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Edie: American Girl Paperback – October 14, 1994


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is the book of the Sixties that we have been waiting for.”—Norman Mailer

“Through a kaleidoscope of seemingly fragmented voices, patterns form, giving brilliant definition to the very American tragedy of Edie Sedgwick, a woman…not likely to be forgotten after this haunting portrait.”—Publishers Weekly

“Extraordinary . . . a fascinating narrative that is both meticulously reported and expertly orchestrated.”—The New York Times

“An exceptionally seductive biography. . . . You can’t put it down. . . . It has novelistic excitement.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“What makes this book so unusual, unique almost, is the picture it paints of the New York counterculture. No one has ever done it better.”—The Atlanta Journal & Constitution

“There is no more classic summertime read.” —New York Magazine


From the Inside Flap

When Edie was first published in 1982 it quickly became an international best-seller and then took its place among the classic books about the 1960s. Edie Sedgwick exploded into the public eye like a comet. She seemed to have it all: she was aristocratic and glamorous, vivacious and young, Andy Warhol's superstar. But within a few years she flared out as quickly as she had appeared, and before she turned twenty-nine she was dead from a drug overdose.

In a dazzling tapestry of voices--family, friends, lovers, rivals--the entire meteoric trajectory of Edie Sedgwick's life is brilliantly captured. And so is the Pop Art world of the '60s: the sex, drugs, fashion, music--the mad rush for pleasure and fame. All glitter and flash on the outside, it was hollow and desperate within--like Edie herself, and like her mentor, Andy Warhol. Alternately mesmerizing, tragic, and horrifying, this book shattered many myths about the '60s experience in America.

"This is the book of the Sixties that we have been waiting for."--Norman Mailer

"Through a kaleidoscope of seemingly fragmented voices, patterns form, giving brilliant definition to the very American tragedy of Edie Sedgwick, a woman...not likely to be forgotten after this haunting portrait."--Publishers Weekly

"Extraordinary...a fascinating narrative that is both meticulously reported and expertly orchestrated."--The New York Times

"An exceptionally seductive biography.... You can't put it down.... It has novelistic excitement."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"What makes this book so unusual, unique almost, is the picture it paints of the New York counterculture. No one has ever done it better."--The Atlanta Journal & Constitution

Jean Stein has worked as an editor for a number of magazines, including The Paris Review and Esquire, when it was under the direction of the near-legendary magazine editor Clay Felker. In the 1960s, she moved to Washington, D.C. where, through her husband, attorney William Vanden Heuvel, she became interested in the political career of Robert F. Kennedy. Following his assassination, she completed her first book, an oral history of his life entitled American Journey. In 1990, she became the editor of the literary journal Grand Street. She has two daughters: Wendy, an actress, and Katrina, the editor-in-chief of The Nation.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 564 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st pbk. ed edition (October 14, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802134106
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802134103
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 80 people found the following review helpful By sweetmolly on September 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
The oral history form is perfect for "Edie" little-girl-lost, who streaked across the '60's horizon like a falling star. Despite her grace, fragile beauty and charisma; Edie Sedgewick was almost born to be doomed even before the drugs did her in.
She was born into a wealthy old family that had a history of instability. Her father, also breathtakingly beautiful, had crushing psychological problems. Two of her brothers committed suicide. Her mother was ineffectual with her large brood. She was raised on an isolated ranch with her seven siblings with almost no contact with the outside world. When she hit Cambridge at 18, she was pathetically ill equipped to be in the larger world.
I couldn't agree more that she found herself in the midst of horribly decadent people. Andy Warhol gets a particularly bad rap in this book, but to me, he was no better nor worse than his hangers-on, just a shade more self-absorbed. What really saddened me was that I don't think it really mattered who Edie took up with. She was destined to spin out of control. She had no focus, no inner strength, and was dangerously self-centered and delusionary.
"Edie" is compelling reading whether or not you have experienced the '60's. It is good to keep in mind that Edie herself and the contributors to the book all were a part of a very small stratum that whistled through this confusing decade. They were no more representative of the rank and file than Emmerin is representative of this decade.
Such a lovely child, such a terrible waste.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
It's funny how a person's childhood experiences can set a person up for success or failure as an adult. However, in the case of Edie Sedgwick, her failures as an adult were definitely unfunny. I loved that this book relied only on quotes from the people who had met/known her. Exceptional research into every stage of Edie's life to uncover people who experienced her in each incarnation and brilliant editing make this an extremely special biography. It is evident that the choices the adult Edie made which were ultimately destructive were foreshadowed by events in her childhood. I don't think it's necessary for you to be fascinated by the scenes Edie lived through to enjoy the book. If you approach this as a psychological study of an individual, it becomes mainstream reading, not just a pop-culture chronicle.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kitty Calhoun on April 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
American Girl traces Sedgwick's ascent to counterculture fame, from her pampered childhood in California to her forays into film and modeling. Compiled interviews with her relatives, lovers, and friends trace the lineage of an entire family, re-create the "Silver Sixties" and provide an exhaustive account of Edie's life.

The Sedgwicks were an old-time wealthy family; Judge Theodore Sedgwick, "a political ally of Alexander Hamilton and George Washington," was Speaker of the House following the American Revolution. His descendants have been illustrious All-American lawyers, magnates, artists and actors - all beautiful and, it seems, all in serious emotional turmoil.

Edie was brought up in a fabulously luxurious but dysfunctional household. Her Cambridge classmates describe Edie's destructive relationship with her sculptor father, Francis "Duke" Sedgwick. In an attempt to resist Duke's stranglehold, Edie fled to New York at 19. There, she joined the pop art crowd and was Andy Warhol's muse from 1965 until 1966, when she left the Factory to pursue mainstream acting. She had, by all accounts, a marvelous screen presence, but in the end her acting career materialized solely in the inventive but forgettable 1972 release Ciao! Manhattan.

Following her failed attempt at movie stardom, Edie died at 28 of a barbiturate overdose. She never fulfilled her promise as a model, actress, or clothing designer - any of which, according to American Girl, she had the resources and potential to be. Sedgwick burst upon the art scene as an actress of great promise, only to die young as another drug casualty. Like many of her contemporaries, Edie faded away before burning out.

Stein's book also includes fascinating first-hand accounts of the social circles Sedgwick moved in.
Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Zamedine on March 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
I always noticed this book at my grandmother's place, but didn't recognise the name until last year, and I read this book in a matter of days. Edie's short life, as described in this convoluted biography induces both envy and pity, we envy the beautiful, spoilt celebrity at the centre of a wild hedonistic carnival, who seems to have everything and obey no-one, and we pity the poor lost soul who is used, abused, abandoned and maltreated at every turn. Edie's meteoric rise to instant stardom as the jewel in the crown of the 1960's Warhol empire is as tragic as it is thrilling, and the biography makes you feel every minute of it. This book brought me to tears twice and yet parts of it were so transcendant as to seem surreal, her life is still powerfully bright. The book is still really gripping and moving even though I was born almost three decades after her death and long after the end of the 60's. Somehow at every turn you hope Edie Sedgwick will pull herself together and pull through and you wish that everything told in the book will turn around but it never does, Edie seems to burn out before she'd even become a has-been.

I recommend this to anyone who's ever wondered what the 60's were like if you were famous and fabulous, or to anyone who wants to have a good cry.
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