Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography

by David Michaelis
3.8 25

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis

The definitive epic biography of an American icon -- Peanuts creator Charles Schulz.

Charles Schulz, the most widely syndicated and beloved cartoonist of all time, is also one of the most misunderstood figures in American culture. Now, acclaimed biographer David Michaelis gives us the first full-length biography of Schulz: at once a creation story, a portrait of a hidden American genius, and a chronicle contrasting the private man with the central role he played in shaping the national imagination. The son of a barber, Schulz was born in Minnesota to modest, working class roots. In 1943, just three days after his mother's tragic death from cancer, Schulz, a private in the army, shipped out for boot camp and the war in Europe. The sense of shock and separation never left him. And these early experiences would shape his entire life.

With Peanuts, Schulz embedded adult ideas in a world of small children to remind the reader that character flaws and childhood wounds are with us always. It was the central truth of his own life, that as the adults we've become and as the children we always will be, we can free ourselves, if only we can see the humor in the predicaments of funny-looking kids. Schulz's Peanuts profoundly influenced the country in the second half of the 20th century. But the strip was anchored in the collective experience and hardships of Schulz's generation -- the generation that survived the Great Depression and liberated Europe and the Pacific and came home to build the postwar world. Michaelis brilliantly weaves Schulz's story with the cartoons that are so familiar to us, revealing a man we've never fully known and shedding new light on a touchstone of American life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060937997
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/07/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 704
Sales rank: 355,855
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

David Michaelis is the author of two bestselling biographies, including N. C. Wyeth (available from Harper Perennial), which won the Ambassador Book Award for Biography and Autobiography, given by the English-Speaking Union of the United States. He lives in New York City.

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Schulz and Peanuts 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Michaelis had over six years to write this book with unfettered access to all of Sparky Shulz' papers and Peanuts-related materials from the family as well as friends and business associates. In the end, he focused almost entirely on what he perceived as a very unhappy cartoonist who was lonely and aloof. Much of his writing seems to have evolved from the distortions and vapors of Shulz' first marriage. Furthermore, Michaelis never met the man. My wife and I got to know Sparky through a business relationship that grew into a friendship lasting many years. This was a man with tremendous humility but loaded with creative talent. He often wondered why people loved Peanuts but he was so pleased that they did. What's missing from the book is an accurate profile of a creative genius who loved life, had a phenomenal humorous side and kept you laughing with his witicisms. His family feels betrayed by this book and more about their feelings and those of others can be learned by going to Cartoon Brew and finding the discussion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Comprehensive biography, which includes numerous comic strips that further interpret the artist's life. Book shows major research work was undertaken. Highly detailed to give shy creator a complex history. Finally meet the "little reheaded girl." A life with a happy ending. Great gift for Peanuts fans. Especially for those going through a bumpy time---provides celebration at the end of the tunnel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this biography and I found it a compelling and entertaining read. After reading it I have rediscovered my interest in the Peanuts classic cartoon strip. Think what you may about the author's portrayal of Sparky, this is a good biography that presents a vivid portrait of a man consumed by his desire to be liked and his life long passion at being the best at his craft.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Certainly not Charles M. Schulz, if you are to believe this new literate biography. He was allegedly cold and distant toward his children, harbored bitterness toward ancient wrongs both real and imagined, lacked even a meager semblance of self-confidence and was so anxiety-ridden that he had to take Valium in order to travel to Europe. He was strong and satisfied only at the drawing board. And from this supposed train wreck of a man emerged the most endearing, influential and popular comic strip of the twentieth century. Schulz' family and friends are fuming over this biography, and justifiably so--the author's psychoanalysis is interesting but overwrought at times, and he bases his research strictly on second-hand accounts which can be notoriously inaccurate, since he never had the opportunity to interview Schulz himself before the 'Peanuts' creator died. So if you doubt the premises of this biography, open the book only for the artwork, some of which I had never seen or don't remember--Schulz's early single panels of 'Li'l Folks' in the 'Saturday Evening Post' and the series in which Snoopy is teargassed while giving a speech at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm because the residents are rioting over the use of dogs in the Vietnam War. I don't know how tortured of an artist Schulz was, but it was wonderful to see orginal images of Snoopy when he was an ordinary dog and not a World War I fying ace and Charlie Brown when he was a smart-aleck rascal before he became the eternal dupe who could never kick a football.
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AlexLovesToRead More than 1 year ago
There are so many things to learn about Schulz from this book. Most of them are not very savory but they do offer tremendous insight into one of our biggest pop culture icons.
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Steets More than 1 year ago
This is a must read for any "Peanuts" fan! To learn just how much of Sparky's life made it into his strip, with little to no dilution, is truly remarkable. It's hard to believe that such a well-loved man felt so alone, even up until the day he died. The level of intimacy in this book, especially regarding such a beloved yet mysterious man, makes one feel as an accepted member of the family, and front-row-center throughout Sparky's entire life. I would like to have heard a little more from the children, but, all-in-all, a fantastic read!
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grumpydan More than 1 year ago
I was somewhat apprehensive about reading this biography after reading some of the bad reviews and found out that the Schulz family hated it. But it is a book, and I love to read, and I take it all with a grain of salt. I actually enjoyed "Schulz and Peanuts" and it didn't change my opinion of Charles Schulz. I feel that Mr. Michaelis did a fine job in researching Mr. Schulz's life. I enjoyed the insertion of the comic in relation to what was being written. What I didn't understand is why the biography stopped in the 70s and then picked up near the death of the artist. What happened in those few decades? I guess nothing important, according to Mr. Michaelis. I did learn much about Mr. Schulz's early years and his career that I had not know before and that made the book worth reading.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When the family comes out and says the book is inaccurate, how can you believe anything inside. It felt sensationalized too, so I question did I waste my time reading a less than mediocre work of fiction? Whatever I found interesting I found myself questioning so I struggled through and never found myself believing or enjoying it along the way. 
KrisPA More than 1 year ago
This is too much book--too many unimportant details. The amount of research that went into this book was incredible, and it shows. However, just because you interview everyone who ever talked to Schulz doesn't mean you need to include that information in the book. A more compact book would have been an easier and happier read because I found this book just too overwhelming and overreaching to fully enjoy. I think Schulz sometimes got lost within all the information about other people. Michaelis included mini-biographical sketches of many people Schulz had dealings with. It wasn't enough to just mention the name of his publisher, we also had to read about his background too. And did we need to know about every girlfriend Schulz ever dated or had a crush on? I am not interested in the drawing of comics or the comics business, so I found the many details about that boring. This easily could have been a 300 page book by simply compressing the themes that Michaelis explored over and over again. Yes, Schulz had parents who were cold and unable to express affection. Yes, Schulz himself was often insensitive and unable to express affection. Yes, he expressed his anxieties, depression, agoraphobia, etc. through Peanuts. He wouldn't get treatment for these conditions because he knew they fueled his art. These themes were explored over and over again. What I liked about the book was the inclusion of the comic strips and the exploration of Schulz's relationships/influence with/on later cartoonists (Lynn Johnston, Cathy Guisewitz (sp?), Bill Watterson). I can see why the Schulz family would not like the finished product of this book because it reveals Schulz as a complicated person with a charming, funny witty personality but who could also be needy, insecure, vicious, insensitive, and extremely unlikeable. Overall, the book has me more interested in re-reading Peanuts (I haven't looked at comics in years although I am a huge fan of Calvin & Hobbes), but I wouldn't recommend this book to someone unless he/she had a lot of time to read it and was really interested in biographies in general and Schulz in particular. While well-written and easy to read, it is exhausting and time-consuming to read. Even my friends and family were exhausted just by watching me read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a lifelong Peanuts fan, and native MN, I found it very intriguing. It totally gave me a different perspective of what I formerly new of Schulz, and definitely a better understanding of really how deep his cartoon is. I always knew it was a mature cartoon (even though marketed to kids), but this gave a definition to the inner suffering artist.
Cyrille More than 1 year ago
This book, Shulz & Peanuts is too detalied in some aspects. While I appreciate the in depth research of the subject and where he got his ideas for the comic strips. I feel that the coverage of early family life while germain to the book could have been less detailed. I found that part of the biography boreing. Charles Shulz's later life and career also interesting has as much detail about it as should be, anymore, if indeed there is anymore than is related in the book would have made it IMHO as mundane and plodding as the first part of the story. The chapters are much too long. I prefer a book of numorus short chapters or "breaks" within chapters, but that's just my druthers. All in all I'd give this book three stars