An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood

An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood

Neal Gabler / Jul 23, 2019

An Empire of Their Own How the Jews Invented Hollywood Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award for history this wonderful history of the golden age of the movie moguls Chicago Tribune is a provocative original and richly entertaining group biography

  • Title: An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood
  • Author: Neal Gabler
  • ISBN: 9780385265577
  • Page: 497
  • Format: Paperback
  • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award for history, this wonderful history of the golden age of the movie moguls Chicago Tribune is a provocative, original, and richly entertaining group biography of the Jewish immigrants who were the moving forces behind the creation of America s motion picture industry.

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      497 Neal Gabler
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    About "Neal Gabler"

      • Neal Gabler

        Neal Gabler is a distinguished author, cultural historian and television commentator who has been called one of America s most important public intellectuals His first book, An Empire of Their Own How the Jews Invented Hollywood, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History and the Theatre Library Association Award for the best book on television, radio or film On the centenary of the first public exhibition of motion pictures in America, a special panel of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences named it one of the one hundred outstanding books on the American film industry His second book, Winchell Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named the non fiction book of the year by Time Magazine His third book, Life the Movie How Entertainment Conquered Reality, is currently being used in college courses across the country to examine the convergence of reality and entertainment His fourth book, Walt Disney The Triumph of the American Imagination, a New York Times best seller, was named the biography of the year by USA Today and won Mr Gabler his second Los Angeles Times Book Prize It was also the runner up for the prestigious Kraszna Krausz Book Award in England His new book, Barbra Streisand Redefining Beauty, Femininity and Power, was published by Yale Univ Press this past April as part of its Jewish Lives series.Mr Gabler was graduated with high distinction and highest honors from the University of Michigan and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa He holds advanced degrees in film and American Culture He has also taught at the University of Michigan, where he won an outstanding teaching award, and at the Pennsylvania State University Leaving academe, he was selected to replace departing co hosts Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel on the public television movie review program, Sneak Previews He has also been the host of the American Movie Classics cable television network, of Reel to Real on the History Channel, and of Reel Thirteen on WNET, the public television station in New York, for which he won an Emmy Mr Gabler is a contributing editor at Playboy and a regular contributor to the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and Reuters Opinion, and his essays and articles have appeared in Atlantic, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, The Nation, The New Republic, Men s Journal, George, Time, TV Guide, Variety and many other publications In 2014, he won the National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award from the Los Angeles Press Club He has also been a contributor to the Fox News Channel and served as a panelist on the weekly media review program Fox News Watch from 2002 to 2007 One television critic called him a megawatt brain whose take on media coverage was fiercely individualistic, profound and original He has made appearances on The Today Show, CBS Morning News, Entertainment Tonight, Charlie Rose and the PBS NewsHour And this year he is contributing a weekly column to billmoyers on the election and the mediaMr Gabler has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Shorenstein Fellowship at Harvard University, a Freedom Forum Fellowship, and was a Woodrow Wilson Public Policy Scholar He has also been the chief non fiction judge of the National Book Awards and a judge of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes He is currently a senior fellow at the Norman Lear Center for the Study of Society and Entertainment at the University of Southern California and is a Visiting Professor in the MFA Literature and Writing program at SUNY Stony Brook He was also the 2013 recipient of the Patrick Henry Writing Fellowship at Washington College His older daughter Laurel was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford where she received her doctorate in Public Health She is currently matriculating at Harvard Medical School His younger daughter Tanne taught in the World Teach program in American Samoa, was an A


    1. Not that it was bad but I was disappointed in this book. The subjects that interested me the most, the majority of movies made then portraying characters that represented how the Jews viewed themselves in American society, the schisms between the more established Jews who had immigrated from Germany and the ones from eastern European countries, the muscling in and manipulation of Hollywood by Jewish political groups like the ADL and AJC, and the gradual evolution of Hollywood into a tool of glob [...]

    2. از کتاب های مرجعی هست که خیلی از خوندنش لذت بردم و توصیه می کنم تمام اهالی هنر هم مطالعه کنننکات جالبی در مورد تاریخ هالیوود و بنیانگذاران یهودیش که عموما اهل اروپای شرقی بودن، توی کتاب بیان شدهاز اونجا که نویسنده کتاب خودش یه غربی با دیدگاه لیبرال هست، نظریاتی مثل تئوری توطئ [...]

    3. Almost all the major film studios were started by Jewish immigrants who rose to amazing power from the 1920s to the 1950s (when the corporations took over). They were able to do this partly because gentile elites looked down on the movies. A major thesis of the book is that these moguls who were immigrants and Jewish shaped America's self-image through their films, which in no way reflected their own lives. Think "It's a Wonderful Life," etc. And they exaggerated the portrayal of American life a [...]

    4. AN EMPIRE OF THEIR OWN: How the Jews Invented Hollywood. (1988). Neal Gabler. ***. I’ll be honest up front and tell you that I only made it 228/489ths of the way through this work by Gabler. I remember watching Gabler on our PBS channel when he used to be the movie reviewer at night. He had an engaging personality and an obvious depth of knowledge about his subject. His knowledge and research show through in this work, but I ultimately tired of his channeling all of his data into the box of hi [...]

    5. Fascinating book about how the common experiences of 1st generation Jewish immigrants, usually with absent or unsuccessful fathers, strove for success and assimilation, and approval from gentiles and previously assimilated Jews. Thesis is that they created a world they could control, onscreen and off and were afraid of doing anything to draw attention to their religion, fearing a backlash from gentiles and loss of power. Didn’t get along with next generation of Hollywood Jews—writers and act [...]

    6. Hollywood was founded by a bunch of Jews who recognized the potential of the movies and were willing to use all their business acumen to exploit every facet of the industry. Their personalities, hopes and dreams became part of the American Culture through the movies they made. Even with all the power and money they had they were never accepted into mainstream society and were always looked down upon as interlopers. Gabler tells the story wonderfully. If you want to know how Jewish immigrant drea [...]

    7. If you're at all interested in the history of movies, this is highly recommended. The background bios of section one got a little too detailed for me, I found my interest waning, so I skipped to section two and found myself fascinated at the day-to-day lives of the moguls. Oh, to see LA in the 20s and 30s!

    8. Want to learn about the history of hollywood and a great over view of how hollywood became the west coast glamor.

    9. This book is incredibly informative and well-written. For anyone curious about the history of Hollywood's early days and the rise of movie moguls this book is it! I didn't quite finish it as I was reading it for a book club and life got in the way, but I learned a lot reading it.

    10. This was my first research book for my next novel, which will be set in Hollywood during the "pre-Code" era, 1929-1934. It was a fascinating look at the men who built the industry. They had many of the same characteristics and backgrounds - they were Jewish, immigrants, most with weak/ineffectual fathers, who wanted to reinvent themselves completely, leaving behind their religion and their nationalities. These were energetic, ambitious men who were locked out of the upper echelons of the Eastern [...]

    11. toqonline/blog/vanguarQuote: “The Birth of a Nation was wildly successful. Unfortunately, it is one of the few examples of the Right successfully using film to change the culture.”There is a reason for that — a tiny ethnic minority left the east and the Edison / white dominated film and social organization where they could not get a foothold and headed out to California to re-group and start a film industry to counter ours. This happened partly as a result of the success of Birth of a Nati [...]

    12. An interesting book, by all means, but unless you're really into the history of Hollywood, it gets boring halfway through. It's a little unfocused - sometimes it's about the individual lives of studio moguls, sometimes about general events and process, sometimes about particular cases as anecdotes, and it is easy to understand why the author felt all of these are necessary, they are, but as a reader I got the feeling he fails to deliver in most respects. It's not old-school, chronological, clear [...]

    13. Despite the dubious subtitle, this is really a social history of the early days of Hollywood, when it was a business with little or social status and consequently of little interest to the WASPs who ran American business and the dramatic arts. The colourful entrepreneurs who set up the great studios which dominated the industry until 1960, such as Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner and Adolph Zukor, are presented here as barrow-boy types, with an eye for a business opportunity in an open field (literal [...]

    14. An interesting read I felt that the writer over-tightened virtually every action to the Jewish heritage of these mogulsBut maybe he's right. Some of the legal issues that occurred during their long reign. needed a better short summary: I find myself making frequent trips to to find a more concise definition in several of the issues (cf: William Fox' attempt to control MGM). I also wish there had been more "Hollywood" in this core story about Hollywood; having grown up there and spent most of my [...]

    15. Surprisingly engaging book about the founders of the great Hollywood Studios (MGM, Fox, Columbia, etc). These people (Zukor, Mayer, Warner, etc) were all immigrant Jews from Eastern Europe. They were strong-willed men who wanted to escape their past and assimilate into their vision of the American Dream. They gravitated to the movies because, early in the 1900s, movies were seen as low class. So an opportunity was opened to people who were willing to grab it. These men created monopolies: studio [...]

    16. An absolutely fascinating and insightful read, one of the finest books of film history I have ever read.Neal Gabler traces the history and motivations of the 'founding fathers' of the American film industry; late 19th-century Jewish immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, they found themselves rejected by the established American trades in the east and turned the originally disreputable business of moving pictures into one of the most influential and iconic insitutions of American life.Deali [...]

    17. A substantial hunk of this book involved the whole HUAC/witch-hunt/Commie story, which I wasn't really expecting (I would categorize that as after the "invention" of Hollywood).I would have liked more specifics about specific movies and directors, tying it into the Jewish angle if necessary, but we didn't get much of that except for Frank Capra (funny, he doesn't look Jewish). I am whining. I do find most of these early moguls to be compelling guys, perhaps one or two merit me finding dedicated [...]

    18. This is less a review than a reading impression/note. I suspect that I will be abandoning this one. It is long. I'm not too far into it and already I'm tired. Unfortunately, this is because the author recounts every little vignette and business deal in the careers of the principals, from way back when they immigrated and began in other lines of work. All that is only mildly interesting to me. I appreciate the research that must have gone into it. I'm guessing letters, diaries and newspaper accou [...]

    19. This book is so great that I am actually reading it for the second time. The first time I read it for content; now I am reading it for style.It is the story of the sons of Jewish immigrants who created the great production machines of the Hollywood studio era -- Mayer, Cohn, Zucker, the Warner Brothers. These men have so many similarities that differentiating them from one another presents a daunting task, but Gabler rises to it brilliantly. A must-read book for anyone who's interested in the hi [...]

    20. "And so the empires have crumbled. The moguls' names have faded. The estates are gone and the power and the panache and the fear. But what the Hollywood Jews left behind is something powerful and mysterious. what remains is a spell, a landscape of the mind, a constellation of values, attitudes, and images, a history and a mythology that is part of our culture and our consciousness. What remains is the America of our imaginations and theirs. Out of their desperation and their dreams, they gave us [...]

    21. An interesting account of the early movie moguls, recommended for anybody interested in the history of Hollywood. The early chapters detail their biographical backgrounds and careers before the movies, and the book drags a little at this point. Once you can clear this initial hurdle, the story picks up speed and you get a look at how the heads of the studios used the movies to create their own ideas of America. The author argues convincingly that this is largely due to a need to assimilate and m [...]

    22. The first half, describing the hustle of fascinating characters like the Warner Brothers, Adolph Zucker, L.B. Mayer, and Harry Cohn, as well as the gradual rise to oligopoly in Hollywood, was certainly the best portion of this book. That said, there are some issues I took with the writing (constantly re-introducing dramatic personae) that could have been better resolved by an editor. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of the film industry, Jewish history, 20th-century Americ [...]

    23. A history of the development of the major Hollywood studios & the movie industry itself, framed in the angle of how nearly all of the moguls were Jewish immigrants from Russia & East Europe. Shut out of other parts of the business world by old prejudices (well, maybe not old considering some of the headlines in today's world) they started their own industry, one that has become synonymous with American culture. Well written & a good read.

    24. A superb history of the Jews in Hollywood by a noted film historian. Gabler explains that since emigrant Jews were barred from traditional industries -- like white shoe investment banking -- they were essentially forced to create their own business: Hollywood. They subsequently had their own country club, beautiful L.A. homes, polo teams, etc. Just a fascinating & beautifully researched chronicle. Highly recommended!

    25. I am a big fan of books that provide an overview of the history of an industry. This book did that well with the movie industry. It was a little wordy. Probably could have been 75% the length and still told the same story. Worth the read if you enjoy reading about Hollywood, Jewish immigrants or business history.

    26. I enjoyed this book first and foremost as a chronicle of life in America for Eastern European Jewish immigrants at the turn of the century. The story of each of these studio founder's childhood, immigration, "making it", and their choices once their finances were secure was fascinating. Also a great history of Hollywood and L.A.

    27. Really interesting look at early HollywoodI love this book. It so interesting to read about the personal lives of the Hollywood pioneers. I think the author is a bit tough on them, sneering at their taste and aspirations. I love Lasky and would like to know more about the lives of Fox and Zukor.

    28. Although I wish this book included a bit more straight-out chronological biography to help me keep the Players straight, it was nonetheless a fascinating perspective to take on Hollywood history, and an interesting adjunct to, say, Malcolm Gladwell's OUTLIERS.

    29. This was a great history of the beginnings of Hollywood. I had no idea that all of the major studios in the beginning were run by Jews an what a lasting impact they would have on the America we know today all in an attempt to escape the anti-semitism of age.

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