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This story of the "all-seeing agent of didactic forces and an ally of strict parenting" is dense with history yet told with the same delight and rapt fascination as Clement Clark Moore's "Twas' the night before Christmas." Offering the definitive chronology of hope and imagination, Bowler follows the Santa myth from its origins to the jolly man's appearance on the big screen. The lore of St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra and patron saint of maidens, fruitful marriages, students and children, has morphed with the various cultures that have adopted him as a symbol of Christmas spirit: he has inspired both charity and greed, and has been known to answer to generals during wartime. Bowler demonstrates how Santa Claus has flourished with the help of imaginative writers and artists and has endured despite the forces of advertising, politics and Hollywood. "The future of Santa Claus is not up to children," writes Bowler, "his life rests in the hands of parents," and their "acts of loving folly" such as half-eaten cookies and letters from the North Pole. Filled with humor and warmth, this "biography" should be kept among the other tales of Christmas to be read the moment holiday cynicism begins to gather.
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"Offering the definitive chronology of hope and imagination, Bowler follows the Santa myth from its origins to the jolly man's appearance on the big screen....Filled with humor and warmth, this "biography" should be kept among the other tales of Christmas to be read the moment holiday cynicism begins to gather."
"[Gerry Bowler studies] Santa in all of his incarnations, from a slightly tricky character in earlier centuries to the cherubic personality promulgated by advertising….[Santa Claus: A Biography] is graced with a wry wit that makes it both informative and entertaining…recommended for all libraries."
—Tessa L.H. Minchew, Georgia Perimeter Coll., Clarkston in Library Journal
Praise for The World Encyclopedia of Christmas
“Meticulously researched, well-written, and often downright funny, this encyclopedia does justice to its fascinating subject.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)