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Jack London: An American Life Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
London's life was as much of an adventure as any of his best books...and was the basis for much material in his books. If there is one shortcoming to this biography, it is the limitation of space. Much interesting material had to be jettisoned in order to fit the work into the space allowed by the publishers. Still, if you only read one biography of Jack London, this is the one it should be. You cannot choose a better one.
Of these, the iconic tome remains Irving Stone's, written just two decades after London's death and published in 1938. Irving Stone himself is one of the great authors of the mid-twentieth century, and his "Sailor on Horseback the Biograhy of Jack London" is an excellent piece of work. Stone had the full cooperation of Charmian London (Jack's second wife) as well as many other people who knew London well and were still available for interviews and as sources of raw material. "Sailor on Horseback" reads right along, and accords Jack London a gracious and truthful respect, lauding his hard work, vision, imagination, and most importantly, London's humanity, which was his most outstanding trait.
"Jack London,: A biography" by Richard O'Connor was published in 1964, and is a good read, with a number of interesting details not found in most biographical work on London, even today. O'Connor still, however, makes occasional attempts to hit below the belt, like most of London's biographers. It was followed by Andrew Sinclair's "...Read more ›
Instead, he relied on his strength, his determination, and his wits. He finally sold a couple of "yarns" at the age of twenty-one. Most writers at this stage would have little to go on from their experience. Jack had plenty.
Labor takes us through the early years, already crammed with possibilities for the later London to draw upon. As a teenager, Oakland cannery worker, oyster pirate, fish patrolman, hobo, able-bodied seaman, he did all this before returning to high school and, briefly, the U. of Cal. Although he had to drop out to work again, after his menial labor, he vowed to find a better way to make a living.
Then, the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush spurred him and his uncle north to the Yukon. Labor memorably captures the excitement and dread of this hyped event. While we never learn how London eked out his five dollars worth of gold, this is not Labor's concern. He wants us instead to learn how Jack began to listen, watch, and ponder what he saw all around him. Out of this, soon after, nearly eighty stories would emerge when, finally, he left hard labor behind for a career as a paid writer.
What distinguished London from his contemporaries who had beaten him back to cash in on writing about the Klondike and the Northland, Labor finds, was Jack's "human interest, romantic imagination, and sympathetic understanding". He gets the silence in, the primitive pull of the landscape, where its woods and animals lurked, and where foolish men fell to the harsh climate.Read more ›
Previous biorgraphers were merely extrapolators, drawing conclusions from slight scholarship and/or personal slants and prejudices. Labor's approach is that of a fine writer who has spent a life in London research in order to give readers information and insight into a writer who is, indeed, a great American literary giant.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Slow moving at times. You have to be a big London fan or a fan of that era to move through the book at a good pace. I still haven't finished it.Published 29 days ago by Robert A. Anderson
So many biographies of authors dwell primarily on their accomplishments in literature. This one doesn't, for a very good reason. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Levin
Scholarly Earle Labor has a difficult time selecting which material should be included and which is trivia. The London Life is jam-packed with "material. Read morePublished 3 months ago by James R. Anderson
An excellent biography; highly recommended. It reads like a novel, probably because London's life was worthy of a novel. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Peter B
Although dying 40 years after his birth, Jack London appeared not to have died young or prematurely. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Cabin Dweller
This book is published in very small type. Because of that, it will take forever to read and be much less enjoyable to finish this book. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Bradleygirl
I appreciated the detailed research that went into this book. Of particular interest to me was the section dedicated to the "Snark" voyage which is an amazing story by itself. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Barney Tumey
I found this biography of Jack London very interesting, having been a Jack London fan for years, and having lived in both Glen Ellen and Oakland for a long time, I'm familiar with... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Amazon Customer