John Wayne

The Life and Legend
Narrated by: John McLain
Length: 25 hrs and 58 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (553 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

John Wayne was one of Hollywood's most famous and most successful actors, but he was more than that. He became a symbol of America itself. He epitomized the Western film, which for many people epitomized America. He identified with conservative political causes from the early 1930s to his death in 1979, making him a hero to one generation of Americans and a villain to another. But unlike fellow actor Ronald Reagan, Wayne had no interest in politics as a career. Like many stars, he altered his life story, claiming to have become an actor almost by accident when in fact he had studied drama and aspired to act for most of his youth. He married three times, all to Latina women, and conducted a lengthy affair with Marlene Dietrich, as unlikely a romantic partner as one could imagine for the Duke. Wayne projected dignity, integrity, and strength in all his films, even when his characters were flawed, and whatever character he played was always prepared to confront injustice in his own way. More than 30 years after his death, he remains the standard by which male stars are judged and an actor whose morally unambiguous films continue to attract sizeable audiences.

Scott Eyman interviewed Wayne, as well as many family members, and he has drawn on previously unpublished reminiscences from friends and associates of the Duke in this biography, as well as documents from his production company that shed light on Wayne's business affairs. He traces Wayne from his childhood to his stardom in Stagecoach and dozens of films after that. Eyman perceptively analyzes Wayne's relationship with John Ford, the director with whom he's most associated and who made some of Wayne's greatest films.

Wayne was self-aware. He once said, "I’ve played the kind of man I’d like to have been." It's that man and the real John Wayne who are brilliantly profiled in Scott Eyman's insightful biography of a true American legend.

©2014 Scott Eyman (P)2014 Audible Inc.

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

A long but interesting book

There are very few people that I would spend 26 hours listening about their life, however, John Wayne is one of them. The story talks about thousands of different conversations Wayne had in an attempt to let us know the real John Wayne. I was happy that it didn't pull punches about his faults. He was a bad husband and a bad investor, but a good father, great actor and loyal friend. The story points out mannerisms that we all know which I had thought where natural that were calculated. His political views were far to the right and often painfully blunt but I am not sure that they were not part of his persona. He played by a set of rules that he learned at a young age and was reluctant to move from them as he aged. He was, like many actors of his time, a big teenager, always living a very fast paced lifestyle of hard drinking and hard living. Yet I was very impressed that he found time for his children. He was cultured playing chess frequently and reading poetry but kept that under wraps to protect his image.

The book held my attention throughout and I still admired Wayne after I was finished.

12 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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If you loved the "Duke," you'll love this book

Where does John Wayne rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Is definitely one of the best. I know of and saw most of the movies. The author takes you back stage and tells you about the making of the blockbusters and those not so. Students of the film industry should be required to read this book. You are constantly being told how much a movie made ($) and the back stories about where it was made.

Who was your favorite character and why?

This is naturally all about John Wayne. From "Stagecoach" to the "Shootist" you learn so many things you did not know before you wonder if you should be taking notes for the inevitable quiz tomorrow.

What about John McLain’s performance did you like?

I think this is the first book I've listened to by McLain and he easily slips into a Wayne sounding voice without overdoing it. I wouldn't hesitate to listen to another book voiced by McLain.

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

There were several such moments but I don't mean to give anything away, but John Wayne dies and Scott Eyman writes about that event like he was there. Throughout the book he writes like he was there at major events in the "Duke's" life.

Any additional comments?

Eyman does not write a love story. There are times you may dislike John Wayne for what he did or how he reacted to something but as you listen you sense what you are hearing is the truth. I cried when he died. I cried again when he died in his book, John Wayne: The Life and Legend.

8 people found this helpful

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A must read for any level of John Wayne fans

If you could sum up John Wayne in three words, what would they be?

The real man

What did you like best about this story?

This is a story about a man we all want to be. But even John Wayne was not obtainable all the time by Duke Morrison. The Duke came the closest to anyone. Bottom-line you will learn the man was the myth and vice versa. But he was human, like us all. What he had was integrity.

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

I did both laugh and cry. My wish would have been to meet him in person.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Strong biography undone by the narrator

Eyman's biography is a well-written and thoroughly researched overview of Wayne's (née Morrison) life and career, balancing his personal life, acting craft, and politics. Eyman is invested in parts of Wayne's mythology, but he does not avoid his subject's shortcomings and contradictions. The book is effective in arguing for a serious consideration of Wayne as an actor (as opposed to simply a star) and strives to distance readings of his career from the actor's politics. Eyman's tendency to default to simple evaluations of his films (good or bad as opposed to developed analysis) and broad declarations about meaning (especially regarding masculinity and the American spirit) could be forgiven as an outgrowth of the popular film biography as a genre if it weren't for the author's dismissive comments about film scholarship. There is an unearned arrogance that Eyman sometimes displays, proving in the simplistic perspective of the author the very need for film studies as an academic discipline. In general, though, the book is informative and well organized.

Unfortunately, much of Eyman's hard work is undercut by the narration of the audiobook. All narrators are giving a performance, but McLain's voice is clearly and distractingly an affected put-on. More importantly, the narrator is unfamiliar with the subject (film history AND American history) and mangles too many pronunciations to count. On a few occasions he gives different pronunciations of the same name or word from one chapter to the next. More than just names, McLain struggles with pacing and pronouncing basic words (he says wander as wonder, for example). If you're interested in this book do yourself a favor and buy a printed copy. I'm 40 books into my Audible journey and this is by far the worst narration I've come across.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Pulls no punches.

I wanted to read this because John Wayne was by far my dad's favorite actor. When I was at his house every movie which came out starring him was a necessity. I think I enjoyed dad enjoying these movies more than I enjoyed seeing them myself. But they were good escapism. Totally unbelievable to the extreme. This is the reason one wishes to watch movies. I think.

This is not a hero worshipping book. It is apparantly John Wayne warts and all. Also one finds out more regarding the actors surrounding him than one may want. No real surprise but I think dad would have not been amused.

At first I thought the narrator was irritating. But then he would quote the Duke. Then I realized why he was picked to read it. He did a great job of immitating the Duke. A long book like this takes dedication to go from beginning to the end. I think it was worth it. I was saddened to learn of how much he suffered at the end.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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TALL IN THE SADDLE

JOHN WAYNE: The Life and Legend
By Scott Eyman
Last year, out of 102 books read, the best non-fiction book was FOUNDATION: The History of England by Peter Ackroyd. This year, even though we are only 20 weeks into the year, I believe it will be Scott Eyman’s JOHN WAYNE: The Life and Legend. It would be difficult to be too generous with the superlatives. I have read over 5,000 books, been a movie buff all my life, and recorded and rated every book I read and every movie I saw since I was 15. Over several hundred of these books have been ‘movie-related’ – autobiographies, biographies and histories – this is the best of them.
I ‘read’ the Audible edition, narrated superbly by John McLain. The treatment is admiring without being sycophantic. In preparation Scott has interviewed numerous people on the inner and outer circles of John Wayne’s world and carried out a huge amount of research, which he has then formed into a finely honed, solid, entertaining and widely appealing work.
I have been a John Wayne fan for years. Norma and I watched THE QUIET MAN and THE SEARCHERS again last year, the tenth and sixth time respectively for me. I knew a reasonable amount about both the actor and the man, but Scott has filled in so many gaps and expanded both my knowledge and appreciation immeasurably.
My tastes, both in what I read and write, like General Adrian Marshall, the lead character in my novel THE PRICE TO PAY, are eclectic. For these reasons I feel this outstanding biography will appeal not only to the movie buff, or those who read a lot of autobiographies and biographies, but to anyone who appreciates the celebration of a life well lived. On another level it will appeal to anyone who will be touched by the honouring of a man, who, despite his faults, exemplified the qualities to which we should all aspire: love of family, reliability as a friend, staunch patriot, a clear-eyed focus on the goal, which was fuelled by vigorous ambition, and finally, courage to face the next day when the sunrise was in doubt.
Ultimately, Scott Eyman shows us that John Wayne was more than a ‘B actor’ who struggled up from the mire to emerge into the sunlight of fame, fortune and stature; he also epitomised both legend and myth, and became a figure even his detractors could admire and respect.
I cannot thank you enough, Scott, for providing me with 26 hours and 3 minutes of pleasure. This is an audio book to which I will return again and again, and which I will recommend enthusiastically.
What next? I will buy Hank and Jim, and look forward to another most enjoyable Scott Eyman outing.
My email address is: ericjdrysdale@gmail.com


2 people found this helpful

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The myth of John wayne

John Wayne was a great American movie actor. He was unique for the length of time he made movies and four the large number of movies he made. Over the 60 years he was in Hollywood he made over 200 movies, most of them were westerns. He cultivated the myth of John Wayne during this time. The myth was as important to him as the movies he made. John Wayne was unique since he would only make movies in which the characters he played were a consistent with that of his off screen image and his conservative moral beliefs. He had multiple infidelities and drank and smoked incessantly during the time he was making movies, Yet, he did not regard this behavior as fallibilities but rather consistent with the myth of John Wayne. The love of his life was Gail Russell, who died at age 38 of alcoholism. His second wife Chada was an alcoholic. His third wife Pillar was a Trophy wife. Only his first wife was responsible, but did not fulfill his emotional or sexual needs

He made poor choices in the women that he chose to marry and to have trysts with. He made poor financial decisions until his finances were assumed by his son Michael. He was one of the leaders in blacklisting left thinking Hollywood workers. And never had any regrets or second thoughts about his political beliefs or the people whose careers he destroyed.

He was a better actor than most people realized. He was recognized for such great films as Stagecoach, the Searchers, the Quiet Man, True Grit, and the Shootist. His best pictures were made under the direction of John Ford and Henry Hathaway.

The last 20 years of his life were marked by one medical problem after another related to his nonstop smoking and drinking. He developed lung cancer which was successfully resected, gastric cancer which caused his death and prostate difficulties. Yet, through it all he kept working. Through the failed marriages, financial setbacks and medical difficulties he never wavered in his professionalism in showing up to work and knowing his lines.
This book does a fabulous job of objectively portraying his life and his importance in the American culture. The book is well read.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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My Hero!!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

great stories about John Wayne's life and the lives of those who he worked with.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The Duke of course

Did John McLain do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Yes, he did a nice job of trying to sound like the Duke.

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

Most chapters were pretty long but I did manage to do whole chapters at a time.

Any additional comments?

I had trouble with the audio which was frustrating and detracted from the total enjoyment of the book.

4 people found this helpful

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Really

Enjoyed this. I am a huge John Wayne fan. The shootist is one of my favorite movies. This bio does a great job fleshing out the myth and making me even more of a fan

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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good story, narrator needs help with pronunciatio

Story is good, since it's about John Wayne what else could it be? Narrator Is pretty good most of the time . That makes it more jarring when he stumbles over the pronuncecation of the word argosy and Claudette Colbert's name. The amount of money each movie made is relentlessly proclaimed.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Brendamo
  • 01-14-15

AMERICAN ICON

Would you consider the audio edition of John Wayne to be better than the print version?

I would imagine the audio book to be better as the narrator did a very reasonable impression of john wayne.

What other book might you compare John Wayne to, and why?

Cant really think of any other book to compare it with, as john wayne was a one off.

What does John McLain bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

He really did sound like John Wayne which i found made this book much more entertaining.

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

Yes I would have quite happily listened to the whole story all in one sitting as I really enjoyed it.

Any additional comments?

Was'nt too sure about buying this book as I was'nt a huge fan of his but I am glad i did! I really enjoyed listening to John Mclains narration.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr. Ronald Baird
  • 04-16-15

Superb story of the great American Actor John Wayn

Written with great clarity, the Life of a john Wayne will resound, down through the ages. His humanity and kindness will endure.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • MAGGS
  • 12-21-18

John Wayne Life and Legend - loved this book

John Wayne Life and Legend - loved this book
Being a John Wayne fan I loved this book.
Book was full of surprised about his early life, his education and about his politics.
Great narration

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J G Belam
  • 04-12-18

Scott Eyman is a talented detailed Biographer

Scott Eyman’s biography of John Wayne is detailed and interestingly written
The best John Wayne biography I have read
John McLain is a talented narrator
Great book great listen

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • steve
  • 10-24-17

Hero worship

John Wayne, my favourite actor all my life, man and boy. Never will be equalled

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 03-18-16

best Wayne book ever. great!!

If you are a fan of John Wayne this book is a must . It is like your in the presence of the duke . Great great book . The fact the narrator sounds like Wayne is brilliant. This has to be the best Wayne book ever.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Starskey
  • 03-18-16

Good

Reader's voice eventually grows on you after 12 hrs + and he develops some emotion which is lacking at start....... Long. Very good. His mimickry of Wayne's voice is good. Great biography.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Teresa Cooper
  • 10-06-15

The big man.

Not what I thought it would be. It was infinitely better. The life of John "Duke" Wayne from a childhood filled with a unloving mother and a weak father to a pain filled death from cancer. Good book, good narration. Would I recommend this book ? In the words of the Duke " Hell yes ".

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-31-19

great read

throughly enjoyed this book, narrator sounded like John Wayne, would recommend if a Duke fan