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Joss Whedon: The Biography Hardcover – August 1, 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Pascale offers a biography of television auteur Joss Whedon, who is perhaps the first celebrity television show-runner. The son of a history teacher and a television writer, Whedon began his television career with a staff writing job on the sitcom Roseanne, but once that job experience soured, he turned to features, penning the script for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Though disappointed with the final cut of the film, Whedon enjoyed a prosperous stint writing and rewriting films such as Speed and Toy Story before returning to the small screen to resurrect his slayer. The show was a modest hit, but the passionate fan base it cultivated led to an active online community that Whedon participated in as well as further groundbreaking television offerings (Angel, Firefly, etc.) that cemented Whedon’s status as an icon even before he was tapped to direct Marvel’s high-profile flick, The Avengers. Though Whedon’s many fans are fairly familiar with the ups and downs of his career, the many frank quotes from Whedon, his friends, family, and coworkers make Pascale’s absorbing bio a must-read. --Kristine Huntley


"Amy Pascale delves deep behind the scenes of Joss Whedon's myriad film and television projects, covering Avengers, vampire slayers, and everything in between.  This thorough and engaging biography is a must-read for everyone who loves Whedon's work, from the casual fan to the most hardcore Browncoat.” —Tim Hanley, author of Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine “The material is jam-packed with all sorts of behind the scenes trivia. Perhaps that means an update will be needed after Avengers: Age of Ultron. Amy Pascale has written an interesting, well-written take on the life and art of Joss Whedon; any true fan should take a look.” —CliqueClaque

“Pascale collects enough fascinating details and candid anecdotes to surprise even the most devoted of Whedonites." —Maclean's Magazine

“If you think you know everything about Joss, you haven’t read this thoroughly entertaining and well-researched treasure trove.” —Josh Horowitz, MTV News

“Now that I’ve read this and feel like I know Joss as a person rather than merely a hit-making, critically adored peer, my schadenfreude has been reduced to completely manageable levels.” —Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars 


“When art hits us, it’s fun and possibly necessary to look behind the scenes and see what drove it. Amy Pascale gives great insight into Whedon’s work that will interest and surprise even seasoned fans.” —Alan Kistler, author of The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook and Doctor Who: A History

“Like a series of great tales told during a boozy night of friends reminiscing, Pascale’s biography of Joss Whedon does what the great artistic biographies do — it makes you want to go back and re-experience his work.” —Patton Oswalt

“Though Whedon’s many fans are fairly familiar with the ups and downs of his career, the many frank quotes from Whedon, his friends, family, and coworkers make Pascale’s absorbing bio a must-read.” —Booklist

An informative and readable book.” —Kirkus

“For the story behind one of the hottest writer/directors of the moment, fans will want to pick up this biography.” —SheKnows.com

“Through unprecedented insight, Pascale allows readers to relive the journey… almost as if they were experiencing it with Whedon himself. Readers will gain a true understanding into the creative and inspirational mind and passion of Joss Whedon.” —Geekscholars

Pascale has done a tremendous amount of research; the sheer number of interviewees and sources

is impressive. The book is at its most compulsively readable when the author is writing about the

period when Whedon was running three different shows at once. It’s comprehensive, entertaining

and thoughtful and, perhaps most importantly, it will send you running to your box-sets to relive his

work.” —SciFi Now



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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (August 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1613741049
  • ISBN-13: 978-1613741047
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a great admirer of Joss Whedon's various exploits, from Buffy The Vampire Slayer to Firefly, a show I consider to be some of the best Sci-Fi ever shown on television. So although I don't read that many biographies, I had to snap this one up as soon as it was available.

I enjoyed the book. It's a smooth read and keeps enough interesting story lines going to propel you into the next section. The book covers Whedon's life story, focusing on his career as a television and film writer, director, and producer, back to his invention of the name "Joss," in his school days. It describes the progression of his career with enough interesting detail to keep at least fans of his work throughly engaged. I enjoyed reading about his early influences, including a teacher who played a pivotal role, and some of the rollercoaster drama of life in network television.

I did think the book was missing some color. There's not a lot of insight into Whedon personally, which is a valid choice for a biography, but sacrifices some of whatever emotional resonance a bio might have. The book reads a bit like a very friendly long-form magazine article. There aren't a lot of angles or fresh observations going on here, although again, the book does pull off some decent storytelling.

It also feels a bit sanitized. The bio was clearly done with Whedon's approval and cooperation, and is careful to be vague about any unpleasant (or overly "interesting") bits over the years. For example, the book alludes to a lot of drama over Sarah Michelle Gellar's various feints toward walking off the Buffy show, but grazes lightly over the whole affair, giving no insight or detail not already public.
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Format: Hardcover
For the casual fan of the writer-director, “Joss Whedon -- The Biography” by Amy Pascale may be overkill. Sure, you liked “The Avengers,” but do you really need to know what pen Whedon prefers?

For the fans who happily follow him from project to project because they’ve seen their lives changed because of something he wrote, the answer may be yes, absolutely.

But even casual readers will enjoy Pascale’s look at the life of the man behind “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly,” “Dollhouse,” “Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” “The Avengers,” “Cabin in the Woods,” “Much Ado About Nothing” and more, and his gift for taking cliched genre formats and subverting them to tell meaningful stories about love, death, family, and redemption with humor and chilling drama, often in the same scene.

Whedon’s father was a second-generation TV writer who wrote for “The Dick Cavett Show” and “The Electric Company” and his mother was a performer and teacher who created feminist course studies and held Shakespeare readings in the home. Humor and artistic expression were baked into him at an early age. Yet as Pascale explains, the driving force behind everything he did was loneliness and a hatred for bullying.

“If Joss Whedon had had one good day in high school,” according to Buffy executive producer and Angel co-creator David Greenwalt, “we wouldn’t be here.”

From exhaustive research and multiple interviews with Whedon, his wife Kai, and their friends and coworkers, Pascale provides a thorough look at Whedon’s life from his ancestry and childhood to his time in boarding school in England and his influences in the film department of Wesleyan University, to his early struggles in writing for the screen.
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Format: Hardcover
I'll be the first to admit, I am super biased to the subject matter. I like to joke that I was a fan of Joss Whedon before I even knew I was a fan. I was a big fan of the first Toy Story, so finding out he'd been involved in that process, bam. Early Joss fan.

Then I found out his father wrote for the Golden Girls. HUGE fan of the Golden Girls growing up. I've always been a Whedon fan! Grandfather wrote for what?! Jesus, that's my entire Nick at Nite childhood!

Cut to a few years ago, reading a book about Sesame Street, and Captain Kangaroo. Guess whose name appears one more time.

And I was one of those 10 people who adored the movie version of Buffy.

Then in this book, I actually find out which episodes of Roseanne were written by Joss himself, one of which being one of my favorites, the episode where Darlene has to write a poem and read it for class.

Yeah. I'm a three generation Whedon fan. I apparently was destined to fall in love with a spunky blonde with a pointy stick, and follow her creator through hell and cancellation.

I did go into the book hesitant, though. The trouble with biographies is the same trouble Joss had when making Serenity. The biggest draw will be the people who are already invested. Those of us who have followed Joss, who railed against the WB, railed against Fox, took part in the campaigns. We are the readers.

But what about everyone else? What about the people who see this book while passing their eyes over a shelf full of biographies, and say, "Who's this guy? Oh, The Avengers? Yeah, that movie kicked ass. Okay, I'll read it." Will this biography hold the interest of someone who's never heard the term Browncoat?

I think it will.
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