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The Life and Truth of George R. Stewart: A Literary Biography of the Author of Earth Abides [Paperback]

Donald M. Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

15 Aug 2012
Best known for his 1949 post-apocalyptic thriller Earth Abides, George R. Stewart (1895-1980) spent a lifetime wandering the American landscape and writing books about its geography and history. An English professor at the University of California at Berkeley, the exceptional scholar-author penned some of the most remarkable literary works of the 20th century, inventing several types of books along the way--including the road-geography book, micro-history, micro-novel, place-name history, ecological history, and the ecological novel. By weaving human and natural sciences and history into his books Stewart created works with a multi-disciplinary perspective on events and places that influenced numerous other writers, artists, and scientists, including Stephen King, Greg Bear, and Page Stegner. This volume considers George R. Stewart's rich oeuvre while chronicling a life-long quest to uncover the deepest truths about the man and his work.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland & Co Inc (15 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786467991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786467990
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,018,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for anyone who has read Earth Abides 19 Oct 2012
Don Scott's biography of George R Stewart is written beautifully; Scott's word pictures and prose are worthy of such a great literary figure as George R Stewart who was, as Don reminds us, the man who named the storms.
If you want to know more about Stewart, then this book will tell you everything you need to know from Scott's perspective of Teacher, Ranger, NASA Interpreter and now, author.
Stewart was an ecologist who, well ahead of his time, wove ecological themes into many of his books; both factual and fiction -the most important of these being Earth Abides.
Scott's phrasing and words spring from the page; I wanted to read and re-read many of his passages and savour in my minds eye the word pictures he has beautifully constructed. This is a book from which the Don Scott's words will strike the reader deeply, leaving a hunger to discover more about Gerge R Stewart, and from this perspective, Scott has achieved what he has set out to do, without doubt.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.9 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than Earth Abides 11 July 2013
By Sandy A - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
In an interesting and thorough manner, Donald Scott has put into print a book that needed to be written. He has included the lives of the Stewarts from the earliest possible times, including their schooling, marriage and careers. Witness the honeymoon picture on the front cover of the book: the soft-spoken professor of English, George Rippey Stewart, and his outspoken, irrepressible bride, Theodosia, usually referred to as Ted. Extensive interviews with both offspring (Jack and Jill) and grandchildren give insights into daily life and much larger projects in preparation for writing and publication. Son Jack Stewart's observations on his father's thorough pursuit of scientific information about locations in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada for Sheep Rock and driving across country on US 40 for that book stressed his dad's accuracy of observation and lack of everyday conversation. As a geologist, Jack appreciated the former; as a companion he'd hoped for a bit more of the latter.

The Bancroft Library contains materials from Stewart's research on each of his books, which Scott relates. The most intriguing were those on Earth Abides. Science Department colleagues advised him on which domestic animals would thrive and which would disappear. They also gave an estimate of the demise of water pressure, electricity and trans-continental highway structure. Manufacturers predicted the length of life of gasoline in tanks, tires on cars, and probability of car engines working without maintenance. From local hardware stores, he estimated the end of ammunition for guns being exhausted there, with a shift and development of bow and arrow in its place. Thus protagonist Ish can drive across the country to find out who has survived the plague and can continue to do so. Local cattle provided a consistent food source. A bow and arrow for class entertainment became the eventual replacement for firearms. The book's concluding sentence sets the tone for much of Stewart's work: "Men come and go, but earth abides."

Scott also stresses the impact of Storm (1946)on both sides of the Donner Pass, which has been repeated several times over, including passenger train stoppage, emergency decisions on potential Sacramento basin flooding and air flight interruption in spite of satellite weather prediction. Stewart even rode a cowcatcher on a locomotive to the top of Donner Pass in the snow for accuracy in his description in the book. For Fire he signed on with San Francisco bar flies as part of a crew for the reaction of such people on an actual fire line. Ordeal by Hunger is still for sale in the shop at the top of Donner Pass; the tall tree trunks showing the depth of the snow the Donner Party faced are still there. Stewart's favorite of his books was Names on the Land.

Scott has skillfully put together the best parts of Stewart's Scottish heritage and philosophy (The Scottish Enlightenment) and lessons to be learned from mankind's successes and failures in Years of the City, a book about the creation, success and eventual failure of an imaginary Greek City. The enlightened atmosphere of the University of California at Berkeley, especially the English Department, also plays a large part in Stewart's and the book's development. The books still in print are better known than the author of over 30, many of them best sellers in numerous editions. The Life and Truth of George R. Stewart should rectify that.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography 20 Jun 2013
By Linda L. - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I like most of Stewarts writing,and have long wanted to know more about hIm. This biography is what I wanted and more. It is well written, has a good bibliography and a good list of Stewar's works, I will be reccomending it to others who I know like Stewart.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proud to be Your Granddaughter 11 Mar 2014
By Megan - Published on
Dear Gramps,

I love your book, you know. I don't usually read biographies because they are boring to me, but yours was super interesting and I especially love the Disneyland references. I'm 100% sure you'll be famous in the next few years.

Megan Deer
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightened by Scott's writing 25 Jan 2013
By steveart4all - Published on
I've admired George R Stewart since I first read Earth Abides in the early 1960's, yet have seen little written about this important American author. There have been a couple of works in which their authors have written about Stewart from a particular angle, however, there has been nothing written in such depth, and as fascinatingly readable as Scott's biography of George R Stewart. On reading "The Life and Truth Of George R Stewart", its obvious that Scott has an immense love for the words and writing of GRS; an ecologist before the term became fashionable, and through his deep understanding of Stewart, his words are an absolute joy to read and savour.
This is not a dry biography or a scratch of the surface of the person, but the reader will be carried bouyantly along by Scotts wonderful word pictures; an unmissable read!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well done! 30 Jan 2013
By Mary Valleau - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Don Scott is one of the best remaining storytellers, and this one's in print. The Life and Truth of George R. Stewart: A Literary Biography of the Author of Earth Abides is not only interesting, it's a good read.
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