was suddenly nowhere to be found."-p. 80. The author shows how American filmmakers deleted Jewish characters in an effort not to cause anger at their inclusion by the Third Reich.-p. 90
"From the day Hitler became Chancellor of Germany...American movies were massively popular in the Third Reich."-p. 112
"The collaboration of American movie studios with Nazi Germany was complex and multifaceted..."-p. 147
Urwand comments on Sinclair Lewis' novel "It Can't Happen Here" a book which imagines what would happen if a Fascist dictator ruled the U.S.A.: "No author was better qualified to handle such material than Sinclair Lewis."-p. 161 The book was not made into a movie by nervous film studios who did not want to breast the German ire at material of this sort.
"When "The Mortal Storm" was released on June 14, 1940, it was without any doubt the first truly significant anti-Nazi film..it attacked the Nazis for their persecution of a minority group."-p. 217
Along the way in this fascinating work we read reviews of such films as "King Kong"; "Blond Venus"; "Casablanca" "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer"; "The Eternal Jew" (made in Germany as an attack on the Jewish people) and many more. Reading these reviews by the author can give insight into how Germany reacted to the Hollywood dream factory's films.
During World War II the American film community turned out hundreds of anti-Nazi films though kept mostly mum on the plight of the Jews in Europe.
"The Collaboration" reads like a textbook and may not interest younger readers who have little interest or knowledge of the Hollywood studio system or the film habits of a dictatorship that was destroyed in 1945. However, for us old hands at such study the book provided a few hours of pleasure.
24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Propaganda starts at home 24 Aug. 2013
By Lela Soulier - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great companion piece to "The Holocaust in American Film." After reading "The Collaboration" we understand in stark detail how the Hollywood producers COLLABORATED with the Nazi Propaganda Dept. from 1933 to 1939. It wasn't the American Jews who severed the relationship -- it was Hitler, himself. The Hollywood studios at the time really were so "dollars and cents" and they loved their German market which was worth $20K per year (in Hitler dollars.) This book suggests, but does not wallow in, how many "creative "storylines" or how many creative personnel were laid off, including actors, writers, etc. Why? Germany theatre-goers represented 30% of foreign share. The dollars at stake were apparently worthy enough to transcend race and justice issues.

It's my understanding, based on the book, that many Hollywoodites would themselves be shocked by this book. So many thought they were responding to "diplomacy" but few knew they were responding to dollar diplomacy.

There were -- as the book documents - plenty of Jewish producers who were less interested in the "cost of the Holocaust" as in profit margin of the available market of a reconstructed Germany.

Read the book for yourself. If you have a better solution, please speak up.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Hollywood's Pact with Nazi's for nearly Eight years 7 Sept. 2013
By Gil Rosenberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A shocking revelation on how Hollywood worked with Nazi propaganda officials to actually craft the films created by Hollywood in the USA between 1933 and up until the US entered the war. In a desperate attempt to placate Hitler's Nazi Germany and preserve Hollywood's market share in Germany and countries occupied or allied with Nazi Germany the Studios were guided by preservation of market share abroad. Careful not to offend German sensibilities Hollywood succeeded to keep it's market share in Germany despite the Nazi monetary laws that restricted the studios from taking their profits out of Germany. The author points out that Hollywood Studio's were actually forced to direct their profits to Germany military war production thereby supporting the Nazi war industry. Hollywood also provided Nazi Germany with entertainment with underlying propaganda with the theme of self-sacrifice for the nation films which Nazi film industry failed to deliver to it;s own nation.

This is a perfect example of what happens when corporations are focused on one thing and one thing only- maximization of profits and satisfying shareholders profits above all else.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
just like a thriller -- but it's true 23 Oct. 2013
By Shawna - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was really impressed by the readability of this book. I was concerned that a book by an academic press would be boring, but THE COLLABORATION read just like a well-written thriller. It's obvious the author has his credentials, though. I skimmed through the notes at the end, and there is a lot of hard work there. Anyway, hugely enjoyed it -- or I guess enjoyed it as much as someone can enjoy a book about a beloved American institution (Hollywood) collaborating with the Nazis. :-(
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