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Extended Audio Sample Superman: The High-Flying History of Americas Most Enduring Hero Audiobook, by Larry Tye Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (308 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Larry Tye Narrator: Scott Brick Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2012 ISBN: 9780307990112
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Seventy-five years after he came to life, Superman remains one of America’s most adored and enduring heroes. Now Larry Tye, the prize-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author of Satchel, has written the first full-fledged history not just of the Man of Steel but of the creators, designers, owners, and performers who made him the icon he is today.
Legions of fans from Boston to Buenos Aires can recite the story of the child born Kal-El, scion of the doomed planet Krypton, who was rocketed to Earth as an infant, raised by humble Kansas farmers, and rechristened Clark Kent. Known to law-abiders and evildoers alike as Superman, he was destined to become the invincible champion of all that is good and just—and a star in every medium from comic books and comic strips to radio, TV, and film.
But behind the high-flying legend lies a true-to-life saga every bit as compelling, one that begins not in the far reaches of outer space but in the middle of America’s heartland. During the depths of the Great Depression, Jerry Siegel was a shy, awkward teenager in Cleveland. Raised on adventure tales and robbed of his father at a young age, Jerry dreamed of a hero for a boy and a world that desperately needed one. Together with neighborhood chum and kindred spirit Joe Shuster, young Siegel conjured a human-sized god who was everything his creators yearned to be: handsome, stalwart, and brave, able to protect the innocent, punish the wicked, save the day, and win the girl. It was on Superman’s muscle-bound back that the comic book and the very idea of the superhero took flight.
Tye chronicles the adventures of the men and women who kept Siegel and Shuster’s “Man of Tomorrow” aloft and vitally alive through seven decades and counting. Here are the savvy publishers and visionary writers and artists of comics’ Golden Age who ushered the red-and-blue-clad titan through changing eras and evolving incarnations; and the actors—including George Reeves and Christopher Reeve—who brought the Man of Steel to life on screen, only to succumb themselves to all-too-human tragedy in the mortal world. Here too is the poignant and compelling history of Siegel and Shuster’s lifelong struggle for the recognition and rewards rightly due to the architects of a genuine cultural phenomenon.
From two-fisted crimebuster to über-patriot, social crusader to spiritual savior, Superman—perhaps like no other mythical character before or since—has evolved in a way that offers a Rorschach test of his times and our aspirations. In this deftly realized appreciation, Larry Tye reveals a portrait of America over seventy years through the lens of that otherworldly hero who continues to embody our best selves.

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Quotes & Awards

  • [A] comprehensive, definitive history. Publishers Weekly
  • Action and adventure . . . comedy . . . tragedy . . . mythology . . . Larry Tye captures it all! As complete a history of the Man of Steel as ever published, this book is a deeply documented yet anecdotally told tale that transports us from the bedroom of a daydreaming teenager in 1930's Cleveland, Ohio, to the collapsing towers of the planet Krypton, from the wheatfields of middle America to the hearts of every American, with a story that is entertaining, revealing, and shocking, yet crammed with historical information. If you liked reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, wait till you read Larry Tye’s true story behind it all! Michael Uslan, author of The Boy Who Loved Batman and executive producer of seven Batman movies
  • I only wish I had the good fortune of reading Larry Tye’s book before I made Superman, the problem being that if I had, then the motion picture part of Superman’s history would not have been in Mr. Tye’s book. Having said that, the reason I found Tye’s book incredibly informative is his sense of my bible in making the film—that is, verisimilitude. Reality overcame everything. Richard Donner, director of Superman
  • Engaging, fun, inspiring—like the Man of Steel. The Huffington Post
  • Powerful . . . wonderfully readable. The Plain Dealer
  • A story as American as Superman himself . . . The best origin story pulsing through Superman is not the one about the Krypton-to-Kansas alien baby, but rather the one about the superhero’s mortal and sometimes star-crossed creators. The Washington Post
  • Fun, enlightening pop-cultural history. Kirkus Reviews
  • A rich history full of lively heroes and villains‚ much like a comic book. Essential for Superman fans. Library Journal (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cary O'Dell | 2/14/2014

    " A very comprenhensive review of the Superman ethos--from comic book to big screen. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Glenj | 2/11/2014

    " Especially if you are a comic book fan you probably think you know everything about Superman and his history but this book will quickly prove you wrong. It will probably bore you if you have little interest in the iconic character but if you have ever wanted to know more about why this character has endured over the years and become one of the most recognizable fictional characters ever created this book is a must read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Landon | 2/11/2014

    " It was a really interesting read and it was great to get some background on those who helped bring Superman to life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel Dsida | 2/1/2014

    " Excellent book. I'm glad it was so heavily referenced, otherwise I wouldn't have believed some of the incredible tales in this book! A must-read for any comic book fan. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim Nolt | 1/23/2014

    " I received an advance copy of this book earlier this week for review purposes and read through it very quickly. Of course the subject matter is most interesting to me, but also Larry Tye has a writing style that is easy to understand and follow. Through Tye's extensive research, even a true fan of the character will find much to explore. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bob | 1/16/2014

    " I highly recommend this book. It gives the complete back story to Superman and all of his creators, from the beginning right up to the present, in comics, newspapers, books, movies, tv, and games. It goes into depth on how and why Superman has been such a large part of our culture. It really tells all about his creators, Siegel & Shuster, and offers many anecdotes about the movies and tv show and everyone involved with them. It was very enjoyable and informative from start to finish. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ryan | 1/12/2014

    " A great history of the Man of Steel from creation to present. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bill Sleeman | 1/4/2014

    " Superman contains is well written and fully researched but contains little that will be new to a confirmed fanboy. An engaging read for true believers but for others it is probably way too much. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Martin Kilkenny | 1/3/2014

    " Excellent. I really enjoyed this book. It was not just a history of Superman, but also of this country and really the world and how they responded to him and how he changed with a changing world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Misty | 12/20/2013

    " Well-researched, fascinating read "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dan | 11/30/2013

    " A good read on the Superman story, wth rich detail on the history and movies. Great read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sanjiv Sarwate | 11/25/2013

    " Good, but not anything really new for those who didn't know the cultural history of Superman from other sources. This would be a good starter for someone unfamiliar with the whole history, but may leave knowledgeable readers a little cold. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian Callahan | 11/24/2013

    " I thought this book was fairly encompassing with its coverage of Superman. Superman has always been one of my favorite superheroes and I believe this book does him justice. I would highly recommend this book to any one who believes in heroes. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Phillip Lozano | 11/1/2013

    " Generally well-written, but curiously dry and plagued with omissions and easily-correctable errors. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Henry Goldman | 10/2/2013

    " good, jew-ey reading of the meaning of the man of steel "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David Gales | 8/14/2013

    " Wonderful "biography" of Superman and the people around him, real and imagined. A great companion read to Michael Chabon's novel "Amazing Adventures Of...". "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Edosan | 7/23/2013

    " Great history of the Man of Steel and his cultural impact. The book also had a lot of interesting history about the men behind it all, from Siegel and Schuster onward. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carla Hanson | 1/21/2013

    " This was interesting but not new. I watched a documentary on Comics and it had the same info although this was more thorough. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mark | 10/30/2012

    " A great mixed history of Superman himself and the hundreds who helped to create the mythology of a hero. Great read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom Porter | 6/30/2012

    " Interesting only if you really want to know the history of Superman and the behind the scenes info. A very detailed history. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alan Pringle | 5/26/2012

    " Didn't care for the author's writing style--to the point I quit reading about a quarter way through. "

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About the Author

Larry Tye, a former prize-winning journalist at the Boston Globe and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Satchel, as well as The Father of Spin, Home Lands, and Rising from the Rails.

About the Narrator

Scott Brick, actor, narrator, and writer, attended UCLA and spent ten years in a traveling Shakespeare company. Passionate about the spoken word, he has narrated a wide variety of audiobooks, from thrillers and science fiction to classics and nonfiction. He has recorded more than eight hundred audiobooks and won over fifty AudioFile Earphones Awards and several of the prestigious Audie Awards. He was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine and the Voice of Choice for 2016 by Booklist magazine.