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The Greatest Gift: The Original Story That Inspired the Christmas Classic It's a Wonderful Life Hardcover – November 1, 1996

14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Studio; 1st edition (November 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670862045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670862047
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on October 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It was the story I had been looking for all my life! A good man, ambitious. But so busy helping others, life seems to pass him by. Despondent. He wishes he had never been born. He gets his wish. Through the eyes of a guardian angel he sees the world as it would have been had he not been born. Wow! What an idea. The kind of idea that when I get old and sick and scared and ready to die -- they'll say, 'He made The Greatest Gift.' -Frank Capra
I'm sure your family does it too, sit around watching It's a Wonderful Life and speaking all of the lines moments ahead of the characters. Younger folk may not recall that in the early 80's, before Republic Pictures reclaimed the copyright to the movie, it was on literally dozens of times from Thanksgiving to New Years every year. And we all watched it, every single showing. Somehow the upbeat message about the individual's capacity to change the world for the better achieved a special resonance in those heady Reagan Era days of promise. Now it's shown on a network just once a season as an attempt at Event programming, but every red blooded American family owns a videotape and pops it in at least a few times over the holidays.
Turns out, the movie was based on a story by respected Civil War historian, Philip Van Doren Stern (one assumes he's from The Van Doren family of Quiz Show fame). The story sprang full blown from Van Doren's head while he was shaving on the morning of Feb. 12, 1938. He rewrote it several times and then in 1943 sent it to his agent to see if he could get a magazine to buy it. Unbelievably, they all turned it down. So he had a couple hundred copies made and sent them to friends in their Christmas cards.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Meredith on December 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My book club read this story and then watched IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. It was a great evening. I am happy to own my own copy of THE GREATEST GIFT. The book was as I expected and arrived in pronto time. Thanks!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Candy on May 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want the short version of "It's a Wonderful Life," this is the book for you. The story behind how the movie was made based on this short story is very cool.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Leair on December 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My mom loves "It's a Wonderful Life" and watches it several times every holiday season. She loved this book when I gave it to her for a Christmas gift!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By blackcatpratt on January 15, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the version of "The Greatest Gift" that you want - the ORIGINAL. No name changes. Forget that new red edition - it looks pretty, but they've changed it. This version is a heftier book (it's still tiny - remember, this story was originally on a Christmas card!) with more information about the author and the movie as well. Trust me - buy this edition, even if you have to buy it used!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I throughly enjoyed previously reading this novella, "The Greatest Gift," which was the source and inspiration for THE great Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life." As a result, I wanted to order a copy for a family member who loves the movie. Since the book is not currently in print, except for a new limited high-priced leatherette bound edition, I checked on used copies from Amazon sellers. After looking, I decided to order a VG quality copy from Woody's Books. About 10 days went by and I received a follow-up Email from a Woody's representative, asking about my receiving and enjoyment of the book. I had not received the book and as it turned out, it was evidently lost in the mail. The rep researched and followed up multiple times to check with me and offered a prompt replacement from their stock, if available, or possibly from other sources or a refund. I requested an equal quality replacement, if available, and a refund if not. My result ... within 3 business days I received a very good quality replacement copy of the lost order, sourced from another bookseller. The overall response and the final result, to me, reflects great customer service by a great bookseller and Amazon seller!
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By B. schmidt on September 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover
We all know the story of "It's A Wonderful Life" movie version and I wanted to finally follow through with reading the book(card) that started it. You can see where Frank Capra, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett had to add to the story line, but did it in such a magnificent way to amplify this simple story for all of us to really get that our lives are a gift. On the back cover you have comments from Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart, after the story you have an afterword by Marguerite Stern Robinson, daughter of the author,where she adds interesting tid bits. Nice to have added to my collection of books.
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