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Difficult Men Audiobook

Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the landscape of television began an unprecedented transformation. While the networks continued to chase the lowest common denominator, a wave of new shows, first on premium-cable channels like HBO and then basic-cable networks like FX and AMC, dramatically stretched television’s narrative inventiveness, emotional resonance, and artistic ambition. No longer necessarily concerned with creating always-likable characters, plots that wrapped up neatly every episode, or subjects that were deemed safe and appropriate, shows such as The Wire, The Sopranos, Mad Men, and more tackled issues of life and death, love and sexuality....
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Publisher's Summary

A riveting and revealing look at the shows that helped cable television drama emerge as the signature art form of the 21st century

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the landscape of television began an unprecedented transformation. While the networks continued to chase the lowest common denominator, a wave of new shows, first on premium-cable channels like HBO and then basic-cable networks like FX and AMC, dramatically stretched television’s narrative inventiveness, emotional resonance, and artistic ambition. No longer necessarily concerned with creating always-likable characters, plots that wrapped up neatly every episode, or subjects that were deemed safe and appropriate, shows such as The Wire, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Deadwood, The Shield, and more tackled issues of life and death, love and sexuality, addiction, race, violence, and existential boredom. Just as the big novel had in the 1960s and the subversive films of New Hollywood had in 1970s,television shows became the place to go to see stories of the triumph and betrayals of the American Dream at the beginning of the 21st century.

This revolution happened at the hands of a new breed of auteur: the all-powerful writer-showrunner. These were men nearly as complicated, idiosyncratic, and “difficult” as the conflicted protagonists that defined the genre. Given the chance to make art in a maligned medium, they fell upon the opportunity with unchecked ambition.

Combining deep reportage with cultural analysis and historical context, Brett Martin recounts the rise and inner workings of a genre that represents not only a new golden age for television but also a cultural watershed. Difficult Menfeatures extensive interviews with all the major players, including David Chase(The Sopranos), David Simon and Ed Burns (The Wire), Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm (Mad Men), David Milch (NYPD Blue, Deadwood), and Alan Ball (SixFeet Under), in addition to dozens of other writers, directors, studio executives, actors, production assistants, makeup artists, script supervisors ,and so on. Martin takes us behind the scenes of our favorite shows, delivering never-before-heard story after story and revealing how cable television has distinguished itself dramatically from the networks, emerging from the shadow of film to become a truly significant and influential part of our culture.

©2013 Brett Martin (P)2013 Blackstone Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (399 )
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4.2 (355 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kathleen 09-03-13
    Kathleen 09-03-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "More about the Sopranos than expected..."
    Would you try another book from Brett Martin and/or Keith Szarabajka?

    Not sure. Feel cheated in that most of the content was about the Sopranos. Reading performance was excellent.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Less Sopranos!!! There are only 4 hours left and still no mention of Breaking Bad


    Have you listened to any of Keith Szarabajka’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    My first listen by this performer. Very good. Will look for other titles by same performer.


    Do you think Difficult Men needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    NO!!!! No more about the Sopranos is needed!!!


    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 01-29-14
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 01-29-14 Member Since 2014

    Voracious reader since age 2. I give unbiased reviews in all genres: history, mystery, bios, crime, sci-fi - from front to BLACK!

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    "MISLEADING! THIS BOOK IS ABOUT "THE SOPRANOS""

    Don't waste your credit or time on this book if you're looking to learn more about the 3 other shows listed on the cover. The entire first 6-1/2 hours are nothing but "The Sopranos" and James Gandolfini. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the show like everyone else. But I liked "The Wire" better, followed by "Mad Men". Both of those shows were much better. "The Sopranos" was merely entertaining while "The Wire" was an autopsy of the social despair and decline of this country. "Breaking Bad", "Sex In The City", "Deadwood", "Six Feet Under" and other great shows are barely mentioned in Brett Martin's nauseating hero-worship of Tony Soprano and producer David Chase (or whatever his job was - it's not even worth a Wikipedia search for me to find out). I could say more, as I often do, but Brett Martin has wasted enough of my time! #REFUND

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill Vancouver, WA, United States 08-12-13
    Bill Vancouver, WA, United States 08-12-13 Member Since 2011

    Love well written and well narrated books of any type.

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    "Terrific listen!"
    What did you love best about Difficult Men?

    Inside information about my favorite TV shows. I enjoyed it immensely but if you aren't a fan of these shows then this probably is not a good choice for you.


    What other book might you compare Difficult Men to and why?

    Easy Riders and Raging Bulls or Pictures of a Revolution. These titles are thematically similar but about movies instead of TV. Both titles are available on Audible and recommended.


    What about Keith Szarabajka’s performance did you like?

    Nothing special but well done.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The fact that Stevie Van Zandt was the first choice to portray Tony Soprano.


    Any additional comments?

    Fascinating listen if you are a fan of the TV shows discussed.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronald Darbouze 12-23-15 Member Since 2014
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    "very enjoyable book "

    I really enjoyed listening to this book. Great narrator. Great story. This is the first time I've listened to a book like this. Great book if you really enjoy TV, especially TV from the last two decades. This makes me want to go back and rewatch The Sopranos, the Wire and Breaking Bad

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M a Color CA, USA 10-23-15
    M a Color CA, USA 10-23-15 Member Since 2015

    smallspacepro

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    "The story is good the narrator is meh"

    I enjoyed the book. I actually have the tangible copy but wanted to revisit the content. Again, great story taking us through the ins and outs of what has become the rise of cable... But the narrator was a bit drab.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. York Niskayuna, NY USA 09-14-15
    J. York Niskayuna, NY USA 09-14-15
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    "Narration difficult"

    It seems like the narrator's voice keeps getting lower and lower as sentences/paragraphs end. Impossibly to listen to in the car with slight road noise. Liked the historical aspects of revisiting all my favorite shows. Went back and binged on all 5 seasons of The Wire.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    chris p 08-08-15
    chris p 08-08-15 Member Since 2014
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    "not what I imagined"

    I'll keep this short but to the point. as much interest as I have in the topics this book covers I felt extremely unsatisfied with the overall story. What I was expecting was the author to start with the conception of each series and go through the process of explaining everything from start to finish. What I received was pieces that never fully captured my interest. The author jumps back-and-forth between shows explaining conversations or thoughts of the writers. He never stays with one TV show. The book starts out with the sopranos, you start to take a genuine interest and then it switches to something else and then switches to something else comes back he makes comments about the Sopranos goes to a different topic and continues down that path throughout the whole book. I could not keep track of who was to where the timeline fell in the place because it skipped around for too much. My example is right in the middle of a story talking about a specific show The author starts telling you about a Nother show takes you forward in time brings you back in time doesn't continue where he left off.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Jones Los Angeles, CA 08-04-15
    S. Jones Los Angeles, CA 08-04-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Wonderful story told with the proper voice"
    Where does Difficult Men rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    So loved this book. Brett Martin has capsulated a specific period within the television industry and he refers to it as the Third Golden Age of Television. With that as an umbrella, he successfully connects the dots throughout this exciting period. He takes us behind-the-scenes to learn about these DIFFICULT MEN - the show's creators, the executives (men and women) who oversaw the shows and the primary characters. Keith Szarabajka was the perfect choice to narrate this book. He too sounded like a difficult man.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mo1971 07-25-15
    Mo1971 07-25-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Interesting because I watch these shows"
    If you could sum up Difficult Men in three words, what would they be?

    HBO and AMC


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Getting into the heads of the creators of the shows I love just helps me let them live on. I found it interesting.


    What does Keith Szarabajka bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He does different voices, like James Gandolfino as Tony Soprano.


    If you could give Difficult Men a new subtitle, what would it be?

    Difficult Men...and Why we love them


    Any additional comments?

    The only time I seemed to gloss over a section is when he was describing The Wire - which I've never seen. But for the shows I know, it was fascinating. This would be best appreciated by a TV aficionado. It was also interesting to hear about the struggles some of the creators had to get their shows picked up - sort of an Inside the Actors Studio sort of way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael DENVER, CO, United States 02-26-14
    Michael DENVER, CO, United States 02-26-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Difficult Men is an excellent listen"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book to any one that is interested in the development of some of the best television programing of our time.


    What about Keith Szarabajka’s performance did you like?

    He made you feel like you were actually listening to the characters.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made you think. As the characters came to life, you couldn't help but think about the impact that ordinary people can have on so many.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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