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Charlie Chaplin and His Times Audio CD – Audiobook, 20 Dec 2010

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Audio CD, Audiobook, 20 Dec 2010
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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks; Unabridged edition (20 Dec. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441759441
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441759443
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 18.4 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Kenneth Lynn's account of this phenomenon makes a fascinating book. -- Mail on Sunday

Lynn's treatment of Chaplin is sympathetic and tolerant, and the book is far above the level of the average showbiz biography. -- Sunday Times

Neither indulgent nor awed, but both critically astute and with a deep understanding of social and cinematic history...This is, in every sense, a classic text. -- Total Film

Not the least merit of this revisionist Life is that it distinguished between the often magnificent movies and the mean-spirited man who man them. -- Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Kenneth S. Lynn is the Arthur O. Lovejoy Professor Emeritus of History at The John Hopkins University. His books include Mark Twain and Southwestern Humour and Hemingway, which won the Los Angeles Times Book award for biography in 1987. He lives in Washington DC. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bloodnock on 3 May 2009
Format: Hardcover
If I die famously, please please do not ask Kenneth Lynn to write my biography!
This is a well written poison-pen addition to the Chaplin factory of bios - and that Lynn despises Chaplin is quite obvious from almost the first few pages. No coincidence, then, that the publisher decided to use the famous 'devil' pic of Chaplin on the dust cover.
Why Lynn just didnt cut to the chase within the first two pages and tell the reader how odious a subject Chaplin was to him is beyond this reviewer! Still, I did keep on reading mainly out of pure curiosity just to see where Lynn was taking me; where he did take me was to a place I really didnt want to go.
I gave you 2 stars Mr Lynn: one star because you write quite well, and the other because the book is still on my shelf and can't bring myself to chuck it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By RussInFrome on 10 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Wow, quite a manipulative read. The tone reminds me a great deal of how the U.K.'s Daily Mail almost enforces its opinions on the reader almost sub-conciously. I hope readers of this book have their critical thinking skills sharpened, and are able to read between the lines. Well written to be sure, but hardly objective. I learned some new things, such as Harry Crocker returning to Chaplin years after the City Lights falling out, but because of the tone of the book, was it worth it?
Anyone who claims parts of "The Circus" is boring has lost all credibility with me I'm afraid.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Unpleasant 28 Feb. 2006
By Priscilla von Pancake - Published on
Format: Paperback
Kenneth S. Lynn's "Charlie Chaplin and His Times" is an almost-unmitigated piece of ugly character assassination. Focusing obsessively on Chaplin's romantic/sexual liaisons and his "radical-left" politics, it is not Mr. Chaplin so much as Mr. Lynn himself who ends up as the unlikeable figure: narrow-minded, prudish, politically-unbalanced and, ultimately, unfair. By the book's midpoint, the only reason to continue reading is to marvel at the insidious viciousness with which Lynn pretends to accurately portray Chaplin [a task which pays dividends on nearly every page]. Chaplin was surely no saint, but Lynn's account allows Chaplin no quarter, continually twisting incidents in such a way as to render Chaplin as little more than a libido-driven, communist-duped, ungrateful egotist-and while these elements may have been present in the man, obviously he was much more. Lynn gives us precious little of the "more." To add to the book's ineffectiveness, it offers few insights into Chaplin's films themselves. Scrambling for a positive statement about the book, the best thing one can say is that it is rather gracefully-written. In sum, Kenneth S. Lynn's biography of Charlie Chaplin is a one-sided, mean-spirited, entirely unsympathetic book which does no one any good. Not recommended.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The Tramp was a Red! 23 Dec. 2003
By "willtb2004" - Published on
Format: Paperback
The best thing I can say about this biography by Kenneth Lynn is that counterbalances the 1992 biopic of Chaplin's life. In this film, Robert Downey Jr portrayed Chaplin as an artist-hero who was martyred by the political right. While the Chaplin movie didn't ring particularly true for me, Lynn's biography appears to go too far in the opposite direction. This biography is not about Chaplin the Tramp, Chaplin the filmmaker, Chaplin the comic. Its about Chaplin the sputtering, spastic tyrant, Chaplin the felon, Chaplin the sex fiend, Chaplin the Red.
This book reads more like an indictment than a biography. Lynn makes his case persistently and repetitiously. He grants weight to negative accounts of Chaplin's character while positive accounts are brushed aside, or are relegated to the footnotes. (A typical example: Lynn gives an account of the problematic relations between Chaplin and Brando. Lynn relies on Brando's account of an interaction between the two men, which reveals Chaplin as a petty tyrant. Then, in the footnote Lynn slips in a completely contradictory account of the same incident by another source. The footnoted source, which depicts Chaplin in a much more favorable light, seems far more credible than Brando's. Lynn repeatedly dismisses the veracity of Chaplin's autobiography. But when he comes to Brando - now there's a reliable memoirist!)
In some cases, Lynn delivers jabs at his subject which seem quite pointless (for example, Lynn states that Chaplin "ignorantly" named his Modern Times heroine the Gamin. (the word is correctly spelled gamine). To me, this sort of criticism seems petty and overly personal. In sum, this mean spirited and poorly informed biography of Charlie Chaplin can be safely bypassed. David Robinson's Chaplin biography remains the primary recommendation.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
beware: author hates subject! 11 Jan. 2000
By Stephen A. Melisi - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is factually wonderful. More details about Chaplin's life are discussed here than in other bios. But, I gradually wondered what it was that was bothering me about the writing. Suddenly it dawned on me. Kenneth Lynn hates Chaplin! I dont know why, but there is an overwhelming sense that he is doing his best to knock Chaplin down wherever he can, but Chaplin's genius is always sticking it to him in the end. Read with the knowledge that the author is in no way in love with his subject (a strange concept to be sure) this book can be read through and enjoyed with reservations. Without realizing this fact though, the reader can get a very unfair view of Chaplin.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
So informative, yet so thin 8 May 2009
By Snorre Smari Mathiesen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I received Prof. Kenneth Lynn's biography CHARLIE CHAPLIN AND HIS TIMES as a gift from my father several years ago, and I certainly don't blame him for having bought it. At six hundred pages, it is undeniably one of the most thorough studies of Chaplin's life hence written, and with Lynn's crisp writing style in mind, his book initially appears to do so incredible a thing as to rival David Robinson's CHAPLIN: HIS LIFE AND ART. Lynn's book was first published in 1993, eight years after that of Robinson, and thus relied heavily on the earlier book as source material, but Lynn also covers events in Chaplin's life that Robinson does not (his romantic affair with actress Florence Deshon in the early 20's being one example). At first glance, one may be tempted to wonder if Lynn's book is indeed the first one to go for, to anyone seriously interested in Chaplin's life and art.

Unfortunately, it turns out that such is not the case. While its factual content is undeniably quite vast, CHARLIE CHAPLIN AND HIS TIMES is so heavily characterized by what seems to be Lynn's personal dislike of Chaplin, that any virtues the book may possess appear minor on the whole. As the book goes on, Lynn's attitude strikes me as so unfairly negative that it gets hard on the stomach. Of course, as I am probably one of the most devoted Chaplin-fans in the world, I may appear biased, but having read something like 25 books on the comedian, I feel quite prepared for the fact that he was regarded by many as a complicated human being. It would be foolish to expect a biography of this size not to discuss the more controversial aspects of Chaplin's life. My objection stems from a conviction that Lynn consciously favors a negative perspective throughout, ignoring or being indifferent to accounts that are more sympathetic to Chaplin, whether it be his politics or his love life that is discussed.

Lynn is generally sympathetic when he covers the undisputable traumas Chaplin experienced as a child, abandoned by an alcoholic father and often separated from his mentally ill mother. However, when it comes to Chaplin's alleged experiences with poverty, his distrust in Chaplin's own recollections soon scatters the book to such a degree that it feels rather ridiculous. I don't mind Lynn challenging the accuracy of Chaplin's own account; on the contrary, it could be argued that some previous Chaplin-biographers have tended to be too uncritical. But Lynn does not seem to know when to stop, or even where to begin. In order to demonstrate that Chaplin's early life from an economical standpoint resembled lower middle-class life, rather than acute poverty, Lynn relies on statistics indicating that the streets Chaplin grew up in were a far cry away from the very worst slums of the Victorian era. Statistics? Really?

Lynn also quotes excerpts from books such as THE BITTER CRY OF CHILDREN, which indeed provide horrifying depictions of poverty, more extreme than what Chaplin is assumed to have experienced. But by using statistics and books on the worst kind of poverty as the basis for his analysis, Lynn ignores significant aspects. "Statistics" tend to be generalizing; and in apparent contrast to Lynn, I do not believe that one has to suffer the very "worst" kind of poverty to be severely affected by an unstable economic situation early in life, especially when these circumstances are combined with abandonment of the kind Chaplin experienced from his parents. But despite being unable to come up with much more than general statistics to prove his viewpoint, Lynn eventually tells us, literally, to "not trust" Chaplin's own account on his early life in his autobiography. He further finds fault in Chaplin's memoirs for its "absence of reflective discussion of the possible connections between the psychological disorder of his early years and the compulsions of his later conduct." Valid criticism, perhaps......if this was a biography on a psychoanalyst, and not a film comedian.

Whereas Chaplin's romantic life is concerned, the title of the chapter devoted to THE GOLD RUSH is quite telling: "Why don't you jump?" This, of course, refers to a remark Chaplin reportedly snapped at his second wife Lita Grey while they were onboard a train, and seems to reflect the author's apparent conviction that to cover outrageous anecdotes related to Chaplin's love life is of greater significance than his tremendous cinematic contributions. Certainly Chaplin's second marriage was extremely unhappy, and could not be left uncovered in a biography of this kind, but its historical relevance pales in comparison to the widely-held opinion that THE GOLD RUSH remains one of the greatest comedy films ever made. By avoiding to include a reference to THE GOLD RUSH in the title of the chapter that is supposed to cover that film (along with the marriage which happened to have taken place around the same time), Lynn seems to reveal what he is really most eager to discuss. Given Lynn's habit of diminishing the credibility of Chaplin's memoirs, it is startling how little fault he seems to find in Lita Grey's two books on her life with the comedian, despite several contradictory recollections. Lynn seems to have made up his mind on Chaplin before he set out to write the book. Another example includes his coverage on Chaplin's relation to actress Marie Doro; Chaplin had been secretly in love with Marie as a child, and eventually confessed his feelings to her as a grown man. Chaplin claims that this incident simply resulted in a quiet dinner. Lynn stands ready with more sarcasm: "Chaplin would not have been Chaplin if he had simply dined quietly with Marie." Whether true or not, I find such preconceptions to be amateurish in what appears to be a "serious" biography. Lynn is equally judgemental when it comes to Chaplin's politics, spending pages on end trying to convince us that Chaplin had all sorts of hidden motivations behind his generally liberal ideas, though he is unable -- again -- to come up with much, if any concrete evidence to back up his theories. It resembles downright character assassination at times.

Lastly, the most disappointing aspect is probably what appears, to me, to be Lynn's rather limited understanding of Chaplin's films. He does acknowledge Chaplin's incredible talent as an actor, and is generally reliable when he covers the plain facts such as shooting schedules etc., but his analyses of the films are sometimes rather absurd, and do not always even seem to reflect the action in the films (one example being A DOG'S LIFE). Lynn probably has a point when he criticizes Chaplin's treatment of his first secretary in Switzerland, which apparently led to the latter's nervous breakdown, and he may have been a clumsy father at times. But rather than giving us some of the good and some of the less good, Lynn seems obsessed with the bad. That's what makes CHARLIE CHAPLIN AND HIS TIMES ultimately a poor attempt at biography, despite crisp writing style and some reasonably good parts here and there. (--This review has later been revised and updated, 2014--)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
One-Sided, Hateful Biography 10 Jan. 2006
By Carl Plantinga - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This will be short because much of what I have to say echoes previous reviews. Kenneth Lynn dislikes Chaplin to the the extent that he has written a biography of the man that is patently unfair and one-sided. Lynn is often shameful in attributing hateful and narcissistic motives to as many of Chaplin's career and life decisions as he can. Lynn focuses obsessively on Chaplin's sordid sex life at the expense of his exquisite art. (Lynn doesn't know much about film, it is clear). Lynn writes of Chaplin's political leanings in terms that would make all but red-baiting Joseph McCarthy, the Junior Senator from Wisconsin, blush. Its almost as though through Lynn, McCarthy has returned from the grave. Read this book only if David Robinson's "Chaplin: His Life and Art" remains out of print, and then read it skeptically and as a last resort.
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