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Jack London: An American Life by Earle Labor

Jack London: An American Life

by Earle Labor

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As a teenager, I enjoyed Jack London's works, so I was delighted to find this very readable biography. Fascinating, authoritative life of Jack London, the author. Not a literary critique but a narration of his life, his rise from illegitimacy through many jobs such as oyster piracy, gold prospecting in the Klondike, as a sailor, as a hobo, his self education and prolific use of the public library, to fame and fortune with such books as Call of the Wild, The Sea Wolf, other novels and many short stories. We go with him and his wife on their boat to an eye-opening trip to the South Seas. They ranch in California. Jack's ill health, neglected for years, and hard living, do him in at 40. Labor explodes many myths about London and shows how even the lowliest of his life experiences have influenced his work, many of which are now considered classics.

I got new insight into this man, appreciate his literary contributions more, but regret the unpleasant aspects of his personality. The biographer didn't try to sugar coat anything. There were copious quotations from London himself, his wife, and from others, which added to the authenticity. ( )
  janerawoof | Feb 4, 2015 |
This biography is extremely well-researched and well-written. It manages to be both compelling and comprehensive. While it may be advanced for high school readers, it has certainly expanded my knowledge of London's life and writing and will serve as a reference for any future teaching of London's work. ( )
  Tables | Mar 7, 2014 |
A straightforward but comprehensive telling of London's life story and often the origins of his short stories and novels as well as mention of how they were received in his lifetime and how they are perceived now. ( )
  nmele | Mar 3, 2014 |
If you are unfamiliar with the extraordinary life of Jack London, who rose from a child factory worker to become one of America's biggest celebrities at the turn of the century, Earle Labor's skillful biography is absolutely the place to begin your initiation. Labor avoids the sensational, the rumor and innuendo and sticks to the verifiable facts, which are more than enough. The author is curator of the Jack London museum, which is evident in the book, which while not whitewashing all of London's faults does run past a few. In the end, however, this is a real story that is stranger and more compelling than fiction. ( )
  byebyelibrary | Nov 8, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374178488, Hardcover)

A revelatory look at the life of the great American author—and how it shaped his most beloved works

Jack London was born a working class, fatherless Californian in 1876. In his youth, he was a boundlessly energetic adventurer on the bustling West Coast—an oyster pirate, a hobo, a sailor, and a prospector by turns. He spent his brief life rapidly accumulating the experiences that would inform his acclaimed bestselling books The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and The Sea-Wolf.

The bare outlines of his story suggest a classic rags-to-riches tale, but London the man was plagued by contradictions. He chronicled nature at its most savage, but wept helplessly at the deaths of his favorite animals. At his peak the highest paid writer in the United States, he was nevertheless forced to work under constant pressure for money. An irrepressibly optimistic crusader for social justice and a lover of humanity, he was also subject to spells of bitter invective, especially as his health declined. Branded by shortsighted critics as little more than a hack who produced a couple of memorable dog stories, he left behind a voluminous literary legacy, much of it ripe for rediscovery.

In Jack London: An American Life, the noted Jack London scholar Earle Labor explores the brilliant and complicated novelist lost behind the myth—at once a hard-living globe-trotter and a man alive with ideas, whose passion for seeking new worlds to explore never waned until the day he died. Returning London to his proper place in the American pantheon, Labor resurrects a major American novelist in his full fire and glory.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:36 -0400)

"The first authorized biography of a great American novelist"--

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