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Edie: An American Biography Hardcover – June 12, 1982

4.3 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Jean Stein has worked as an editor for a number of magazines, including The Paris Review and Esquire. She is co-author, with George Plimpton, of American Journey: The Times of Robert Kennedy and in 1990 she became the editor of the literary journal Grand Street, until it ended in 2004. It was described by The New York Times as 'one of the most revered literary magazines of the postwar era'. George Plimpton was an author, an actor and a literary patron. In 1953 he co-founded The Paris Review and his books, including Out of My League, Paper Lion, Mad Ducks and Bears, One More July, Shadow Box, The Man in the Flying Lawn Chair, Truman Capote and The Bogey Man. He died in September 2003. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

When Edie was first published in 1982 it quickly became an international best-seller and then took its place among the classic books about the 1960s. Edie Sedgwick exploded into the public eye like a comet. She seemed to have it all: she was aristocratic and glamorous, vivacious and young, Andy Warhol's superstar. But within a few years she flared out as quickly as she had appeared, and before she turned twenty-nine she was dead from a drug overdose.

In a dazzling tapestry of voices--family, friends, lovers, rivals--the entire meteoric trajectory of Edie Sedgwick's life is brilliantly captured. And so is the Pop Art world of the '60s: the sex, drugs, fashion, music--the mad rush for pleasure and fame. All glitter and flash on the outside, it was hollow and desperate within--like Edie herself, and like her mentor, Andy Warhol. Alternately mesmerizing, tragic, and horrifying, this book shattered many myths about the '60s experience in America.

"This is the book of the Sixties that we have been waiting for."--Norman Mailer

"Through a kaleidoscope of seemingly fragmented voices, patterns form, giving brilliant definition to the very American tragedy of Edie Sedgwick, a woman...not likely to be forgotten after this haunting portrait."--Publishers Weekly

"Extraordinary...a fascinating narrative that is both meticulously reported and expertly orchestrated."--The New York Times

"An exceptionally seductive biography.... You can't put it down.... It has novelistic excitement."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"What makes this book so unusual, unique almost, is the picture it paints of the New York counterculture. No one has ever done it better."--The Atlanta Journal & Constitution

Jean Stein has worked as an editor for a number of magazines, including The Paris Review and Esquire, when it was under the direction of the near-legendary magazine editor Clay Felker. In the 1960s, she moved to Washington, D.C. where, through her husband, attorney William Vanden Heuvel, she became interested in the political career of Robert F. Kennedy. Following his assassination, she completed her first book, an oral history of his life entitled American Journey. In 1990, she became the editor of the literary journal Grand Street. She has two daughters: Wendy, an actress, and Katrina, the editor-in-chief of The Nation. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 455 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (June 12, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394488199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394488196
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.7 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By sweetmolly on September 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
The oral history form is perfect for "Edie" little-girl-lost, who streaked across the '60's horizon like a falling star. Despite her grace, fragile beauty and charisma; Edie Sedgewick was almost born to be doomed even before the drugs did her in.
She was born into a wealthy old family that had a history of instability. Her father, also breathtakingly beautiful, had crushing psychological problems. Two of her brothers committed suicide. Her mother was ineffectual with her large brood. She was raised on an isolated ranch with her seven siblings with almost no contact with the outside world. When she hit Cambridge at 18, she was pathetically ill equipped to be in the larger world.
I couldn't agree more that she found herself in the midst of horribly decadent people. Andy Warhol gets a particularly bad rap in this book, but to me, he was no better nor worse than his hangers-on, just a shade more self-absorbed. What really saddened me was that I don't think it really mattered who Edie took up with. She was destined to spin out of control. She had no focus, no inner strength, and was dangerously self-centered and delusionary.
"Edie" is compelling reading whether or not you have experienced the '60's. It is good to keep in mind that Edie herself and the contributors to the book all were a part of a very small stratum that whistled through this confusing decade. They were no more representative of the rank and file than Emmerin is representative of this decade.
Such a lovely child, such a terrible waste.
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By A Customer on April 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
It's funny how a person's childhood experiences can set a person up for success or failure as an adult. However, in the case of Edie Sedgwick, her failures as an adult were definitely unfunny. I loved that this book relied only on quotes from the people who had met/known her. Exceptional research into every stage of Edie's life to uncover people who experienced her in each incarnation and brilliant editing make this an extremely special biography. It is evident that the choices the adult Edie made which were ultimately destructive were foreshadowed by events in her childhood. I don't think it's necessary for you to be fascinated by the scenes Edie lived through to enjoy the book. If you approach this as a psychological study of an individual, it becomes mainstream reading, not just a pop-culture chronicle.
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Format: Hardcover
"She cries . . . just like a woman . . . but she breaks just like a little girl" (Bob Dylan) - the intoxicating beauty and youthtful enhilaration of a young woman named Edie Sedgwick inspired the american troubador of the 60's Bob Dylan to write, "Just Like A Woman" . . . but even just glancing at the photographs of Edie printed in this biography shows just "why" this young woman could be the catalyst for inspiration. She was the incarnation of "the spirit of the sixties" in a way that perhaps the British model Twiggy embodied the "mod feel" of the Brit influence on that same time. There was just a certain "magic" about Edie's person that captivated.

Artist and film-maker Andy Warhol saw that magic and so Edie became a part of his art as well . . . and so Edie became Warhol's underground "superstar".

This biography is, like Edie herself, a captivating read . . but a sad one. One can "sense" the sad and tragic ending almost from the first pages, even if you hadn't known anything about Edie Sedgwick before you came upon this book.

But despite that it is a book more than worth reading, because it does retell the life of a person worth knowing. Edie mattered . . . she mattered to those who knew her . . . she mattered as well to those who knew her only from a distance through her photographs and films and celebrity associations . . . and she matters still.

Reading this book you will feel as if you had yourself known her . . .and that makes her end so much sadder in its effect.

One of the saddest "icons" in this book appears on "page 426" (of the hardcover) -- it is a photgraph of the memorial stone grave marker which stand over the plot where Edie was laid to rest.
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Format: Paperback
I always noticed this book at my grandmother's place, but didn't recognise the name until last year, and I read this book in a matter of days. Edie's short life, as described in this convoluted biography induces both envy and pity, we envy the beautiful, spoilt celebrity at the centre of a wild hedonistic carnival, who seems to have everything and obey no-one, and we pity the poor lost soul who is used, abused, abandoned and maltreated at every turn. Edie's meteoric rise to instant stardom as the jewel in the crown of the 1960's Warhol empire is as tragic as it is thrilling, and the biography makes you feel every minute of it. This book brought me to tears twice and yet parts of it were so transcendant as to seem surreal, her life is still powerfully bright. The book is still really gripping and moving even though I was born almost three decades after her death and long after the end of the 60's. Somehow at every turn you hope Edie Sedgwick will pull herself together and pull through and you wish that everything told in the book will turn around but it never does, Edie seems to burn out before she'd even become a has-been.

I recommend this to anyone who's ever wondered what the 60's were like if you were famous and fabulous, or to anyone who wants to have a good cry.
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