American Titan
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American Titan : Searching for John Wayne

3.88 (200 ratings by Goodreads)
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From the veteran New York Times bestselling biographer comes a major, in-depth look at one of the most enduring American icons of all time, "the Duke," John Wayne. As he did in his bestselling biographies of Jimmy Stewart and Clint Eastwood, acclaimed Hollywood biographer Marc Eliot digs deep beneath the myth in this revealing look at the most legendary Western film hero of all time; the man with the distinctive voice, walk, and demeanor who was an inspiration to many and a symbol of American masculinity, power, and patriotism. Eliot pays tribute to the man and the myth, identifying and analyzing the many interesting contradictions that made John Wayne who he was: an Academy Award-winning actor associated with cowboys and soldiers who didn't like horses and never served in a war; a Republican icon who voted for Democrats Roosevelt and Truman; a white man often accused of racism who married three Mexican wives. Here are stories of the movies he made famous as well as numerous friends and legendary colleagues such as John Ford, Maureen O'Hara, Natalie Wood, and Dean Martin.
A top box-office draw for more than three decades-starring in 142 films from Stagecoach and True Grit, for which he won the Oscar to The Quiet Man and The Green Berets-John Wayne's life and career paralleled nearly the entire twentieth century, from the Depression through World War II to the upheavals of the 1960s. Setting his life within the sweeping political and social transformations that defined the nation, Eliot's masterful portrait of the man they called Duke is a remarkable in depth look at a life and the "American Century" itself.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 432 pages
  • 154.94 x 233.68 x 30.48mm | 226.8g
  • Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins US
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0062269003
  • 9780062269003
  • 1,148,664

Back cover copy

As he did in his bestselling biographies of Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Clint Eastwood, Marc Eliot offers an exciting, groundbreaking new take on an American icon--the most legendary Western film hero of all time, John Wayne

An audience favorite and top box-office draw for decades, John Wayne symbolized masculinity, power, and patriotism, and inspired millions of Americans. Yet despite his popularity and success, he was unfairly dismissed as a "B" movie actor lacking elegance, creativity, range, and depth. American Titan challenges conventional wisdom and reevaluates Wayne's life and vital cinematic legacy, ultimately placing the man known as "Duke" among a select and brilliant pantheon of "actor auteurs"--artists whose consistency of style in their work reflects their personal creative vision.

In American Titan, Eliot demonstrates that Wayne possessed a distinct and remarkable vision rooted in his unique Midwestern and West Coast childhood that would become manifest in one of the most enduring screen personalities of all time: the elusive, stoic frontier loner. Wayne's heroic outsider also influenced a new generation of actors and filmmakers who would borrow from it to use in their own movies.

Drawing on his deep, extensive knowledge of Hollywood and film, Eliot contends that the primary driving force behind Wayne's extraordinary career and body of work was the result of his own ambitions and his collaborations with directors John Ford and Howard Hawks. Eliot offers as evidence the distinct personality that runs through Wayne's staggering 169 films, from Stage Coach and The Searchers to The Quiet Man and The Green Berets.

Setting Wayne's life within the sweeping political and social transformations that defined the nation, Eliot's masterly revisionist portrait is a remarkable in-depth look at a life that embodied the spirit of the twentieth century. What emerges is nothing less than a powerful understanding of and appreciation for a true American titan.

Marc Eliot is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books on popular culture, among them the highly acclaimed Cary Grant, the award-winning Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince, and American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood. He writes for a number of publications and frequently speaks about film at universities and to film groups, and on radio and television. He lives in New York City and Woodstock, New York.

MarcEliot.net
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Review quote

"A close, unblinking look at a bright star with some internal darkness." -- Kirkus "In this incisive biography, Eliot reveals the man behind the on-screen paragon of stoic, all-American manhood ... briskly paced, with plenty of entertaining show-biz profiles and anecdotes ... Eliot's canny, well-judged study gives us the complexity of Wayne the man and the archetype." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Has a tell-all quality, disclosing titillating tidbits about the star's personal life, which includes several tabloid-worthy episodes." -- Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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About Marc Eliot

Marc Eliot is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books on popular culture, among them the highly acclaimed Cary Grant, the award-winning Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince, and American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood. He writes for a number of publications and frequently speaks about film at universities and to film groups, and on radio and television. He lives in New York City and Woodstock, New York.
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Rating details

200 ratings
3.88 out of 5 stars
5 26% (52)
4 45% (90)
3 21% (42)
2 7% (14)
1 1% (2)

Our customer reviews

An all around interesting biography on John Wayne. The author's note at the end of the book explains his method of biography writing which he bases on an actor's body of work reflecting the life of the person; he explains the concept of "auteurism". I'd never heard of this before. However, I enjoyed the book quite well. It is a highly positive look at John Wayne in chronological order through his movies. While remaining "pro"-Wayne the book does take on his controversial aspects such as Wayne's refusal to serve in the military. I've seen a lot of Wayne movies and knew him to be the ideal "American" of his time but didn't really know much of anything about him except that he died of cancer. The biography was highly entertaining and informative with lots of anecdotes about happenings on set and his relations with other actors of the day. Many famous names are included here. Wayne was a very opinionated man, extremely political and Republican who had no time to waste on fools so there are certainly some captivating stories! But The Duke was always a gentleman and respectful to others even when he totally disagreed with them. The author's writing is very readable but he does tend to follow a pattern chapter after chapter which becomes a bit tedious, such as continuously stating the salaries Wayne and his co-stars received for each movie as footnotes. Occasionally this information was eye-opening but the frequency of it is tiresome. Overall, a good read about the American patriotic movie scene from the silent movie era to the early seventies focusing mainly on westerns and war movies.show more
by Nicola Mansfield
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