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Steve McQueen: A Biography Hardcover – October 25, 2011

54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Most of us aren't really interested in the real McQueen, we just want the tough guy from Bullitt. Fortunately, author Marc Eliot isn't in that group. In Steve McQueen: A Biography, readers meet a complex, haunted man who might not make many most-admired lists….Eliot doesn't pass judgment on McQueen. Instead, he essentially retells the classic American drama: a man coming up from nothing and but for a quirk of fate — in McQueen's case, possession of a steely gaze that would do nothing on a stage but rivet a camera.”—, 3 out of 4 stars

“As Marc Eliot reminds us, Steve McQueen was just eight weeks older than Clint Eastwood. He might be alive still, as prominent, laconic, and anti-heroic a screen figure as Clint, and maybe even a notable producer and director. Eastwood has won just about every prize there is, and he has made the journey that probably appealed to him the most—from a working-class kid to a movie cowboy to one of the most esteemed figures and authentic stars remaining in American show business. Eastwood is an auteur and a respectable American. McQueen was none of those things…. [Yet] you can’t take your eyes off him. As an actor, he is more compelling and mysterious than Eastwood. “—David Thomson, The New Republic

“A fine biography that makes us feel like we know and understand its subject.” —Booklist

“McQueen’s life and the cultural context Eliot explores make for a good read.” —Library Journal

About the Author

Marc Eliot is the "New York Times" bestselling author of more than a dozen books on popular culture, among them the highly acclaimed biographies American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart; the award-winning Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince; Down 42nd Street; what many consider the best book about the sixties, his biography of Phil Ochs, Death of a Rebel; Take It From Me (with Erin Brokovich); Down Thunder Road: The Making of Bruce Springsteen; To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles; and Reagan: The Hollywood Years. He has written on the media and pop culture for numerous publications, including Penthouse, L.A. Weekly, and California magazine. He divides his time among New York City; Woodstock, New York; Los Angeles; and the Far East. Visit him at

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype; First Edition edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307453219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307453211
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,332,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marc Eliot is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books on popular culture, among them the highly acclaimed biography Cary Grant, the award-winning Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince, and most recently American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood, plus the music biographies Down Thunder Road: The Making of Bruce Springsteen, To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles, and Death of a Rebel about Phil Ochs. He has been featured in many documentaries about film and music and has written on the media and popular culture for numerous publications. He divides his time among New York City; Woodstock, New York; and Los Angeles. Visit him at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Hamzy1973 on November 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Author Marc Eliot makes a lot of promises to readers that he offers "original material, rare photos and new interviews" but this is just a smokescreen for another "cut and paste" job. It's nothing more than a retread of other previous McQueen bios.

This offering is also riddled with mistakes, some of them pretty glaring. On page 6 he cites McQueen's birthplace as Green Grove, Indiana. It's Beech Grove. On page 16 he writes the Boys Republic in Chino was founded by socialite Margaret Fowler. That honor goes to William George and his wife Esther Brewer. On page 21, Eliot declares McQueen was stationed at Camp Pendleton in the Marines. He couldn't be more off. McQueen was stationed almost 3,000 miles away in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. A famous mugshot of McQueen in the photo section says it was taken in 1966; the incident, which made national headlines, occurred in 1972. It's senseless mistakes like these that give the impression the author is out of touch with the subject matter and never left the confines of his home office to do research.

Eliot pads out the photo section with mostly publicity stills, lobby cards and movie posters and it's doubtful he interviewed more than a handful of people, some of whom have been interviewed countless times.

What's laughable is that Eliot insinuates in the author's notes that this is perhaps the definitive McQueen biography. This lazy, half-hearted attempt would have been the worst but Eliot is author Darwin Porter turned in a more putrid account.

Don't waste your time on this rehash trash.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Richard Masloski on November 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am half-way through the disturbing reading of "NEW YORK TIMES best-selling author" Marc Eliot's take on the life and career of Steve McQueen.

Why is this author a NY Times best-selling one? This is my first encounter with the work of Mr. Eliot - and so far this book seems to be a trimmed down retread of Marshall Terrill's vastly superior STEVE MCQUEEN: PORTRAIT OF AN AMERICAN REBEL. I understand Mr. Terrill came out recently with an updated version of his 1993 book. I wish I had purchased that instead of this book which is modelled on the skeleton of that better bio - except that this one has left off all the muscle and meat and so it never comes alive. Plus Terrill's book is by far the better illustrated.

As to this book, however. I can't stand when too many authors nowadays slap a book together, rush it through lazy proof-readers who - if they even exist - aren't worth spit, and then just sit back on their prior credentials and start counting the dough. Others in their reviews here on Amazon have pointed out some of the many errors in this hack job. Here are a few to add to that list:

On page 128, in his synopsis of SOLDIER IN THE RAIN, Eliot claims Jackie Gleason's character is killed in a bar-room brawl. He isn't.

On page 163 Eliot comes down fairly hard on the inaccuracies "in both time and place" in THE SAND PEBBLES, claiming that the movie plays "fast and lose with the facts." (Actually, the charge Eliot levels at this film apply quite spectacularly to his own negligence when it comes to facts!) "The movie takes place ten years earlier than the novel," says Eliot. "The book version of THE SAND PEBBLES is set in 1926," he further contends.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By AbigailTrower on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I'll give this to Marc Eliot, he is consistent as an author for he has made an equal number of errors in his other books as he does in "Steve McQueen." But don't take my word for it, look at what other Amazon reviewers had to say about Eliot's sloppy work:

Paul Simon: A Life
Something So Wrong, January 14, 2011
By Dave Blanchard (Cleveland, Ohio) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Paul Simon: A Life (Hardcover)
Almost everything in this book, including every quote from and reference to Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, comes from previously published material (dutifully cited by the author), which means Marc Eliot didn't so much write this book as type it. And what becomes clear is that he isn't much of a typist. Thus, the question becomes: If Eliot made that many mistakes in the simple process of transcribing the words and ideas of other writers, how well can we trust his conclusions as to what might have motivated Paul Simon throughout his life and his career?

Jimmy Stewart: A Biography
Too Bad, April 25, 2011
By BetsyBooth - See all my reviews
It's a shame that such a good actor could have such an awful book written about him. As other reviewers have stated, there are bizzare innuendos and silly deductions, not to mention grammatical errors, but I didn't really notice them for I spent more time trying to decipher what the author was saying (or trying to say, for that matter). It is hard to trust the validity of the biography when such falsehoods and simple mistakes are made. Truly terrible!

Cary Grant: A Biography
Terrible, September 5, 2011
By R.
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