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Publisher's Summary

Charles Schulz, the most widely syndicated and beloved cartoonist of all time, is also one of the most misunderstood figures in American culture. Now, acclaimed biographer David Michaelis gives us the first full-length biography of Schulz: at once a creation story, a portrait of a hidden American genius, and a chronicle contrasting the private man with the central role he played in shaping the national imagination. The son of a barber, Schulz was born in Minnesota to modest, working class roots. In 1943, just three days after his mother's tragic death from cancer, Schulz, a private in the army, shipped out for boot camp and the war in Europe. The sense of shock and separation never left him. And these early experiences would shape his entire life. With Peanuts, Schulz embedded adult ideas in a world of small children to remind the reader that character flaws and childhood wounds are with us always. It was the central truth of his own life, that as the adults we've become and as the children we always will be, we can free ourselves, if only we can see the humor in the predicaments of funny-looking kids. Schulz's Peanuts profoundly influenced the country in the second half of the 20th century. But the strip was anchored in the collective experience and hardships of Schulz's generation: the generation that survived the Great Depression and liberated Europe and the Pacific and came home to build the postwar world. Michaelis brilliantly weaves Schulz's story with the cartoons that are so familiar to us, revealing a man we've never fully known and shedding new light on a touchstone of American life.
©2007 David Michaelis; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers
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Critic Reviews

"This is a fascinating account of an artist who devoted his life to his work in the painful belief that it was all he had." (Publishers Weekly)
"This fine, exhaustive text is well-organized and knowledgeable....Michaelis offers considerable insight into the semiotics of comics and the psyche of a master of the craft." (Kirkus Reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By B. Steele on 05-03-08

Not as dark as you've heard

This seemed to me to be a fair and overwhelmingly positive portrait of Schulz. I'm not sure what his kids are upset about--so Dad was generally melancholy and a bit removed. What do they think made him a cartoon genius? And his love for them and for his wives is also quite palpable. The stories about where all the ideas and characters for Peanuts came from are quite entertaining. The story of A Charlie Brown Christmas alone is quite revealing. I was rather disappointed not to hear a bit more about the business end of things--how Peanuts became an industry and how Schultz's characters wound up selling snack cakes and life insurance and all that. There's an amazing business story that's not told here, and the author suggests that that's because Schultz himself sort of let it happen via his surrogates rather than directing it himself. But that seems a bit of a copout. On the other hand, the book is quite long enough, there's no real dross here, so I can't complain too much. Recommended.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful


By Michael on 04-10-08

Peanuts Characters

When reading the Peanuts cartoons, I often wondered if the characters were in any way developed from children or people Mr. Schulz knew.
It was interesting to learn they were so interrelated with Mr. Schulz' own family and friends.

It was also interesting to read about Mr. Schulz' life.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Harald-Gerd on 03-29-09

Are you a good man Charles Schulz ?

Yes, this is a very interesting audio-book but you really need to be into Peanuts to like it. Despite Sparky Schulz' great achievement of 50 years of Peanuts his life is not so spectacular. Of course: he spent most of his time at the drawing board. However, it's fascinating to understand the deeper meaning of the strip, of finding out how he came up with his ideas and characters. The book manages a good mix between Schulz' life and the coming to life of his characters. It surely is no adventure story, but an insight into the life of one the world's greatest comic artists.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Andrew on 08-09-16

Not compelling

No real compelling story here. Admittedly Shulz is a talented cartoonist, but as an individual he appears unremarkable, complaining and selfish.
I kept trying to find some form of inspiration, lesson or interesting takeaway from the story, but there's nothing to be found.

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