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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dear Mr. Fantasy
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...
Published on 1 Feb 2007 by Junglies

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another tired summation of the Grateful Dead experience
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...
Published on 27 Aug 1999


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dear Mr. Fantasy, 1 Feb 2007
By 
Junglies (Morrisville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
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. It is a sad reflection of our crazy corporate world today that we spend most of our lives at work and in the company of our colleagues and in the case of musicians that is probably truer than most. This however, points to, in my mind, the greates deficiency of the work altogether, the lack of insight into the mind of Garcia the man which can only be provided by those closest to him. To be sure the facts are there, especially the broad outlines but the intimate details are sadly lacking. One of the most telling moments in this regard lies in the epilogue where the lawyers for the last Mrs. Garcia argue that the marriage with Mountain Girl should not be considered a true marriage because of the couple living apart, only to fall flat when it is disclosed that this was the situation to with the last marriage. What insight into Jerry's mind can be gathered from those intimates who were close emotionally but separate physically. What is lacking are views from the bandmembers aside from the noticing of his health and well being.

The latter chapters of the book concerning around the last ten years of garcia's life are somwhat lighter than the earlier chapters signalling some loss of interest in the band by the author himself at that point?

The matter of fact treatment of the drug abuse issue is to be welcomed in stark contrast to the approaches of other books on the subject. It is better to be honest than to overlook or sensationalise and the truth of the matter is that many people in our society, for many reasons, have problems with some form of dependency and it is disingenuous for many to disappove without examining their own behaviour.

Overall I think that there is a place on the shelves for this book along with those of McNally and Lesh. It helps give us a broader picture of the life and times of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead but in many ways it raises more questions than answers but it is well written and easy to read and in general the pros outweigh the cons.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another tired summation of the Grateful Dead experience, 27 Aug 1999
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 (Liverpool, England) - See all my reviews
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars If only the trip had been longer, 26 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Garcia: an American Life (Paperback)
As a Dead fan of over 30 years and still able to appreciate the music as fresh and revealing this book is indeed essential in unravelling the genius that was JG. Exceedingly well referenced and researched this is as authentic as it gets. Garcia was his own man and this is blatantly obvious and explains his subsequent decline due to excessive substance abuse and his treatment of his various concubines. Only reservation is the lack of family input in later life and his final resting in India, minor points for such a wonderful read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Garcia bio against which all others will be judged., 23 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Long-time Dead observer Blair Jackson has fashioned the most comprehensive biography yet written. Well researched, it sheds new and interesting light on Garcia's youth, and his pre-Dead folk and bluegrass periods. Perhaps the best aspect of the book (aside from Jackson's conversational style of writing) is the empahsis on the MUSIC Garcia and mates played. Many of the previous books about Garcia and the Dead have ignored the most obvious draw of the Dead over the years in favor of lurid personal details or accounts of the colorful (and often erroneoulsy stereotyped) Deadheads. While investigating and exploring all of Garcia's life, Jackson manages to balance the story and show the very creative side of his musical legacy. A must for every Deadhead's shelf, and of interest of any lover of music. The standard against which all future accounts of the "long, strange trip" will be judged.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Bio. If you're looking for a well written ..., 15 Aug 2014
This review is from: Garcia: an American Life (Paperback)
Great Bio.If you're looking for a well written Bio of Jerry Garcia, or the Grateful Dead then give this book careful consideration, you probably won't regret it.
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Garcia: an American Life
Garcia: an American Life by Blair Jackson (Paperback - 1 Nov 2000)
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