For most people, writing a book proves to be a challenging endeavor. Add a dissertation to the mix, and welcome to SAU assistant professor Jim Baumann’s reality for nearly two years.
Baumann, along with his former professor Oliver Boyd-Barrett and classmate David Herrera, wrote “Hollywood and the CIA: Cinema, Defense and Subversion” over the course of nearly four years.
“I was a research assistant at Bowling Green State University for Dr. Boyd-Barrett,” Baumann said. “It was David Herrera’s idea in a research proposal that sparked the idea for the book.”
At the time, Baumann was already working on his dissertation. When Boyd-Barrett approached him about the book research, Boyd-Barrett was not surprised when Baumann offered to participate.
“Jim is a very hard worker,” Boyd-Barrett said. “As he was working on his dissertation, I shared with him the project that I was working on. He was fascinated with the “Bond” movies and became intrigued. I was delighted to have someone else who was interested in the subject, so he quickly joined with me and David and took a full part in analyzing the movies.”
“Hollywood and the CIA” looks at how the CIA is portrayed in Hollywood films and how they reflect current events and reality.
“The book was originally going to be a conference paper or a book chapter, but our publisher decided to take it on,” Baumann said.
Although Boyd-Barrett has authored and edited over 20 books, he said this book, namely the topic, was like no other he has worked on.
“Most people are fascinated by the work of the CIA and love Hollywood products,” Boyd-Barrett said. “This book looks at how Hollywood has shown the CIA and other agencies over five decades. This is the first full-length book of its kind and it is the only study that looked at the CIA over such a long period of time.”
Baumann and his co-authors began research for the book in 2007. For his share of the research, Baumann watched 18 spy-related movies.
“When you think that movies take at least two hours a night to watch, it takes time to get through them and code them,” Baumann said. “That’s why it took quite a bit, because when you’re doing movies you actually have to watch them, and then watch them again.”
Baumann said the writing process for the book lasted around one year. During that time, the three co-authors managed to draw the same conclusions, making the writing of the book very cohesive.
“We all agreed on the conclusion that a number of themes came from the research,” Baumann said. “We agreed that the CIA is a comical agency in some movies and a sinister agency in others. In the ‘90s, I noticed that it emerged as a para-military organization, a very Arnold Schwarzenegger-like approach where one man can defeat 50 soldiers.”
“Hollywood and the CIA” is currently for sale in Europe. It will hit bookshelves in the United States on May 31.
“Anyone interested in a copy of the book can come see me and I can get them a 20 percent discount,” Baumann said. “I would be happy to autograph a copy for someone. I would even write them a personal note.”