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Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth Paperback – March 1, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to this congenial biography by film journalist Munn, movie legend Wayne (1907–1979) was a hard worker who held tight to his beliefs and what he thought he should show on screen. Wayne's career did have its share of controversy (although he starred in cutthroat war films, Wayne didn't sign up for military service in WWII; he rejected communism, which made him the object of Stalinist threats; and the actor's given name is still debated), and Munn deftly addresses those hullabaloos while providing an overview of the actor's accomplishments. After playing football at USC, Wayne worked as a studio prop man, coming into early contact with director John Ford, who would direct Wayne in some of his most memorable performances, including 1952's The Quiet Man. Throughout their association, Ford treated Wayne erratically, disparaging his talents and lashing out at him for accepting a lead role from rival director Raoul Walsh (The Big Trail, 1930). Yet Ford and Wayne collaborated on 1939's Stagecoach, which gave birth to the serious western and the Ford-Wayne movie subgenre. Other highlights include Wayne's emergence as a heavy in 1948's Red River and his ferocious performance in 1956's The Searchers. Munn portrays the actor in his personal life as a man's man, who sustained friendships with tough cohorts like stuntman Yakima Canutt but failed in romance. Although the book takes an odd turn toward the end, when Munn links Wayne's patriotism and heroic persona to the heroic actions after September 11, overall, it's a fine tribute.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A fine tribute."
-- Publishers Weekly (Publisher's Weekly ) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: NAL (March 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451214145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451214140
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #612,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a "must read" for any John Wayne fan. The book is written with a deftness and style similar to the character of the man of whom it portrays. Munn is a self-described fan, yet is able to depict Wayne in a realistic light while using great sensitivity and care. The book is based largely on Munn's personal interviews (spanning several years) with John Wayne's colleagues and more importantly, the Duke himself, which lends credibility to his words. I have come away from this book not only with an historical view into John Wayne's career, but also with a great sense of respect for Waynes's honesty and "no-nonsense" approach to life. His love for his country is more than admirable, especially now in such times of partisanship and complacency. Sadly, John Wayne's era has gone by the wayside so kudos to Michael Munn for keeping his spirit alive.
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Format: Paperback
Michael Munn's "John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth" (2003) presents the life of one of America's greatest 20th century icons. This 386-page hardback is comfortably researched with 17 pages of filmography (describing, briefly, each John Wayne film), 5 pages of sources, and a two page annotated bibliography.

Munn brings motion picture super star John Wayne to life with a comprehensive chronological narrative of his life and career. Using Wayne era media documentation, personal interviews with friends, family, and co-stars, and reviewing books about the Duke the author reintroduces readers to John Wayne's greatness. Memorable stories are told from the Duke's personal, family, and performance lives.

We hear from John Agar, Lee Van Cleef, Rock Hudson, Charlton Heston, Jennifer O'Neill, Sammy Davis, Jr., Maureen O'Hara, and many more about Wayne. Readers learn about his opinions on Richard Widmark's acting, John Huston's directing, and daughter Aissa's script reading. One discovers which one of Wayne's films was his own favorite ("The Alamo") and which was the simplest for him to make ("True Grit"). (John Wayne turned down the "Dirty Harry" part after Frank Sinatra's refusal because he didn't want a Sinatra's rejection and the Duke also didn't like the image of a rogue cop.) Wayne's families, religion (as a back-sliding Presbyterian), politics (as an Orange County Reagan Republican), love for alcohol, and lung cancer (which ultimately killed him in 1979) are reviewed.

Munn's story of John Wayne's rise from a movie back lot janitor (as an injured USC football player) to mega star adored by millions is interesting and at times riveting. Much of the Duke's life was like a John Wayne movie.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a long-time fan of John Wayne so was hoping to really enjoy this book. I guess my biggest problem with it is the writing style. It did not flow that well for me and thus did not captivate my attention. I was hoping for a book that I would pick up and find hard to put down. Instead, I found it to be a book that I didn't pick up first, nod when I did, would read a couple of chapters and then put it down. Maybe some pictures would have helped. Could be just me. Because of that I gave it 3 stars.

Having said that, it is informative based on interviews of many people who knew and worked with the Duke, friends, family, and even some interviews with John Wayne himself, so we get insight into him as an actor, friend, husband, and father. He loved his craft and was probably better at it than the critics gave him credit. For sure, he loved his family and children, was a loyal friend, and an unquestionably loyal and patriotic American. As for his marriages...I think he probably chose to spend too much time with his guy pals when he should have been home; thus the relationships suffered. Something not unusual in Hollywood. He was a man's man, in the movies and in real life. While this isn't my favorite JW book, it definitely has a place on the shelf of avid fans. Buy and decide for yourselves.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this to be a very well written book. I did not find it boring, like some biographies can be. The Author took great pains to offer a balanced view of Mr. Wayne, after all he was human. It isn't a sensationalized tell all for the sake of sales but offers a realistic view of a man my generation grew up thinking was larger than life. I feel it answers the questions of his not serving in WWII and his political views quite well. We all know he was a patriot and that he spoke his mind.
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Format: Paperback
John Wayne is my favorite movie star. It is incredible that more than 30 years after his death he is still loved and admired by millions of Americans. Every time I watch one of his films I feel good about being an American. (I shudder to think what the Duke would have thought about the Socialist currently in the White House.) Every few years I enjoy reading a new book about John Wayne, this book, which I read several years ago, is my all-time favorite.
First it reveals some things that I did not know such as that Wayne wanted to enlist in WW II but Herbert Yates, the head of Republic Pictures, got him deferred by convincing the higher-ups in Washington that Wayne would make a greater contribution to the countries' morale by starring in several patriotic WWII films instead. The book also goes into Stalin's plot to assassinate the Duke.
The thing I like most about this book however is that it is written by a journalist for a British film magazine. Apparently during his many interviews with other Hollywood stars he would ask them questions about John Wayne as well. So we get comments from such other major stars as Charlton Heston, William Holden, Henry Fonda, Rock Hudson, etc. about Wayne and the films they made together. Another nice thing is that the author interviewed Wayne himself when Wayne was on location in Great Britain to film the film "Brannigan."
All-in-all I learned some things I did not know and found reading this book a very enjoyable experience. Highly recommended.
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