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This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie [Hardcover]

Elizabeth Partridge
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 4 2002 Golden Kite Awards
Before Springsteen and before Dylan, there was Woody Guthrie. With "This Machine Kills Fascists," scrawled across his guitar in big black letters, Woody Guthrie brilliantly captured in song the experience of twentieth-century America. Whether he sang about union organizers, migrant workers, or war, Woody took his inspiration from the plight of the people around him as well as from his own tragic childhood.

From the late 1920s to the 1950s, Guthrie wrote the words to more than three thousand songs, including "This Land Is Your Land," a song many call America's unofficial national anthem. With a remarkable ability to turn any experience into a song almost instantaneously, Woody Guthrie spoke out for people of all colors and races, setting an example for generations of musicians to come. But Woody didn't have the chance to find everything he was looking for. He was ravaged by Huntington's disease, just like his mother, and died in a mental institution at the age of fifty-five.

Award-winning author, Elizabeth Partridge has taken the life of this songwriting genius and woven in his lyrics, and other rich materials to create a touching and highly entertaining portrait of a true talent.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The author of Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange shapes a lucid, affecting portrait of another indisputably restless spirit, the prolific songwriter and impassioned folksinger Woodrow Wilson Guthrie (1912-1967). Drawing from Guthrie's autobiographical writings and correspondence and from original interviews (with the singer's children Arlo and Nora, and Pete Seeger, among others), the author painstakingly charts his subject's itinerant, often troubled life. Tragedy often, eerily, in the form of devastating fire shadowed Guthrie from his childhood, when his mother, suffering from Huntington's Disease (which eventually ravaged the singer as well), was finally placed in a state hospital after setting her husband on fire. (Years later, Woody's four-year-old daughter died from severe burns.) In chronicling Guthrie's cross-country ramblings and his relationships with his three wives, children and fellow musicians, Partridge offers intriguing insight into the singer as well as the creation of his songs. Background on political and social conflicts gives young readers access to the issues that so frequently inspired Guthrie. Ample quotations, excerpts from his lyrics, reproductions of his sketches and photographs infuse these pages with Guthrie's spontaneous and charismatic if erratic personality. A memorable biography of this talented artist and understated proponent of social change. Ages 12-up.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-This outstanding biography belongs in every library collection, large or small. With access to the extensive Woody Guthrie Archives and opportunities to interview two of his children and his longtime friend and fellow musician Pete Seeger, Partridge has written a fascinating portrait not only of the man, but also of the historical upheavals that shaped his life and were captured and reflected in his songs. Against a backdrop of the Depression, the Dust-Bowl migration, farm workers' camps in California, World War II, and the Cold War era, readers are introduced to the whirlwind of creative, nervous energy and often-erratic behavior that characterized Guthrie. Although he was hospitalized with Huntington's Disease by the time of the 1960s' folk-music boom, young singers including Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and Odetta led a new generation to love his music. While deeply appreciative of his many talents, the author does not gloss over his irresponsible behavior and frightening outbursts of violence, which grew worse as his disease progressed, or the family tragedies he endured. Although Guthrie's active career lasted just over two decades, readers are left with an overwhelming sense of the remarkable creativity and productivity of those years and its enduring legacy for future generations. Numerous black-and-white photographs, reproductions of Guthrie's drawings and letters, and concert posters and flyers appear throughout the handsome volume. Partridge includes detailed source notes and a page of resource information about the archives and the Huntington's Disease Society of America.
Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Some days Woody Guthrie's mother, Nora, could be wonderful-loving, gentle, singing and laughing, taking care of her family. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Below me the golden valley March 7 2004
Elizabeth Partridge set herself up with a monumentally difficult task when she decided to write an authoritative juvenile biography of the great Woody Guthrie. How to write a story about a man that was simultaneously brilliant and woebegotten? Who spoke out for racial equality, strength among the masses, and freedom while also leaving every family who ever loved him? Partridge has done as good a job as could be done, considering her circumstances. The result is a meticulously researched labor of love that is just as much tribute as it is tell-all. As Pete Seeger himself has said about the work, "The best book about Woody ever written".
Woody Guthrie was born in 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma to a mother with Huntington's Disease and a father who joined lynch mobs and Klu Klux Klans. Talking about this point in Woody's life, Partridge simultaneously displays all the harsh horrible things Woody had to deal with growing up without actually condemning anyone. In fact, the portions of the text that talk about Charley Guthrie (Woody's father) joining in the persecution of African-Americans aren't related with any commentary at all. It's as if Partridge is working on the assumption that the readers will be able to process these facts and come to their own conclusions, rather than have interpretations rammed down their throat. It is also the first moment the author gives the audience the benefit of the doubt. It is not the last.
Moving on through Woody's life, we see him grow up, loose his parents (one way or another), and join various bands. We also see him beginning to travel all across the country on his own. At last, Woody marries and it becomes clear that he is not exactly prime husband material.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Woody Guthrie's life & songs April 14 2003
This book is very appealing at first glance. The cover is striking and attractive. The pages hold many photos and other features include notes on sources used, notes on where to find further information, and an index. Elizabeth Partridge portrays Woody Guthrie lovingly despite his failings in his domestic life.
The problems come when actually reading the book. Some of the pictures seem unnecessary and included just to take up space. The pictures are sometimes poorly placed and do not match up with the information until a few pages later. Partridge also focuses on his years as an artist and includes very little information about Huntington's Disease. A brief section on what the disease actually does to a person and perhaps the treatments used would have been a nice addition to the book.
Nevertheless, the book is a wonderful resource and an enjoyable read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars We shall overcome ! ! Oct. 19 2003
I really enjoyed this book.A longtime fan of Woody and have the bulk of his music that has been published.I have other books of Guthrie;namely, Woody,Cisco,&Me by Jim Longhi,Pastures of Heaven by Woody,edited by Marsh and Leventhal,Woody Guthrie-a life by Joe Klein and this is a very good addition.Though it is a quick read, there is a lot of fresh stuff;plus a lot of really good pictures I've not seen before.
If Pete Seeger says "The best book about Woody ever written", it's got to be good. Can you imagine Pete saying something he didn't believe? Get it,it's a keeper and enjoy it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Clumsy writing, but a necessary book Jan. 22 2003
By A Customer
I couldn't help but find myself wishing someone else had written this book, because the "Life and Songs" of Woody Guthrie do indeed deserve a treatment for younger readers. The inability of the author to convey the importance and pain of the political events of the period, is especially dispiriting. And Guthrie's own life could have been presented with a more perspicacious examination of his artistry.
All the same, somewhat recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book. July 6 2003
By A Customer
An always interesting and well presented recap of an astonishing
life. This book has stayed on my nightstand to be picked up again and again at all hours.
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