Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist” as Want to Read:
I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  193 ratings  ·  42 reviews
From Kirk Douglas, Hollywood royalty and bestselling author ofThe Ragman’s Son and My Stroke of Luck,comes the candidstory of the making ofSpartacus, the blockbuster film that broke the blacklist

One of the world’s most iconic movie stars, Kirk Douglas has distinguished himself as a producer, philanthropist, and author of ten works of fiction and memoir.Now,more than fifty
ebook, 218 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Open Road Media (first published January 1st 2012)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about I Am Spartacus!, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about I Am Spartacus!

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 359)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Sharon Penman
I just loved this book. Spartacus is one of my very favorite films, and it was fascinating to read the behind-the-scenes account of how it was made. With an all-star cast, there were a lot of healthy egos involved and Douglas has some funny stories about their elbowing. And I was intrigued to learn that he was the one who came up with the brilliant "I am Spartacus!" scene at the end of the film, and had to fight with the director to keep it in. It is also an insightful account of the blacklist a ...more
This was one of my monthly book club selections. I was eager to read it because it promised an insider's view of the Hollywood blacklist, when many notable figures were driven out of the film industry in a national frenzy of witch hunting.

I was far less interested in Kirk Douglas himself, but my opinion changed as I read the book. I took it for granted that Douglas' recollections would be self-serving, but the more I read the more I came to admire the actor/producer. His story is fascinating, an
Kirk Douglas is now 95, but in this book he turns his memory back to 1959 when he decided to make the film "Spartacus". This is not simply a film memoir though, as interesting as that might be, because the film had an important and historic event attached to it - the fact a blacklisted writer was given screen credit under their own name for the first time since the fears of McCarthyism.

Dalton Trumbo was one of the most respected writers in Hollywood when he went to jail in 1947 for refusing to i
Karen Wyle
I seriously considered a lower rating for this book, much as I enjoyed it, due to one glaring omission. In discussing the historical context for the book, namely the activities of the House Committee on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Senator Joseph McCarthy, and the resultant blacklist, Douglas gives us plenty of indignation about how fundamentally un-American HUAC was, and how freedom of speech and association were unconstitutionally infringed. With this assessment I wholeheartedly ...more
This was a quick and easy read. I love classic Hollywood, and the stories behind the films. I really enjoyed Douglas' setting the making of Spartacus against the historical background of McCarthyism and the Hollywood blacklist. It made the story about more than just Kirk Douglas and his film.

It really is amazing what actors, producers, directors, and other people do in the making of a film. Their work is so easily loved or hated by the public, especially in this age when everyone can take their
Not only a memoir of one of my favorite films from one of the primary players, but a story of a very dark time in our country: the Red Scare of the 50s and the Blacklist. I listened to this book, read by Michael Douglas, who is an admirable stand-in for his dad. The author writes from a place of humility. While Spartacus, a film produced by Kirk Douglas, is regularly pointed to as the picture that 'broke' the blacklist, Douglas gives himself very little credit. As he hired the banned screenwrite ...more
This was very quick reading on the making of Spartacus. I didn't realize that Kirk Douglas was the force behind making the movie and how much was at stake for him personally. He had to secure money, negotiate between star egos, change leading ladies mid-filming and work with writers and directors. The novel was already written by Howard Fast while he was in jail for defying the House Un-American Activities Committee. He thought Dalton Trumbo, a writer who had gone to jail as one of the “Unfrien ...more
Gavin Smith
This is a superb read. Douglas writes with a casual conversational tone that's more than a little reminiscent of Bob Evans in The Kid Stays in the Picture. This really works for the book as it feels as if you've somehow stumbled across Douglas in a quiet bar sipping on a martini and he has decided to spin you a yarn about the old days. While Douglas is strident in his criticism of the Hollywood blacklist and the political climate of the time in general, he rarely sounds preachy and comes across ...more
Kirk Douglas gives us a fascinating memoir on the making of an epic movie during the shameful era of Hollywood blacklists. Spartacus had some of the biggest stars of the day Kirk, Lawrence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, Tony Curtis and Jeanne Simmons. Listening to the interplay among this outsized egos was fascinating.

But more importantly, the book reminds us of the damage the blacklists had on the careers of those who stood up for their rights in the face of the House on Unamerican
Jo Stallworth
That tough guy persona? Not an act. At 95, Kirk Douglas's voice and his intellect are as clear and cogent as ever in this powerful memoir. Douglas, author of The Ragman's Son and My Stroke of Luck and the producer of Spartacus, brings his ferocious wit and keen insight to this book about the making of the film that put an end to the Hollywood Blacklist. While he explores the timeless themes of scapegoatism, integrity, and betrayal faced by the Hollywood Ten, he likens the age of McCarthyism to o ...more
Excellent book. I've read several of Kirk Douglas's novels in the past and they were all very good, but this true story of the making of the 1960 movie "Spartacus" is really something special. Written by Kirk (star and co-producer) fifty years after the movie was released, this is not your average "making of" book. "Spartacus" is a great movie in its own right (starring a lot of the big stars of the time - Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, Charles Laughton, Tony Curtis and the beaut ...more
Kirk Douglas is an engaging writer with something to say. It was because of his courageous decision to give Dalton Trumbo full credit as the screenwriter for Spartacus that the despicable Hollywood blacklist finally ended. Aside from the story of the end of the blacklist, this is a very entertaining read about what it was like to make a big budget movie in 1960. The script was rewritten countless times, the actors all argued over whose scenes were bigger, and the director, a young Stanley Kubric ...more
Kathleen Hagen
I Am Sparticus, the making of a Movie, the Breaking of the Blacklist, by Kirk Douglas, narrated by Michael Douglas, Produced by Brilliance Audio, Downloaded from

This book narrates two major events in Kirk Douglas’ life, the blacklisting of some of the best actors and producers and screenwriters in the 1950’s, and the three-year marathon it took for him to produce Sparticus, and play the leading role. He picked some of those same talented blacklisted screenwriters to help make this m
Anyone who didn't live through the '50s probably doesn't fully appreciate the extent of the Hollywood blacklist. I didn't, until I read this book. You should too, even if you're not a huge fan of Kirk Douglas or Spartacus.
A very insightful (if short) view of Hollywood in the time of the blacklist and the making of Spartacus. I enjoyed that Kirk Douglas is very honest with his own shortcomings as well as those of everyone around him
Ryan Moore
I've been a Michael Douglas fan for years, but I've known little about his father. This is a great look at how the blacklisting of the 1950s was overcome.
More like 3 1/2ish, mainly because in books like these, the voice of the research assistant comes through with the recitation of facts that kinds of removes the narrative from the "author's" voice. (Douglas' asst. was David Bender, who I've heard periodically on progressive talk radio and I felt like I was hearing him talk part of the time.)

For a quick and light memoir written by one of the main Spartacus figures, it was good. But I'd love to read more about it in context of the time and other d
Bob L
What a wonderful book! This is not only a poignant memoir about the making of Spartacus, but it also provides first-hand insight into McCarthyism and the climate of fear in the US in the 1950s. In so doing, Douglas holds up a mirror to the mood in America today. The paranoia and demagoguery that were prevalent then remain a part of our culture decades later.
Great read. Douglas is a natural storyteller and I loved his reflections back on his younger self.
Borrowed this one from Dad, and I was keen to read it since I use the first hour of this film when I teach a unit on gladiators.

The story of the original work and its inspiration (the blacklisting of the 50s) was so fascinating as was reading about the process of film making. I loved all the juicy details about Olivier, Kubrick, and Ustinov's over the top personalities and the story of Douglas' life too. The pictures from the film were just awesome.

I didn't care for his style - sometimes way too
Jim Kelsh
This book is a little treasure.
95 year old Kirk Douglas looks back on the time and times surrounding his producing and starring in the movie, "Spartacus".
It was the time of blacklists. Based on a novel by a blacklisted author (Howard Fast) and a screenplay by a blacklisted screenwrite (Dalton Trumbo), Douglas stuck his neck waqy out with this film.
The back stage gossip is great and the photos are unique. Kirk Douglas looks back at his own role with a open eye as to his strengths and weakness.

My absolute favorite actor. I listened to the audio…Kirk’s son narrated….I knew that K Douglas took a stand for Dalton Trumbo…but I didn’t know just how important a stand this was….The McCarthy/Black List idiocy should be part of high school studies……incredibly incomprehensible what happened!

Sinatra tried to fight it…but couldn’t….but Kirk made it. You can do a lot with a movie…

What an amazing story….thank God that nasty horrendous time is over. A must read or listen.
Bob Koch
Great book. Learned a little about the blacklist period of time during the 1950s, republican Joe McCarthy, Hedda Hopper (the rush limbaugh of her day), and the politics of making a movie. Also learned a lot about Kirk Douglas, 95 years young. What a guy! Took courage. Learned something about Spartacus too, the Roman slave, who led a slave revolt. I'm sure I've seen the movie years ago. Want to see it again now. Forward by George Clooney.
Jack Neary
This is a seemingly honest and fascinating account of Douglas' mounting of Howard Fast's SPARTACUS, and most especially the actor/producer's confrontation with the notorious Blacklist, and Blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. It is exquisitely written. I listened to the audible book narrated by Kirk's son, Michael, which added a touch of intimacy to the story. I highly recommend this book to anybody interested in what it takes to produce a film.
I enjoyed this book as a fairly quick read.

It tells the story of the Hollywood blacklist from the point of view of a close but outside observer, as well as giving the reader details about the interpersonal drama among the big names associated with Spartacus. Also, kets be honest: the author is 95 and suffered a serious stroke several years ago, so it's pretty awesome that Douglas wrote this, even with help.
This isn't the kind of book I would have thought to pick up. I read it for a book club. Kirk Douglas writes as if he's sitting in a chair across from the reader, having a simple conversation. I really didn't care about the details of casting and filming the movie, but I did learn a bit more about the despicable actions of the House Unamerican Activities Committee and its infamous blacklist.
This was a great memoir that gave a very personal account of the McCarthy era and the movie business. If you have enjoyed Kirk Douglas' work in film, interested in the struggles of making Spartacus, or would like to hear some great stories about the glamour-age of the film industry, you should pick up a copy of "I am Spartacus!"
Teri Cohn
A very interesting and informative look back at the Hollywood Blacklist and the important role the film "Spartacus" plyed in Hollywood history. Loved the behind the scenes, straightforward narrative. Kirk Douglas is a colorful, engaging storyteller, I felt like he was sitting across from me, telling the story directly to me.
Carrie Kaplowitz
Excellent. Had some personal meaning for me as my father was amongst those blacklisted in Hollywood at the same time as the unfriendly 10. It is a quick read but I learned some things I didn't know about the blacklist. I am glad Kirk Douglas is still around to tell his story.
I truly enjoyed this book. I like the 95-year-old Kirk's voice as a writer. He's thoughtful and mellow, and it's fun to read his take on the brash, movie-star Kirk. The McCarthy period is one of my passions, and I learned a lot about Dalton Trumbo from this book. I recommend it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Lee Marvin: Point Blank
  • A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940
  • Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3
  • Paul Newman: A Life
  • Room 1219: The Life of Fatty Arbuckle, the Mysterious Death of Virginia Rappe, and the Scandal That Changed Hollywood
  • Tough Without a Gun: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart
  • Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit
  • Bond On Bond: Reflections on 50 years of James Bond Movies
  • Swanson on Swanson
  • The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and My Father's Twentieth Century
  • An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo
  • Wanted Women: Faith, Lies, and the War on Terror: The Lives of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Aafia Siddiqui
  • My Life as Indiana Jones, James Bond, Superman and Other Action Heroes
  • I Said Yes to Everything: A Memoir
  • Evenings with Cary Grant: Recollections in His Own Words and by Those Who Knew Him Best
  • The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era
  • Knock Wood
  • Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption
Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch, ) is an American stage and film actor, film producer and author. His popular films include Out of the Past (1947), Champion (1949), Ace in the Hole (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Lust for Life (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), The Vikings (1958), Spartacus (1960), Lonely Are the ...more
More about Kirk Douglas...
The Ragman's Son My Stroke of Luck Let's Face It: 90 Years of Living, Loving, and Learning Dance With the Devil The Gift

Share This Book

“So they became superpatriots. And to prove themselves right-minded, they were more than willing to sacrifice the lives of others, even their fellow Jews. They were like the Vichy government in France, collaborators who held on to their influence and position at the expense of their fellow countrymen.” 0 likes
More quotes…