Difficult Men

Difficult Men : From the Sopranos and the Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad

3.83 (2,361 ratings by Goodreads)
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In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a wave of TV shows, first on premium cable channels like HBO and then basic cable networks like FX and AMC, dramatically stretched television's inventiveness, emotional resonance and ambition. Shows such as The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Deadwood, The Shield tackled issues of life and death, love and sexuality, addiction, race, violence and existential boredom. Television shows became the place to go to see stories of the triumph and betrayals of the American Dream at the beginning of the twenty-first century. This revolution happened at the hands of a new breed of auteur: the all-powerful writer-show runner. These were men nearly as complicated, idiosyncratic, and "difficult" as the conflicted protagonists that defined the genre. Given the chance to make art in a maligned medium, they fell upon the opportunity with unchecked ambition. Difficult Men features extensive interviews with all the major players, including David Chase and James Gandolfini (The Sopranos), David Simon, Dominic West and Ed Burns (The Wire), Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm (Mad Men), David Milch (NYPD Blue, Deadwood) and Alan Ball (Six Feet Under), in addition to dozens of other writers, directors, studio executives and actors. Martin takes us behind the scenes of our favourite shows, delivering never-before-heard story after story and revealing how TV has emerged from the shadow of film to become a truly significant and influential part of our culture. Brett Martin is the author of The Supranos: The Book(2007). His work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Food and Wine and Vanity Fair. Difficult Men is an insightful history of popular US TV drama which traces the emergence of shows such as The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Wire, and explores their engagement with important social issues around love, sexuality, race and violence.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 154 x 235 x 27mm | 417g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0571303803
  • 9780571303809
  • 137,555

Review quote

"Following what the journalist Brett Martin identifies as a first burst of literary energy in the 1950s (when the medium was young) and a second in the 1980s (when the forward-thinking television executive Grant Tinker's MGM Enterprises begat the groundbreaking "Hill Street Blues"), this moment of ascendancy has become television's 'Third Golden Age.'" And in 'Difficult Men, ' Martin maps a wonderfully smart, lively and culturally astute survey of this recent revelation--starting with a great title that does double duty....Martin writes with a psychological insight that enhances his nimble reporting.""--New York Times Book Review" ""Difficult Men" is grand entertainment, and will be fascinating for anyone curious about the perplexing miracles of how great television comes to be.""--Wall Street Journal" "Martin is a thorough reporter and artful storyteller, clearly entranced with, though not deluded by, his subjects... In between the delicious bits of insider trading, the book makes a strong if not terribly revelatory argument for the creative process.""--Los Angeles Times" "[A] smart, fascinating read on the serpentine histories of some of this generation's most celebrated TV dramas.""--San Francisco Chronicle" "Martin offers sharp analysis of the advances in technology and storytelling that helped TV become the 21st century's predominant art form. But his best material comes from interviews with writers, directors, and others who dish about Weiner's egomania, Milch's battles with substance abuse, and Chase's weirdest acid trip ever.""--Entertainment Weekly" "I read "Difficult Men" with the binge-like intensity of discovering "Deadwood "on DVD -- in three days, to the neglect of other responsibilities... I've been waiting for years for someone to write an "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" for the HBO era...Martin does all that, with dry wit and a flair for juicy detail... an authoritative and downright rivetingshow more

About Brett Martin

Brett Martin is a Correspondent for GQ and a 2012 James Beard Journalism Award winner. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Esquire, Food and Wine, and multiple anthologies. He is a frequent contributor to This American Life. He is the author of The Sopranos: The Book (2007).show more

Review Text

... this high resolution snapshot of American television ... is convincing as a discussion of the relationship between the economics of television and its creativity ... It also shines a light on the obscurely collaborative processes by which episodes of dramas get beaten into shape in writers' rooms ... It's core, however, pulsates with some of the most entertaining profiles of writers since Dr Johnson's Lives of the Poets . The Timesshow more

Rating details

2,361 ratings
3.83 out of 5 stars
5 21% (488)
4 48% (1,125)
3 27% (627)
2 4% (101)
1 1% (20)
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