100 books like Orson Welles's Last Movie

By Josh Karp,

Here are 100 books that Orson Welles's Last Movie fans have personally recommended if you like Orson Welles's Last Movie. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood

Jon Lewis Author Of Road Trip to Nowhere: Hollywood Encounters the Counterculture

From my list on 1960s Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been teaching and writing about post-WWII American film for over thirty years now, with a particular passion for (behind the scenes) Hollywood history. Road Trip to Nowhere follows up on a new sort of movie industry history I introduced in my 2017 book on 1950s Los Angeles, Hard-Boiled Hollywood. Both books focus on actors, writers, producers, and directors who don’t quite make it—aspirants and would-be players kicked to the side of the road, so to speak, and others who for reasons we may or may not understand just walked away from the modern American dream life of stardom and celebrity. 

Jon's book list on 1960s Hollywood

Jon Lewis Why did Jon love this book?

Harris focuses on Oscar night 1968 as four of the five films nominated for Best Picture evinced Hollywood’s reluctant affirmation of the American counterculture. These “pictures at a revolution,” as he terms them—Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and the Oscar winner In the Heat of the Nightsignaled a necessary industry re-think, away from bloated old-Hollywood blockbusters (like Dr. Dolittle, the fifth nominee) and towards something more politically savvy and more hip. Harris does well to chronicle the backstage/behind-the-scenes histories of all five of these films.

By Mark Harris,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Pictures at a Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Pictures at a Revolution is probably one of the best books I've ever read in my life.” —Quentin Tarantino

The New York Times bestseller that follows the making of five films at a pivotal time in Hollywood history

In the mid-1960s, westerns, war movies, and blockbuster musicals like Mary Poppins swept the box office. The Hollywood studio system was astonishingly lucrative for the few who dominated the business. That is, until the tastes of American moviegoers radically- and unexpectedly-changed. By the Oscar ceremonies of 1968, a cultural revolution had hit Hollywood with the force of a tsunami, and films like…

Book cover of The Devil's Candy: The Anatomy of a Hollywood Fiasco

Ben Fritz Author Of The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies

From my list on behind the scenes in Hollywood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent most of my 20-year career as a professional journalist covering the entertainment industry, and I find it endlessly fascinating. As is probably true for you if you’re reading this, I love movies and TV shows. As a curious person, I always want to know why. Why did this movie get made at this time with these people? If you want to know the answer, you’ve got to understand the business. Hollywood is such an interesting business, full of big personalities trying to manage corporate pressure and creative egos and to balance their need to make a profit with their desire to make great art.

Ben's book list on behind the scenes in Hollywood

Ben Fritz Why did Ben love this book?

The perfect companion to Final Cut from a radically different perspective. Salamon is a journalist who was given extraordinary access by director Brian De Palma during the making of The Bonfire of the Vanities, which, like Heaven’s Gate, turned out to be an infamous flop.

Salamon was on set constantly and shows just how difficult it was for De Palma to manage a massive production and try to keep his vision intact; the difficulty of managing stars like Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, and Melanie Griffith; and the pressure studios put on filmmakers as budgets escalate and the desperation to release a hit skyrockets.

By Julie Salamon,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Devil's Candy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Brian De Palma agreed to allow Julie Salamon unlimited access to the film production of Tom Wolfe's best-selling book The Bonfire of the Vanities , both director and journalist must have felt like they were on to something big. How could it lose? But instead Salamon got a front-row seat at the Hollywood disaster of the decade. She shadowed the film from its early stages through the last of the eviscerating reviews, and met everyone from the actors to the technicians to the studio executives. They'd all signed on for a blockbuster, but there was a sense of impending…

Book cover of The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood

Reid Mitenbuler Author Of Wild Minds: The Artists and Rivalries That Inspired the Golden Age of Animation

From my list on Hollywood history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Not only am I fascinated by old Hollywood history, I’m also interested in the creative processes that produce great art. Everyone approaches their craft a little differently, and it’s always illuminating to discover how different people do what they do. In my own work, I like to explore how creative people come to their Eureka! moments, and hope that I’ll be able to learn something from their experiences.

Reid's book list on Hollywood history

Reid Mitenbuler Why did Reid love this book?

Sam Wasson is simply a good writer, crafting tight narratives that help this book read like a novel. The best part of this book is its examination of the creative process: in order for Chinatown to get made the way it did, a million (maybe two million) things needed to align in just the right way. The movie easily could have failed, but Wasson shows how the contributions of its many collaborators saved it.

By Sam Wasson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Big Goodbye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sight & Sound's #1 Film Book of 2020

Chinatown is the Holy Grail of 1970s cinema. Its ending is the most notorious in American film and its closing line of dialogue the most haunting. Here for the first time is the incredible true story of its making. In Sam Wasson's telling, it becomes the defining story of its most colorful characters. Here is Jack Nicholson at the height of his powers, embarking on his great, doomed love affair with Anjelica Huston. Here is director Roman Polanski, both predator and prey, haunted by the savage murder of his wife, returning to…

Book cover of The Jaws Log

Carleton Eastlake Author Of Monkey Business

From my list on what Hollywood is really like.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having been a Hollywood writer for thirty years, and now written a novel that although satirical still accurately describes the creation of a TV series, I’ve long been amazed at how many Hollywood stories – including films made in Hollywood – offer fantasies that have even less to do with the reality of love and work in film and television than Game of Thrones does with the real Middle Ages. I’ve written fantasy myself, but for people fascinated by Hollywood, or who want to work in film and TV, there’s a reason too to read books that capture the reality, especially when like the books listed here, they do so astonishingly well.

Carleton's book list on what Hollywood is really like

Carleton Eastlake Why did Carleton love this book?

In my book club I’m known as Second Carl, since Carl Gottlieb has been a member far longer than I. In fact, I was still a lawyer in Washington, D.C. secretly dreaming about Hollywood but never suspecting I’d someday myself work on a Spielberg TV series, when I read this short, fast, now revered account of the filming of Spielberg’s breakout film. It proved to be a deeply accurate and comprehensive description – and warning – about what life and work on location and in Hollywood itself would be like. It’s also so engagingly readable and relevant, a Broadway musical based on the book is in tryouts as I write these words.

By Carl Gottlieb,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Jaws Log as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of 3 Oscars [registered] and the highest grossing film of its time, "Jaws" was a phenomenon, and this is the only book on how 26-year-old Steven Spielberg transformed Peter Benchley's best-selling novel into the classic film it became. Hired by Spielberg as a screenwriter to work with him on the set while the movie was being made, Carl Gottlieb, and actor and writer, was there throughout the production that starred Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss. After filming was over, with Spielberg's cooperation, Gottlieb chronicled the extraordinary year-long adventure in "The Jaws Log", which was first published in…

Book cover of Antic Hay

Lesley Glaister Author Of Blasted Things

From my list on finding a new normal after World War I.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the prize-winning author of sixteen novels, most recently Little Egypt, The Squeeze, and Blasted Things. I teach creative writing at the University of St Andrews. I live in Edinburgh and am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. I’m a novelist and student of human nature. I love to work out what motivates people, how and why they make choices, their coping mechanisms, and how they act under pressure. Before I begin a novel set in the past, I read as much fiction written at the time as I can find, as well as autobiography and history. In this way, I attempt to truffle down into the actions and impulses of individuals, both performative and deeply interior, that characterise the spirit of the era that I’m writing.

Lesley's book list on finding a new normal after World War I

Lesley Glaister Why did Lesley love this book?

Set in London in the early 1920s, Huxley’s Antic Hay follows a cast of young bohemian and artistic characters, all affected in various ways by the Great War, as they search for SOMETHING to give meaning to their lives. London has changed, the world has changed, and they are lost. Cripplingly shy Theodore Gumbril, the main character, (inventor of Gumbril's Patent Small-Clothes, trousers which contain an inflatable cushion in the seat) searches for love, and meaning, in the shattered society following the end of the war. His search for love – including the donning of a false, confidence-boosting beard, makes for an absurd kind of comedy. Antic Hay is a savage satire, a switchback of emotions, swooping between humour and despair – though the slight plot does sometimes get rather side-lined by intellectual discussions and I admit to skipping the odd page. However, it gives an excellent flavour of the…

By Aldous Huxley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Antic Hay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Book cover of The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power

Leif Wenar Author Of Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World

From my list on why oil is a curse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Stanford professor who became fascinated with oil and everything it does to for us and to us. For years I traveled the world talking to the people who know petroleum: executives in the big oil companies, politicians and activists, militants and victims, spies and tribal chiefs. Blood Oil explains what I learned and how we can make our oil-cursed world better for all of us. 

Leif's book list on why oil is a curse

Leif Wenar Why did Leif love this book?

Most of us believe that the Big Oil has politicians in its pocket, and that oil drives America’s actions in the Middle East.

Yergin’s terrific history shows that there’s so much more: oil has fueled the growth of empires, it has decided the world wars, it has made and broken some of the world’s biggest fortunes. (You might also like the TV documentary made from the book, narrated by Donald Sutherland.)

By Daniel Yergin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Prize as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written by the author of "Shattered Peace" and "Energy Future", this book brings to life the tycoons, wildcatters, monopolists, regulators, presidents, generals and sheiks whose struggle for oil has shaken the world economy, dictated the outcome of wars, transformed the destiny of Britain and the world and profoundly changed all our lives. Beginning with the first oil well of the 1850s and continuing up to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, it is a story of greed, gumption nad ingenuity, all in pursuit of "the prize" - worldwide economic, military and political mastery through the control of oil. The book includes…

Book cover of Growing Up Female: A Personal Photojournal

Nubar Alexanian Author Of Stones In the Road: Photographs of Peru

From my list on the poetry in documentary photographs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a documentary photographer for the past 50 years and my work has been featured in major magazines in the United States and Europe including The New York Times Magazine, Life, Fortune, Geo, Time & Newsweek, and others. I have six books in print, including JAZZ with Wynton Marsalis & Nonfiction Photographs with filmmaker Errol Morris. I love teaching photography and co-founded the Essex Photographic Workshop in 1975. My work is in many collections, including The Peabody Essex Museum, The Worcester Art Museum, Polaroid Collection, Agfa Corporation, Participant Productions, Bose Corporation, Bibliotheque Nacionale, France. Solo exhibitions of my work include the Walker Art Center, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Burden Gallery.

Nubar's book list on the poetry in documentary photographs

Nubar Alexanian Why did Nubar love this book?

When my wife and I met in 1975, one of the things we had in common was that we both owned a copy of Growing Up Female. And the bindings on both copies were pretty worn out. This is a deeply personal journal of compelling photographs and eloquent text about women—from a feminist’s point of view.  What I love about this book is how deeply moving it is and how well it demonstrates a narrative approach to taking, editing, and sequencing first-person photographs. Not to mention that this book sold 25,000 copies (unheard of for books of photography) and had a significant impact on the view of a woman’s place in our culture.  

By Abigail Heyman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Growing Up Female as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Growing up female;: A personal photojournal Hardcover by Abigail Heyman (Author)

Book cover of The World Remade: America in World War I

Elliot Y. Neaman Author Of A Dubious Past: Ernst Junger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism

From my list on war and collective memory.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of modern European history at the University of San Francisco. I have written or co-edited three major books and many articles and reviews, as well as serving as a correspondent for a German newspaper. My areas of expertise are intellectual, political, military, and cultural history. I also work on the history of espionage and served as a consultant to the CIA on my last book about student radicals in Germany.

Elliot's book list on war and collective memory

Elliot Y. Neaman Why did Elliot love this book?

I was riveted by this revisionist history of how America got into World War I and changed American society and politics. He shows how much of American collective memory about why WWI was fought, and the perception of Germany in America was fashioned, to a large extent, by British propaganda. He also shows why Germany had no choice but to engage in unrestricted submarine warfare, which eventually brought the United States into the war.

Had the British modified the naval blockade on Germany, which starved the German population in a horrific manner, the United States might never have become involved. But Great Britain was determined to make sure Germany would never again pose a threat to its colonial overseas empire. President Wilson at first understood that American neutrality was the means by which he could have brokered peace, but British and French recalcitrance, and eventually the deaths of relatively few…

By G.J. Meyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World Remade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bracing, indispensable account of America’s epoch-defining involvement in the Great War, rich with fresh insights into the key issues, events, and personalities of the period

After years of bitter debate, the United States declared war on Imperial Germany on April 6, 1917, plunging the country into the savage European conflict that would redraw the map of the continent—and the globe. The World Remade is an engrossing chronicle of America’s pivotal, still controversial intervention into World War I, encompassing the tumultuous politics and towering historical figures that defined the era and forged the future. When it declared war, the United…

Book cover of Battle of the Baltic Islands 1917: Triumph of the Imperial German Navy

Mark Harris Author Of Harwich Submarines in the Great War: The First Submarine Campaign of the Royal Navy in 1914

From my list on WWI naval history without the same old story.

Why am I passionate about this?

Military history has always fascinated me. I grew up in Britain with my parents’ tales of service in the Second World War on land, sea, and in the air. The First World War saw the zenith of British sea power and was an obvious draw. The scale and scope of the fighting were huge, and I’ve been researching the naval war in depth for over thirty years. The high levels of literacy of the combatants mean that it is also possible to gain deep insights into their experiences. This makes for stories I'm passionate about discovering as a reader and telling as an author. I hope this list helps you discover them too.

Mark's book list on WWI naval history without the same old story

Mark Harris Why did Mark love this book?

Successful amphibious operations are hard to pull off. The Allies failure at Gallipoli is well known.

This book tells the story of Operation Albion, the successful German seizure of the Russian islands in the Baltic. A large part of the German Fleet was involved and had to overcome stubborn resistance by the battleships, cruisers, and destroyers of the Russian Fleet to break into the Gulf of Riga.

The Baltic is a little-known theatre of naval operations. The book draws on both Russian and German sources to show how the German Fleet and Army worked hand in hand to achieve a decisive victory in this theatre of the naval war.

By Gary Staff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Battle of the Baltic Islands 1917 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In late 1917, the Russians, despite the revolution, were still willing to continue the war against Germany. This is an account of Operation Albion, the highly-successful seaborne operation launched by the Germans to change their minds. The Baltic Islands were pivotal for the defence of the Finnish Gulf and St. Petersburg, so their capture wasessential for any campaign towards the Russian capital. Only after the fall of the islands did Russia begin peace negotiations (freeing nearly half a million German soldiers for the Kaiser's last gamble on the Western Front). This then was a campaign of great significance for the…

Book cover of Armageddon 2419 A.D.

Justin Oldham Author Of Showdown at the Kodiak Starport

From my list on science fiction showcasing future war scenarios.

Why am I passionate about this?

As intense as the Cold War was, I have always found myself looking toward the future. Nuclear annihilation was a real possibility in my youth. Even so, I have always been curious about the next threat beyond our current crisis would be. Beyond nuclear, biological, and chemical threats, I see that we now face possible dangers from rogue AI and climate change. If that’s not enough, let’s remember that conventional weapons are getting more powerful with the passing of each decade. That’s why the storyteller in me loves this stuff so much.

Justin's book list on science fiction showcasing future war scenarios

Justin Oldham Why did Justin love this book?

I particularly enjoy the way the author has blended apocalyptic imagery with epic space battles. As much as I enjoyed the origin story of Buck Rogers, I really was taken by the idea of a world recovering from atomic horror. It’s an action-adventure story that made me feel good about humanity’s future.

By Philip Francis Nowlan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Armageddon 2419 A.D. as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The groundbreaking novella that gave rise to science fiction’s original space hero, Buck Rogers.

In 1927, World War I veteran Anthony Rogers is working for the American Radioactive Gas Corporation investigating strange phenomena in an abandoned coal mine when suddenly there’s a cave-in. Trapped in the mine and surrounded by radioactive gas, Rogers falls into a state of suspended animation . . . for nearly five hundred years.
Waking in the year 2419, he first saves the beautiful Wilma Deering from attack and then discovers what has befallen his country: The United States has descended into chaos after Asian powers…

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