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The Garner Files: A Memoir Hardcover – November 1, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 588 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Narrator Michael Kramer effectively captures the actor's easygoing manner and humor." ---Library Journal Audio Review --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Jon Winokur is the author of various nonfiction books, including The Portable Curmudgeon, Zen to Go, and Advice to Writers. He lives in Los Angeles.

James Garner has starred in numerous television shows and films, from Maverick and The Rockford Files to The Great Escape with Steve McQueen and Victor Victoria with Julie Andrews.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451642601
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451642605
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (588 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed watching James Garner through the years and so I was eager to read his memoir (this review is based on the Kindle edition, available before other editions shipped.).

Fans looking for biographical details about Garner should be satisfied. For example, who would have guessed that Garner hates public speaking and had to battle this to work on screen? He never grew fond of acting on stage.Readers can discover how and why he grew to dislike performing live, an adversion rooted in traumatic childhood experiences.

Although there are plenty of fascinating gems about Garner in his book it is a slow read at first. Garner starts with recollections of his childhood and then moves on to his first love, time spent in the military, and struggles as an actor in the 50's - alongside Clint Eastwood and others who weren't yet famous. The book does pick up speed and finally falls into a comfortable pace.

I felt that the section about his childhood and family roots could have been tighter, focusing more on the pivotal moments rather than drier parts about his family tree. Looking at these sections from the perspective of prospective readers it is likely that they'll be eager for events to " cut to the chase" sooner.

It was inspiring to see how Garner's tenacity serves him well, keeping him from giving up when even respected acting coaches told him he'd never succeed. Friends such as Henry Fonda allowed Garner to observe and pick up valuable techniques.

All in all, well worth reading for anyone interested in Garner's take on life and acting.

Bonus features: introduction by Julie Andrews and a special section where family and friends include recollections of Garner. They include Doris Day, Tom Selleck, and Joel Grey.
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Format: Hardcover
Reading "The Garner Files" James Garner's long awaited memoirs written with Jon Winokur is like being in the room with Jim having a "one on one" conversation. Jim's voice comes through loud and clear (Very loud when the need arises). Having spent two years on the set of "The Rockford Files" I can attest that Jon Winokur does an excellent job of letting Jim do the talking. Jim's wonderful sense of humor, dry wit and yes his shyness comes through revealing a man who in my opinion is so good at his craft, he doesn't have to brag about his talents, he lets the work speak for itself.

His love of golf and his "Antics" on the links are some of the funniest moments of the book. Reading Jim's telling of his ability "To bury a golf club in the turf" I swore I was sitting in Jim's motor home on the set of "Rockford" laughing along with everyone else. I am so thrilled that Jon Winokur was able to do what biographers for years have been unable to do. To get James Garner to talk about...James Garner.

Whether he's Rockford, Maverick, Murphy Jones, Charlie Madison or any of the other wonderful characters Jim has played in over fifty years of acting, in "The Garner Files" you get Jim Garner, and his no holes barred approach to life, love, acting, politics all in that warm voice that comes off the page and touches our hearts like James Garner has done for 83 years.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James Garner is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, with longevity to rival Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford. He has always had the easy good looks of a man who is not vain (for precisely that reason). He has been willing to change with the times, where other actors simply fall out of our consciousness. But when I heard about his new memoir, "The Garner Files," I hesitated to read it. I was afraid I might be disappointed. I thought I might prefer to just watch "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files" or download "The Americanization of Emily" from NetFlix, take in Garner's cool charm on screen, and leave the rest of his personal storyline to my imagination.

Wouldn't you?

Well, if you would, don't.

Because James Garner is not only a good actor, he's great story teller and an even better person. To skip this book would be to miss a memoir of honesty and depth -- the story of Hollywood's Golden Age told with grace and clarity. The Garner Files is a lovely trip back to a time when guys were guys, and gals were both glamorous and tough.

I especially enjoy the way Garner writes about the women in his life. His daughters, his wife, but also his co-stars, Rita Moreno, Mariette Hartley and Julie Andrews, who, in turn, writes a heartfelt introduction to the book.

Another surprisingly moving part of the book is the chapter entitled simply "Politics." Garner, it turns out, is cut from the celebrity cloth of "Do Something" rather than the other more familiar swatch: "Lay Low, Lest Political Action Hurt Me At The Box Office." In Garner's day, the choices were presented starkly -- literally, in black and white. Garner marched on Washington, for example, in 1963, a highly controversial move; he tried to make the moral choice, every time.

They just don't make stars of the Silver Screen quite like that anymore. But if you are feeling nostalgic for a hero, read "The Garner Files."
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First of all, I have to say that I have been waiting and hoping that this book would be written for the past 20 years. I bought the Kindle version for PC and stayed up until 3:30AM this morning reading this quality work. You can hear Jim's voice through the words written and I thoroughly enjoyed his self-effacing comments on and about his career choices. His descriptions of how other actors' personalities were in real life were refreshing to read. Usually every year around the holidays, I watch the entire Rockford Files collection that I have on DVds, a marathon of sorts! It is going to be much better this year since I know so much more about my favorite actor. If you want to read about how a real 'Maverick' came to be an actor, movie star and frustrated golfer than this is a book you won't want to put down...I didn't...Thanks again for a great book Jim and one that I will be able to reread every year around the holidays...!!
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