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The Seuss, the whole Seuss and nothing but…

The Seuss, the whole Seuss and nothing but the Seuss : a visual biography… (2004)

by Charles D. Cohen

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  Bookman1954 | Oct 21, 2015 |
A brief biography of Theodore Geisel, more affectionately known as Dr. Seuss. Included with the biography are some of Dr. Seuss's best known works, which add immeasurably to the pleasure of the book. ( )
  quantum_flapdoodle | Apr 13, 2011 |
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To my family,
Who indulged, encouraged, and enabled my imagination,
Rather than limiting me.
And to my wife,
Who sacrificed creature comforts for Suessian creatures,
In the pursuit of knowledge,
And support of a dream.

I would have liked for my father,
The best soul I've ever known,
To have had a chance to read this book.
I hope it would have made him proud.
First words
I never met Ted Geisel, nor did I formal interview people who knew him. (Introduction)
One of the questions most posed to Ted Geisel was "Where do you get your ideas?"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
I took many other six-month-sojourns into new realms of folly but, eventually, a time came when I wanted to know something about what Ted Geisel did beyond his famous Dr. Seuss books. The problem was that by the six-month mark, what I'd learned was that no one had yet written the biographies that I had assumed existed about this famous author and that what had been written most often turned out to be wrong.

The more frustrated I became by the misinformation, the deeper I delved into finding out what the truth was. I'd see a picture of a delightful color cover he did for Life magazine and the caption would say "circa 1929-1930." I'd curse aloud and wonder why, if you had the magazine in front of you to photograph it, you couldn't just tell the reader the correct date. Then I'd travel an hour and a half to the Boston Public Library and have them pull out all 104 Life magazines from 1929-1930, only to find out that none of them had that cover. So I'd put in requests for the librarians to retrieve each successive year until, several hundred magazines later, I learned that the one in question was actually from May 1934. Brighter people wouldn't care. Obsessive people like me questioned what else wasn't true.

That led to many trips back and forth to Boston, up to Dartmouth College in NH where Ted Geisel went to school, down to the Library of Congress in DC, and out to the Geisel Library on the UCSD campus in CA. At some point as I got deep enough into this research, I began to think that someone should clear up all of the misinformation that existed because the more it was retold, and the wider and quicker it was spread via the Internet, the more it became entrenched. With Ted gone and his contemporaries aging, who would be around to to keep these errors from becoming accepted as historical facts?

That led to my first book--The Seuss, the Whole Seuss and Nothing But the Seuss (Random House, 2004)--which came out around Ted's 100th birthday to kick off the celebration of the Seussentennial. It's a visual biography with 400+ pages and 700+ images of all manner of first hand sources, which I used to demonstrate the variety of things that Ted created in his lifetime, as well as to clear up some of the misconceptions about him and his work.

The response was very gratifying. Richard Corliss of Time magazine called it the "Best Pop Culture Book [of 2004]," adding that it was a "splendid compendium of...[Ted Geisel's] work as a college wit, a deviser of cunning ad campaigns, a political cartoonist and a writer of the most impish war propaganda. Handsomely designed, and with laffs on every page." And Publishers Weekly (11/22/2004) chose it as one of the two "Best Children's Books of 2004" in the non-fiction category, reporting that "In this hefty, assiduously researched volume, generously sprinkled with crisp reproductions of the artist's work, Cohen sets out to demystify Geisel's genius. He provides insight into the evolution of a remarkable creative mind, allowing the story to unfold largely through Dr. Seuss's own words and pictures."

Perhaps the most astonishing comment arrived in a 01/23/2004 letter from Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel's widow, Audrey Geisel, who wrote, "I am truly in a state of complete awe and amazement! No one, but no one has this incredible background on Ted that you have...not anyone in his family or anywhere else."

Of course, if there had been a great deal of scholarly work in the field of Seussiana at the time, I never would have embarked on this latest adventure as a non-fiction writer. But due to the dearth of information in the field, I found myself unexpectedly being sought out as an "expert."

That led to a host of new Seuss ventures and extended what I had intended to be a brief independent study course on Geisel. An intriguing synergy happened and I found that I had jumped into this field just as the 50th anniversaries of some of the most famous Dr. Seuss books were about to occur. [...]

Meanwhile, I continue to spend thousands of hours in an ambitious and foolhardy attempt to create a database of information pertaining to all of Theodor Seuss Geisel's works. The goal of this effort has been to find, salvage, restore, and chronicle the parts of the Seuss legacy that are being lost over time, preserving them for posterity. The resulting collection has been providing firsthand access to a wealth of material and information and I've tried to share this knowledge not only through writing books, but also through museum shows, like the exhibition of 750-1,000 items that I curated for The Connecticut Valley Historical Museum (now the Pynchon House) in coordination with the unveiling of the National Seuss Memorial in Springfield, MA (Ted's birthplace). I've also loaned Seussiana to the Children's Museum of Manhattan in NY, The Bremen Museum in Atlanta, GA, the Art on 5th gallery in Austin, TX, Michelson's Galleries in Northampton, MA, and the Chase Group's traveling exhibit "The Art of Dr. Seuss."

Perhaps one of my future independent study courses will lead to the establishment of a Seuss museum in which to store and display as exhaustive a chronicle of Ted Geisel's endlessly creative mind as I can manage. I don't know anything about creating a museum, but I didn't know anything about the publishing world either when I started out... [excerpted from Amazon.com Author Page, 4/6/016]
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375822488, Hardcover)

Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was one of the titans of 20th century American children's literature--a legacy that shows no sign of diminishing in the 21st. But such epochal fare as The Cat in the Hat and enduring, whimsical characters as Horton, The Grinch and Sam-I-Am represent but one corner of the late writer/artist's vast artistic universe. Other Geisel biographies have detailed his remarkable life and vibrant art, but Massachusetts dentist/Seussiana collector nonpareil Charles D. Cohen serves up a "visual biography" that's part lovingly illustrated coffee table book and part insightful analysis of a creative mind and the various historical and cultural forces that shaped it. Cohen richly illustrates his compelling tribute with key, telling artifacts from his own massive collection. No corner of the author/artist's life has escaped Cohen's obsessive collector's eye, including: turn-of the-century bottles of the Geisel family brewery, Geisel's teenage writings and illustrations, later work that spans careers in cartooning advertising (successful campaigns for Esso, Flit and others), wartime propaganda (including uncredited work on the Oscar-winning Hitler Lives!) and Hollywood (The 5000 Finger of Dr. T). Indeed, in Cohen's thoughtful, lavishly illustrated analysis, Geisel's latter-day incarnation as children's author supreme was but the logical distillation of a lifetime devoted to wit, wordplay and whimsical art. --Jerry McCulley

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:06 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Explores the life and career of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, through an investigation of his early work, interviews, and writings.

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