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Camera Man

Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century

From the chief film critic of Slate comes a fresh and captivating biography on comedy legend and acclaimed filmmaker Buster Keaton that also explores the evolution of film from the silent era to the 1940s.

As one of the most famous faces of silent cinema, Buster Keaton was and continues to be revered for his stoic expressions, clever visual gags, and acrobatic physicality in classics such as Sherlock Jr., The General, and The Cameraman.

In this spirited biography, every aspect of Buster Keaton’s astonishing life is explored, from his humble beginnings in vaudeville with his parents to his meteoric rise to Hollywood stardom during the silent era. Based on vigorous research of both Keaton and the film industry, it also delves into the dark sides of fame, such as Keaton’s ill-advised businesses deals and alcoholism, to his unexpected resurgence in the 1940s as his contributions as both an actor and director were finally celebrated.

This is a fascinating and uniquely astounding look at both the classic era of Hollywood and one of its most beloved stars.

Dana Stevens is the film critic at Slate magazine and a regular on the magazine’s weekly cultural podcast, Culture Gabfest. She lives in New York City.