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President Hanks (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Jim Cullen
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 50 pages (estimated)
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Book Description

This essay looks at the career of Tom Hanks, and the way in which his core belief in American institutions—from the military, to business, to schools, among others—makes him the heir of Abraham Lincoln and our imagined ideal of a society that works. Over the course of his thirty-year career, Hanks's choices as an actor add up to a coherent and compelling vision of U.S. history. That vision is all the more striking because it came into focus amid the complex and often conflicting agendas of filmmaking.

Editorial Reviews Review

"For better or for worse, the box office has always functioned as a kind of voting booth, one rife with corruption, but one with a tattered validity in capturing common sentiment." It's a meta-statement about American cinema worthy of Pauline Kael, but historian Jim Cullen makes this claim in the service of a much more specific agenda. Tom Hanks's body of work, he insists, culminates in a persuasive oeuvre that favors cultural institutions--over against other sources of American strength such as, say, rugged individualism--as the ultimate bastion of cultural redemption. From Bosom Buddies to Larry Crowne, Cullen argues, Hanks is a company man, though "the company" may be the government, Church, Army, or business as Hanks moves from Splash to Big to Gump to Toy Story and beyond. In this compelling, page-turning critique, Hanks is, in the end, "da man." --Jason Kirk

Product Details

  • File Size: 121 KB
  • Print Length: 50 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055FDRZ0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #507,618 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars President Hanks June 16, 2011
By JLewis
Format:Kindle Edition
I wasn't sure what to expect with this Single--celebrity biopic? academic dreck?--but I'm a Tom Hanks fan and figured why not? i was pleasantly surprised. It provided incisive readings of some of my favorite movies, and does a nice job of situating Hanks in american history. Can hardly endorse it by saying it's worth the money. More important: it's worth your time.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The fifth face on Mt. Rushmore June 20, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It isn't enough that actor Tom Hanks is Lincolnesque in word and deed, he's offered up by author Jim Cullen as an institution almost venerable enough to become the fifth face chiseled into Mt. Rushmore.

As written by Cullen, "President Hanks" isn't so much biography as it is hagiography. "Hanks is now the figure who, more than anyone else in U. S. cinematic life of the last generation, embodies our ideal president: a smart regular guy who believes in America. . . Presidents come and go, but in the country of our hearts, Tom Hanks is da man."

This profile guides us through the more than 60 films and television appearances that define Hanks and his career, starting with "He Knows You're Alone" (1980) and continuing through 2010 with such box office champs and contemporary classics such as "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993), "Philadelphia" (1993), "Forrest Gump" (1994), "Saving Private Ryan" (1998), "Green Mile" (1999) and "Cast Away" (2000). That's impressive list from an actor who works hard and creates lasting memories and emotions. And it goes on with the voice of Woody in "Toy Story 3" (2010) and others.

Cullen says that on and off the set Hanks is a paragon of rectitude, a man who believes in and supports the American way of life and the American institution. Especially on the set, he's a model of good behavior, proper manners and punctuality. He'll do what it takes to take on a role. "He'll get fat. He doesn't have to be the cute guy, he will cut his hair in an unattractive manner. He will be disgusting and sit there. He doesn't have to be the king of every scene he's in."

This profile is a chronicle of achievement. Normal childhood. Unremarkable education. Kid grows up to become a sort of Everyman. Hanks is to this generation what Jimmy Stewart was to his.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solidity and Grace June 16, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I am intrigued by Jim Cullen's decision to examine the historical lessons in Tom Hanks's movie roles, especially his explanation of the way these roles indicate a sensible supporter of the institutions which dominate our democracy.These analyses are interesting and even inspiring in places. They also connect well with the message which Hanks delivered recently to the Yale graduation. It's a new take on a popular figure, and a welcome contribution to our civic life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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Excellent essay. Thought provoking with statements that were well supported with comparative examples and contrasting references. It is a pleasure to read a well written exposition. Once begun I read it in one sitting though initially I had no interest in reading the piece. It had style and pace, addressing readers as knowledgeable equals. Having no need to traffic in clumsily hidden agendas, correctness, name calling, or attempts at insider insecure humor--it did not. I will look for Mr. Cullen in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Biography of Tom Hanks April 1, 2012
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I found this to be very interesting. It offered insights into his many roles in TV and the movies. He is one of my favorite actors. It brought back many memories of his earlier roles, especially TV, which most of us may have forgotten.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars President Hanks January 24, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really didn't know what to expect from this book. I have never bought a Kindle Single. So when I saw this one, i thought I would try it. I am a fan of biographies, so I thought I would give it a try.

I am a big fan of Tom Hanks. I think I have seen just about every movie he has ever done. What I enjoyed about this single, is that I could relive the movies that I loved the most. Jim Cullen does a great job of weaving together the movies that Hanks has done based on the theme of institutionalism, and being a team player. I have never thought about the idea that an actors body of work could tell a story of who he is, and what they might believe in, but Jim Cullen was about to do that in a way that was interesting and pleasing to any Tom Hanks Fan.

After reading this book, I have found myself thinking that a Hanks movie marathon is in order.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Entertaining January 1, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have to object to the negative reviews here as each one seems to have a personal axe to grind. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about American history, the great Tom Hanks, and/or popular culture. Following the trajectory of Hanks' career, Cullen, a student and professor of American history, summarizes film plots and relates them to contemporary and historical issues, giving the reader unique insights and revelations about an extraordinary actor and producer. In today's culture of shallow celebrity worship, Cullen's critical analysis is a pleasure to read.
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More About the Author

Jim Cullen was born in Queens, New York, and attended public schools on Long Island. He received his B.A. in English from Tufts University, and his A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in American Civilization from Brown University. He has taught at a number of colleges and universities, including Harvard, Brown and Sarah Lawrence College. He is currently chair of the History Department at the Fieldston School in New York City and a book review editor at the History News Network. He is married to historian Lyde Cullen Sizer and has four children.

Jim is the author of a dozen books, which include "Sensing the Past: Hollywood Stars and Historical Visions" (Oxford University Press, 2013), "The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation" (Oxford, 2003) and "Born in the USA: Bruce Springsteen and the American Tradition" (HarperCollins, 1997). His next book, "A Brief History of the Modern Media," is slated for publication by Wiley-Blackwell in 2014.

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