• Charlie Chaplin and His Times

  • By: Kenneth S. Lynn
  • Narrated by: Adams Morgan
  • Length: 21 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (68 ratings)

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Charlie Chaplin and His Times

By: Kenneth S. Lynn
Narrated by: Adams Morgan
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Publisher's Summary

With the psychologically penetrating insight that marked his award-winning Hemingway, Kenneth Lynn probes beneath the mystique of the "Little Tramp", the first truly worldwide celebrity. This landmark, full-scale biography reveals the inner man whose unmatched comic genius masked a complex, sometimes tragic life.

Lynn delves into Chaplin's childhood and family, his often controversial relationships with four wives and a slew of mistresses, and his associations with British music-hall impresario Fred Karno and silent-screen star and pal Douglas Fairbanks. He addresses Chaplin's political influences and convictions, and brings a keen, critical intelligence to the meaning of the films, illuminating Chaplin's elusive genius.

©1997 Kenneth S. Lynn (P)1997 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Kenneth S. Lynn...has produced an enormous, often fascinating, prodigiously researched book that goes off in all directions in search of the man behind the myth." (The New York Times)
"Chaplin's life is truly an enormous subject...and Lynn does a magisterial job of knitting it all together, allowing Chaplin to emerge as fresh and evocative as the Little Tramp in his first incarnation." (Booklist)
"Lynn deftly interweaves Chaplin's life with the events and personalities of his era....Lynn has done meticulous research....All a biography should be, this is enthusiastically recommended." (Library Journal)

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What listeners say about Charlie Chaplin and His Times

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Flawed by bias

This book may be worthwhile because the subject is so interesting, and there is no other biography available at Audible.com. It is flawed (as other reviews point out,) by the author's extreme right-wing bias and apparent dislike for his subject. Chaplin's politics were na?ve and sentimental and like a lot of people on the left at the time he refused to see the evil of the Soviet Union. His biographer on the other hand refuses to see the evil of McCarthyism. The author's done his research; the facts of Chaplin's life are in the book. The narrator is good. But to enjoy the book - if you're not Rush Limbaugh, you'll have to do a lot a filtering to neutralize the writer's bias. Chaplin deserves better.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Most Remarkable and Contradictory Person

Charlie Chaplin was born in London in 1889 to a dysfunctional stage family. His first stage appearance was at age five to fill in for his mentally ill mother. His alcoholic father managed to eke out a living as a music hall actor. But Charlie had the drive and genius to evolve into a world-class artist. He eventually used the scars of his childhood as inspirations for some of the many movies he later created.

Charlie toured with several acting companies around Britain and came to the United States in 1910. He made his first films in 1914 for the Keystone Studios and then onto Essanay Studios in 1915 where he created his first great film, "The Tramp." In 1917 Charlie founded his own studio in Hollywood and over the years turned out a remarkable series of movies that are classics today.

Charlie alternated between charming and using people, especially women. He never became an American citizen. Charlie was pro communist which forced him to leave the U.S. in 1952 at the height of the McCarthy era. He lived the rest of his life in Switzerland.

This is a scholarly work about a most remarkable and contradictory person. The reader, Adams Morgan, was also excellent.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Too Much

This is not a good candidate for an unabridged audiobook. It is way too long because of too many details and author's notes. It takes many sidetrips.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book

It seems the author has a growing distaste for Charlie Chaplin, and especially his politics as the book goes on. This is a good thing. CC was not at all an angel. A sycophant may have varnished over the unpleasantness. Lynn goes into full tilt sneer mode concerning Chaplin in the MacCarthy era. Also good because one gets the full measure of contempt the United States felt for Charlie at this time. Then back to pro Charlie in the last part of the book. Just like the country was. Also lots of peripheral classic hollywood lore.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

It's Chaplin!

I've read My Autobiography and others, this book is really good. Chaplin was a player, sure, but why get all bent on that. This is a great book about one of the fathers of comedic cinema, a person that inspired the guys who inspired the guys that probably inspired the guys that inspired you. Old Hollywood at it's best, and there isn't much by way of film history on audio books.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good book lots of Information.

What did you love best about Charlie Chaplin and His Times?

The writer gives a great deal of detail quoting a number of other books and how they differ in information and structure, this is a good book if you wanted to find out something about the man and his life.

What did you like best about this story?

A great deal of detail but never boring.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

too long for one sitting

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Comprehensive biography of Charlie Chaplin

This is the most detailed, comprehensive story of Chaplin I've ever read -- and I've read several bio's on him. I've always been a big fan of Charlie Chaplin, since I began watching silent movies on the local Chicago TV stations in the 1960s -- I think I even had a "crush" on him as a young teen! So, I knew he was a really multi-faceted individual, but this book filled me in on his darker sides, and I came away with a new impression of him -- not so one-sided. This book lifted his story out of the political atmospheres he lived through, and that's an advantage of looking back in time -- for instance, the times he was vilified or absolved by the press -- the author looked more objectively at these events in his life. One minor flaw was that, at times, it could be too didactic -- but it DID relay facts without judgment. I was very disappointed to learn some things about his behavior -- but then a person can hardly be a genius without having some equally major flaws. Good book.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Slow moving biography lacking information

At times informative and at times drones on about action in his movies, I found myself checking how much time remained in every listen. There has to be a better constructed biography somewhere. Narrator was good. He speaks very fast so it’s nearly impossible to listen at a faster speed (which I like to do), reminded me of Edward Everett Horton.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

nothing new under the sun.

okay, so he was a horrible father, had an unhealthy appetite for underage women and believed in a political philosophy with a death count that makes hilter look like a sunday school teacher. so what, he made great movies so, all is forgiven.. Hollywood has always been a shining beacon of morality i suppose.
Otherwise, great book, well documented very interesting. and the narrator was decent. well worth reading.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Mr Robert Stocks
  • Mr Robert Stocks
  • 11-17-19

Author's strange dislike for Chaplin


I agree with a previous reviewer here. The author seems to dislike his subject so much that I wonder why he chose to write about him in the first place.
At the same time it also strongly comes across that he feels there was nothing wrong with the behaviour of the McCarthy trials in the 1950’s and that Chaplin and others entirely deserved the treatment they got.
There are also passages where the author puts himself into the narrative which I always feel, unless they have a significant connection to the life of the subject, is just a bit tacky.
Not all in all bad. It does have a lot of factual information but you have to mine for it beneath almost endless tangents and the irritating opinions of the author.

1 person found this helpful