Thomas Dunne Books
"It does seem to me that Capa has proved beyond all doubt that the camera need not be a cold mechanical device," John Steinbeck wrote of photojournalist Robert Capa in a quote that launches this well-written, exhaustively researched biography. "Like the pen, it is as good as the man who uses it. It can be the extension of mind and heart." That's quite a compliment coming from an author like Steinbeck, but then Capa won the respect and friendship of some of the brightest talents of his generation; other admirers and poker buddies included Ernest Hemingway and John Huston, and among his many loves was actress Ingrid Bergman. Capa won fame slogging through the blood and grime to capture vivid images of five different wars, from the Spanish Civil War (where he wasn't above staging some of his photographs), through the landings at Omaha Beach on D-Day (which he chronicled for Life magazine as the only journalist to wade ashore with the first wave of G.I.s), to the early days of the Vietnam conflict (where he was killed in action at the age of 41 while covering the French army, soon to be replaced with disastrous results by the Americans). Born a Hungarian Jew named AndrT Friedmann, another great writer, John Hersey, famously dubbed the swarthy chain-smoking photographer "the Man Who Invented Himself," and author Alex Kershaw contends that one of his greatest achievements was the legend that he created for himself. A California journalist who contributes to The Guardian and The Sunday Times Magazine, among others, Kershaw brings Capa and his times to life with bright, vivid writing and telling anecdotes, using a fascinating personal odyssey to put the man's professional accomplishments in perspective. "Capa was the first photographer to make photojournalism appear glamorous and sexy," he writes. Of course, that distinction and all others take a back seat to the photos themselves, and this book's only shortcoming is that it does not include any examples of the great man's work.--Jim DeRogatis
From Publishers Weekly
Robert Capa was the archetype of the intrepid war photographer. Asserting that "if your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough," Capa braved combat in the Spanish Civil War, hit Omaha Beach in the first wave on D-Day, and jumped behind German lines with American paratroopers, returning with visceral pictures-like the famous (and possibly staged) "falling soldier" photo of a Spanish Republican militiaman who had just been shot-that defined our idea of what modern war looks like.... read more
Robert Capa was arguably the finest photojournalist of the twentieth century and without doubt its greatest combat photographer-he covered every major conflict from the Spanish Civil War to the beginnings of Vietnam. An inveterate gambler who coined the dictum "if your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough," Capa risked his life again and again, most dramatically as the only photographer landing with the first wave on Omaha Beach on D-Day, and he created some of the most enduring images ever made with a camera.
But the drama in Capa's life wasn't limited to one side of the lens. Born in Budapest as Andre Freidman, Capa fled political repression and anti-Semitism as a teenager by escaping to Berlin, where he first picked up a Leica and then witnessed the rise of Hitler. By the time his images of D-Day appeared in Life Magazine, he had become a legend, the first photographer to make his calling appear glamorous and sexy, and the model for many of the most intrepid photographers to this day. In 1947, after a decade covering war, he founded a cooperative agency-Magnum-and in the process revolutionized the industry. For the first time, photographers would retain their own copyrights and negatives, and nearly half a century later, Magnum remains the most prestigious agency of its kind.
By the time he died, at just forty-one in 1954, Capa was not only the greatest adventurer in photographic history. He had become a colleague and confidant to writers Irwin Shaw, John Steinb