What Makes Sammy Run?
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What Makes Sammy Run?

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  837 ratings  ·  106 reviews
What Makes Sammy Run?

Everyone of us knows someone who runs. He is one of the symp-toms of our times—from the little man who shoves you out of the way on the street to the go-getter who shoves you out of a job in the office to the Fuehrer who shoves you out of the world. And all of us have stopped to wonder, at some time or another, what it is that makes these people tick....more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 7th 2002 by Random House (first published 1941)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Book Circle Reads 82

Rating: 4.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Everyone of us knows someone who runs. He is one of the symptoms of our times—from the little man who shoves you out of the way on the street to the go-getter who shoves you out of a job in the office to the Fuehrer who shoves you out of the world. And all of us have stopped to wonder, at some time or another, what it is that makes these people tick. What makes them run?

This is the question Schulberg has asked himself, and the answer is...more
Ben Loory
a book about an asshole, narrated by a dickhead.
Andy
Plans to film “What Makes Sammy Run?” have been bandied around for decades, but the movie has already been made more or less via another Budd Schulberg story, “A Face In The Crowd”, i.e. boy-meets-girl as casualties of an arrogant, greedy media climbing monster. Anyone who has enjoyed films like “The Player”, “The Bad And The Beautiful” or “Barton Fink” will have a great time reading this, and Schulberg never runs out of great dialogue.

Richard Knight
A criticism not only of Hollywood moguls but also of ruthless ambition, What Makes Sammy Run? is a landmark work from the 40s that turned out to be hauntingly prescient. Sammy's stab you in the back to ahead mentality represents America, and this book makes for an interesting Hollywood story that is relatable in every aspect of modern day business. You may even have a Sammy Glick in your life, which is scary to say the very least.

The story centers on the aforementioned Glick, and it's told from...more
Thomas J. Hubschman
Good stuff. Great perennial American character, like Gatsby.

A good example, though, of what Pritchett said about psychology being reduced to motivation in contemporary literature. The narrator is obsessed with finding out, well, what makes Sammy run--and run over so many people as he does so.

I admire Schulberg if for no other reason than his old-fashioned attitude that there is more to write about than one's own ethnic group. Waterfront (the novel) could have been written by an Irish-Catholic f...more
Jon Boorstin
He knows whereof he speaks. It's remarkable that he had the perspective to write this book as a young man, having grown up at the center of power in Hollywood. A smart and empathetic assessment of the state of the business he was steeped in from birth. Movies aren't the center of the culture, as they were then, before television, much less the web. If the Sammy Glicks of the world are now hustling Apps, only the details have changed.

Andrei Alupului
"A grand book, utterly fearless and with a great deal of beauty side by side with the most bitter satire." Right on, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Michelle
This is a great little book. And very indicative of the type of "me first" thinking that has come to infect and identify American culture as we have come to know it of late.

Sammy Glick is the fore-runner to all of the Wall Street bankers of today - the oil industry execs - all of the "contestants" on the reality shows who think that they deserve the prize more than anyone else (and they'll pay people to vote for them, bribe people, etc) - of the fashion industry wannabes who stab people in the...more
Nicholas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Max
Schulberg hits on something really archetypal here. He chronicles the rise of fictional film mogul who's part C. F. Kane and part Howard Hughes, from the perspective of a narrator who's part Salieri and part Nick Carraway. And it's pretty amazing, actually. On one level, it's a sharp dissection of a 40s insider Hollywood: a takedown of what was wrong with the studio system. But then it becomes more: a portrait of Jewish angst and hardship at the turn of the century. But really, it's an absorbing...more
Colin Heber-Percy
A masterpiece. For On the Waterfront alone, Schulberg deserves to be considered one of the great American writers of the C20th. But What Makes Sammy Run? confirms his position. A savage and witty attack on an entire political / social philosophy (or rather a non-philosophy), the book charts the rise and rise of Sammy Glick from the gutter of New York's East Side to Beverly Hills. The individualism, the greed: the heartlessness at the heart of the American dream.
Jessica
What Makes Sammy Run tells the story of Sammy Glick, a man with boundless ambition and no morals to stand in his way. It is told from the point of view of Al Manheim, who watches Sammy's meteoric rise with anger, jealousy and awe. It has come to be one of the classic "Hollywood Novels" portraying Hollywood at its worst and most truthful, and as someone who works and lives in Hollywood, a lot of what Schulberg was trying to convey still remains true to this day. The book got a lot of criticism fo...more
Blumenfeld
An easy, quite witty and fast book that sticks to the topic, thus a 'study' of Sammy Glick and to some degree--Hollywood scene of the late 30's/early 40's.
Elliott
"The Great Gatsby" in Tinsel Town.


Here are some highlights from the novel:


-Schulberg capturing a few essential truths about the public's fascination with Hollywood in this brilliant description of the crowd outside a film premiere:

"The theater entrance was full of excitement that came mostly from women who were attracted to the leading man, and men resentful or regretful that they would never go to bed with anybody like the star, and unimportant people who idealized their envy into admiration...more
Mark
What a read. Budd Schulberg wrote the screenplay for A Face in the Crowd, which you may not have seen but absolutely should and for On the Waterfront, which I have to imagine you have seen and if not, shame shame.

This pace of the prose moves every bit as fast as the hellbent for success Sammy Glick does from page one to an ending that I forgave for being slightly more preachy than poetic. Schulberg could not have made what the Gotham Writers' Workshop Writing Fiction instructional book refers to...more
Gaston
Nov 21, 2011 Gaston marked it as to-read
Everyone of us knows someone who runs. He is one of the symp-toms of our times—from the little man who shoves you out of the way on the street to the go-getter who shoves you out of a job in the office to the Fuehrer who shoves you out of the world. And all of us have stopped to wonder, at some time or another, what it is that makes these people tick. What makes them run?

This is the question Schulberg has asked himself, and the answer is the first novel written with the indignation that only a y...more
Kane Faucher
A quintessential case study of pathological narcissism. The obsession of the protagonist, Al Manheim, with the exuberant, merciless ambition of Sammy Glick(Stein) is an attempt to draw an etiological set of reasons and conditions for what makes people like Sammy possible. It should be noted that this variety of aggrandized secondary narcissism and an inability to form proper object relations was, at the time of the book's writing (1941), becoming a systemic feature of corporate culture and the r...more
Tara
If Schulberg had written a sequel, it would have been the story of Citizen Kane, or that's how I think of this book and the character Sammy. Then again, when reading about the author's father, BP Schulberg and his short-lived partnership with Mayer (of MGM), you'd think that Mayer inspired the character of Sammy.. but of course, Sammy is a composite character.

If you're a film buff, you'll probably relish this book even more. There was one section where Schulberg compared the story's scenes to mo...more
Peter
Budd Schulberg's What Makes Sammy Run? is a devastating portrait of ambition and success, set against the glimmering backdrop of 1930s Hollywood. Sammy Glick is a screenwriter and then producer who has no artistic talent whatsoever, and yet becomes a great success due to both his own relentless, remorseless drive and the town's warped values. Though he has no artistic talent, he wantonly steals from and exploits those who do, and turns their creative work into his own personal success through hi...more
John
Great, cynical narrative of Hollywood's Golden Age, focusing on the ruthless ambition of Sammy Glick, who rises from newspaper copy boy to Hollywood producer through a combination of other people's talent and his own lack of scruples. It occurs to me that it should be read alongside the two other great Hollywood novels of its moment, Day of the Locust and the unfinished The Last Tycoon (the latter of which I'll reread next). This is especially because Schulberg (himself the son of a Hollywood pr...more
Paul Lyons
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joe
Schulberg, whose father B.P. Schulberg was a top executive at Paramount Pictures, had a good deal of guts to unleash this book when he did (it was published in 1941when the Hollywood studio system was in full flower). The immigrant-Jew-becomes-mogul rags to riches story that was once so typical of the movie industry bigwig—Mayer, Goldwyn and Zukor, among others, all came from that mold—is used by Schulberg to tell the story of Sammy Glick, formerly Samuel Glickstein, who drops one identity to pu...more
Gabriel Valjan
"You think more like a man than any woman I've ever known -- and most men."

"If you think that's a compliment, you're crazy," she said. "Every time a man discovers that a woman thinks, the only way he can explain it is that she happens to have a male mind. You just don't know me, Al. I'm feminine as all hell."

Budd Schulberg. What Makes Sammy Run? Vintage Book. (1990). p. 131.

Schulberg earned critical success and notoriety with his first novel,What Makes Sammy Run? at the tender age of 24. Sammy i...more
Emily
Nov 10, 2009 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2002
Well, one of them I read beforehand, and it's been a while now, I will just write about it briefly. B.R. Myers recommended What Makes Sammy Run? (1941) by Budd Schulberg (who wrote the screenplay for On the Waterfront) so I decided to give it a try. The first five pages are among the most grabbing I have ever read -- funny, pithy, intriguing. It opens:

The first time I saw him he couldn't have been much more than sixteen years old, a little ferret of a kid, sharp and quick. Sammy Glick. Used to...more
Steve
A novel of the '30s Hollywood written in the '50's by the son of a producer who "named names" in the McCarthy era (along w/ Kazan, who would direct Schulberg's "On the Waterfront". Not only one of the great Hollywood novels ever written, but Schulberg's insights still valid today - we all know someone like Sammy Glick. Luckily I was able to find a Modern Library edition with that great dust jacket illustration.
Sherrill Watson
Written in 1941.

How and why Shmelka Glickstein became Sammy Glick. From copy boy in New York to giant Hollywood writer / producer / manager(?), taking careful credit for everyone else's work, "Sammy" makes it big in a few short years. A good profile of a running, frightened little boy / man. Today there would be good therapy for him, but in 1941 it was just something to be written about.
Joshua
I've meant to read Budd Schulberg's classic tale of Hollywood ambition for a long, long time. I can finally cross this one off my list thanks to a book on CD and the long commute I currently have at my new job. There's going to be a lot of books on CD coming my way to help me pass the time in the challenging Los Angeles traffic! WHAT MAKES SAMMY RUN? is the darkly-tinged Horatio Alger-esque tale of a nobody newspaper kid who begins to climb the ladder based on sheer guts, audacity, good fortune...more
Nadia

What an annoying set of characters. I didn't care about them enough to finish the book. Everyone: kit, al, Julian, and most importantly Sammy, made me wonder about how terrible life in the 1940s really was. And also it opened me up to the general asshole-ness of Hollywood. Would not recommend.
Robert
Not exactly a subtle presentation and long since bested by the likes of Moredcai Kaplan, but this tale of a young man's incomprehensible and amoral drive for perceived success as he makes his way from the Lower East Side to the upper echelons of Hollywood is still a quick-paced and meaningful read.
Cullen Gallagher
Mar 15, 2008 Cullen Gallagher rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of "The Great Gatsby" and other "American" novels
One of the great "American" novels, up there with "The Great Gatsby" or even "The Catcher in the Rye." The narrator's quest to understand "What Makes Sammy Run?" is the quest to understand not just the presence, but also the pressures of "the American Dream," and the anxieties it creates. The closer the narrator gets to pinning it down--is it environmental, familial, psychological--the more complex and elusive it becomes. Ultimately it is not a destructive force as in "Gatsby," but one that alie...more
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Budd Schulberg (1914–2009) was a screenwriter, novelist, and journalist who is best remembered for the classic novels What Makes Sammy Run?, The Harder They Fall, and the story On the Waterfront, which he adapted as a novel, play, and an Academy Award–winning film script. Born in New York City, Schulberg grew up in Hollywood, where his father, B. P. Schulberg, was head of production at Paramount,...more
More about Budd Schulberg...
The Disenchanted The Harder They Fall Ringside: A Treasury of Boxing Reportage Moving Pictures: Memories of a Hollywood Prince On the Waterfront: The Final Shooting Script

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“They looked at each other until they weren't acquaintances any longer.” 4 likes
“I suppose it's too bad people can't be a little more consistent. But if they were, maybe they would stop being people.” 3 likes
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