JACK LONDON by Earle Labor


An American Life
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A highly sympathetic, knowledgeable portrayal strives to correct the “caricature” of this dynamic, brief life.

Having tracked his subject’s career since his scholarly research on London in the 1960s, Jack London Museum curator Labor (American Literature/Centenary Coll.; editor: The Portable Jack London, 1994, etc.) is an ideal biographer to capture the dazzling spirit and adventures of the acclaimed American author. London died at age 40 in 1916 from kidney disease and other debilitating conditions, having packed a great deal into a very short time, beginning with his teenage tramping days and stint digging for gold in the Klondike—experiences that provided the rich fodder for his “boys' ” stories and exciting animal tales like The Call of the Wild and White Fang. Thanks to his own self-promotion as the child of backwoodsmen and work as a voracious reader and wayfaring adventurer, legends swirled around London throughout his whole life and even death. As Labor fondly delineates, London did live large, seeming to be in a terrible hurry, starting with his childhood digestion of stories by Washington Irving, Poe, Stevenson and Kipling. He crammed his higher education into a few months and then restlessly took off again for the high seas, writing and speaking widely on socialist issues involving exploitation of the workers and social justice, diving into passionate love affairs and embarking on South Pacific adventures in his custom-made boat. All the while, London wrote like a fevered soul—1,000 words per day without fail—following what he called “the spirit that moves to action individuals and peoples, which gives birth and momentum to great ideas.” Labor grasps the fire and fight of this most American of authors.

A vibrant biography that will surely entice readers back to the original source.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-374-17848-2
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2013


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