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Publisher's Summary

Seven 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 myth.

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 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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)

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  • Overall
  • Tim
  • Lexington, KY, USA
  • 06-29-07

How Disney became an Icon

This is a very thorough and interesting story starting from Walt's youngest days. It describes in detail exactly how Walt created and built a brand that became the gold standard in family entertainment for generations of Americans.

I only wish the books scope had extended beyond Walt's life to chronicle the ups and downs of the company in the years since his death.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Very good

Really interesting. Well written. Well read. Disney lead an inspiring life, and this book gives a good sense of him as a person. Recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I loved it from beginning to end.

the narrator was wonderful I really felt the emotional. at the end when Walt died, I got teary eyed as if I knew him. Thanks Mr Gables for a wonderful book and Mr Leoncavallo the narration was superb.

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  • Robin
  • Northwest
  • 04-30-16

Walt Disney - Creative, perfectionist, tenacious

I enjoyed this book so much. An all encompassing tale of a life that improved our world. Flawed and imperfect, yet full of hope and vision, this man never gave up thank goodness. He had more creative ideas than money and more determination than discouragement. Fascinating read.