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The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture Hardcover – 24 Mar 2016

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 01 edition (24 Mar. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476756694
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476756691
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 213,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"A roaring getaway car of guilty pleasures—film gossip, comic-book esoterica, hilarious tales of nerd rage. . . . Weldon writes with humor and Day-Glo élan." Jennifer Senior, The New York Times

"Smart, witty and engrossing." —The Wall Street Journal

"The Caped Crusade is a great read for those who are proud Gothamites, those less initiated, and those who flip the switch on the Bat-Signal in order to find themselves. . . .A sharp, deeply knowledgeable and often funny look at the cultural history of Batman and his fandom...both a page-turner and a Riddler Trophy." Chicago Tribune

“Engaging. . . . What Weldon ultimately achieves here is a character and comic-franchise history that is itself flexible enough to become what the reader needs it to be. If you’re a Bat-neophyte, this is an accessible introduction; if you’re a dyed-in-the-Latex Bat-nerd, this is a colorfully rendered magical history tour redolent with nostalgia.” —The Washington Post

"For fans of Gotham’s Batman, this is the perfect book to pick up before you head to the movie. . . . Even casual fans will find themselves quickly turning pages to learn more about how our comic heroes affect and even shape our everyday lives." Bookish

"[The Caped Crusade] accomplishes what so many supervillains, from The Joker to Bane, have long desired to do: pin down Batman and systematically dissect him. Weldon navigates Batman's history with an expert step...a winning mix of humor, and incisive social analysis. Even his footnotes are funny. Under that famous cowl, he sees ugliness, wonder, and the undercurrents of pop culture in all their conflicting glory." —NPR

"Writing a book about Batman is tricky. He is a cultural icon deeply meaningful to many because his story touches on themes of loss, adversity and perseverance. Also, he is an implausible character who defies laws of physics and common sense every time he swoops on gun-blazing lunatics. Weldon successfully walks the tightrope, showing reverence for the character but keeping it fun." —Associated Press

"Excellent, insightful. . . .Weldon has crafted that rare jewel: a book of comics analysis that nerds and “normals” alike can enjoy." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Sprawling in scope, yet written with breezy flair. . .An enthusiastic, immersive, entertaining guide for both die-hard Batfans and curious onlookers." Kirkus Reviews

The Caped Crusade is breezy, insightful, and surprisingly moving. Glen Weldon is the illuminating, hilarious writer Batman deserves—and the one we need right now.” —DC Pierson, author of The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To and Crap Kingdom

"Simply put, The Caped Crusade is the best book I’ve read this year....Highly addictive reading, with just the right blend of comic book history and nerd culture analysis." —Comic Book Herald

"The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture doesn’t read like a history book, and it’s not just due to the author’s fantastic storytelling. Weldon informs the reader of the history of Batman with a passion that can be found in any tried and true Batman fan and with a level of knowledge I’ve never encountered before. It is the book that Gotham City deserves, and I can’t recommend it enough." —ComicsVerse

“Weldon, a critic for NPR, offers possibly the most erudite and well-researched fanboy manifesto ever.” —Booklist

“There's no better time to stop, relax, take a breath and read NPR critic Glen Weldon's history of Batman…Because here, in these entertaining pages, you will discover that nerd rage over the Dark Knight is nothing new.” —Mashable (Geek Book of the Week)

“[A] smart, engaging dissection of Batman’s pulpy comic-book roots, his rise to campy ’60s TV stardom, his takeover of toy shelves and his resurrection as the dark knight of the silver screen.” —Parade

“Sinkinginto the pages of ‘The Caped Crusade’ is the next-best thing to debating who’sthe better Batman.” —Detroit Free Press

"Anyone familiar with Weldon’s frequent NPR appearances will delight in this book’s near-perfect translation of his verbal and comedic sensibilities. Its tone is reverent and analytical, acknowledging the absurdities of Batman and celebrating its wondrous appeal in equal measure." —DCist

"Strikes a seemingly impossible balance in its own right, serving as both a reasonably concise crash course in the character’s history and an astute pop-sociological analysis of what this all means. . . . It’s at once brisk and breezy and exceedingly well researched and lovingly constructed, offering something for both nerds and 'normals' alike in a time when the nerds have won." —Playboy

“If you looked at Glen Weldon’s utility belt, you’d find wit, humor & endless knowledge about Batman. Thankfully he's condensed that utility belt into a book where you will learn the origin, the ups, the downs and the sideways of one of the most iconic bat-based superheroes of all time.” —Kumail Nanjiani, comedian and star of HBO’s Silicon Valley

“This is the hero’s journey of Batman from a raw idea of a character to a cornerstone of pop culture. Weldon pulls the back the cowl and reveals us—creators, performers and fans—all collaborating to shape a modern myth that bends with the times to endure. Once I started, I kept reading every chance I got.” —Jeff Parker, writer of BATMAN ’66

"The Caped Crusade is seriously informed, daringly opinionated and endlessly charming...It’s not just a book about Batman, its Nerd Culture’s origin story." —Guy Branum, host of Pop Rocket

About the Author

Glen Weldon has been a theater critic, a science writer, an oral historian, a writing teacher, a bookstore clerk, a movie usher, a PR flack, an inept marine biologist, and a slightly-better-than-ept competitive swimmer. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Slate, The Atlantic, The Village Voice, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and many other places. He is a panelist on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour and reviews books and comic books for NPR.org. The author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography and The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, he lives in Washington, DC.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Loved this book (listened to the author reading it was extra enjoyable!). Not even particularly a fan of Batman but found the exploration of his history, influence on comic books and the legendary batnipple fascinating.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful exploration of not just Batman's history, but also the history of nerd culture. Loved both the physical and audio versions of the book. Glen's voice adds an extra layer to the text.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great read if you have even a passing interest in Batman.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 93 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Weldon Book 28 Mar. 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Glen Weldon first wrote my favorite book to date on the history, real world effect, and many iterations of Superman. Now he has done an equally well researched and compelling book on Batman. Even the most deeply entrenched fans of the character are such to find new information on the lore surrounding the Batman in The Caped Crusade. Strong recommend.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even if you're not into comic books 20 April 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I could tell you this is a comprehensive history of Batman but that does such a disservice to Weldon's work. It's of a comparative history of Batman, how the character and American culture have influenced one another, Batman's role versus other superheroes and the impact all of these have had on fans, how they communicate and ultimately how the Internet has affected all of these.

Like Weldon, I became a fan of Batman in syndicated reruns. I've read the comics sporadically but was always more of an X-Men girl. That said, Batman has always been a favorite precisely because of the lack of superpowers (except, yanno, money) and the intensity (insanity) that seemed inherent in his role. Weldon brings all of the appreciation of a fan but with an unsparing (and fun to read) critical view.

This is one of the few books I've read this year that I'm recommending to everyone I know.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Treadmill Treasure 31 Mar. 2016
By Wells Maine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've tried audiobooks at the gym a dozen times, and this is the only one I've gotten all the way through, the only one that made me look forward to the treadmill. It's Weldon's writing, for sure, which is a perfect blend of makes-you-feel-like-you're-learning-stuff prose and pretty good jokes that remind you that this is about Batman after all, and we can't take it too seriously (love that Weldon keeps reminding us that Batman is really just intellectual property owned and licensed by giant corporations). But I think what makes the audiobook so special (I own the hardcover too because...well, after listening for a week I decided I wish Glen Weldon would be my new best friend) is that Weldon reads it himself. For me, even author-read audiobooks are too slow and monotonous. I find myself either frustrated because I want the reader to go faster or bored and zoning out for long stretches. But Weldon's pacing and his pauses for punctuation (seems like a small thing, but it's not if you're on a treadmill for an hour), make it feel like a good friend is telling you a personal story. And your attention is held as you wait anxiously for the next section that requires Weldon to do an accent (his Grant Morrison alone is worth the price of admission). I don't always agree with Weldon's analysis; he's often dismissive of the movement that started in the eighties to take comics "seriously." Much of that movement he dismisses as a turn toward violence and realism, even when so much of it was an attempt to question what was unique about this art form and what areas of human experience it alone could wrestle with. But lots of his analysis is spot-on, particularly his thoughts on the narrative differences between superheroes in their natural comic book form and those same heroes forced into other forms, like movies and television.
Overall, you really could not ask for a better tone for the subject (I teach a college class on comic books and American Culture, and I can say that most books on the subject take themselves entirely too seriously). And I very much appreciate how careful Weldon is to blend his very well researched history of Batman with his analysis. Brilliant book. Even better audiobook.
5.0 out of 5 stars Nerds versus Normals 24 May 2017
By M. L. Asselin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Glen Weldon—author, critic, and effervescent panelist on NPR’s “Pop Culture Happy Hour” —writes of the Batman phenomenon from the standpoint of nerds versus “normals” cultures in the United States (and, presumably, beyond). His splendid book, “The Caped Crusade,” assumes that there is a nerd culture, such as that caricatured on the TV show “Big Bang Theory,” one, moreover, that is specifically focused on Batman, and what’s more, that there are “normals” distinct from them. One might just as well as point to Batman fans (the word is a derivative of fanatic) versus those with a more casual interest in Batman, for, as Weldon points out, there is diversity in the opinions of both groups. Nonetheless, some generalizations can be made: the nerds have favored a dark, solitary, heterosexual, borderline (?) psychotic Batman, whereas the “normals” have been somewhat more tolerant of less dark, more family-friendly, even if sometimes more sexually ambivalent, Batman.

Weldon’s device of nerds versus normals works well in treating this pop cultural phenomenon. He focuses on how these cultures defined the Batman idea over time. What might have been interesting would have been to have asked how Batman’s changing image reflected who we were as a people over time. What did the original Batman fighting those who bilked the rich say about an America coming out of the Depression, and what does the ultra-violent Batman of today say about our uneasy society?

This book is a romp through the decades of Batman from his first appearance in 1939 as a rich guy defending the rich right into this decade, in which Batman is, in print and on screen, more often than not the Dark Knight who fights shocking crimes against the city of Gotham, a superhero who revels in his “badassery.” After the camp Batman of the 1960s TV show, the nerds, who hated that unserious (or, rather, unseriously serious) depiction of the Caped Crusader, have gradually won the day as Batman embraces the nerds’ idea of him.

Weldon, an articulate and amusing podcast panelist, writes the way he talks, which means he uses sometimes precious and quirky expressions like “a bolus of gothy showbiz.” To read Weldon’s prose is to encounter this persona that Weldon projects on “Pop Culture.” You either like it or you don’t. It certainly seems appropriate in the context of superhero pop culture.

I found Weldon’s book a pleasure to read. The nerds versus normals thesis aside, Weldon provides a terrific summary of the Batman phenomenon. Those curious to learn more about the various aspects of Batman will certainly be grateful for and delight in Weldon’s annotated bibliography, which follows the book proper.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glen Weldon's CAPED CRUSADE is Long Overdue (Definitive) Book on the Batman Legacy, Stem to Stern... RECOMMENDED READING! 26 Jun. 2016
By Stephen R. Bissette - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Glen Weldon tackles the entire history of the BATMAN comic book, franchise serials/films, TV series, and pop cultural staple, all from the perspective of a gay fan—the very thing Dr. Fredric Wertham feared might happen! Weldon is a gracious, generous, candid, and erudite guide into this universe, and it's a fun and informative read. Here's the book on BATMAN that should have been written and published long ago; we're in curious and expansive times for THE CAPED CRUSADE to land a mainstream publisher and release. This is the kind of writing that used to be relegated to fanzines (including the likes of AMAZING HEROES); now its a welcome addition to libraries and wider audiences. I covered some of this turf in my own book (TEEN ANGELS AND NEW MUTANTS: RICK VEITCH'S BRATPACK® AND THE ART, KARMA, AND COMMERCE OF KILLING SIDEKICKS), but Weldon's book will reach a much bigger readership with far more authority, and deservedly so. RECOMMENDED!!!
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