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Garcia: an American Life [Paperback]

Blair Jackson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.98
Price: 12.07 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 520 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Australia; Reissue edition (1 Nov 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140291997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140291995
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 15 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 639,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Examines the life and times of Jerry Garcia, capturing the psychedelic world of the musician and songwriter, his relationship with members of the Grateful Dead, his battle with drug addiction, and his lasting influence on popular music.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dear Mr. Fantasy 1 Feb 2007
I took to this book with a degree of hope given the position of Blair Jackson as a long time fan of the Grateful Dead, hoping that this biography would avoid the sensationalism of other books on the same subject and present the life of Garcia from the position of an informed, yet hardly disinterested, observer.

As I have turned the last few pages of the Epilogue I have to say that after a strong start the last few chapters of the book have left me rather dissatisfied.

This book offers a well researched, and somewhat detailed account of Jerry Garcia predominantly from the viewpoint of a man and his music. As to being a man there is no doubt, a man like the rest of us with his peculiarities and idiosyncracies, his strengths and his weaknesses. What comes across strongly throughout this lengthy account is a man who's love for music took him to great heights of virtuosity but who, in the process, suffered the fate of many in music, to become a celebrity drawing unwanted attention wherever he went whilst longing for the privacy to be that ordinary guy like everyone else.

Jackson's strengths in the book lie in the historical details of family life and upbringing, Garcia's life as a young man and the twists and turns of the musical developments. There is clearly a lot of factual and well documented material from a wide variety of sources from which we can derive some interesting perspectives of the general millieu of the life and times of the Grateful Dead and the larger community.

The people who knew the artist best of course, are those who were closest to him, the wives and the lovers but most importantly, the musicians who spent the most time with him.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This well written, but ultimately disappointing book, is less a biography of Jerry Garcia and more of a chronicle of the Dead's history with Jerry as its focus. There is not much new here that the veteran fan has not read or heard before. As an introductory primer, it is a success. But for those of us who have digested just about everything in the print media, it is a long read with a few eyebrow raising facts heretofore undocumented. For a more in depth look at Garcia, Robert Greenfield's fine oral history "Dark Star" is the choice. Somewhere between Rock Scully's sour grapes "Living With The Dead" the Jackson's work, lies a book that will admit the reader to the creative, charismatic, self destructive person that was Jerry Garcia. Perhaps, Dennis McNally's long rumoured tome on the band will fit in that space
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The defininitive history of the Grateful Dead 2 Mar 2011
By Phil B
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I couldn't put this book down from start to finish. It is an extremely readable account of the Grateful Dead's unique story.
The author loves Garcia; that is clear throughout the book. Nevertheless, he doesn't shy away from Garcia's flaws, particularly the drug issues, and he tries to give a full and honest picture of the man. I was especially impressed by the manner in which he includes a large number of direct quotations from people close to Garcia, and from Jerry himself, which shed much additional light on the subject.
I've read various other works about the Dead, including the books by Dennis McNally and Phil Lesh (both of which are great!), but So Far (sic) this is the book that I would recommend as the definitive history of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.
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