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)
Great narrative about a creative focused visionary
I was already a Walt Disney fan but to hear his story from youth to legend was very interesting.
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.
This was a VERY long book about Disney's life and the everlasting impact he made on his family, the public, USA society, USA politics and the entire world. There is lot of historical information and some side info I could have done without but all in all I am grateful to Disney for the change he brought to our world and that I got to listen to some of his life's events! I'm also glad I finally finished the book! lol
If you are a Disney fan, this is a must read. I grew up going to Disney World and was amazed at the level of detail that went into the operation. Years later, I dropped out of college as an entrepreneur major and went to Disney World to learn how one man could bring so many ideas to fruition. A decision that truly taught me so much more than I could have ever learned on a college campus. I always admired Walt for his entrepreneurial spirit. Despite experiencing Disney Traditions, Disney University and working as a cast member for many years, I learned many things I did not know about this man and all of his accomplishments. For someone who thought they knew all there was to know... I really learned a lot.
Not just biographies or non-fiction, Gabler has crafted one of the finest books I've ever read. The narrative flows so smoothly, and the author's writing voice allows you to feel so many events and experiences from not just Walt's perspective but from so many others. The research Gabler did (and the access given to Disney archived correspondence) uncovered stories that would have otherwise been lost to time. Much like Walt himself, Gabler did not get lazy nor did he make it seem forced.
The performance was equally fantastic. He gave me the feel of a tale of a man from a small, Midwestern town of a bygone era -or perhaps an era that only existed in the wonderful world of Walt Disney. His voice was soothing, yet it had a fitting tone to inflections. The most praiseworthy aspect of the performance goes to his ability to read footnote citations in a way that I was excited to hear them (even if I would never look them up). He served the writer and the reader by letting us experience the book without taking anything away. I will miss those footnotes almost as much as I will miss the stories of Walt's complete life, a life that -decades after his death- remains a work on the Carousel of Progress.
The book was interesting to learn more about Walt Disney, since his public figure was different from what he was like as he ran his studio. However, the book got very detailed at parts, e.g distribution contract negotiation, which could have been summarized or shortened.
The reader did a good job and I likely would not have finished the book if I had not listened to the book.
I really enjoyed learning more about Disney. I appreciate the work the author put into the story and research, and I understand why some complain that the book contains too much of the author's opinions and psychoanalysis. Still, I found the work fantastic, and I plan to listen again.
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