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The RAGMAN'S SON Paperback – July 1, 1989


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 478 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket; First Paperback Edition edition (July 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671637185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671637187
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,036,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Recalling a breakfast at the White House, Douglas marvels that a ragman's son is invited to eat scrambled eggs with the President, himself a Georgia farmer. Only in Americaor so this celebrity would have it, endlessly extolling his love of country as he recounts his government-sponsored goodwill missions around the world. Still, one can't fault him for his cloying patriotismhe is by no means a reactionaryor for pride in his achievements, this child of unlettered Jewish-Russian immigrants, the only son among seven offspring, raised in grueling poverty in upstate New York, who supported himself through college and acting school, became a considerable star and a millionaire. The most affecting memories here are of those early years and the son's relationship with the father, a heavy drinker and violent man; the most tedious, an extensive recap, seemingly requisite in show-biz bios, of sexual affairs. "I am very often attracted to women who have a slight overbite," he writesand there are many such, alas for bored readers. Twice married, once divorced, the father of four sons, the author, 71 years old, felt intimations of mortality following a heart seizure, which became for him an occasion to assess his life, to balance the books on Issur Danielovitch, known in boyhood as Izzy Demsky, in celebrity as Kirk Douglas. Authentic, revealing, unself-conscious and self-centered, his performance here is a star turn. Photos not seen by PW. First serial to Good Housekeeping.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

It seems that all it takes these days to have one's life recorded in print is that "15 minutes" of fame Andy Warhol spoke about. So it's all the more refreshing when not one but two excellent examples of the celebrity bio turn up at the same time and on subjects who have attained real and lasting fameDouglas and Katherine Hepburn. Douglas has written a candid and warm autobiography that shows a man who has never forgotten where he came from nor ceased to be grateful for what he has attained. The son of a Jewish immigrant, Douglas fought brutal poverty and prejudice to make his own way through college and into acting. His book is full of wonderful celebrity anecdotes and insider's details on a Hollywood that has now disappeared. More importantly, Douglas shares surprising vulnerability and insight, which belie his hard-jawed image. Much has already been written about Hepburn, but what sets Andersen's biography apart is that she is only a featured player in the story of her childhood: Her parents are the stars. In fact, Hepburn herself asserts that compared to her mother and father she is dull. Her mother was an early feminist and a cofounder of Planned Parenthood and the League of Women Voters, her father a pioneering physician in the field of venereal disease. Hepburn herself cooperated on this book and her quotes are interspersed. Two of the finest of their genre this year. Rosellen Brewer, Monterey Cty. Lib., Seaside, Cal.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The book is very well written I found it hard to put down once I started reading it.
Kayjay
I read "Ragman" many years ago and still find it to be one of the most entertaining star autobio's that I have ever read.
Reginald D. Garrard
The autobiography of Kirk Douglas should be required reading for all American high school students.
Millie Mom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Reginald D. Garrard VINE VOICE on June 10, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read "Ragman" many years ago and still find it to be one of the most entertaining star autobio's that I have ever read. Douglas is very straightforward in his retelling of his humble beginnings, his personal triumphs and tragedies, as well as his long and distinguished career. I recently found his follow-up "Climbing the Mountain." If it is half the book the former is, my financial investment on both would be worth it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on October 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read very few "star" auto-biographies so have little to judge this one by. But I must say, I was impressed. The writing was good, the story seemed to be truthfully told and it held my interest. I have always enjoyed Kirk Douglas the actor and was pleased that I was able to enjoy Kirk Douglas the autobiographor. Mr. Douglas has certainly led an interesting life and has seemingly been able to keep his prespective on life. As I said, I am impressed and highly recommend this one.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Millie Mom on February 17, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The autobiography of Kirk Douglas should be required reading for all American high school students. He proves that you can overcome any obstacle in America, no matter what circumstances you were born into, if you are willing to work hard, stay focused, and never stop following your dream. He overcame abject poverty, flagrant anti-Semitism, family dysfunction, and a society that all but guaranteed that he would never amount to anything. He was blessed with a passionate zest for living and learning, a voracious curiosity, and a fearlessness that allowed him to take risks that lead to great achievements in his life. He truly is bigger than life. He tells his story with brutal honesty. He has a great personal integrity that shines through the entire book. He is, like all the rest of us, imperfect. But he had the tenacity to tell his story, imperfections and all. He has worked hard for everything he has. He was NOT an overnight success. He is highly educated, and is a veteran of the U.S.Navy. And he remains his own man. His life is a great example of the kind of people who made this country the power that it is today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I like autobiographies because I think that is the best way to get to know someone. Not that they are always honest and completely open although Kirk Douglas seems to be in this one. I suspect some things are prettied up particularly in the latter portions of this book. I read the hardcover and I don't know if the paperback covers the more recent years. The best part of the book is the early years, particularly his college days and early career
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Kirk Douglas story of growing up one of the seven - children in an Amsterdam New York Jewish family, and of working and fighting his way to the top of his profession is in one sense a typical American rags to riches story. It is the triumph of ability and will and courage, and another startling example of how the American dream can be realized. It is also on a parallel track a story of assimilation in America, of denial of one's own identity.This is also often part of the American reality. In Douglas case however this was modified by his return to his Jewish religion and identity after having gone through a serious accident. This story has something of the energy and vibrancy of Douglas' screen personality. It is rich with anecdotes including many celebrity anecdotes as Douglas and his wife were long a part of Hollywood's social world. The question of his morality in relation to women , his many 'conquests' is a real one. But all in all he beside being one of the best American actors in the past half - decade has made a very positive contribution to his society.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Renata Baybis on May 23, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Kirk Douglas gives the reader a great life story
It has been a while since such an autobiography has been onthe market.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Randall Ward on January 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I was 33 years old when I read the book and it forever changed my ways of looking at the "stars" of movies.
This would be a good book to give your sons as an example of how not to live your life. I was shocked at how Douglas saw the world. He is a racist on top of everything else.
The one story that stood out the most is when he had sex with a gentile woman and talked about how good it made him feel to be depositing his Jewish sperm into the gentile woman. It was like a getting even or even a revenge thing. He felt like he had been treated bad by the goyim and now he was getting even. It was such a shock to read this because I had really liked him in his movies. The Douglas I was reading did not compute with his screen image.
I never saw another movie he was in.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daniel R. Bills on June 5, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a great book about Kirk Douglas as he was a child through his manhood! Great writing! Definately worth reading.
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