Friday, June 21, 2013

“John Wayne: The Genuine Article” by M. Goldman, E. Wayne and J. Carter – Ugly, Strong and Dignified

John Wayne: The Genuine Article - book cover
If you have been living in North America for a few years, have in interest in Hollywood and/or Wild West movies, then you are undoubtedly acquainted with John Wayne, one of the greatest cowboys of his time, being right up there with Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef as the fastest guns in the West.

He became such an incredible star not only for his manly and rugged in-movie antic, but also for the life he led outside the movie studios. We may already know much about him, but the truth may stretch farther than we can see, and that’s precisely why John Wayne: The Genuine Article was written by Michael Goldman, Ethan Wayne (preface) and Jimmy Carter (foreword).

Basically, the book has for aim to show the life of John Wayne as it really was, to separate the truth from the lies and make the whole world see what kind of man he really was. In order to reconstruct Wayne’s life, the book’s authors made use of a veritable gold mine of stories, anecdotes, souvenirs, letters, telegrams, photographs and interviews, some of which are completely new discoveries.

It covers his life from his beginnings as an ordinary man who climbed to the top of the box office for numerous decades, all the way to his death from stomach cancer (which many still attribute to nuclear irradiation from nuclear experiments) and the last words he wanted to have written on his grave, "Feo, Fuerte y Formal", being Spanish for "Ugly, Strong and Dignified".

I’ll admit it right now, I’m not the biggest Wild West fan, though I do enjoy the occasional Spaghetti Western when served right. I only gave this book a chance because of a friend who is a big John Wayne fan, and though I predicted I would fall asleep before the end of the first quarter, I was very pleasantly surprised by how well the book was written.

It wasn't just fact, after fact after fact… rather, the author builds a very compelling narrative, as if you were reading a very realistic fictional story about a man whose life went from completely ordinary to extraordinary. I probably won’t remember much of what I learned here, but I did retain some interesting details, and more importantly, I had a lot of fun reading it.

If, contrarily to me, you are a fan of John Wayne, or want to learn as much as possible about his somewhat extraordinary persona, then John Wayne: The Genuine Article is the book I recommend for you; it covers all the details you could expect and even manages to make the trip fun from start to finish.

Michael Goldman

Michael Goldman

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Michael Goldman is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota who has been living quite a discreet life in terms of literary renown, until he decided to write and publish Imperial Nature, detailing and explaining the power which lies in the World Bank.

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