Seventy-five years after he came to life, Superman remains one of America’s most adored and enduring heroes. Now Larry Tye, the prize-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author of Satchel, has written the first full-fledged history not just of the Man of Steel but of the creators, designers, owners, and performers who made him the icon he is today.
Legions of fans from Boston to Buenos Aires can recite the story of the child born Kal-El, scion of the doomed planet Krypton, who was rocketed to Earth as an infant, raised by humble Kansas farmers, and rechristened Clark Kent. Known to law-abiders and evildoers alike as Superman, he was destined to become the invincible champion of all that is good and just - and a star in every medium from comic books and comic strips to radio, TV, and film. But behind the high-flying legend lies a true-to-life saga every bit as compelling, one that begins not in the far reaches of outer space but in the middle of America’s heartland.
During the depths of the Great Depression, Jerry Siegel was a shy, awkward teenager in Cleveland. Raised on adventure tales and robbed of his father at a young age, Jerry dreamed of a hero for a boy and a world that desperately needed one. Together with neighborhood chum and kindred spirit Joe Shuster, young Siegel conjured a human-sized god who was everything his creators yearned to be: handsome, stalwart, and brave, able to protect the innocent, punish the wicked, save the day, and win the girl. It was on Superman’s muscle-bound back that the comic book and the very idea of the superhero took flight.
Tye chronicles the adventures of the men and women who kept Siegel and Shuster’s "Man of Tomorrow" aloft and vitally alive through seven decades and counting. Here are the savvy publishers and visionary writers and artists of comics’ Golden Age who ushered the red-and-blue-clad titan through changing eras and evolving incarnations; and the actors - including George Reeves and Christopher Reeve - who brought the Man of Steel to life on screen, only to succumb themselves to all-too-human tragedy in the mortal world. Here too is the poignant and compelling history of Siegel and Shuster’s lifelong struggle for the recognition and rewards rightly due to the architects of a genuine cultural phenomenon.
From two-fisted crimebuster to über-patriot, social crusader to spiritual savior, Superman - perhaps like no other mythical character before or since - has evolved in a way that offers a Rorschach test of his times and our aspirations. In this deftly realized appreciation, Larry Tye reveals a portrait of America over 70 years through the lens of that otherworldly hero who continues to embody our best selves.
©2012 Larry Tye (P)2012 Random House Audio
"Action and adventure... comedy... tragedy... mythology... Larry Tye captures it all! As complete a history of the Man of Steel as ever published, this book is a deeply documented yet anecdotally told tale that transports us from the bedroom of a daydreaming teenager in 1930s Cleveland, Ohio, to the collapsing towers of the planet Krypton, from the wheatfields of middle America to the hearts of every American, with a story that is entertaining, revealing, and shocking, yet crammed with historical information. If you liked reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, wait till you read Larry Tye’s true story behind it all!" (Michael Uslan, author of The Boy Who Loved Batman and executive producer of seven Batman movies)
"I only wish I had the good fortune of reading Larry Tye’s book before I made Superman, the problem being that if I had, then the motion picture part of Superman’s history would not have been in Mr. Tye’s book. Having said that, the reason I found Tye’s book incredibly informative is his sense of my bible in making the film - that is, verisimilitude. Reality overcame everything." (Richard Donner, director of Superman)
Larry Tye provides insight into not only the original creators of Superman but nearly all the major influences that have defined (or in some cases attempted to re-define) Superman. While Siegel and Shuster are featured prominently throughout the book, he looks at other comic, TV, newspaper comic, and movie writers, directors, producers, and actors who have helped to create the Superman mythos.
It is a great listen. Scott does a fine job, though admittedly this is not as difficult as an audiobook where multiple characters have to be distinguished audibly. He's clear and engaging. If he's not a fan of the subject matter, he does a good job of sounding as if he is.
The book does not present a one-sided view of the struggles of the Siegel and Shuster with DC comics over Superman. It fairly evenly presents the history, but is more concerned about the endurance of the character as a cultural icon. It posits some theories about why Superman is so loved, but never descends into a psychological study. It is primarily history, told from the view of someone enamored with his subject. Recommended listening for old and new fans of Superman.
Say something about yourself!
Excellent history of the Superman character. I've been a Superman fan since I was a kid in the seventies, and this book not only brought back a lot of memories, but filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge. Nye's history hits every era of Superman with detail and love from Action Comics # 1 to the Man of Steel due in theaters in the summer of 2013. Scott Brick, Super Narrator, does a fine job as always.
This is a very thorough and insightful look into Superman's history - not just in the comics but in film, radio, tv, as well as the many creators who have helped shaped Superman along the way.
Well written and well organized considering that is touches on many disparate events surrounding the life of the character. I enjoyed hearing about the History of DC Comics and how Superman became such an ubiquitous and iconic part of modern culture.
The author's affection for the character shows throughout the book.
I am not a fan of Scott Brick's work. But he was fine in this book. His usual cynical tone didn't drip as much on this one. He blended into the book the way a good narrator should.
I wouldn't make a film of this book. There are enough documentaries on Superman. The strength of this book is the in depth information about the lives of the creators and how the character passed through tst different phases, that would be lost to a great extent in a film.
I found it fascinating how the creators managed to survive the depression and wars but in the end lost their rights to the man of steel but begged for money from the current owners because they felt entitled.
Once you've heard the history you don't really need to question it, so no I don't think a follow up book is in order.
Insightful Superman history
The Ten Cent Plague as a parallel history about the comic book medium with this book about a major franchise that propelled it to prominence.
A fan's enthusiasm at the character while conveying the tragedy of how the character's creators were treated.
The life of Jerry Siegal as a writer with a special kind of imagination but burdened with a business naivety that sabotaged his chance at the full material success that should been his due.
Mr. Tye's account of the history of Superman as introductory material. I would enjoy a book he had written if I needed a cursory introduction. As long as you are starting with little knowledge of his subject, I would recommend Tye.
Scott Brick is great at not getting in the way. His read is not boring or monotone, neither is it affected or overwrought.
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