Woody Guthrie : A Life

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Overview

Perhaps now best known as an acclaimed (and bestselling) author of fiction, Joe Klein has for nearly three decades been one of contemporary journalism's premiere reporters. In "Woody Guthrie: A Life", Klein's signature style of insightful narrative nonfiction brings to life a vivid chapter in the history of American culture.

In 1998, the Woody Guthrie Foundation made public for the first time more than 10,000 of his papers, letters, song lyrics, and artworks, sparking renewed ...

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Overview

Perhaps now best known as an acclaimed (and bestselling) author of fiction, Joe Klein has for nearly three decades been one of contemporary journalism's premiere reporters. In "Woody Guthrie: A Life", Klein's signature style of insightful narrative nonfiction brings to life a vivid chapter in the history of American culture.

In 1998, the Woody Guthrie Foundation made public for the first time more than 10,000 of his papers, letters, song lyrics, and artworks, sparking renewed interest in the life of an American folk legend who influenced generations of musicians to come. The New York Times, reporting on the phenomenon, described Guthrie's appeal and legacy succinctly: "(Woody Guthrie was) one of the most influential cultural figures of the century. Guthrie inspired Bob Dylan and virtually created the modern folk tradition and singer-songwriter genre, and his music remains as vital today as when he was performing".

Born in Oklahoma in 1912, Guthrie spent his early years among the farmers and migrant workers of the dust bowl. As a young man during the Great Depression, he traveled across the country by boxcar with his guitar, composing the indelible folk ballads that made him a leader of the politically vital folk movement of the pre-war era. Tragically, the onset of Huntington's disease, gradually diminished his mind, body, and work, and led to his untimely death at the age of 55. Still, Guthrie's life and music have inspired every important folk and folk rock artist since, from Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez to Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg, and Ani DiFranco.

Few artists have captured the American experience of their as wholly as folk legend Woody Guthrie. Singer, songwriter, and political activist, Guthrie drew a lifetime of inspiration from his roots on the Oklahoma frontier in the years before the Great Depression. His music -- scathingly funny songs and poignant folk ballads -- made heard the unsung life of field hands, migrant workers, and union organizers, and show it worthy of tribute. Though his career was tragically cut short by the onset of a degenerative disease that ravaged his body and mind, the legacy of his life and music had already made him an American cultural icon, and has resounded with every generation of musician and music lover since. In this definitive biography, Joe Klein, renowned journalist and author of the bestselling novel PRIMARY COLORS, creates an unforgettable portrait of a man as gifted, restless, and complicated as the American landscape he came from.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Long before Joe Klein created a sensation by cloaking himself in anonymity and writing Primary Colors, he penned what has come to be considered the definitive biography of an American folk legend, Woody Guthrie: A Life. From Guthrie's youth in the hills of Oklahoma to his days as a politically active troubadour and his final years spent battling a debilitating disease in New York City, Klein's insightful, affectionate, but unsparing portrait captures the very essence of the man. Long out of print, this classic biography -- which no less an authority than Bruce Springsteen once dubbed "really a great book" -- is now available again in an attractive softcover edition that boasts a new afterword by the author.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385333856
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 274,405
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 31, 2013

    I love the writing in this book, the characters, the stories --

    I love the writing in this book, the characters, the stories -- it keeps you engaged throughout... Fantastic book. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2006

    the two-month biography

    It took me a good two months to read this biography, and that's because a lot of it is boring. This book just did not make me care that much about Guthrie or any of the people in his life, and it didn't help me understand why he's such a towering figure in music history. I will say that some parts of this book were mildly entertaining, and that there is a tremendous amount of detail. If you're already interested in Woody Guthrie, then this book will answer every question you ever had. If you don't particularly care and a friend recommends this book to you, do yourself a favor and demur.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2001

    LIVING HISTORY

    I thought this book was great. Not only touched on Woody's life, but brought out history of the 20's 30's and 40's and what it was like to live in those times. The book gave me the impression that woody was one of those people who had a lot to say and said it whether straightforward or poetic. Even though Joe Klein showed some of the sides of Woody that some fans (including me) would have kept more hidden (in some of Woody's letters), I felt happy after reading the whole book. Too bad it was returned to the library in tatters. It was already falling apart when I loaned it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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