Scott Eyman
author of JOHN WAYNE
Kirkus Reviews talks to biographer Scott Eyman about John Wayne: The Life and Legend, his new, highly praised account of the star's life, including Wayne's tempestuous love life and his conservative politics in liberal Hollywood.


KIRKUS REVIEW

A comprehensive and compelling examination of The Duke.

Hollywood biographer Eyman (Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille, 2010, etc.) goes beyond a mere cataloging of film credits and biographical highlights to illuminate the process that transformed Marion Morrison (1907-1979) into cinema’s most enduring symbol of masculinity, John Wayne. The poor son of a diffident man and a difficult mother, Wayne enjoyed social success in his school career due to his good looks, winning manner and athletic prowess. However, after an injury ended his football scholarship at the University of Southern California, he angled his way into a job as a prop boy at various movie studios. His commanding height, strength and graceful bearing were noted by director Raoul Walsh, who cast him in a small role, which led to a mostly undistinguished career cranking out generic, low-budget Westerns for Poverty Row studios such as Monogram and Republic. Eyman vividly evokes the humiliation and difficulty of those years in the trenches, where the canny Wayne devoted himself to learning every aspect of moviemaking and performing effectively for the camera. When John Ford gave Wayne his big break in Stagecoach (1939), the actor was ready. Eyman devotes much attention to the complicated but rewarding relationship between Wayne and Ford—the two would partner on an astonishing number of classic films—which would cement Wayne’s image in the public mind as film’s pre-eminent avatar of American manhood. Wayne’s personal life was as full of incident as his roles, including a tempestuous series of marriages, a long-term affair with screen siren Marlene Dietrich and controversy surrounding his conservative political views. Throughout, Eyman portrays Wayne as a man of hidden dimensions: a regular guy who liked to smoke and drink with his buddies and who was also a formidable chess player; a controlling figure on the set also capable of tremendous kindness and generosity; and an untrained actor who mastered the art of film performance.

Insightful, exhaustive and engrossing—a definitive portrait of the man and the legend.


Recent Interviews

Clinton Kelly

author of I HATE EVERYONE, EXCEPT YOU

January 9, 2017
I HATE EVERYONE, EXCEPT YOU by Clinton Kelly Bestselling author and television host Clinton Kelly’s memoir I Hate Everyone Except You is a candid, deliciously snarky collection of essays about his journey from awkward kid to slightly-less-awkward adult. Clinton Kelly is probably best known for teaching women how to make their butts look smaller. But in I Hate Everyone, Except You, he reveals some heretofore-unknown secrets about himself, like that he’s a finicky connoisseur of 1980s pornography, a disillusioned critic of New Jersey’s premier water parks, and perhaps the world’s least enthused high-school commencement speaker. Whether he’s throwing his baby sister in the air to jumpstart her cheerleading career or heroically rescuing his best friend from death by mud bath, Clinton leaps life’s social hurdles with aplomb. With his signature wit, he shares his unique ability to navigate the stickiest of situations, like deciding whether it’s acceptable to eat chicken wings with a fork on live television (spoiler: it’s not). “A thoroughly light and entertaining memoir,” our critic writes. View video >

Douglas Preston

author of THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD

January 2, 2017
THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD by Douglas Preston Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God—but then committed suicide without revealing its location. Three quarters of a century later, bestseller Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization. The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story is his account of the expedition. “A story that moves from thrilling to sobering, fascinating to downright scary—trademark Preston, in other words, and another winner,” our reviewer writes in a starred review. View video >

Upcoming Kirkus Interviews

February 7, 2017
Laird Hunt