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Great narrators reading the random recollections of a large cast of characters. There are some interesting stories to be told, but they got lost in the stream of multiple names and places. There didn't seem to be anything connecting them. So many mentally ill and/or disfuntional people makes it unpleasant and depressing to listen to.
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What did you love best about West of Eden?
Jean Stein's "West of Eden: An American Place," at first seems unimportant... an odd assemblage of oral history snippets curated by a grown up industry child (now 82 years old). By the book's end, however, I was converted, having understood that valuable insights can be gleaned from this unique effort. The author's father was Dr. Jules Stein, founder of MCA Universal, and a Hollywood icon and pioneer in talent representation and television and motion picture production. Jean Stein is perhaps one of the last articulate witnesses to the tail end of an era that started when a handful of immigrants created an industry that has now become one of the largest in the world. For this reason, her perspective illuminates some subtle and perverse undercurrents of the out-sized history of Los Angeles and its showcase enterprise. Some of Stein's inferences: being good at business does not necessarily equate with being good at relationships - your associates, your spouse, your children. Children of the powerful start life with extra baggage and some don't have the coping mechanisms to survive. Some go completely mad, some end it all. Ego and vanity in Hollywood is in a class by itself and the collateral damage is all around. The Angelenos Stein chooses to profile - oil and railroad barons, their mentally disturbed offspring, a legendary actress and a couple of moguls - are all a bit notorious, and could have been plucked from the firmament of Nathanael West's "The Day of the Locust."
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
I'm a student of the early days of Hollywood and I've enjoyed reading many important biographies: A. Scott Berg's "Goldwyn," Neal Gabler's "Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination," Irene Mayer Selznick's "A Private View," Norman J Zierold's "The Moguls," among others. For the most part, these are exhaustively researched masterpieces. Stein's is not one of them. Rather, through her work, we gain a sense of the ephemeral nature of huge success, even groundbreaking innovation like her father's.
Which scene was your favorite?
When Jules Stein's widow Doris died in 1984, their large, beautiful hilltop Beverly Hills mansion "Misty Mountain," was snapped up by Rupert Murdoch in a hastily brokered deal on the condition that all contents -- furniture, china and silverware, even family mementos and photographs all come with it. Like a hermit crab, Murdoch was able to step into a home and lifestyle that spanned half a century of Hollywood history.
Any additional comments?
This is a book for industry types, Beverly Hills brats with a sense of history and I suppose people like me who are endlessly curious about early Hollywood, love LA, and rue the morphing and consolidation of this gem of an industry to into the corporate machine it has now become.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful