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Scout, Atticus, and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird Hardcover – June 8, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Murphy—an Emmy-winning writer, director, and producer—celebrates Harper Lee's only novel with a documentary, Hey, Boo, and this book, a collection of mostly venerating interviews with writers and celebrities, black and white, from Oprah Winfrey to Tom Brokaw, Rosanne Cash, and Richard Russo. A few incisive remarks emerge. James McBride, for example, takes issue with calling Harper Lee brave—doing so absolve[s] yourself of your own racism. Wally Lamb and Allan Gurganus, among others, reveal Lee's influence on their writing. Unfortunately, in Part I, Murphy summarizes the most interesting of her subjects' comments, creating a sense of déjà-vu when the reader gets to the actual interviews. Racism, smalltown America, Lee's 50-year silence since the book's publication, her relationship with Truman Capote, and the appeal of the book's principal characters are touched on by most of the interviewees; such shared themes and opinions result in redundancy. Readers should turn (or return) to To Kill a Mockingbird before bothering to dip into this disappointing collection. 11 b&w photos. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“You come away from Murphy’s book with a renewed amazement at what Lee was able to achieve with a single perfect novel.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“And that’s really what reading this book is like: attending a big book club meeting with 26 lovers of To Kill a Mockingbird.” (Los Angeles Times)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061924075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061924071
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary McDonagh Murphy is an independent documentary director and writer whose work has appeared on PBS. She was a producer at CBS News for 20 years where she won six Emmy awards. She has written for Newsweek, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Post and Publishers Weekly. A native of Rhode Island, Murphy is a graduate of Wesleyan University and was a John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University. She lives in Scarborough, N.Y. with her husband, Bob Minzesheimer, and their two children

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By James Hiller VINE VOICE on June 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For many of us, our first exposure of the landmark novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" was in high school, as an assignment. For others, it was a recommendation from a friend, or a book group novel. However we come to Harper Lee's book "To Kill a Mockingbird", we never leave the book the same person. It crawls up inside of our brains, wraps itself around our hearts, and refuses to let go. leaving a lifetime of legacy, and remembrance, and reflection. Mary McDonagh Murphy's new book, based on a documentary she is working on, allows us to visit this place anew.

This book has two parts. The first part is a reflection of Murphy herself. Truly a devotee of the novel, Murphy talks about both the documentary and her thoughts about the movie and the book. Murphy writes her section with love and admiration, starting with Nelle herself. Nelle calls herself Boo Radley, and Murphy goes to great pains in the following paragraphs to assure us that Nelle is a warm gregarious person. Most of the information in Murphy's section isn't new, but it's still welcome nonetheless.

The following section is a collection of small essays written by a wide variety of people that all discuss the impact and legacy of Mockingbird. Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw, and even the movie Scout Mary Badham all add their voices to this part (Badham confessing that she hadn't read the book until she had a daughter herself!). These essays are short and poignant, and talk very personally about how the book touched them, as well as reflected the larger struggle for civil rights in our country.

Nelle didn't write her second book, and America has been hungry ever since. This small book is highly recommended to celebrate 50 years of this classic novel.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Edith Magnus on June 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I only wish I had turned 50 with as much grace, spirit,
and adulation as To Kill A Mockingbird. In her thoughtful
appreciation of the artistry and significance of this beloved
novel, Mary Murphy puts it all together: capturing the
wonder so many of us felt when we first read it through
the reflections of some of our country's most gifted writers,
thinkers and celebrities.
"Scout, Atticus and Boo" reminds us why: why a good book
is such a gift; why this book is so important in our nation's
history; why the world's a better place when a young Southern
unknown employed behind an airline ticket counter can come
up with a literary work of staggering relevance and beauty;
and finally, why we should all stop our crazy lives right this
minute, pull To Kill A Mockingbird off the shelves, and dive in.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Free2Read on July 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mary McDonagh Murphy presents a series of reflections on "To Kill a Mockingbird" in her non-fiction work, "Scout, Atticus, and Boo."

The reflections are are set forth in chapters, some from Nelle Harper Lee's family (Alice Finch Lee); many from other authors (Wally Lamb, Anna Quindlen); some from those associated with the film (Mary Badham, who played Scout); and some from a variety of fields from Oprah to the curator of the Monroe County Heritage Museum in Monroeville, Alabama.

Each of the essays brings out something in "To Kill a Mockingbird" that touched that particular reader. There are some who loved Scout passionately for her pluck (even those who thought Scout was a boy for several pages on first reading, an error common to many of us) and others who find the moral center of Atticus to be the resounding inspiration. I loved the lines from Allan Gurganus, who notes what a difference Eisenhower or Jack Kennedy might have made, if either had walked alone up the school house steps, holding the hand of a little black girl, as Atticus walks alone in the novel. Murphy allows the interviewees the latitude to share in their own voices the extraordinary impact of "To Kill a Mockingbird" on their lives. "Scout, Atticus, and Boo" affirmed my own love of "To Kill a Mockingbird," the joy of teaching this novel, reading it aloud, and how much I have missed that part of my teaching career since retirement.

Many of the interviews note the public's fascination with Ms. Lee's seemingly reclusive lifestyle, her unwillingness to be interviewed, and the fact that she has not published a second novel. In this way, "Scout, Atticus, and Boo" is somewhat repetitive, especially since Wally Lamb's foreword and the first chapter carry many of the same quotations from the coming essays.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Anna Graham on June 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Sometimes the most frustrating thing about a great book is that it has to end. I've read To Kill a Mockingbird several times and every time I wish the book were longer, or there was a sequel, or anything else that could expand the experience. That's why Mary Murphy's book is so wonderful -- readers get to luxuriate in interviews and insights that enlighten and entertain, so much so that reading the novel for the umpteenth time will be different, and perhaps, even better.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Judith Tygard on June 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
After reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" you always wish for more. Mary McDonagh Murphy's book beautifully fills that little hole in your heart. Her book makes you feel like you're talking with an old friend about a subject you both love. My teenage daughter read "To Kill a Mockingbird" and after all this time, some of the history was lost on her. Murphy's book helped her understand what an important, brave book this was. "Scout, Atticus and Boo" makes a thoughtful gift not only for Mockingbird fans but to the next wave of readers and their teachers.
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