The Birth of A Nation

The Birth of A Nation

How A Legendary Director and A Crusading Editor Reignited America's Civil War

Book - 2014
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In 1915, two men--one a journalist agitator, the other a technically brilliant filmmaker--incited a public confrontation that roiled America, pitting black against white, Hollywood against Boston, and free speech against civil rights.

Monroe Trotter and D. W. Griffith were fighting over a film that dramatized the Civil War and Reconstruction in a post-Confederate South. Almost fifty years earlier, Monroe's father, James, was a sergeant in an all-black Union regiment that marched into Charleston, South Carolina, just as the Kentucky cavalry--including Roaring Jack Griffith, D. W.'s father--fled for their lives. Griffith's film, The Birth of a Nation , included actors in blackface, heroic portraits of Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and a depiction of Lincoln's assassination. Freed slaves were portrayed as villainous, vengeful, slovenly, and dangerous to the sanctity of American values. It was tremendously successful, eventually seen by 25 million Americans. But violent protests
against the film flared up across the country.

Monroe Trotter's titanic crusade to have the film censored became a blueprint for dissent during the 1950s and 1960s. This is the fiery story of a revolutionary moment for mass media and the nascent civil rights movement, and the men clashing over the cultural and political soul of a still-young America standing at the cusp of its greatest days.
Publisher: New York :, PublicAffairs,, 2014, ©2014.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781586489878
Branch Call Number: 305. 800973 GRI L
Characteristics: xvi, 343 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm


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Jan 07, 2017

"That's the complete legacy of D.W. Griffith's 'The Birth of a Nation'--a masterpiece that, due to its bigoted slant, became a dramatic flash point in 1915 for a changing America in mass media and marketing, civil rights, and civil liberties."
Nate Turner's recent Nat Turner film "The Birth of a Nation," audaciously took the same title as D.W. Griffith's 1915 epic, which is both an incredibly influential and an incredibly problematic film. No one will dispute Griffith's contributions to the history of cinema, but his best-known film, set during the Civil War and Reconstruction, is, to put it bluntly, racist AF. The KKK are the heroes, white actors appear in black face, and it's based on a novel called "The Clansman." This book traces the history of the controversial film and the protests the accompanied its release, spearheaded by a black editor and activist named Monroe Trotter. While the protests raised awareness, it was still and hit and was even screened for President Woodrow Wilson, who famously described it as "like history written with lightning." The supporting cast includes W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Boston mayor James Curley, and the moralistic postal inspector Anthony Comstock. Author Dick Lehr also wrote about Whitey Bulger in "Black Mass," which was the basis for the Johnny Depp film.

Nov 22, 2015

originally called "The Clansman" ...
“The Worst Thing About “Birth of a Nation” Is How Good It Is”
by Richard Brody, from The New Yorker, February 1, 2013

EuSei Nov 22, 2015

Because you can rate it without leaving a comment--hence the "anonymity" that surprises you.

mdsdad2cn1 Sep 28, 2015

How does this book get 4+ stars when no one has rated it?

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