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I Walked the Line: My Life with Johnny Hardcover – September 4, 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 172 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A little-known prequel to the late great Man in Black's famous life is adoringly revealed by his first wife and mother of his four daughters. Before there was June, there was Vivian, the 17-year-old girl from San Antonio, Tex., who met Cash in the summer of 1951 as he was headed overseas in the army. Three years of ardent letter writing sustained them—indeed, a good part of this book consists of Johnny's aching letters from 1951 to 1954, revealing his attempts to keep himself away from drinking and loose women, while begging her to wait for him and pray together. Finally wedded, the couple set out for Memphis, where Cash worked as a door-to-door salesman. After Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two began to travel, Vivian, pregnant from year to year, moved with him constantly, sewed his performance clothes and scribbled lyrics for I Walk the Line as he drove in the car. By 1961, as Vivian Cash tells it, when Johnny was drinking and popping pills heavily, June Carter joined Johnny's tour and tenaciously pursued him. Johnny and Vivian divorced in 1966. Vivian, who died in 2005, has told her story candidly to TV producer Sharpsteen, disclosing myriad tender details and an affecting ability to forgive. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"This book is the greatest part of my mother's legacy as a wife, a grandmother, a matriarch, a mother, and most important, a woman in love."

-- Kathy Cash

"Vivian was there from the beginning with Johnny. I loved reading I Walked the Line. It brought back memories of our good times together and how crazy it was back then."

-- George Jones

"Just when you thought you had a good idea who Johnny Cash was, in this book we get inside the heart of the Man in Black. Only a very few knew Johnny Cash like his beloved Vivian. Now for the first time we get the full picture of who Johnny Cash really was. His pen and heart expose this very complicated man. If you think you knew Johnny Cash, think again. You see the side he never let anyone on the outside see. The love letters of Johnny Cash will make even the biggest man sneak a tear."

-- Jimmy Carter, host of The Jimmy Carter Entertainment Report

"Here's a love story that encompasses ten thousand pages of love letters. I'm glad I was there to see a lot of that love in the early years in California. Vivian was a very special person in my life."

-- Johnny Western

"We all thought we knew everything about Johnny Cash, but this book clearly reveals more secrets than ever before. In an age of email and IMs it is sweet to read the tender love letters a heartsore young man wrote to his very young girlfriend. They are full of tenderness and sweetness and caring. It is sad to see how once success, alcohol, and drugs enter the picture, everything changes. We live through the heartaches of their shattered marriage, his addictions, and a turbulent life. Vivian, the first lover and wife of this musical legend, tells the tale in a powerful way, and I am sure that all the readers will get as much from reading it as I did."

-- Ivana Trump --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416532927
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416532927
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kathleen Cash-tittle on September 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Okay, I realize you may think I'm prejudiced, but I WAS THERE and also lived this story.

Even Dad (JOHNNY CASH) and June made it public in one of their last interviews that this story IS TRUE...they admitted to it.

This is my MOTHERS story...like it or not, she tells the truth and I applaud her for her courage.

Not only did she completely keep her story to herself for almost FORTY years, I was there when Dad gave her the go ahead, and HE asked her to not leave anything out. Her intention was NOT to slam June...it was simply to tell the truth.

It happened, take all 3 of my parents off the pedistal and remember they were human beings.

Dad lived because he wanted to. God is what got him through the worst times.

My parents were married 13 years and had 4 children together. IT wasn't exactly a one night
stand! They were together from 1950 to 1966!!

I expected some people to have a negative reaction, but some of these reviews are pretty hate filled..

THREE of our 4 parents are gone. Please remember, your words are hurtful for the ones here left behind that grieve for them daily. VERY HURTFUL.

If you want to critique the BOOK, that's one thing, just don't critique my Mother who you didn't know at all. She was an amazing and very loving woman that had her heart broken, and loved a MAN for over 50 years!
A MAN...MY DAD...not Johnny Cash. He was a HUMAN BEING, Okay?

You aren't required to like the book, but show a little kindness in regards to my Mother , please.
~Kathy Cash
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Format: Hardcover
First of all, keep in mind as mentioned before....that %90 of this book consists of love letters from Johnny to Vivian. I almost found it uncomfortable to read these letters,like I was sneaking a peak in someones diary or desk drawer, but they are a window into the mans soul...a rare window into pre-drug afflicted J.R. Cash's soul at that...and utterly heartbreaking to read when you know how the story ends.

I don't see anything hateful here,Vivian Cash kept silent for all her life and the shots taken here are not all that harsh when you consider all things. Her waiting until June passed to tell these stories can be looked at two ways, it was done mercifuly or to someone not around to defend herself. Either way, it's a drop in the ocean for a woman who swallowed a lot of pain and lets not forget that bottom line is June was sleeping with her husband.

I don't hold any of the three main characters up to sainthood, any more than I do myself. I find lessons and inspiration from all 3 of them.

I don't find it hard to believe that Johnny would endorse this book, especially that late in his life. Johnny Cash never lied or hid from his sins, he lived with a lot of guilt from hurting many people, and he also helped a lot of people. Listen to his American Recordings Era music, watch the vidoe to "Hurt" and you'll see/hear a man trying to make peace with himself,his past and his faith.

There is nothing shocking about any of this, other than finally hearing Vivians voice, which is something many of us wanted to hear and I for one, actually expected much worse things to come out of this. Aslo nice, are the rare pictures of Vivian, she was incredibly beautiful.
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Format: Hardcover
As I assume most here, I picked up this book due to my interest in Johnny Cash, and also after having seen the Oscar-winning "Walk the Line" movie a few years ago, I was curious to get a different perspective.

"I Walked the Line: My Life with Johnny" (326 pages) is actually 2 books into one.After a brief introduction from Vivian on how she met Johnny, the book then turns into a collection of multiple letters that Johnny wrote to Vivian while being stationed in Europe from 1951 to 1954. Be warned: that collection of letters covers about 250 pages of the book. The output of Johnny during those 3 years is simply amazing, and at times revealing: after having received a letter from Vivian in which she apparently described an evening out at a bar, Johnny writes back: "I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, Viv, but I still don't like for you to go where everybody is drinking. ... Vivian, honey, just do it for me. Stay away from those damned places." That is even more revelatory later when Vivian notes that the only request Johnny made for their wedding reception (in 1954) that it be alcohol-free. Wow! What a contrast to the long way down Johnny would eventually take, which Vivian blames almost entirely on June Carter, incidentally.

The last 75 pages or so of the book describe the good and bad times of Vivian's marriage to Johnny in the 1954-1966 era, and frankly it's heartbreaking to see it all spilled out like this. Once June Carter came in the picture, it became clear what the outcome would be, but the difference of Johnny of the early years and in the later years is startling. Vivian describes it as a woman of great faith, and that is what rescues her (she remarried and found love, although it's pretty clear Johnny was the love of her life).
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