From Publishers Weekly
In time for the 70th anniversary of the film version, author and movie critic Haskell (Holding My Own in No Man's Land) brings a scholar's rigor to her loving history of our "American Bible," Gone With the Wind. Vivid profiles of author Margaret Mitchell, starlet Vivien Leigh, and film producer David Selznick re-humanize the work, now known more for its epic grandeur, iconic moments and controversial politics. Haskell draws thoughtful parallels between Mitchell and her protagonist, Scarlett O'Hara, and her affection for these women drives a narrative that gets occasionally bogged down in film production minutiae. Haskell falters while trying to defend Mitchell's dialog and gender politics, even going so far as to imply that she understands Mitchell and O'Hara in a way that other critics do not (Roger Ebert, for instance). Haskell also highlights the impact of the film on popular culture, but doesn't bring anything new to the discussion of America's fascination. Though perhaps too finely focused for casual readers, this sincere, detailed celebration should interest long-time fans and students.
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Hasn’t everything worth saying about Gone with the Wind been said? Maybe, but how about another book, anyway, one that gathers the pith of what worthwhile has been said and makes it all freshly interesting? That’s what Haskell gives us, too hastily worded in spots but with thoughtful animation throughout. She keeps both novel and movie at hand, moving from one to the other, comparing and distinguishing what Margaret Mitchell expresses from what obsessive producer David O. Selznick, directors George Cukor and Victor Fleming, screenplaywrights Sidney Howard and a host of fixers (including Ben Hecht and Scott Fitzgerald), and actors Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Hattie McDaniel, and others convey. She emphasizes the contributions of Selznick, Leigh, and in an entire chapter, Mitchell, drawing heavily and analytically on existing biographies, the literature of women and the Civil War, Civil War films (especially Birth of a Nation and Jezebel), and film criticism to such engaging effect as to not just revisit GWTW but to revive and intensify the enduring fascination of what Selznick dubbed “the American Bible.” --Ray Olson