To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Woody Guthrie: A Life Paperback – February 9, 1999
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
About the Author
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Klein's extensive research is the first key to this book's success; he is able to show so many different sides of one of America's greatest songwriters that Guthrie becomes ever more complex even as he becomes ever more human. Equally as important, though, is the manner in which Klein unblinkingly and impartially tells the bad along with the good. So what comes out in the long run is exactly how brilliant, industrious, flighty, difficult to live with, insufferable, and ingenious Woody Guthrie was. Klein's prose and its conversational ease spin out this long yarn, detours included, in a fluent and friendly tone that reflect well the topic at hand.
Readers expecting mere annotations to Guthrie's music will be surprised to find much more in this book--I know I was. I was shocked to be allowed a glimpse into familial and erotic life. None of this interested me at first, and even seemed like an unwanted accompaniment to the real story of the music, but Klein quickly makes it clear that this corner of Guthrie's life had its own impact on his creative energies in every other area, and the gaps get filled in.
This completeness contributes to a portrait that quickly overgrows the confines of a single American life, for Guthrie's story is in many ways the complex story of America in the last century. Klein's telling of this story allows us a glimpse into histories we've forgotten or have been allowed to forget.Read more ›
Basically, I will just say this is the most riveting biography I've ever read, and I've read it many times (am rereading it now actually).
There are two primary reasons why this book is so far above all other biographies:
1.) Joe Klein's writing is fantastic. His research is thorough, but his ability to communicate to an audience complex historical, socio-political, medical, and psychological concepts is virtually without peer.
2.) Woody Guthrie's life simply is one of the most fascinating lives I've ever read about. From his birth (even before his birth) straight through to his death, his life never gets boring. There is no plateau, where a great artist achieves his best work and then self destructs or mellows, etc etc.....every single period of Woody's life is equally fascinating. He was an incredible human being, a very complex artist and man-and he happened to straddle many periods of history. You will be constantly surprised. Sometimes you want to strangle him and then he turns around and does something so unbelievabely heroic, that you can hardly believe it actually happened. There is NO ONE like Woody Guthrie today....nor was there ever another in any other time period, the guy was truly a one and only.
I couldn't recommend this book enough. It's so good that not until 2004 was another biography attempted on Woody, and I can't imagine it could be any better than this.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just finished 'A Life' What a weird, but very interesting ride. A lot more than I expected. The book is very well done and kudos to the author entirely. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Peter Corrigan
My brother was delighted because I got him a CD of Woody Guthrie's music to go with the book, and I downloaded the music to my iPhone.Published 17 months ago by Rebecca Pint
I am about one-third through this book and I'm really enjoying it. Joe Klein is known for the quality of his writing and research. Read morePublished on January 23, 2014 by Mark Price
I borrowed this from the public library. That copy has 496 pages. Hopefully, the added pages in this new edition mean there are pages devoted to advances in medicine after 1980... Read morePublished on December 29, 2013 by domestic diva
Woody was a strange iconic figure. It says a lot about our country in the 20th century, unions, politics, music, poverty, the depression, creativity, illness, family, alcohol, the... Read morePublished on December 1, 2013 by John Wilder
This is such an interesting story I originally bought if for someone else but started reading it and couldn't put it down.Published on October 28, 2013 by Debi
Definite read for the music lover...and an unexpected journey into the history and time period. I've passed it along to a few others.Published on September 18, 2013 by Margie S
Bruce Springsteen says in his live intro before covering Guthrie's most well known song, "This Land is Your Land." "It's by this fella named Joe Klein. Read morePublished on August 16, 2013 by R. H. Krauch