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Download Al Jaffee’s Mad Life: A Biography Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Al Jaffee’s Mad Life: A Biography, by Mary-Lou Weisman Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (69 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mary-Lou Weisman Narrator: Allen Lewis Rickma Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Jaffee’s inventive work has enlivened the pages of MAD since 1955. To date he has pickled three generations of American kids in the brine of satire, and continues to bring millions of childhoods to untimely ends with the knowledge that parents are hypocrites, teachers are dummies, politicians are liars, and life isn’t fair.

Jaffee’s work for MAD has made him a cultural icon, but the compelling and at times bizarre story of his life has yet to be told. A synopsis of Jaffee’s formative years alone reads like a comic strip of traumatic cliff-hangers with cartoons by Jaffee and captions by Freud. Six-year-old Jaffee was separated from his father, uprooted from his home in Savannah, Georgia, and transplanted by his mother to a shtetl in Lithuania, a nineteenth-century world of kerosene lamps, outhouses, physical abuse, and near starvation. He would be rescued by his father, returned to America, taken yet again by his mother back to the shtetl, and once again rescued by his father, even as Hitler was on the march.

When he finally settled back in America as a twelve-year-old wearing cobbled shoes and speaking his native English with a Yiddish accent, schoolmates called him “greenhorn.” He struggled with challenges at least as great as those he had met in Europe. His luck changed, however, when he was chosen to be a member of the first class to attend New York City’s High School of Music and Art. There his artistic ability saved him.

He would go on to forge relationships with Stan Lee, Harvey Kurtzman, and Will Elder, launching a career that would bring him to MAD magazine. There he found himself at the forefront of a movement that would change the face of humor and cartooning in America.

A cliff-hanger of a life deserves a page-turner of a biography, and that is what Mary-Lou Weisman and Al Jaffee have delivered.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An unnerving biography with a moving graphic novel hidden inside it.”

    Art Spiegelman, New York Times bestselling author of Maus

  • Al Jaffee’s Mad Life lays bare in harrowing yet often riotous detail how a Southern boy, twice uprooted by his mother to Lithuanian shtetls on the eve of World War II, grew up to become a tireless satirist for some of America’s cheekier magazines.”

    New York Times

  • “I’ve been privileged to know many brilliant cartoonists, but the incredibly creative, supremely talented Al Jaffee is right up there at the top of the list.”

    Stan Lee

  • “When I am among other cartoonists talking about the giants in our field, one of the first names that comes to the conversation is Al Jaffee...He is a cartoonist’s cartoonist!” 

    Sergio Aragones

  • “Allen Rickman’s engaging and comfortable tone works well in depicting Jaffee’s life.” 


Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Don | 6/8/2013

    " This is a short book with a lot more emphasis on Jaffee's childhood than his 60+ years at Mad--but that's ok because his young life is such a compelling story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Misty | 5/2/2013

    " Wonderfully told, with Jaffee drawings illustrating key moments in his life. Would have loved to have had more samples of Jaffee's work, especially MAD stuff. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Shappy Seasholtz | 11/15/2012

    " Way too much time spent on Al's depressing childhood and hardly any time spent discussing his years as a cartoonist and his years at Mad Magazine. Lots of great new drawings from Mr. Jaffee! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by David Rickert | 8/1/2012

    " The fact that it is only three fourths of the way through the book that Jaffee gets to MAD will tell you all you need to know about this book. A huge disappointment. "

  • > Show All
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About the Author

Mary-Lou Weisman is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author. Her published books include My Baby Boomer Baby Book, Traveling While Married, My Middle-Aged Baby Book, and Intensive Care: A Family Love Story. All of her books remain in print. Her essays, feature articles, interviews, and film and book reviews have appeared in many publications, among them the New Republic, Newsweek, Glamour, Vogue, Atlantic Monthly, and the New York Times. She has also contributed essays and commentary to Public Radio International. She lives in Westport, Connecticut, with her husband, a lawyer.