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Download West of Eden: An American Place Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample West of Eden: An American Place Audiobook, by Jean Stein Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jean Stein Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2016 ISBN: 9780451481917
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An epic, mesmerizing oral history of Hollywood and Los Angeles from the author of the contemporary classic Edie
 
Jean Stein transformed the art of oral history in her groundbreaking book Edie: American Girl, an indelible portrait of Andy Warhol “superstar” Edie Sedgwick, which was edited with George Plimpton. Now, in West of Eden, she turns to Los Angeles, the city of her childhood. Stein vividly captures a mythic cast of characters: their ambitions and triumphs as well as their desolation and grief.
 
These stories illuminate the bold aspirations of five larger-than-life individuals and their families. West of Eden is a work of history both grand in scale and intimate in detail. At the center of each family is a dreamer who finds fortune and strife in Southern California: Edward Doheny, the Wisconsin-born oil tycoon whose corruption destroyed the reputation of a U.S. president and led to his own son’s violent death; Jack Warner, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, who together with his brothers founded one of the world’s most iconic film studios; Jane Garland, the troubled daughter of an aspiring actress who could never escape her mother’s schemes; Jennifer Jones, an actress from Oklahoma who won the Academy Award at twenty-five but struggled with despair amid her fame and glamour. Finally, Stein chronicles the ascent of her own father, Jules Stein, an eye doctor born in Indiana who transformed Hollywood with the creation of an unrivaled agency and studio.
 
In each chapter, Stein paints a portrait of an outsider who pins his or her hopes on the nascent power and promise of Los Angeles. Each individual’s unyielding intensity pushes loved ones, especially children, toward a perilous threshold. West of Eden depicts the city that has projected its own image of America onto the world, in all its idealism and paradox. As she did in Edie, Jean Stein weaves together the personal recollections of an array of individuals to create an astonishing tapestry of a place like no other.

Read by Scott Brick, Paul Boehmer, Tara Sands, Cassandra Campbell, Arthur Morey, Mark Bramhall, Kathleen McInerney, Ann Marie Lee, Fred Sanders, Jorjeana Marie, Keith Szarabajka, Will Damron and Bruce Mann.

Advance praise for West of Eden
 
“Jean Stein’s West of Eden is a stunning exploration of five families who made Los Angeles what it is. Gossipy, dark, rich, mesmerizing.”—Joan Didion
 
“In times past, in an effort to capture the edge and feel of Hollywood during its golden age of glamour and noir, Nathanael West, Raymond Chandler, Carey McWilliams, and Joan Didion stretched language and genre to their limits. Jean Stein and West of Eden belong in this company.”—Kevin Starr, former California State Librarian and author of California: A History
 
“[A] compelling, occasionally gossipy, informative chronicle of the flamboyant personalities from a storybook Hollywood era . . . [West of Eden] rivets.”Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Edie
 
“This is the book of the sixties that we have been waiting for.”—Norman Mailer
 
“Through a kaleidoscope of seemingly fragmented voices, patterns form, giving brilliant definition to the very American tragedy of Edie Sedgwick.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“Extraordinary . . . a fascinating narrative that is both meticulously reported and expertly orchestrated.”—The New York Times
 
“An exceptionally seductive biography . . . You can’t put it down. . . . It has novelistic excitement.”—Los Angeles Times


From the Compact Disc edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • West of Eden is compulsively readable, capturing not just a vibrant part of the history of Los Angeles—that uniquely ‘American Place’ [Jean] Stein refers to in her subtitle—but also the real drama of this town, as reflected in the lives of some of its most powerful players. . . . It’s like being at an insider’s cocktail party where the most delicious gossip about the rich and powerful is being dished by smart people, such as Gore Vidal, Joan Didion, Arthur Miller and Dennis Hopper. The result is a mesmerizing book. Los Angeles Times
     
  • Perhaps the most surprising thing that emerges from this riveting book is a glimpse of what seems like deep truth. It’s possible that oral history as Stein practices it . . . is as close as we’re going to come to the real story of anything. . . . In a book that’s a study of the fleeting nature of worldly power, Stein, now eight-two, has grabbed for herself the only kind that lasts: She’s the one left standing, who gets to tell the story. The New York Times Book Review
  • Jean Stein’s enthralling new oral history, West of Eden: An American Place, brings some of [Los Angeles’s] biggest personalities to life. . . . As she did for Edie Sedgwick in Edie: American Girl, the former Grand Street editor harnesses a gossipy chorus of voices. Vogue
  • Even if you’re a connoisseur of Hollywood tales, you’ve probably never heard these. . . . As ever, gaudy, debauched, merciless Hollywood has the power to enthrall its audience. The Wall Street Journal
     
  • Stein expertly orchestrates a chorus of voices—rich and famous and not-so—to create a picture of Hollywood through the lives of five of its most powerful families, drawn to the promise of unmined riches in the oil fields and the fool’s-gold sparkle of stardom. The tales of jaw-dropping excess, cruelty, and betrayal are the stuff of movies, and the pleasures are immense. Vanity Fair
     
    “This riveting oral history chronicles the development of Los Angeles, from oil boomtown to Tinseltown, told through the stories of five prominent families.
  • If there is anyone still laboring under the delusion that great wealth and a couple of palm trees bring happiness, Jean Stein’s long-awaited oral history of Los Angeles, West of Eden, should put that notion to rest. . . . It is probably not an exaggeration to say that West of Eden is the most intelligent, painstakingly researched work of schadenfreude yet produced. Katie Roiphe, Town & Country
  • In a masterfully conducted symphony of voices, Stein tells the story of a coterie of families—including her own—in Malibu and Beverly Hills, each profile centered on someone who ‘came with a burst of energy from nowhere’ to invent a life of riches and fame. Stein’s polyvalent oral narrative documents the indelible beauty and giddy decadence of Hollywood’s twentieth-century golden age, complete with a parade of glamorous personalities and intrigues worthy of Henry James. Interview
  • Spellbinding. New Statesman
     
  • By far one of the best books ever written about Hollywood. Gaby Wood, The Telegraph
  • Jean Stein’s West of Eden is a stunning exploration of five families who made Los Angeles what it is. Gossipy, dark, rich, mesmerizing. Joan Didion
     
  • In times past, in an effort to capture the edge and feel of Hollywood during its golden age of glamour and noir, Nathanael West, Raymond Chandler, Carey McWilliams, and Joan Didion stretched language and genre to their limits. Jean Stein and West of Eden belong in this company. Kevin Starr, former California State Librarian and author of California: A History
     
    “[A] compelling, occasionally gossipy, informative chronicle of the flamboyant personalities from a storybook Hollywood era . . . [West of Eden] rivets.
  • “Gossipy, dark, rich, mesmerizing.”

    Joan Didion, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Riveting oral history.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “As ever, gaudy, debauched, merciless Hollywood has the power to enthrall its audience.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “The tales of jaw-dropping excess, cruelty, and betrayal are the stuff of movies, and the pleasures are immense.”

    Vanity Fair

  • “West of Eden is the most intelligent, painstakingly researched work of schadenfreude yet produced.”

    Town & Country

  • “[Captures] the real drama of this town, as reflected in the lives of some of its most powerful players…The result is a mesmerizing book.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “In times past, in an effort to capture the edge and feel of Hollywood during its golden age of glamour and noir, Nathanael West, Raymond Chandler, Carey McWilliams, and Joan Didion stretched language and genre to their limits. Jean Stein and West of Eden belong in this company.”

    Kevin Starr, author of California: A History

  • “The large cast performs earnestly and professionally.”

    AudioFile

  • An Entertainment Weekly Pick for 9 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in February
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
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About the Author

Jean Stein (1943–2017) was the longtime editor of Grand Street magazine, a former editor at The Paris Review, and the author of American Journey: The Times of Robert Kennedy, an oral history with interviews by Stein and edited by George Plimpton. She also wrote Edie: American Girl, which was edited with Plimpton.