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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
In the plethora of books out there written about and containing pictures of Marilyn Monroe, I feel that this collaboration between friend and photographer George Barris and Marilyn herself is truly special, and is as essential to own as _Legend_ by Guiles or the photography books of Bert Stern or Andre de Dienes. In some of the last pictures of her taken before her death, Marilyn is natural and luminescent, appearing happy, calm, and at home in her body.
The text is also highly interesting, containing the words of Marilyn herself as told to Barris. Like her ghost-written _My Story_, this book contains the fragments of Marilyn's life she saw fit to share at that time, and therefore captures her public mindset during the summer before her death more than anything I've read. For example: "When I was a small child, my fondest memories were being around my mother and her friends. It made me feel like we were one big happy family." And even sadder: "As far as I'm concerned, the happiest time of my life is now. There's a future, and I can't wait to get to it. It should be interesting." Barris' conclusion is that Monroe did not commit suicide, and reading her statements contained in this book, it's easy to see why. A beautiful representation of a beautiful woman (inside and out).
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Born Norma Jeane Mortensen on 1 June 1926 c.e. and died 4 August 1962 under conditions still not well known, the woman called Marilyn Monroe was the most famous individual in the world at the time of her death. She still well may be.
Any attempt to describe her career during her life, and the subsequent notoriety and attention to her image after her death, quickly becomes like describing the latest oil tanker, a study of superlatives. What is clear is that she was stunningly beautiful, quite intelligent, and rather troubled. However, much of the population of the United States is "rather troubled" and the vast majority do not commit suicide. Neither, believes Barris, did she, and nor do I.
This isn't a book on Marilyn Monroe's tragic death: it's a photo-essay centering on the last months of Monroe's life, a time when she was certainly in a state of change, but one in which she optimistically looked to the future. I suspect that is really Barris' motivation in publishing this collection, to establish that the memory of this woman, who he obviously had a great affinity with and affection for, should not be stigmatized as a suicide.
Although her life was taken from her at far too early an age, an age at which her best years were clearly ahead and which invites speculation on what she would have done in the decades to come-indeed,she might still be working, as Lauren Bacall still is and Tony Randall did up until December 2003-I think MM should be thought of as a success rather than a tragic victim.
These pictures are magnificent,a study in photographing people in general and women particularly, and technically astounding. The color images, almost certainly shot on the Kodachrome of the vintage, and thirty-some years old when the book was prepared for litho, have a lovely vintage tonality. A great model, a great photographer, great cameras and films, and some beautiful scenery in Southern California all add up to photos that would be worthwhile even if Marilyn had never been famous and were still alive baking cookies in Ohio.
Shortly, it will have been 42 years since Marilyn Monroe lost her life in her small house on Fifth Helena Drive. Nevertheless,she is still the most famous of all movie stars, and she will be remembered and recognized on film probably as long as our species exists. This book evokes her triumph and her loss-and ours-as well as a book can, and few readers will not be reduced to tears at some point while studying it. Ultimately, though, we all must visit the place where she so early went to, and few of us will have had her impact on the world. Thank you, Marilyn, and George Barris too, for letting us see this beautiful creature as, for so short a time, she was.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Marilyn was a wonderful person. She was kind, beautiful, funny, and even though many of you may not think this true, smart. She had an extremely clever mind and the kind of determinetion which is only found once in a million. This book says it all, about her cruel ordeals during her childhood and, even as an adult which she was strong enough to push through and to achieve her dream of being one of the greatest actresses in history. She was a very determind, intelligent young lady, who sadly was murdered at such a young age. This book of Marilyn's life in her own words could change your opinion of her completey, and you will love her even more. Thank you, George Barris for finally deciding to publish this book in the end.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Gloria Steinem explores Marilyn's life through an empathic and feminist perspective in one of my favorite Monroe biographies. Ms. Steinem respectfully addresses the Marilyn's life within the context of her era and retrospectively. She also addresses the impact of Marilyn's childhood sexual abuse and family history on her functioning. Marilyn would likely be proud of this intelligent, compassionate, historical and cultural treatment. I place this book in league with biographies by Carl Rollyson, Graham McCann and Fred Lawrence Guiles. Of course, the timeless photographic images by George Barris accompanying the brilliant text are refreshing, delightful and touching. Steinem truly strives to understand Marilyn, celebrate her strengths and re-evaluate her for our times. Marilyn seems "to speak" through Steinem's insights and in Barris' photographs.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I read "Marilyn HER LIFE IN HER OWN WORDS" by George Barris. This book really made me feel as if I knew her myself. The book talks a lot about the struggles that she faced and how in the end she came out on top. It didn't just focus on her as an actress, model and well-known sex icon but on her as a normal person. George discussed how she was when she was at home, how she treated people and what she wanted in and out of life.

The thing that I like the most about this book would have to be the way it was written. It was so well written and thought out that anyone could understand, relate, and get hooked on it. I felt as if I knew her and what she was going through, as if I had gone through the same challenges she had. I never thought that to be in showbiz you would have to work so hard to be successful. I always looked at it as an easy and fun job. In reality, it is just as hard, maybe even harder than any other job. Showbiz is actual hard work and not just fun.
What I disliked the most about this book would have to be the fact that they didn't talk that much about her career when she was successful. Although there is a list of movie credits and appearances at the end of the book, they really didn't get as much into detail about her career as I would of liked to know. The book did talk about her making it and then not making it over again. And then the last time she made it and stayed and that's when she began staring in the movies instead of 60 second clips that she was known for before. Not only that but the book also talked a lot about her marriages. I personally didn't care to know as much about her marriages as they told and then so little about her career.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
I am a Marilyn Monroe memorabilia collector and have been for almost 20 years. I have a house full of Marilyn and I still can't get enough. This is one of the better books I have read, and it has a fresh new approach and some wonderful pictures. The photography is excellent and captures that "look" only Marilyn had. It is definitely going into my collection. Another book I recently added is just for fun, but it is going into my collection to: Deadly Diamonds, by Pamela Troutman. It is for Marilyn fans who like mysteries.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
George Barris, a very wonderful man and wonderful friend to Marilyn, had collaborated with Marilyn to make this book, which they had discussed for some time prior to her death. So here is Marilyn, at her very best, in one of the best settings for Marilyn to be photographed - the beach. Very early on in her career, many photos were taken of Marilyn at the very same beach by Andre deDienes, and they, too are fabulous photos. Something about Marilyn and the beach bring out the very best in her. She appears at ease, belonging to the ocean as her vibrance shines through. At this point in Marilyn's life, only a few weeks prior to her death, Marilyn appeared very fit, happy, healthy and ready to move on in her career. Sadly, that was not to be. But here with this book, we are shown the true Marilyn, young Norma Jeane still there, posing not only for Barris, but for us. This is a beautiful book with pictures that have quite affectionately been named "The Last Photo Shoot," as it was. And the very last picture of Marilyn, wrapped tightly in her Mexican sweater, blowing us a kiss goodbye is a wonderful reminder of her beauty and sensuality.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Having recently read the axe-grinding Marilyn Monroe "biography" by Ted Jordan, finding this gem by Gloria Steinem (with beautiful photograhps by George Barris) was such a relief. Whether kind or unkind, most Marilyn biographers are men; it makes sense that a woman (and a feminist) would have a much different understanding of her. Steinem pays much attention to the remaining Norma Jeane personality in the grown Marilyn, a little girl who was abandoned, abused, shuffled between the orphanage and foster homes, and married off at 16. This, Steinem writes, explains much of Marilyn's troublesome behavior: she still had the insecurities of Norma Jeane, but tried to get the love she needed by being the sex symbol Marilyn.
This larger sized paperback is split into chapters, for example: "Norma Jeane," about her childhood and background, and "Work and Money, Sex and Politics" about Marilyn's battles with the Studio, her marriages, and her affairs with powerful men. Each chapter is a complete essay unto itself. And the accompanying photographs, most taken by George Barris the month before her death, show a natural, cavorting, and thoughtful Marilyn at 36 years old.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone curious about the REAL Marilyn Monroe. In truth, she had many realities, but I think that Gloria Steinem captures the most important one.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
This is a beautiful photo expose' of Marilyn just six short weeks of her tragic and untimely death. As the first reader/reviewer has stated, this book was written with references to the stars' sexual abuse and family history, which lead to her emotional problems dating from adolescence. Gloria Steinem wrote this work without any 'bias' to this movie legend. I found her writing to be sensitive and understanding throughout. George Barris' photographs are as beautiful and will forever be timeless images of this very remarkable screen star of the 20th century throughout the next millenium. This book should be considered a "must have" for the Monroe fan and collector.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This was a really interesting book with great photos, but the layout on the Touch was horrible-- The book is laid out with a Marilyn speaks/Barris speaks format. I'm assuming in the paper copy it is laid out by dividing the page horizontally, Marilyn's quote on one half, with Barris' background info on the other half. Anyway because Touch is a smaller screen what happens is that Marilyn gets cut off in the middle of a sentence, then Barris' section begins then he gets cuts off, then Marilyn starts back up (after you page back to refresh your memory of what she was speaking about), and you have to leap frog your way through the book. If it hadn't been interesting, I would've tossed it because it was so annoying! Also disappointing was the photos could not be enlarged-even if they started quite small. The difference in price between paper and digital version was only a couple bucks...I am going to need this to be better quality- I'm going to return it and get the paper version, which i know I would look at again. The digital? Just too frustrating!
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