HISTORY BY HOLLYWOOD: THE USE AND ABUSE OF THE AMERICAN PAST, by Robert Brent Toplin (University of Illinois Press, 280 pages, $34.95).
This authoritative account describes what happenswhen history is interpreted in Hollywood motion pictures. Focusing on eight films–All the President’s Men, Bonnie andClyde, JFK, Missing, Patton, Mississippi Burning, Norma Rae, and Sergeant York, the author demonstrates how dramaticinterpretations of the past presented in popular films can, by reaching millions of movie-goers, influence the public’sunderstanding of history to a much greater degree than is possible with books. Interviews with producers, directors, andwriters complete Toplin’s analysis of the cinema’s often cavalier approach to history.