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Waiting for Robert Capa by Susana Fortes

Waiting for Robert Capa

by Susana Fortes, translated by Adriana V. Lopez.

“Robert Capa” is the name and persona invented by Gerda Taro to successfully market photographs taken by herself and Endre Friedmann in Paris in 1935.

Gerda was born Gerta Pohorylle in Stuttgart, a Jewish citizen who fled the Nazis to Paris where she met Hungarian Endre Friedmann, also Jewish. He was taking photographs and developing them in the bathroom of his tiny flat with red cellophane wrapped around the light, as he had been shown by another emerging artist, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Gerta changed her name to “Gerda” because it sounded less Jewish, Endre became Robert Capa, Gerda’s creation of the successful American photographer who was rich, talented, and a womaniser. Gerda established herself as Capa’s agent, managing to get commissions for newspaper stories and  advertisements.

Robert Capa was sent to Spain to cover the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. While he was away, Gerda developed her own distinct style of photography, but sold her pictures as Capa’s work without ever getting acknowledgement for them.

Prior to conjuring Robert Capa from thin air, Gerta had been sharing an attic in the Latin Quarter with her friend, Ruth Cerf. Multilingual Gerta had easily been able to pick up poorly-paid work typing up scientific journals, but felt the need to do something more satisfying. Returning to her flat one evening, she found that the door had been forced, and stepping inside, that their living space and possessions had been trashed. Captain Flint, their pet parrot, was floating in a pot of boiling water, his neck broken. Racist slogans had been painted on the walls.

Shocked and frightened, Gerta briefly gave way to tears, but then, realising that she was reacting as her tormentors wanted her to respond, she took the Leica camera that she had slung over her shoulder on her way home from work, and started photographing. She had found her profession: she would become an important witness to the cowardice and brutality of such thuggish behaviour.

The First Fleet: The Real Story

The First Fleet: The Real Story

Alan Frost

Black Inc: $29.95

Australians have been led to believe for many decades that The First Fleet’s primary aim was to cleanse British society of its convict population by dumping it on these shores. Furthermore, it was believed the voyage itself was poorly planned and haphazardly equipped.

Emeritus Professor of History at La Trobe University, Alan Frost, has recently published evidence to the contrary. In The First Fleet: The Real Story, Frost proves the venture was meticulously planned, well-provisioned, and, considering the fact that this was a long voyage of eight months and one week, amazingly safe.

Death and the Virgin by Chris Skidmore

Death and the Virgin

Chris Skidmore

Orion; Approximately $40.00

It is hardly mere prurience wondering if the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I of England, was, in fact, a virgin during her reign; it is key to  Britain’s most brilliant  monarch.

It would seem, for instance, that she was besotted with Robert Dudley, on whom she showered precious gifts and favours. She made him the Earl of Leicester to the disapproval of much of her court. Its censure was understandable  because both Dudley’s father and his grandfather were executed as traitors. For many years Elizabeth also allowed Dudley to hope that he might be the one taken in marriage to her royal self.