Disaster Mon Amour David Thomson

Publication date:
22 Feb 2022
Yale University Press
224 pages: 216 x 140mm
Sales territories:

A deep—and darkly comic—dive into the nature of disasters, and the ways they shape how we think about ourselves in the world

As anyone in the news business knows, audiences swell with the scale of disaster; humans have always been drawn to the rumors of our own demise. In this darkly comic book, noted film historian David Thomson examines iconic disasters, both real and fictional, exposing the slippage between what occurs and what we observe. Demonstrating how disasters become yet another commodity for our consumption, Thomson shows how digital culture sates our desire to witness chaos while suffering none of its aftereffects.
Through classic movies such as San Andreas; eyewitness responses to real disasters such as the Aberfan coal mining disaster and the coronavirus pandemic; and media portrayals of disasters throughout history, Thomson pulls back the curtain to reveal why we love watching disaster unfold—but only if it happens to others.

David Thomson is one of the great living authorities on movies. He has written more than twenty books, including The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, Murder and the Movies, and biographies of David O. Selznick and Orson Welles. Thomson lives in San Francisco, CA.

“In this brilliant book, David Thomson tells the story of how we came to make disaster and catastrophe our best friends—how we let terror cocoon and take over our imaginations to avoid seeing the things that really frighten us. Riveting and totally original.”—Adam Curtis, BBC filmmaker and political journalist

“David Thomson is, I think, the best writer on film in our time. He is our most argumentative and trustworthy historian of the screen.”—Michael Ondaatje, author of The Cat's Table

“With bracing prose and intensity of feeling, this book will rivet any serious reader concerned about the world—climate change, COVID, war, and other menaces. A grim but burnished book.”—Diane Johnson, author of Lorna Mott Comes Home

“David Thomson’s Disaster Mon Amour is a piñata of literary pleasures: acid thoughts, film lore, historical meditations, and astute observation, especially about the culture’s gourmandizing of despair. His high-stepping book is informed, alert, full of fury and fun.”—John Lahr, author of Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh

"Any book that takes Laurel and Hardy and Rachel Maddow as prophets of doom—and makes you want to see a Laurel and Hardy movie with Rachel Maddow as much as you want to see Laurel and Hardy as guests on her show—is going to be read at least twice."—Greil Marcus, author of Mystery Train