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Super: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Jim Lehrer
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Jim Lehrer's Tension City.

April 1956: Climbing aboard the Sante Fe railroad’s famous Super Chief is an amazing spectrum of passengers. There’s Darwin Rinehart, a once great Hollywood producer who now faces bankruptcy. In a dark recess of a train car hides a mysterious, disheveled man who has not paid for a ticket, smuggled inside by an unscrupulous porter. Millionaire Otto Wheeler arrives in a wheelchair; deathly ill, he knows that this will be his last trip on the great train. Clark Gable causes a stir when he steps aboard, and though he’s ridden these rails for years, indulging in booze and women with equal fervor, those around him sense that this time, something is different. And finally there’s former President Harry Truman, distinguished, congenial, and constantly accompanied by a railroad detective.

As the Super Chief pulls out of Dearborn Station, the passengers—famous and infamous, anonymous and enigmatic—can’t possibly imagine what lies ahead. For as the train gains speed, a series of deadly events unfolds.


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Many of Lehrer’s 19 previous novels showcased his abiding love for simpler times: mid-twentieth-century America, the small-town Midwest, and the intercity bus lines of that time and region. This time out, he focuses his attention on the Super Chief, the luxurious Sante Fe Railroad train that carried the rich and famous from Chicago to Los Angeles in just over 39 hours. Set in 1956, the tale involves three mysterious deaths, former president Harry Truman, actor Clark Gable, a movie producer whose last picture flopped, and a callow, movie-loving Sante Fe passenger agent. It’s Lehrer in typically fine form: wonderful detail about railroad operations and life on the Super; small prairie towns that owed their existence to the Sante Fe; Hollywood’s worries about television; rail’s apparent lack of worry about airlines; gossip about Gable’s prodigious womanizing; and concerns about radiation from nuclear tests in Nevada. Remarkably, however, the book’s central events are true, as Lehrer testifies in an epilogue. Lehrer is a national treasure, and Super is, well . . . super. --Thomas Gaughan

Review

"Many of Lehrer’s 19 previous novels showcased his abiding love for simpler times: mid-twentieth-century America, the small-town Midwest, and the intercity bus lines of that time and region. This time out, he focuses his attention on the Super Chief, the luxurious Sante Fe Railroad train that carried the rich and famous from Chicago to Los Angeles in just over 39 hours. Set in 1956, the tale involves three mysterious deaths, former president Harry Truman, actor Clark Gable, a movie producer whose last picture flopped, and a callow, movie-loving Sante Fe passenger agent. It’s Lehrer in typically fine form: wonderful detail about railroad operations and life on the Super; small prairie towns that owed their existence to the Sante Fe; Hollywood’s worries about television; rail’s apparent lack of worry about airlines; gossip about Gable’s prodigious womanizing; and concerns about radiation from nuclear tests in Nevada. Remarkably, however, the book’s central events are true, as Lehrer testifies in an epilogue. Lehrer is a national treasure, and Super is, well . . . super." —Booklist


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1127 KB
  • Print Length: 225 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1410426610
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (April 20, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036S4AJ0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #661,868 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Chief and the Ties that Grind. May 18, 2010
Format:Hardcover
Jim Lehrer's laconic style which has served him to great effect during an almost four decade career at the helm of the Newshour is employed to perfection in his latest novel "Super." This book is about states of mind, union, and boundaries both legal and personal that separate people and create barriers. The seemingly indefatigable Lehrer, he has been averaging nearly a novel per year since 1988, places kings, Clark Gable and former President Harry Truman, queens, Claudette Colbert and Grace Dodsworth, and all those in between and provides them with just enough rope to tie themselves together and a few indiscretions to tear them apart. Life in the monochromatic 50s was anything but and the pace while far from hurried allowed people to become much more intimate and connected on an emotional level. Today it would be inconceivable for an ex-president to use a public bathroom in peace let alone board a train unassisted by hordes of seconds. The passengers embarked in Chicago and arrived in the land of dreams, Los Angeles, with only the memory of their conversations and their interactions recorded in their minds not on their Blackberrys or Twitter. What happened somewhere on the rolling plains of Kansas stayed on the plains of Kansas. The concentric circles of life, death, and lust evaporated in the American night. So sit back and relax and make sure you have your ticket and if your wife goes missing don't go looking because frankly my dear, I'm not certain Mr. Gable gives a damn. In this novel, bombs are going off everywhere and in Lehrer's world we're all bound to get a little bit of the emotional fallout on us sooner or later.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Effortless book, easy read, leaves little trace May 27, 2010
Format:Hardcover
This book takes place in ther 1950s in the dying days of the great transcontinental railroads about to be supplanted by air travel when it took 39 hours to make the trip from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Mr. Lehrer takes us aboard one of these luxury trains for a trip in which three people will lose their lives in different ways and for different reasons. The cast of characters includes historical figures like former President Harry S. Truman and Clark Gable as well as fictional creations.

The best thing about the book is the period recreation. We meet Ralph, the solicitous conductor who for a generous tip will arrange his passangers' beds, serve their meals and, in the case of Gable, bring a succession of "fair visitors" to the film star's compartment to be bedded and discarded.

Other characters appear but are not tremendously vivid or memorable.

It's a pleasant trip that Mr. Lehrer takes us on but no more than that. One has a sense of an experienced author going through his paces, not stretching himself, taking no artistic risks, delivering a smooth product that slips down easily and leaves almost no trace. It's very professional -- but a bit too perfunctory.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Super by Jim Leher July 20, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A pleasant summer read. I was taken back to a time when most people, who traveled any distance, always went by rail. Inserting famous people such as Clark Gable and Harry Truman in a murder mystery on the Super Chief from Chicago to LA in 1956 added a sense of reality to the story.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sigh....... June 4, 2010
Format:Hardcover
Jim Lehrer has written a number of books, and although I enjoy him on television, I haven't been able to put him on my "can't wait to read" list. I had hoped that Super would change that.

For someone with faint memories of America's train system, I had flashbacks to traveling the rails as Lehrer does a nice job of giving the reader tidbits of information about life on the Sante Fe train. Traveling by rail through the 40s and 50s was an elegant, upscale, comfortable way of moving cross-country and the author captures that atmosphere nicely. Lehrer's story takes place in the fading days of train travel as eminaries Harry Truman and Clark Gable move cross country. The staterooms, drinks in the lounge, specially prepared dinners.... the whole atmosphere of traveling by the Sante Fe, is explained by Lehrer and is the real highlight of the book.

On the other hand, readers expecting to be drawn into suspense thriller similar to Murder on the Orient Express will be disappointed. I was nearly two-thirds thru before the real meat of the book kicked in, and there is no Hercule Perot to center your focus on until late in the story.

My summary is this: If you are looking for a short read with some interesting historical details, Super is a good read. If you want to know more about train travel in the 40s and 50s, Super is a good read. If following the personalities of people who lived to travel by rail is your interest, Super is a fair read. If you want to be drawn into a good mystery, Super is a sigh.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment December 8, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had high hopes for this book. First, I really like Jim Lehrer and second, I love trains. However, the book was really light-weight. I thought the incorporation of movie stars into the plot did not work well at all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting look February 5, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the first book by the well known auther that I have read. It is an interesting look behind the scenes at a variety of things, The Super Chief, Hollywood of the '50s, atomic testing, etc. While the ending was a bit trite and obvious it was still an interesting read. The author captured the feeling of the era well. My major problem was the inclusion of a subplot with a decidedly modern sensibility, it was a bit jarring, it felt as if the whole purpose of the book was to get that particular subplot into the spotlight. As I said, an interesting read, I will be reading more by this author, I will just have to be aware of the potential for certain political leanings to surface.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars it seemed for real. and it was.
I remember the all night train rides. Jim Lehrer captures the atmosphere with what I thought was a great yarn. And then I found out it was a mostly true story. Read more
Published 8 months ago by skfitzp
3.0 out of 5 stars I was expecting more...
I love trains, and the Super Chief most of all. And I love mysteries. Murder on the Orient Express is a great story. This novel, not so much. Read more
Published 22 months ago by J. Stoddard
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bygone Day, Enjoyable Read
I am a big Jim Lehrer fan. No great revelations in the book, no mind numbing nonsense but a great story teller. Read more
Published on September 22, 2011 by H. F. Miglino
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of This world
This is just a good "old fashioned" page turner, so full of good writing and interesting situations that one can hardly put it down. A great read all-around. Read more
Published on July 5, 2011 by William Kuhlman
2.0 out of 5 stars Super? More like below average.
I didn't enjoy this novel nearly as much as I thought I would. The story takes place on the Super Chief, a luxury railroad line, in 1956. Read more
Published on July 2, 2011 by Melissa Niksic
5.0 out of 5 stars Another story by Jim Lehrer.
My wife and I are PBS News fans and as such like Jim Lehrer. I, Richard, have read several of his novels, so when I heard that he had written another, I decided to buy it. Read more
Published on August 20, 2010 by Richard J. Vielbig
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful train ride!
Jim Lehrer writes good, interesting books - so add this to the pile of them. Just loved reminiscing about the great train era. Read more
Published on June 27, 2010 by Janet P. Reagan
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good as "White Widow" !!
Jim Lehrer's new book is wonderful. As usual I find out about great books on "Imus", and this is no exception. Read more
Published on May 29, 2010 by G. M. Kauger
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