Free Best Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination By Neal Gabler –

I wavered between 3 and 4 stars on this book One of the problems with writing a biography about Walt Disney is that people either see him as the lovable Uncle Walt , or a driven and obsessive tyrant This book does a fine job of objectively showing you all the sides of this complex man It also didn t hurt that the writing and research were exceptionally well done.On one hand, I loved all the details about Walt Disney, his life, family, and career However, all that detail became weighed down in the middle of the book when the author spent too much time on Walt s legal, financial, and political troubles, and not enough on the good stuff ie feature animation, television live action programs, and Disneyland Overall, a very interesting glimpse at the man who revolutionized the film industry and changed popular culture forever. From Neal Gabler, The Definitive Portrait Of One Of The Most Important Figures In Twentieth Century American Entertainment And Cultural HistorySeven Years In The Making And Meticulously Researched Gabler Is The First Writer To Be Given Complete Access To The Disney Archives This Is The Full Story Of A Man Whose Work Left An Ineradicable Brand On Our Culture But Whose Life Has Largely Been Enshrouded In MythGabler Shows Us The Young Walt Disney Breaking Free Of A Heartland Childhood Of Discipline And Deprivation And Making His Way To Hollywood We See The Visionary, Whose Desire For Escape Honed An Innate Sense Of What People Wanted To See On The Screen And, When Combined With Iron Determination And Obsessive Perfectionism, Led Him To The Reinvention Of Animation It Was Disney, First With Mickey Mouse And Then With His Feature Films Most Notably Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, And Bambi Who Transformed Animation From A Novelty Based On Movement To An Art Form That Presented An Illusion Of LifeWe See Him Reimagine The Amusement Park With Disneyland, Prompting Critics To Coin The Word Disneyfication To Describe The Process By Which Reality Can Be Modified To Fit One S Personal Desires At The Same Time, He Provided A New Way To Connect With American History Through His Live Action Films And Purveyed A View Of The Country So Coherent That Even Today One Can Speak Meaningfully Of Walt Disney S America We See How The True Life Adventure Nature Documentaries He Produced Helped Create The Environmental Movement By Sensitizing The General Public To Issues Of Conservation And We See How He Reshaped The Entertainment Industry By Building A Synergistic Empire That Combined Film, Television, Theme Parks, Music, Book Publishing, And Merchandise In A Way That Was Unprecedented And Was Later Widely ImitatedGabler Also Reveals A Wounded, Lonely, And Often Disappointed Man, Who, Despite Worldwide Success, Was Plagued With Financial Problems Much Of His Life, Suffered A Nervous Breakdown, And At Times Retreated Into Pitiable Seclusion In His Workshop Making Model Trains Gabler Explores Accusations That Disney Was A Red Baiter, An Anti Semite, An Embittered Alcoholic But Whatever The Characterizations Of Disney S Personal Life, He Appealed To The Nation By Demonstrating The Power Of Wish Fulfillment And The Triumph Of The American Imagination Walt Disney Showed How One Could Impose One S Will On The WorldThis Is A Masterly Biography, A Revelation Of Both The Work And The Man Of Both The Remarkable Accomplishment And The Hidden Life In my childhood, I was a Walt Disney nut I loved the cartoons, I loved the movies, and I loved reading about the man himself, ever since I checked out one of those American Pioneers mini novels from my elementary school s library The problem with most Walt Disney bios is that there s a hard and fast line that s drawn between them Either they paint an absolutely rosy picture of the man fully and completely sanctioned by The Disney Corporation or they go in the absolute opposite direction, highlighting his anti semitism and racism.This is the first biography that does an admirable job of splitting the difference, and that makes it a great read All the standard Walt Disney stories are included his hardscrabble childhood, You can t top pigs with pigs and so on but they re tempered with genuine insight The best thing I can say about a book that was written with the full cooperation of the Disney family is that it doesn t FEEL like it was written with full cooperation There s bad stuff here as well, especially Disney s shameful appearance in front of HUAC Really stellar biography. this is undoubtedly a 5 star book, but it took me two months to get through it and there were parts of it that seemed endless, so i m knocking it down one just for my own reading experience that said, this is an exceptionally well done biography it is so thorough and so well researched, which is almost universally a strength, but got pretty sloggy in the middle, while world war II was the catalyst for a miserable period in walt s life and by extension, the reader as he was bogged down with seemingly endless legal, financial and political misfortunes for a 900 page biography built entirely of documentation and hard facts office memos, legal and financial records, interviews with family and personnel, etc and little if any speculation, it says a lot about the quality of writing here that reading this book was an emotional roller coaster it s such an in depth characterization of such a larger than life cultural figure that you feel, very early in the story, an emotional connection with the man and soar when he soars, crash when he crashes it s also extremely unbiased, depicting him as neither tyrant nor beloved uncle, but as a complex human being whose genius made his life alternately exhilarating and exhausting i loved the depth and length of the making of snow white especially, and wish the same treatment had been given to the creation of disneyland, walt s other passion project it s also a really great portrait of the time, and you learn so much about the cultural landscape worst phrase as we progress and lastly, as a disney lover from birth, i was blown away at how much i learned about how completely innovative this man was the earlier years of his company were, especially, really inspiring while i m sure, like any person too brilliant to exist like a normal person, he was a huge pain in the ass to know and work with, i m walking away from this feeling justified in my disney love and with a much greater understanding of what made this man and his legacy so special oh, and i cried when he died like a baby. This is how a biography should be written Gabler s treatment of Disney is thoroughly fair, engaging, engrossing, and professional In short, a wonderful read He leaves no relevant details out of Disney s life, yet I seldom if ever felt inundated with minutiae The closest Gabler comes to delving too deeply into a particular area is during the long discussion about the making of Snow White However, it was such a seminal event in Disney s life that I fully understand why Gabler lingered over it It was Disney at his finest and most exacting Gabler shows that Disney was nowhere near the genial Uncle Walt persona that he so carefully tried to cultivate as he grew older He was tyrannical towards his employees, and also towards his family at times Disney s life was always about what mattered to him the most and that was, alternately, his studio, Disneyland, The 1964 New York World s Fair, or EPCOT His wife and his two daughters usually took a backseat to those things, although by his daughters accounts, when Disney was home, he was an exceptionally devoted and caring father It seems ironic that the person responsible for entertaining millions and millions of people around the world, was also a very lonely, isolated man who had few real friends and always seemed distant from everyone else.I think this is one of the best biographies that I have ever read Grade A This was a really good book As anyone who knows me and my family, we love all things Disney So when this book was published I thought I would give it a try At over 800 pages over 200 of which are bibliography information I wasn t sure I d get through it But it kept me intrigued It was written really well with a good narrative.The book delves into Walt Disney s upbringing, and all of the milestones along his life path until his death It was interesting to read about how he was continually trying to out do himself Nothing was ever done , he was always trying to plus things And for that reason, Disneyland was his greatest accomplishment, his greatest triumph It was something that he could continually update.His plans for Walt Disney World were also very interesting to read I believe that if Disney hadn t have died when he did, Walt Disney World would be something much different than what it is today and I m not sure if that would be good or bad.So, if you re a Disney fan at all, you should read this book And if you re only a minor fan, it is still very interesting and a good read. Whatever your feelings about the man, his legacy, his company, or his movies, you can t deny Walt Disney was an icon It s an overused word, but it fits him So does legend This was a remarkably sometimes overly detailed book about the man behind the myth, and I learned a lot I didn t know about him, his movies, and his empire This book covers Walt s life from birth to death One thing that I liked was Gabler dealt with the cryrogenic rumors up front No, Walt Disney isn t frozen somewhere, waiting to come back As much as that might be an amazing thing After the story of his childhood and his World War I service which I didn t know about pass, you get to his professional career The recurring theme for everything he did was that Walt Diseny was an idealist, a perfectionist, and a lot of his problems came from the fact that he honestly couldn t seem to see why everyone didn t see things like he did He rose from struggling artist to cartoonist, and spent a really alarming part of his career hurting for money He finally formed his own company and his first big hit, the first feature cartoon ever, was Snow White That, I knew That so many of his movies, like Fantasia and Pinnochio and even Sleeping Beauty were box office failures, I did not Aside from his perfectionism, Disney s other big problems were being willfully ignorant of economic needs, and always looking for the next thing He was obsessed with cartoons, then feature cartoons, then live action movies, and as he mastered each, he got bored and moved on Disneyland came about through a combination of boredom, wanting a new challenge, and a big obsession with model trains Not the kind on your table, the kind you can actually ride Walt was far from perfect He was a man of his times He wasn t actively anti Semitic or racist, but he made comments that sounded a bit like both He got swept up in the Red Scare of the 50 s and did some regrettable things He had a temper, largely when people didn t live up to his nearly impossible ideas Disney was a visionary, and a dreamer, and a genius This is his story, and, along the way, the story of Mickey Mouse, Disneyland, The Mickey Mouse Club, EPCOT, and even a few other characters not as popular now, like Davy Crockett and Zorro The long time link between Disney and ABC comes clear And I ll risk pissing a few people off Disney died earlier than he had to because he got lung cancer He got THAT from being a chain smoker A man who helped reshape the world of popular culture died too soon because of a stupid, filthy habit If there s a better anti smoking message, I don t know what it is A good read about Disney, but if you re a casual fan like me than a devout Disney ite, this might be a bit much There s a LOT of detail About everything. The book has a powerful introduction It gives the reader the expectation of an epic biography with an analysis of Disney and his place in our culture and legacy The book has many good points but does not deliver on this promise Some of the promised insight is present, but is overwhelmed by facts and chronology.Gabler does a good job on the biographical outline of both Disney and his company He describes the different pictures, projects, technologies He relates Walt s enthusiasm, level of involvement, and appraisal of each and the role of the main projects in building Disney as a company and a brand We learn about Walt s insistence on quality and how this was at odds with his brother s job of keeping the cash credit rolling in We learn about his family life and something about his remembering people from his youth and childhood.There is a lot of detail on dollar amounts in costs, revenues, bonds, shares, etc Only rarely were current values stated, and stated relevance was even rarer One year s revenues on merchandizing the only successful operation at the time were 100 million, with profits just over 1 million Was this an acceptable profit margin for the time More seriously, is confusion about actual money in the 1930 s Walt s parents are in Oregon, not coping well the depression Despite all the talk of revenues, salaries etc., its hard to figure out why Walt doesn t have the money to help them While he s heavily mortgaged, he IS maintaining polo horses at this time In short, there is a lot of info on Disney s financials, but the dots are not all connected.On the staffing side, I was looking for an answer that wasn t here Years ago I met a woman now deceased who had worked at Disney in the 40 s and 50 s She said there was strict segregation of men and women Women had their own entrance and could be fired for fraternizing with the men This is not mentioned at all, but there are clues There is reference to the women s paint and ink building , the women s cafeteria and nude sunbathing on the roof doubt that this would be coed If what she said is true, this is a serious omission Gabler gives us dots, but, again, no connections.Gabler alludes to Walt s nostalgia for the early days of what seemed to be an artist s dream studio with positive energy, creativity and devotion This is a theme throughout the book, but there are stray sentences about long hours, pay squabbles and people freezing before Walt in these early days The main flow of the text suggests that the strike comes from nowhere and is life changing for Walt After it he is difficult to impossible to work for He fires people frequently People clam up in his presence and develop strategies for dealing with him Walt as a boss, and Disney as an organization needs a cohesive treatment.A bio of Disney is an ambitious project Here is a man without a high school diploma who pioneered animation, sound, color, TV, and the theme park He had a great vision, energy and know how I know there are other bios, but have not read them, so I m unaware of how this one fits in This is an important collection of data arranged in a readable chronology It gives a starting point for others. Walt Disney is one of those figures that everyone knows without really knowing at all One of the primary themes of this biography is that even the people in his life who had daily contact with him, who lived with him, worked with him, even grew up with him, would have said the same thing He was an intensely private person, and one wonders how much of the carefully cultivated image of himself that was created and wrapped up with his films was a deliberate attempt to hide that private self.Disney, as an individual, a company and a cultural influence, has had a lot of criticism over the years, but for better or worse you cannot deny that there are few people who have had the same level of influence on popular culture as Walt Disney And I for one like that influence This is an exceptionally well written book, lively and engaging, fair and balanced, and very readable The descriptions of the creation of some of the films, most particularly Snow White , are incredibly detailed, and it s made me want to go back and revisit some of those films And go to Disneyland Good biography about one of the great and most influential minds of the 20th century Very informative, but maybe not the most captivating writing Luckily, the life of Walt and especially his Mickey Mouse empire provides much amazement.Walt Disney changed the game and we are all sharing the benefits through our childhood memories It s amazing to think that Snow White was the first ever animated full length feature film and was first introduced to the cinema screen 80 years ago True success for me means creating something that provides value long after your death, and by that measure, Walt Disney must be one of the most successful people of our time Having been born almost 30 years after his passing, I feel fortunate to have received so much laughter and joy from his creations.