These books are being published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of actor James Dean's death in September 1955. Both cover the details of Dean's early life-e.g., his mother died young, and he grew up with his aunt and uncle on their Indiana farm-and examine his legend, magnified by the fact that his three films (East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant) were not yet released at the time of his death. Drawing on the extensive literature that exists on Dean and the cooperation of Dean's family members and friends, Gehring (film, Ball State Univ.) debunks several rumors surrounding the superstar's legend, such as his rebellious nature, unhappy childhood, and homosexuality. Throughout, Gehring's scholarship and pursuit of the truth of Dean's life are evident. Perry (The Complete Phantom of the Opera) covers much of the same terrain as Gehring but in the usual DK style, with ample illustrations that include 30 never-before-seen photographs from the Dean family's private collection (the author had the full cooperation of the Dean estate) and several facsimiles of Dean's letters home. Both books stand out in the plethora of works on the actor. Gehring's book is noteworthy for its analysis of the "real" Dean, while Perry's take will be devoured for its feast of photos and intimate feel. Buy both if budget permits, as Dean biographies continue to fly off the shelves. A forthcoming documentary, James Dean: Forever Young, and several other anniversary events will heighten demand.-Rosellen Brewer, formerly with Monterey Cty. Free Libs., Salinas, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.