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The Chicago Books & more

Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100+ Years of Chicago and the Movies

The second edition of this popular Windy City history, co-authored with local raconteur Michael Corcoran. 
From the earliest film studios, when one out of every five movies was made in Chicago, to today's thriving independent film scene, the Windy City has been at the forefront of American moviemaking.

The Blues Brothers. Within Our Gates. Hoop Dreams. The Gore-Gore Girls. My Best Friend's Wedding. Call Northside 777. His New Job. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. The Fugitive. The Dark Knight. They are all pieces in Chicago's rich film history.

Take a unique trip through Chicago and with Chicagoans through a century of filmmaking. Exclusive interviews with directors, actors, writers, and other film professionals; visits to movie locations and historical sites; and fascinating tales from the silent era are all a part of this spirited and definitive look at our location on the lake.

From alleyways to the lakefront, from the El tracks to suburban streets, Chicago is a sprawling backlot of cinematic creativity and stories. See the Windy City like you've never seen it before—both on screen and on the set—in the first book ever to chronicle the engaging history of Chicago and the movies.  


Hollywood on Lake Michigan earned praise from both American Cinematographer and The Hollywood Reporter. Published by Chicago Review Press, Hollywood on Lake Michigan was a 2014 selection by Illinois Reads, a statewide festival and reading programing showcasing Illinois authors. (Chicago Review Press, 2013; first edition published by Lake Claremont Press, 1999)

"The Movies Are" Carl Sandburg's Film Reviews and Essays, 1920-1928

"I am the cinema expert, the critic of the silent celluloid for the Daily News."
Carl Sandburg in a letter, September 12, 1920

Over the course of his long and distinguished career Carl Sandburg earned two Pulitzer prizes, one for poetry and one for biography, but it comes as a surprise to many that during the 1920s this noted American writer was also a respected newspaper film critic. At a time when movies were still considered light entertainment by most newspapers, The Chicago Daily News gave Sandburg a unique forum to express his visions on the burgeoning film arts.

"The Movies Are" compiles hundreds of Sandburg's writings on film including reviews for such silent classics as Greed, The Gold Rush, The Thief of Bagdad, Nanook of the North, The Sheik, The General, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Safety Last, and the "holy grail" of lost films, Lon Chaney's London After Midnight; interviews with such personalities as Charlie Chaplin, Tom Mix, Josef von Sternberg, theater director Constantin Stanislavsky, and writer George Bernard Shaw; and Sandburg's earliest published essays of Abraham Lincoln—which he wrote for his film column.

"The cold, real, upstanding fact holds—the movies are."
Carl Sandburg, The Chicago Daily News, December 18, 1926

Take a new look at one of Hollywood's most exciting periods through the critical perspective of one of America's great writers. A passionate film advocate, Sandburg early on grasped and delighted in the many possibilities for the new motion picture medium, be they creative, humanitarian, or technological; intellectual, low-brow, or merely novel. In doing so, he began defining the scope and sophistication of future film criticism.

With an introduction by Roger Ebert, Pulitzer Prize winning film critic and Winner of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award. (Lake Claremont Press, 2000)

"Bernstein's historical commentary about Sandburg's film writing is a welcomed addition to Sandburg scholarship. Bernstein does a nice job relating Sandburg's early film reviews to his later involvement in the film industry, particularly with George Steven's The Greatest Story Ever Told. As an editor, Bernstein is intimately aware of the depth and intricacy of Sandburg's film writing in an way reserved for someone who has ardently and obsessively pursued his subject. Roger Ebert's introduction adds a personal twist to his understanding of Carl Sandburg and offers an initial credibility to a collection that eventually builds its own integrity through its own intelligent and pleasantly presented content."
- The Carl Sandburg Website

The Hoofs and Guns of the Storm: Chicago's Civil War Connections

Foreword by the late Illinois Senator Paul Simon
While America's Civil War was fought on Confederate battlefields, Chicago played a crucial role in the Union's struggle toward victory. The Hoofs and Guns of the Storm takes you through a whirlwind of 19th century events that created the foundation for modern-day Chicago. Discover:


• The role Chicago played in Abraham Lincoln's unlikely bid for the Presidency

• Mary Todd Lincoln's trials and tribulations after her husband's assassination

• The hell on earth for six thousand Confederate prisoners that was Camp Douglas, a P.O.W. prison just south of the city

• The Sanitary Fair and the women behind the war efforts

• How Chicago's Union Blue was streaked with hints of Confederate Gray

• Abolition leaders and the Underground Railroad

• John Wilkes Booth's acclaimed performances at the McVicker's Theater, and what this vainglorious actor and future assassin had to say about Lincoln in 1863.

(Lake Claremont Press, 2003)

Arnie Bernstein's lively look at the links between Chicago and the Civil War is a vivid reminder of how that titanic strugle over slavery and the meaning of freedom affected-and continues to affect-all Americans, living everywhere.
Geoffrey C. Ward
Co-writer of the PBS series The Civil War and companion book The Civil War: An Illustrated History

The Hoofs and Guns of the Storm is a lively, intelligent, and comprehensive guide to Civil War and Lincoln sites. Arnie Bernstein's collection is well researched, organized, and written. The result is a useful guidebook that will help Chicagoans and their many guests appreciate more deeply the Windy City's links to an important era in our national history.
Jean H. Baker, author of Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography

Expertly researched, crisply, even poetically written, Arnie Bernstein's literary tour of Civil War Chicago is historically enlightening and lots of fun for those who seek to rediscover the footsteps of our past in the geography of our present.
R. Craig Sautter, co-author of Inside the Wigwam: Chicago's Presidential Conventions 1860-1996


World Film Locations

The World Film Locations series, published by Intellect Books, UK, explores cities around the world through the movies.  Each volume highlights films and filmmakers associated with the title metropolis.  Arnie contributed to two of these highly-acclaimed books, including an essay in the Chicago book on the silent era African American director Oscar Micheaux (2013, edited by Scott Jordan Harris).

For the Boston volume, Arnie looked at the ecclectic portraits of Beantown in The Last DetailShutter Island, and Ted. (2014, edited by Marcelline Block) 

The Des Plaines River Anthology: Historic Voices from the Graveyards of Forest Park

Inspired by the classic Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, The Des Plaines River Anthology gives voice to those buried in the many necropolises located in Forest Park, IL.  The area is filled with historical graveyards, home to the final restings places of both the renowned and the forgotten. Chicago area writers contibuted prose poems in the style of Masters's Anthology pieces, including stories of the Haymarket Martyrs, anarchist leader Emma Goldman, evangelist Billy Sunday, and film mogul Michael Todd.  Arnie penned the story of Louis Borodkin, his great-grandfather, who was a founder and now resident of the Jewish P.O.W. cemetery on Roosevelt Road.  (Historical Society of Forest Park, in association with Allium Press of Chicago, 2013)

The Encyclopedia of French Film

Coming in 2017: The Encyclopedia of French Film, edited by Marcelline Block.  Arnie wrote entries on François Truffaut's Les quatre cents coups (1959), Jules et Jim (1962), La nuit américaine (1972), and  L'histoire d'Adèle H. (1975); Jean-Luc Goddard's Bande à part (1964); and a biography of silent comedy star Max Linder.