From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this enjoyable, thoroughly researched volume, author and pop culture commentator George-Warren (Cowboy!) details the life and work of Gene Autry, the influential star of music, movies and television. After a descriptive genealogy, George-Warren takes the reader through Autry's formative years, featuring his deadbeat dad, the oft-married Delbert, and his long-suffering mom, Nora. Born Orvon Grover Autry in 1907, the cowboy's childhood was spent watching Tom Mix movies in Achille, Okla., and singing for classmates in Tioga. The bulk of the book is devoted to Autry's career as a musician and a film actor, beginning with the telegraphing job he neglected in order to make his early recordings, and his subsequent discovery by American Radio Corporation A&R man Art Satherley. Most striking, though perhaps not surprising, is that the much-revered man who "reinvented the saga of the cowboy and the West" was not a cowboy at all, but a deft performer and professional who made the unexpected, highly fortuitous move from film to television in the late 1940s. Included are abundant notes, a bibliography and a brilliant, chronological list of Autry's 640 recording sessions. An easy, fluid read, this illuminating biography also provides a look into the early days of the radio and recording industry.
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"A thorough, no-nonsense account of a singular life, and the prolific music writer George-Warren employs a brisk, assured style that hews to the Cowboy Code."--The Atlantic
"At last, in the centennial year of Gene's birth, Holly George-Warren gives us Public Cowboy No. 1
, his first serious, full-length biography. There isn't likely to be another for a long time, so it's fortunate that Ms. George-Warren's is a good one."--Dallas Morning News
"An appealing, bittersweet success story."--Jack Mrkowitz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"The book is well-researched and written with a careful eye to history and a keen appreciation of music. And it is -- appropriately, I think -- tinged with a bit of George-Warren's genuine appreciation of Autry the artist and star but even more of Autry the person, the one she got to know before his death in 1998. Biographers don't always meet their subjects, obviously, and if they do, the results may be disastrous -- or beneficial. In George-Warren's case, it proved to be providential."--Country Music Television website (CMT.com)
"George-Warren does an impeccable job of presenting the facts of Autry's life and career detailing his early attempts at making records through his most successful periods. For fans of the singing cowboy, country music or general pop culture this book is highly recommended."--Midwest Book Review
"Public Cowboy No. 1
increases our understanding of the American cowboy myth, perpetuated by those movies known as westerns. George-Warren creates a realistic, factual portrait of Autry, the star and the man."--Rick Tamble, The Tennessean
"The definitive portrait of Gene Autry."--John Beifuss, Commercial Appeal