Before getting into books on the silent and early sound era, let's look toward the Louise Brooks bookshelf. Three essential books any fan will want to read are the biography by Barry Paris and Louise Brooks' own volume of memoirs, Lulu in Hollywood. Both are still available thanks to the efforts of the Louise Brooks Society, which helped bring them back into print. I would also recommend both Jan Wahl's wonderful Dear Stinkpot: Letters From Louise Brooks, and Pamela Hutchinson's recently reissued Pandora's Box (Die Büchse der Pandora), from BFI Film Classics. And, I might also put in a plug for a few of my recent books, Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star (a collection of essays), Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, and Now We're in the Air: A Companion to the Once "Lost" Film.
Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever and Roland Jaccard's Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star, but they are out of print and a bit harder to track down. Tom Graves' My Afternoon with Louise Brooks is also of interest, and I've written about it a number of times here on the Louise Brooks Society blog. Otherwise, be sure and check out the Books for Sale table here on the blog for even more related and recommended titles. On a final note, let me add that a title like Louise Brooks: Her men, affairs, scandals and persona is a pile of crap, and unless you like stepping in dog-shit, I would avoid it all together.
Among the new and recent releases realted to the silent and early sound era, I would recommend Rediscovering Roscoe: The Films of “Fatty” Arbuckle, by Steve Massa. I recently wrote it here on the LBS blog. It is an interesting read, and not only because Arbuckle directed Louise Brooks in a 1931 short, Windy Riley Goes Hollywood.
Also recently released and more than deserving of a read is Donna Hill's Rudolph Valentino: The Silent Idol, His Life in Photographs. As Kevin Brownlow remarked, "Besides being superbly researched, Silent Idol is filled with outstanding photographs, [and] given the standard of reproduction they deserve. I recommend it wholeheartedly."
If you find yourself drawn to the exoticism of early Hollywood, then you will likely find yourself drawn to the Agata Frymus' Damsels and Divas: European Stardom in Silent Hollywood (Rutgers University Press). Film scholar Michael Williams stated, "Written with engaging clarity and scholarly vigour and founded on first-class archival research, Damsels and Divas is a hugely welcome addition to scholarship on Hollywood stardom in the 1920s. The book shines much-needed light on the extraordinary careers of European female stars Pola Negri, Vilma Bánky and Jetta Goudal as well as the discourses of ethnicity, gender and class that shaped the firmament in which they, as Frymus puts it, ‘shone briefly, but very brightly’."
Two other recent titles worth noting are Dan van Neste's They Coulda Been Contenders: Twelve Actors Who Should Have Become Cinematic Superstars (Bear Manor), a highly enjoyable read, and Barbara Tepa Lupack's Silent Serial Sensations: The Wharton Brothers and the Magic of Early Cinema (Cornell University Press). Regarding the latter, Jack Garner (Louise Brooks' friend and former staff film critic at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) stated, "Silent Serial Sensations shines an overdue spotlight on a little-known but essential part of cinema history. Barbara Tepa Lupack tells the surprising and rich story of the creative Wharton brothers and their Ithaca studio in this well-researched and engaging history."
And finally, here are some links to some of my past book recommendations and where they were published.
Best Film Books of 2017: Silent Comedy Edition. Huffington Post
Best Film Books of 2017. Huffington Post
The BFI Re-Opens Silent Film Pandora’s Box. PopMatters
Pola Negri: Her films were silent. She wasn’t. Huffington Post
The Case for Marion Davies. Huffington Post
Two Film Historians and Their Lifelong Labor of Love. Huffington Post
Son of Best Film Books of 2016. Huffington Post
Best Film Books of 2016. Huffington Post
Laurel & Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies. Huffington Post
New Book Surveys Jules Verne on Film. Huffington Post
Spooky Film History Books for Halloween. Huffington Post
Best Films Books of 2015. Huffington Post
Best Film Books of 2014. Huffington Post
Best Film Books of 2013. Huffington Post
Best Film Books of 2012. Huffington Post
The Movies: 10 Must-Read Books Coming This Fall. Huffington Post
Best Film Books of 2011 Are Biographies. Huffington Post
Director John Huston – the story of a story-teller revealed in new book. San Francisco Chronicle / SFGate
Walt Disney’s silent inspirations. San Francisco Chronicle / SFGate
Thomas Gladysz’s most treasured book. San Francisco Chronicle
Best Film Books for 2010. Huffington Post
Dear Stinkpot: Letters from Louise Brooks by Jan Wahl. Huffington Post
New Chaplin book by Kevin Brownlow. San Francisco Silent Film Festival blog
New book on Edison’s Frankenstein. San Francisco Silent Film Festival blog
Best film books of 2009. examiner.com