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Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon Paperback – November 4, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (November 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416554955
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416554950
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #584,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With infectious, at times frenetic, excitement, Anelli presents two narratives in this hip report on how a boy wizard became a rock star. The first is a love letter to the fans of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter: a smart, creative, multinational, generation-spanning and technology-driven community. In the second, Anelli gives readers an exhaustive, if often jumbled, time line of Harry Potter's popularity. Appropriately for the webmistress of the Leaky Cauldron Web site, the author pays attention to the power of the Internet and its symbiotic relationship with fan communities, known as fandoms. Anelli attributes the evolution of fandoms principally to Harry Potter—an error that ignores other fandom phenomena like Star Trek or The X-Files. As she details her work with the Leaky Cauldron, readers get a view into the publishing world and the impressive tale of Harry Potter's ascension. Anelli also shares sweet scenes of meeting Rowling and the actors who portray the characters in the films. Fans will recognize themselves in these pages, and the curious might finally understand their friends. (Nov. 4)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The words Harry Potter conjure up not only images of a successful seven-book series about a boy wizard but also the epic economic and cultural phenomenon it inspired. Author Anelli was front and center for much of this evolution and, as webmistress of the popular fan site the Leaky Cauldron, may even have contributed to it. Her painstakingly detailed account of the phenomenon’s many aspects—fan sites, fan fiction, movies, promotional tours, podcasts, rock bands, and more—will be of interest primarily to hardcore devotees (and possibly, someday, to cultural anthropologists). Meanwhile, admirers of the books themselves will find less of interest here but will still enjoy the insider’s glimpses Anelli offers of Harry’s creator, J. K. Rowling, and of the series’ publishing history, though there is little analysis of how the books changed people’s attitudes toward reading and children’s literature. Although she’s not a particularly graceful writer, Anelli is a true believer, and her passionate devotion to all things Harry is often endearing and undeniably infectious. --Michael Cart

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

151 of 172 people found the following review helpful By Mysterious on November 17, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book really should have been called "Melissa, A History" because it is basically a biography of the author Melissa Anelli. I had expected more behind-the-scenes info on Harry Potter, the books, the movies, and JK Rowling. Although there is some of that in this book, there is much more Melissa than Harry.

The subtitle of this book is, "The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon". The promise of the true story of a boy wizard and life inside the Harry Potter phenomenon were very lacking. "His Fans" (specifically Melissa and her friends) was the bulk of this book. Unfortunately, I was primarily interested in the other two.

The book jumps around so unforgivenly at times it gets very confusing. A chronological approach would have made more sense. Melissa was actually on the movie sets and presumably spoke with the actors, producers, etc., but there is far too little of that in the book. The author also seems to expect that you are a rabid fan of the Leaky Cauldron web site, which she runs. I say this because she glosses over some blogs and interviews that were apparently posted on the web site, mentioning some fact and then moving on. She actually lists several questions asked of Ms. Rowling that I would have liked to seen the answers for, but apparently the reader is already supposed to know the answers.

I don't blame Melissa for cashing in on her position - writing a book is the way to go these days. I'm disappointed, because this book could have been something much better: better organized, better information, and, frankly, better writing.
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147 of 168 people found the following review helpful By Runa VINE VOICE on January 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For all the fanfare this book has gotten, I'm not entirely sure all of it is deserved. It is a lovely look back at how the Harry Potter fandom evolved and got to where it is today, but there are some issues I do have with the book. One of the things I noticed was that Melissa told the book like it was a novel, a fictional piece, filled with flowery description that I feel has no place in what is essential a memoir of sorts. The intent of the book is to retell the HP fandom, from start to finish. Melissa pulls this off artfully, but if her intent was to reach the general public, it was not accomplished. From start to finish, this book is full of name-dropping and in-jokes that just another Harry Potter fan would never understand. In this book, the BNFs (Big Name Fans) rule supreme. The other side of the fandom is never shown. It took 90 pages for the first mention of MuggleNet, and all future mentions (of which there were very few and only when absolutely necessary) were cold and snobby. The HPANA is mentioned only once, in the acknowledgements, the Lexicon once, nothing about the humongous controversy, and no mention at all of Veritaserum and other sites out there. The truth is, Melissa fails to mention the side that truly appeals to the general fan. I did not feel, after reading this book, like I was part of the phenomenon, although I know I was, because I read the books, I posted in the communities, I had just as much fun theorizing, but nope, I didn't own a fansite or publish JKR's books, so I clearly don't matter. Probably about 90% of the Harry Potter fans would fall in my boat, not Melissa's. Where is our story? It was a good read, I will not say I disliked it, but I just wish Melissa had shown us the entirety of the HP world, instead of her secluded, high-and-mighty part of it.

Rating: 3.5/5
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47 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Mariane Matera VINE VOICE on December 3, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since I have never heard a podcast discussing Harry Potter, or engaged in an Internet chat, or written fanfic using Rowling's characters and settings (which just seems wrong to do anyway), this book was a disappointment because it's about this one girl whose interest in the book led to working on the Leaky Cauldron website, dealing with fans, traveling the country doing podcasts, and visiting England for Potter events and interviews with J.K. Rowling. She got very close to the author, and I would have rather read a collection of her interviews with the Rowling than most of this. But for some reason she doesn't include them here, just alludes to them. That's my biggest complaint. I was hoping this was a compendium of interviews done for the website over the years.

But it's not. It's a story about one young woman's unusual career path, and now she's getting a book out of it. She is a good writer, but since I don't know her friends or traveling companions (again, because I didn't follow the podcasts), a lot of this was of no interest to me.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kelly R. Foster on November 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
I feel as though it was an autobiography of herself. I really didn't feel as though it was a history of Harry Potter. If she wasn't there or experienced it, it wasn't written about. Anyone knows about the long lines at the book releases and midnight showings, but there was nothing new in the book, there was nothing interesting, and there was nothing worth spending the money for. I thought it was basically her bragging that she knows JK Rowling and has met the actors. This book was nothing what the people made it out to be when it was first released. I only made it about half way through and had to stop. I was thoroughly disappointed in the book and expected so much more from the title. If it stuck true to the title and wasn't an "all about me" book, I would have loved it. Unfortunately I wasted my money.
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