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Hardcover John Wayne's America: The Politics of Celebrity Book

ISBN: 0684808234

ISBN13: 9780684808239

John Wayne's America: The Politics of Celebrity

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lincoln at Gettysburg brings his eloquence, wit, and on-target perceptions of American life and politics to this fascinating, well-drawn protrait of a... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A fresh look at a great Actor

This book is essentially a discussion about an idea. American values, & culture came to be influenced by the films & film roles of John Wayne, & the author explores that in great detail.This book helped me understand why I admire the courage, resolution, dignity, & strength that his characters displayed, & why I admire Wayne's ability to disappear into the skin of whatever character he played.

Brilliant new thinking on the cowboy myth

Wills has always brought his classicist's training to timely exegesis of the American zeitgeist. He convincingly argues that Wayne is not the absurd figure that 60s and 70s Baby Boomers remember, but the icon of the imperial America of the 40s and 50s. The Western was the perfect analog for our era of national "greatness" (if you consider it that). What's also interesting about Wills' timing is that this book came just before a resurgence of the sort of film that Wayne often starred in. If you look at Gladiator, it's really a Western, if less complex than those directed by John Ford. Imperial America rises again on the tech bubble....from Nixon Agonistes to the Duke, Wills rocks.

Looking Into A Legend

John Wayne's America is a book for the true John Wayne enthusiast. Throughout the book, Gary Wills traces the creation of an American icon through the movies and directors that formed it. Wills uses seemingly every "John Wayne" movie ever made citing specific examples for his points. Needless to say, unless one has some base in John Wayne's movies or a SEVERE interest in cinematography, Wills' dialogue can be a somewhat challenging reading. Although director John Ford played a major role in the making of the American icon, Wills seems to lose focus and starts chasing the career of Ford. As hard as this book was to read, it was written well, and should be included in any collection of biographies of this truly American legend.

King of books on Duke

Anyone even remotely interested in John Wayne, John Ford, Westerns, or pop culture in general might want to add this fine book to their "to read" list. While Wills's book is full of biographical info. and is arranged (more or less) chronologically, it is much more concerned with tracing the formation of a truly larger-than-life public image. One of Wills's purposes is to debunk some of the myths that have clouded the public's view of (the former) Marion Morrison, but he clearly admires Wayne as a unique, commanding presence on the screen. Those who stubbornly refuse to think of Wayne as anything other than a manly, gun-loving superpatriot might want to steer clear. But most thinking people are more likely to be intrigued, even fascinated. The author's reading of Wayne--his life and films (THE BIG TRAIL, STAGECOACH, RED RIVER, and TURE GRIT in particular)--is always on target and lucid. While I don't recall disagreeing with Wills on a single critical point, I occasionally grew tired of his painstaking analysis of John Ford's background and various relationships and how they were inserted into his films. I realize that Ford played a huge role in the mythologizing of John Wayne, but I--again, occasionally--found myself asking whether Wills had lost his focus. Even so, the Ford sections are interesting; for example, I had no idea that he was such a sadist and fabricator. Over the course of the book Wills indicates that Ford was a complicated man, while Wayne was rather simple ("Wayne couldn't even spell [the word] politics," Henry Fonda says in one of the book's quotations). Though not perfect (I'd give it a 4 1/2 if I could), this is a great, fun book on a great (and overdue) subject.

Engrossing biography of the Duke!

An immensely engaging analysis of the actor who for many years was the #1 most popular film star in the world, even many years after his death. The author diagnostically and exhaustingly detailed perspective of Wayne the actor vs. Wayne the man is what sets it apart as a landmark bio. You will not be displeased. In one chapter the author discusses the fact that, after having seen "High Noon" he was so upset with the scene wherein Coop throws his marshall's badge into the dusty road that he was instrumental in seeing to it that the script writer was investigated and later forced out of the country after being suspected of pro-communist leanings during the McCarhty witchtrials. Wayne is ultimately admired as an artist yet condemned for his staunchly conservative political views
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