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Jack London: A Life Paperback – 17 Aug 1998


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; New edition edition (17 Aug 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006548482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006548485
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Alex Kershaw plunges readers into the world of Jack London by using lots of direct quotations and maintaining a fast-paced narrative--just right for dealing with an author who crammed as much action into his brief, 40-year existence (1876-1916) as can be found in his classic adventure fiction The Call of the Wild. Kershaw does justice to London's ardent socialism and pioneering efforts to protect the natural environment; his distasteful racism is acknowledged, but only briefly. This heartfelt tribute aims to kindle our admiration for "the passion and energy with which [London] lived, and which still sustains his best prose."

From the Back Cover

Born illegitimate in 1876 on the San Francisco waterfront, Jack London became a legend before he was out of his teens: as oyster pirate, seal-hunter, hobo, Klondike goldminer in Alaska, and spectacular drinker. On publication of 'The Call of the Wild' in 1903, he soon became the most highly publicised writer in the world.

“A well-paced, unstuffy and engaging account of one of this century’s most paradoxical literary figures … We cannot help but read on, compelled at least in part by morbid curiosity to find out how a great man could be brought so low.”
PAUL WATKINS, 'Times Literary Supplement'

“Money, love passion is the troika that powers [Kershaw’s] book … Everyone who met Jack London felt his largeness of spirit. Kershaw’s triumph is to evoke this in a racy narrative that gulps the same air as London’s fiction … Kershaw’s brilliant portrait ripples … his compelling book fits its subject marvellously.”
JAMES WOOD, 'Guardian'

“I read this fascinating book at a gulp, appalled and admiring all at the same time. The energy, dynamism and sheer bursting life-force of Jack London bowls you over.”
ROBERT CARVER, 'Scotsman'


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Sep 2000
Format: Paperback
I have been deeply interested in Jack London for years, and recently finished reading Alex Kershaw's book. It is an illuminating review of the amazing life London made for himself. Starting from his boyhood and taking us through Jack's journey's on sea, land and american history, the book is almost as capturing as the stories Jack himself wrote. It is packed with information about his journeys, his family life, his struggles with alcohol and illness, his fiery ambition and success in breaking away from his working class roots. Apart from the achievements, it also takes a look at the man himself, his loves and hates, takes us through the ups and downs of his personal life and portrays London as a generous man who loved life, nature and the company of good friends. Including several pages of photographs and quotes from people who knew him, this is a book any fan of Jack's would very much enjoy. If you like Jack's stuff, you'll like this!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael H on 25 Oct 2007
Format: Paperback
I discovered Jack London's name when reading Paul Theroux... seeing this on a bookshelf some years ago, I bought it on impulse - a wonderful tale of an amazing larger than life character, from the days of him as a young seaman in in the Babary Coast days of the early San Francisco waterfront, through his years as a successful writer after Call of the Wild, diverting on to his mad project to build the perfect yacht and sail the pacific again.. to his fading late years when he took other colourful if destitute souls under his wing and gave them room to live for free..

He came to London in his earlier years and saw the abject poverty of the city of a century ago - which led him to write People of the Abyss.

Highly recommend this to anyone who likes biography.
Mike H London
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "brett2268" on 31 Jan 2000
Format: Paperback
London's enigmatic life is savagely thrown into the harsh light as Kershaw unveils our hero in all his glory and all his hopeless despair. What greatness this man possessed, the bar room brawls the manic high sea adventure, the great Klondike gold rush, good god did this legend really live this madness in just 40 year's, fellow readers believe me he did.This is a no holds barred, hair clawing, bone crunching account of a literary giant
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. G. Jaques on 7 Mar 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have come to Jack London somewhat later in life following references to him in the last two books I have read - one Russian (Man is Wolf to Man - Janusz Bardach) the other Chinese (Wolf Totem - Jiang Rong). I was curious as to how the authors could know his books and quote from them so well. Alex Kershaw has produced a biography that answers my query and gets to the very heart of the man and what a man! Above all he does him justice. Occasionally a book is life-changing and I consider this to be one of those. I recommend this book very highly.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderful to read about the adventure he had in his life and how that reflected in his writing. Loved JL when I was 14 and still now at 50. Everything about JL is an adventure.
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