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Extended Audio Sample Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, by Neal Gabler Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,382 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Neal Gabler Narrator: Arthur Morey Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2006 ISBN: 9781415932599
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If you've always found yourself fascinated with the life and achievements of Walt Disney, you've undoubtedly longed to "meet" the man behind the magic. In Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, that's exactly what you will get. This well-researched biography does a fantastic job of introducing us to Walt Disney, and it provides an inside look into the creative mind of the man who has captivated the hearts and minds of millions worldwide for decades.

Over the years, many myths have been developed regarding Walt Disney, and the type of man he was. Finally, fans of Disney will gain complete understanding, as they venture back to his childhood and relive some of the events that helped to shape Walt Disney into the man he would become - focused on innovation and eager to create something out of what looked like nothing to the average observer.

Walt Disney was certainly an innovative thinker. His obsessive nature and willful determination is largely responsible for the creation of modern animation. His first animated character, Mickey Mouse, is still an icon for young and old alike, all around the world. As we all know, Walt Disney refused to stop there. He was always pushing for more, and working to be better. His drive produced animated films like Snow White, Pinocchio and Fantasia. His vision for a better animation resulted in films that were a beautiful depiction of real life, as opposed to the poor creation they had been in the past.

In addition to the unique glimpse into how Walt Disney created his magical animated characters and the theme parks that are still world-famous to this day, Neal Gabler gives us a wonderful look at the Walt Disney that didn't appear before a camera. His anxiety, his disappointments and his loneliness all played a part in creating a man who was almost constantly in the public eye, yet suffered in silence. If you've heard rumors about Walt Disney, this is a great book to find some real answers to some questions you might have had your entire life.

Neal Gabler is a journalist who has been credited with contributions to an incredible amount of publications. Among them, The New York Times and Vogue, both sing his praises as an insightful writer with a knack for capturing the truth. That fact was not lost in the penning of Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. Gabler's career has included a stint as a panelist on Fox News, time spent teaching at the University of Michigan and Penn State, and a total of four books.

The definitive portrait of one of the most important cultural figures in American history. 

Walt Disney was a true visionary whose desire for escape, iron determination and obsessive perfectionism transformed animation from a novelty to an art form, first with Mickey Mouse and then with his feature films–most notably Snow White, Fantasia, and Bambi. In his superb biography, Neal Gabler shows us how, over the course of two decades, Disney revolutionized the entertainment industry. In a way that was unprecedented and later widely imitated, he built a synergistic empire that combined film, television, theme parks, music, book publishing, and merchandise. Walt Disney is a revelation of both the work and the man–of both the remarkable accomplishment and the hidden life.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Magnificent . . . an exhaustively researched and beautifully written work that is among the finest biographies I have ever read . . . Speaking of classics, this book is one. It should capture every award worth giving. Cal Thomas, Gwinnett Daily Post
  • Gabler’s remarkable biography lends Mickey’s creator new dimensions and sets the standard for future biographies. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • [A] formidable achievement . . . Gabler’s restless eye invigorates each page. Los Angeles Book Review
  • Gabler has boiled down his years of study brilliantly . . . Walt Disney has been resurrected, not by medics, but by an extremely intrepid author. Entertainment Weekly
  • Masterful . . . his book is not simply a recitation of facts. Rather, it offers clear-headed analysis. USA Today
  • Every period of Disney’s life is depicted in exacting detail . . . [Gabler’s] portrait is so engrossing that it’s hard to picture the entertainment mogul playing with his toy trains and not imagine him building Disneyland in his head. Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
  • We’ve all been waiting for the perfect book on Walt Disney; it has finally arrived and Neal Gabler’s done it. Wonderful! Ray Bradbury
  • “Mesmerizing . . . there’s nothing Mickey Mouse about this terrific biography of Walt Disney (1900-1966), arguably the most influential figure in 20th-century American culture. The research is astonishingly detailed . . . . About this superb biography, one can hardly be temperate. Gabler’s only obvious flaw is also his great strength–the sheer amount of detail and material he presents to the reader. But his engaging, unobtrusive prose, his passion for his workaholic subject (whom he regards as both genius and monster), and his steady march through an amazing career all inspire trust and gratitude. Here, then, is the definitive portrait of Walt Disney, the Dream-King. Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World (December 3, 2006)
  • Illuminating . . . engrossing . . . . Gabler paints a vivid portrait. Bruce Handy, New York Times Book Review (December 3, 2006)
  • A thoughtful, incisive and largely straightforward account of Disney’s life and career. Michiko Kakutani, New York Times (November 14, 2006)
  • Masterly . . . . Gabler conveys the limits of Disney’s personal life with sympathy and objectivity. He gives a very careful analysis of the labor strike that changed the mood of the studio irrevocably as well as a nuanced discussion of Disney’s alleged anti-Semitism. By conveying the odds against which Disney struggled, Gabler makes his triumph all the more impressive. Howard Kissel, New York Daily News (November 5, 2006)
  • Gabler has put forth the kind of protean epic that Theodore Dreiser or John Dos Passos might have written with their all-encompassing vision, if in a less strident gear. It isn’t just the immense amount of detail Gabler deploys to give density and shadow to Disney, but the frames he uses to contain such detail that brings this biography perilously close to being its own work of art . . . . His previous books . . . ring with pitch-perfect intuitiveness about popular culture buttressed by scrupulous research and judicious tactics. Gene Seymour, Newsday (November 5, 2006)
  • [A] tremendously researched and eminently readable biography . . . at once vast and intimate, a skillful act of juggling enormous amounts of fact with equal amounts of rumor, myth, gossip, adultation and hype. Gabler sorts through the contradictions and gives us a coherent image of the man . . . St. Petersburg Times (November 5, 2006)
  • A richly detailed, often poignant, psychological profile of a visionary . . . The Baltimore Sun
  • Neal Gablers’ Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination is a standout . . . [Gabler’s} vision of Disney and of Diseny’s vision of America is far more complex and shaded than most other authors’, and far more objective and reliable . . . He is a lively, thoughtful writer, easy to stay with over hundreds of pages . . . one of the most readable, enjoyable, and satisfying books of this year. Kansas City Star
  • “A poised and admiring portrait . . . [Gabler offers] rich detail and exhaustive combing of sources. Boston Sunday Globe
  • Delightfully addictive”
  • - John Hartl, The Seattle Times (November 3, 2006)
  • Revealing . . . Fascinating . . . Fans of compelling biographies and of Disney himself will be thrilled to have this in their collection. Library Journal (starred review)
  • A revelatory portrait of a visionary . . . Disney examines its subject with a balance of insight, awe and empathy. Pat H. Broeske, Bookpage

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chuck | 2/14/2014

    " I really liked this book. I felt like Disney had the creative geninus that has more recently brought us Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, etc. He was not satisfied with achieving one goal, but created one larger than the last. It seems like he chased new opportunities that seemed like they would be fun for him and left the repetition of past achievements to others. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracey | 2/11/2014

    " I'd recommend this biography to anyone interested in a very detailed look at the career of a man who helped shape the US popular culture from the 1930's - 1960's. His impact on animation, television and family entertainment, for better or worse, cannot be denied. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maureen | 1/24/2014

    " inciteful book. this was a seriously driven man.he never attained the dream, his life appears to be lonely because of his unique ideals "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle Scribner-MacLean | 1/20/2014

    " Really interesting, in-depth view of Disney's life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Travis | 1/15/2014

    " Reading for the second time - really a great book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Richard | 1/9/2014

    " Great comprehensive study of WED, but exhausting. By the end feels more like a catalouge of every meeting he every attended than a story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nathan | 1/4/2014

    " Fascinating look at Walk Disney's life and work. Chronicles his childhood through death and the drive for perfection and story that motivated him to the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ben | 12/27/2013

    " exhaustive look at Walt's life "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris | 12/13/2013

    " Not bad. Gabler goes pretty soft on Uncle Walt, but it's a reasonably good portrait of a man so complex that two or three additional volumes would be needed to do him justice. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Richard Boakes | 11/28/2013

    " Definitive. There are hundreds of biographies of Disney, but this is the one to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 9/15/2013

    " I finished it -- WOOT! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christopher | 8/2/2013

    " Awesome book on one of my idols. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael Pack | 4/27/2013

    " Just a great book, from start to finish. Wonderful pacing, a warts-and-all look at one of the most imaginative thinkers and doers of the 20th century. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 3/1/2013

    " This was a labor of love - of all things Disney! One of the best biographies I have read about Uncle Walt. The author did not seem to have either a pro or con hidden agenda. Lots of facts, details, etc. I do have to admit that I shed a tear at the end when Disney died. What an amazing man! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sidemoss | 2/21/2013

    " It was good, but it was very dark. I just don't buy that Walt Disney was that big of an a-hole. Maybe he was. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christine | 3/8/2012

    " I grew up watching Walt on TV, and years later lived down the street from Disneyland. So this was a natural. Walt was a very complicated character, very different in a lot of ways from the congenial "Uncle Walt" that we saw on TV. No bombshells, but an interesting psychological study. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael Melilli | 12/31/2011

    " If you're at all interested in the man who created an entertainment empire, this highly detailed biography is well worth your time. A fascinatingly in-depth look at the man who helped shape American culture in the last century. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dorian | 11/11/2011

    " Really good book about the man and his life. It doesn't pull any punches and I devoured it's 600 pages in about a week. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elizabeth Osborne | 10/17/2011

    " I REALLY enjoyed this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Thomas Hardy | 10/17/2011

    " This is a excellent book for those who really want to know who Walt Disney was. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liann McCreery | 10/1/2011

    " A fascinating man. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jacob Wallace | 9/3/2011

    " intriguing and inspiring so far! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deirdre A. | 8/31/2011

    " One of the best complete bios of Walt. The good, the bad and the genius. It is a must read for all who want to try to understand this amazing man just a bit. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bri | 5/6/2011

    " Best bio of Walt I found, major source for a paper I wrote for history. The thing that impressed me most about Disney was his tendency to hark back to the past as well as his enthusiasm for the technology of the future. I totally share that mindset. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dorian | 5/5/2011

    " Really good book about the man and his life. It doesn't pull any punches and I devoured it's 600 pages in about a week. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deirdre | 4/17/2011

    " One of the best complete bios of Walt. The good, the bad and the genius. It is a must read for all who want to try to understand this amazing man just a bit. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hashim | 4/3/2011

    " True genius and visionary!!! Walt once said "If you can dream it, you can do it" "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Case | 4/1/2011

    " One of the best books I've read....One of the most interesting lives in American history... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aaron | 2/24/2011

    " Love reading about Walt Disney's life. This is going to be a good one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessie | 1/23/2011

    " Loved this Biography. Gave some great insight into what happened to make Walt decide to do his studio. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 1/19/2011

    " This was quite interesting. Disney was an incredible innovator...any one of his achievements would cap a life's work. Listened to this in the car on a round trip to New England and that format worked extremely well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 1/13/2011

    " I've actually only read parts, but I heard about nearly every chapter in detail from my wife as she read it. Everything she read (and I heard) and we discussed was inspiring and engaging. Whatever his faults, Disney really did understand the wish our heart makes and why we need to pursue it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael | 11/27/2010

    " Just a great book, from start to finish. Wonderful pacing, a warts-and-all look at one of the most imaginative thinkers and doers of the 20th century. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sidemoss | 10/5/2010

    " It was good, but it was very dark. I just don't buy that Walt Disney was that big of an a-hole. Maybe he was. "

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