Gabler 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 life.
The author also reveals a wounded, lonely, and often disappointed man, who, despite worldwide success, was plagued with financial problems, 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, and an embittered alcoholic. Yet whatever his personal failings, Disney appealed to millions by demonstrating the power of wish fulfillment and the triumph of the American imagination.
©2006 Neal Gabler; (P)2006 Books on Tape
"Thorough...[and] engrossing." (Publishers Weekly)
"A balanced treatment of the man and his achievements, realistically assessing Disney's considerable impact and offering insight into the hidden, restless soul who constantly challenged himself." (Booklist)
"We've all been waiting for the perfect book on Walt Disney; it has finally arrived and Neal Gabler's done it. Wonderful!" (Ray Bradbury)
This is the best audiobook I have listened to, it is an extremely well written book and narrated very well. I retain information better if I hear it and with all the information in this book I remember it a lot more than when I read the book a few years ago.
It is full of life lessons of perseverance, triumph, success, and inspiration. It is a must read for any Disney fan as well as a must read for anyone considering starting their own business. Walt Disney's life was full of trials and success and is an inspiration for anyone.
I enjoy history, biographys, and nerdy/ dorky things.
Average to less than average
Learning about how WB built his entertainment empire
No, his narration was mono-tone, and boring
Learning about how hard, the Disney Corporation had to work to make movies. We think of Walt Disney as a billionaire with the Midas touch. However even after making Mickey Mouse and Snow White his company had many rough years ahead.
I was happy to learn the truth about WD, not just in business, but also personal. Media has always portrayed Disney as a terrible anti-Semite, however after reading this, he was not as bad as he was made out to be. He seemed a tough boss, and difficult person to work with especially later in life.
SAP developer, design thinker, innovator, blogger and speaker
I recommend it. The story is very well connected and written so you get to know the history of one of the major personalities from the last century. An innovator, a maker and a dreamer.
Walt Disney is not only a great innovator and maker, he is also one of the main characters from Disney.
This was the first time I listened a performance from Arthur Morey's, but he is a great performer and I would listen other books read by him.
The moment in which Walt start to play with trains and this lead him to build the amusement park idea is great and inspiring.
The subject matter was well researched and relatively engaging. However, I feel the story could have benefitted from some editing for pace. The book was a bit long overall and I caught myself checking several times how many chapters were left.
An interesting story of an amazing life. Disney was a transformative creative spirit. Driven, brilliant, driven, determined--and all too human.
Walt overcame numerous adversities. Even after his unambiguous movie success, he still had to fight the dim-witted and vision-less to get his dreams accomplished. Spoiler alert: Walt was a real person, had his faults, stresses and disappointments, could be cranky and short, got angry and sad, was funny and witty, and all the other facets that makes us all human. If you want this to be a gum-drop and lolly-pop book about "Uncle Walt", you'll be disappointed. If you want to respect a man who never stopped working to get his live his dreams, this book sets this out clearly.
By speaking. Boring recitation of an otherwise thrilling, interesting and compelling story. What does he do for fun, read textbooks?
The author tries, unsuccessfully, to make this out to be more of an academic treatise than it really is. I could have lived without the footnotes, randomly inserted for effect.
I would recommend this to anyone who loves Walt Disney and his history.
Walt: A History
Overall I really enjoyed this book, however for my tastes it was very slow going at the beginning. I don't mind long books, I've listened to books much longer than this but the beginning of the book is a bit to detailed and the story doesn't really start moving until you're about 8 1/2 hours in. With that said once the story starts moving it proves to be extremely interesting and seemingly well researched.
As for the other comments the authors need to tell you what "intellectuals" thought about things is frustrating. Intellectuals of this era are some of the most irrelevant people that ever existed and for the author to keep bringing up their thoughts just slows down the book. Also it wouldn't appear that the author ever meet a communist he didn't like. Communism was a real threat to America during the time of Walt Disney-- see the country called the USSR. For the author to label anyone that is an anti-communist a reactionary is silly and seemingly shows a complete lack of education or a political bias. I'll go with bias.
With those negative comments just note that I'm still giving it 4 stars. While the book will slow down the author mostly does a good job of isolating these parts of the book to their own sections, so it's not throughout everything you're reading.
The story of Disney really is a fantastic adventure that ended much too soon, I only wish he had lived to build Epcot in his vision.
just a reader
I enjoyed hearing all the stories I have heard about the early days of Disney (plus some others) put together in a coherent whole.
That it's real.
It makes me truly glad that I never met Walt Disney himself to let him ruin my appreciation for his work.
There is a tremendous amount of pop psychology in this book. There's nothing that Walt Disney ever did that Gabler can't come up with some dark psychological reason for, as opposed to just letting the reader/listener figure out motivations for themselves. Sometimes we just need to accept that people do things because it seems like the right thing at the time.
Like a lot of people my age, I grew up on Walt Disney; in my case, it went way past childhood. I got a lot of ribbing in high school because I continued to insist that he was a genius. I still think that, even though there is, undeniably, a saccharine quality to a lot of his work. Disney always considered himself more a "story man" than a master animator, and the grace and strength of the story structure in his best features is one of his most enduring monuments.
Gabler's biography is a fascinating look at Disney's life and work - especially his work. The emphasis here in on the professional, and Gabler provides totally absorbing accounts of the studio's process in creating some of the great features of the 30s and 40s. Disney did go wrong at certain points in his career, some of it financial and some of it political, and the fact that he was able to oversee the creation of so many masterpieces in spite of these wrong turns is astonishing. In the 50s, with the advent of Disneyland and the weekly TV show, Disney began once again to hit his stride.
When Disney is totally committed to what he's doing, Gabler is wonderful. When Disney is bored, Gabler becomes much less interesting. The biggest weakness in the book is the overly-detailed account of the financial dealings. It's an essential part of the story, but (as Gabler himself makes clear) it's not really what Disney was about.
The book is a useful corrective to the only other biography of Disney I've read - "The Disney Version" by Richard Schickel. That was clearly hostile; Gabler takes a much more balanced and nuanced approach. While I understand from browsing the web that not everyone agrees with me, I get the sense from the book that Gabler actually likes Disney. The book isn't the celebration some would prefer, but neither is it an indictment. It's a portrait of a man who smoked too much and drank too much and never lost a yearning for the turn-of-the-century small town perfection he'd known as a child: a man with a brilliant vision of what animation could do and the ability to motivate others to join him in the pursuit of the insanely great.
I enjoyed Arthur Morey's narration (as I always do). He maintains a steady, straightforward tone that matches the material.
Must read for animation and Disney fans. A truly inspiring life story, I hate what the Disney Corporation has become, but this guy was seriously ground breaking and our lives our different because of him. Loads of good details about his life and how he became the king of animation revolutionizing the industry and changing the way we think.
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