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The Autobiography of Santa Claus (The Christmas Chronicles)

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  2,626 Ratings  ·  529 Reviews
It all started when Jeff Guinn was assigned to write a piece full of little-known facts about Christmas for his paper, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. A few months later, he received a call from a gentleman who told him that he showed the story to an important friend who didn't think much of it. And who might that be? asked Jeff. The next thing he knew, he was whisked off to ...more
Paperback, 289 pages
Published October 19th 2006 by TarcherPerigee (first published 1994)
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Beth F.
Jan 20, 2009 Beth F. rated it it was ok
So. I liked the first third of this book. The second third started to get annoying. And by the last third I was rolling my eyes and kept imagining myself making teenage finger-gagging gestures over the ridiculousness.

At the beginning, the concept of the evolution of Santa was interesting but with every chapter that passed, the heavy-handed plot started to annoy me because it became too predictable.

Nicholas started out on his own but eventually acquired an entourage of immortals that included a
Dec 07, 2008 Donalyn rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one, really
Shelves: adult-fantasy
OK, the only reason I even read this one is because my book club chose it for our December selection. This book proves to me why Dicken's A Christmas Carol is still so popular-- it was the last decent Christmas book written (although The Santa Land Diaries and Skipping Christmas deserve honorable mention).

This book follows the evolution of the Santa Claus myth starting with Saint Nicholas and ending with the Coca-Cola illustrations (which solidified our vision of how Santa looks).

Although the bo
Dec 01, 2007 Tom rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Doubters
This book reads like Bill and Ted's Great Adventure. I could tell you how Santa met Mrs. Claus, but I won't. I could tell you how he got into the business, but I won't. I could tell you the how and who Santa recruited to help him, but I won't. I could tell you about how Santa got to fly a sleigh, but I won't. I will tell you that he's only been at the North Pole since 1913! Suprised. If you want to know these things too, read the book. You will enjoy.

Merry Christmas to All and to All, Good Night
Lisa the Librarian
Jan 01, 2009 Lisa the Librarian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who love Christmas
This is not only a fun book, but also very informative. I had known that the Santa Claus we know now had evolved from a real historical figure: Saint Nicholas, however I had no idea that he lived so long ago. He was actually born in 280 AD!

It is amazing that this one man and his love of Jesus Christ which manifested in his giving gifts to the needy has a legacy that extends over almost two thousand years!

The book is well written and the story and very interesting. It tells how Bishop Nicholas st
Julie F.
Dec 12, 2011 Julie F. rated it did not like it
OK, I know that I am going to get coal in my stocking for only giving this book one star, but I call 'em like I read 'em. This book follows the evolution of the Santa Claus myth starting with Saint Nicholas and ending with present day interpretations.

Basically, I found the book to be poorly written. Although it offers some historical information about Santa and the how traditions have evolved over time, it was done as a mostly boring and tedious timeline. It starts with the actual person who eve
Nov 29, 2012 Charly rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone.
This book was nothing like I expected it to be. It was much better. A marvelous tale of how the original Saint Nicholas evolved into today's Santa Claus. If one can believe in a bit of magic this wonderful representation of the Santa Claus story finds ways to account for many of the current stories about Santa. In some ways this book is one that will be far more appreciated by "believing" adults than by children. Guinn carefully explains nearly every nuance of the Santa story told from the ...more
Dec 22, 2014 Shannon rated it it was amazing
Several Christmases ago, a friend of mine from church recommended this book to me. It has 24 chapters, and is a wonderful story to read to your kids throughout the month of December, leading up to Christmas Eve (one chapter a night, starting December 1st).What I like most about the book, is that it weaves Santa's story throughout history. Several historical figures from Charlemagne to Attila the Hun to Ben Franklin cross Santa's path as the years pass. It even explains how Santa never grows ...more
Kathleen Nightingale
Dec 28, 2015 Kathleen Nightingale rated it really liked it
This book has sat on my shelf for so long I have no idea how I got it. Let's just say it was magical. When I found it this year, once again, I sat it on my bedside table to read. Of course it was, once again, at the bottom of the pile. I was determined that this was the year to read this book over the Christmas holidays. I did!

This book will now be passed on to a young lady, Violet, who is just reaching the age of questioning the reality of Santa Claus. This book traces Santa Claus from the ear
Charlane Lucardie
Dec 03, 2015 Charlane Lucardie rated it liked it
It was good but I didn't like all the history and the inclusion of all the war heroes. Just give me a good 'ol magic Christmas story any day. Not some history lesson.
Matt Spaulding
Nov 29, 2016 Matt Spaulding rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really love this book. I think it's about 98% perfect. As a Christmas nut, and, even more specifically, a Santa Claus nut, I really appreciate all the actual history involved.

The troubles, for me, begin to arise when Santa, his friend Felix and his wife Layla meet Attila the Hun. From that point out, Santa and company go on meeting legendary historical figures and inviting them into the fold, thereby making them immortals. While I actually like the idea of Santa crossing paths with historical
May 11, 2010 Claire rated it it was ok
This book begins wonderfully; I was intrigued and delighted to get historical background on Saint Nicholas and the little tid bits of historical accuracy that were tossed in after the death of historical Saint Nicholas continued to interest me as I paged through the book. However, once the bulk of the history subsides and the "magic" kicks in, I really felt as though the author relied more on the a wistful "I do believe" spirit in his readers rather than plot or character development. Attila the ...more
Nov 04, 2009 Kim-Lost-In-A-Book rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katrina (trinakb)
Dec 10, 2010 Katrina (trinakb) rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 15, 2009 Becky rated it liked it
I liked the first part about the real Saint Nicholas in the 4th century Turkey. But then the author got more "imaginative", in lack of a better word, and Santa started picking up famous historical figures to be his special "helpers" though there were no elves, but indeed flying reindeer, and endless quips about Santa's endless expanding girth. I couldn't quite believe Santa picking up Attila the Hun, King Arthur and Theodore Roosevelt and others even Amelia Earheart to help with flight ...more
Dec 17, 2010 Marcie rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. My friend who recommended it praised how it brought the magic back into Christmas. I love Christmas and like the premise. But...
It's history lite - not designed for those who immerse themselves in the details of life in the past.
Perhaps if he hadn't set the stage in the intro that this "autobiography" was historically accurate (OK - he just said the dates had been verified, but it implies greater historical accuracy) I would have been able to buy in to the story. But
Nov 11, 2014 Roberta rated it did not like it
Shelves: christmas-books
Santa Gump's Excellent Adventures.

As if the story of Santa isn't fantastic enough, Jeff Guinn has Santa meeting all manner of historical figures; Attila the Hun, St. Francis of Assisi, King Arthur to name a few. This book started out ok - a little real history sprinkled with the Santa myth. But it grew more and more fantastic (and I don't mean that in a good way) and more and more tedious as the story wore on until I was disinclined to believe even the real history because the fiction was so far
A. Teez
Dec 12, 2015 A. Teez rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite Christmas stories ever. I have it on CD and in my Audible library. I have listened to it for five or six Christmas seasons straight. In previous years, I listened to it as it was written like an Advent calendar (24 chapters) but this year, I am listening to it while I do some distance traveling.

The audio is read by Santa, yes his jolly self! He shares his experiences throughout history, well since he was born around 300AD. He has met so many famous
Nov 20, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was ok
I love good Christmas read-alouds and I had heard good things about this book so I am checking it out to see if it might be one to read to the kids. So far I'm not loving it at all. It feels like one of those stories your kids write in elementary school that goes on for pages and pages with no real excitement, "and then we did this.... and then we went here.... and then we did this....". They just keep traveling along picking up new historical figures. I keep hoping it will get better but ...more
Dec 30, 2010 Ellen rated it it was ok
What a load of crap. In theory this could have been a great story, but the first-person-Santa perspective did not resonate with this reader. I also kept wanting to call BS because all of his "helpers" were famous figures in history. Like we are supposed to buy - in bulk - that King Aurthur, Atilla the Hun (and his wife of course), Leonardo DaVinci, St Francis of Asisi, Theodore Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin, and Amelia Earhart all didn't really die but went with Santa to the North Pole to further ...more
Toni Tortorello-Allaway
Aug 15, 2011 Toni Tortorello-Allaway rated it it was amazing
One of my all-time favorite books. So beautifully written. The history isn't even overwhelming or boring - but so neat and educational. The characters are lovable and interesting. I mean, who couldn't love Santa Claus? I wrote to Jeff Guinn after finishing his book and told him how much it touched me. At the time I was pregnant with my first daughter. He was very grateful for my e-mail and sent me a signed copy of the book as well as the original manuscript. Then, as ANOTHER thank you, he put my ...more
Sep 13, 2016 Susie rated it liked it
I liked the beginning of the book, and the opportunity to learn as I read, but as I read more and credulity was stretched more and more (yeah, I know this was about Santa, after all), I couldn't take it anymore. My first clue was when Attila the Hun joined up with them, and by the time Amelia Earhart ditched her flight to join Santa, I'd had more than enough.
I don't mind reading revisionist history at times, but now I'm afraid I'll be confused on some things. When I'm finished with a book, I lov
Nov 29, 2011 Annette rated it did not like it
So sorry about this one... Book Club choice... wanted to like it... really... how could it be so bad... Santa Claus... his "real story"... the Christmas spirit... goodwill toward man...
but just didn't and couldn't like it no matter how hard I tried.

Characters had no character... story was thrown together... historical figures popped in... years flew by with no substance...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a bah-humbug kinda person... I love Christmas and everything it stands for, but this book just
Dec 16, 2010 Sadie rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010, borrowed, christmas
This book is divided into 24 chapters and is designed to be read one chapter at a time each day in December. It's an adorable story which fully explains all of the different "Santa" myths and why different countries recognize celebrate and remember him differently.

The part that I didn't really like was the inclusion of people like Theodore Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Leonardo Da Vinci and several other famous figures from history. They all end up becoming Santa's helpers. Which for me was just "e
Jan 02, 2014 Nicole marked it as half-read
i found the beginning of this book (like the first half or so) pretty good and i liked it. then they began meeting all of these famous histirical figures and asked them to join their band of merry men ( if you will) and that's where my interest started to wan. the start if his life i found very interesting, but then they startesd to talk about them walking for 300 years and never aging and it just lost me. i understand that santa has the element of magic and what not but i guess i was hoping for ...more
Jan 19, 2013 Cheryl rated it liked it
I found this book quite interesting merely for the fact of all the history it presented. I struggle with having Santa be a part of our Christmas for two reasons. One, I don't like lying to my kids. Two, it is so easy for Santa to become the focus of the holiday rather than the birth of Jesus. Some of the information in this book really did ease some of that struggle for me. I found some of it a bit much and other parts dragged for me. I would still recommend this book as a good read though.
Melissa Myrick
Nov 26, 2012 Melissa Myrick rated it it was amazing
I read this book in a day and I am also reading it out loud to my family, (husband and 4 children) My children are 18, 10, 9 & 7..everyone including myself and my husband adore this book! If anyone doubts the fact that Santa lives on after reading this point didn't truly read this book. Merry Christmas!
Dec 19, 2013 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-audio-books
Enjoyed this history of Santa Claus - very plausible explanations of the jolly ole elf (but he wasn't an elf nor do elfs make the toys). Great read or listen for the Christmas holidays. I will be looking for this one used to give as pre-Christmas gifts next year.
Nov 21, 2012 Allyson marked it as to-read
Getting this for the boy for this Christmas, it's about the right time. If I don't tell him something, he will hear something weird and confusing from other kids. Wow, I just realized that the Santa Claus talk is a lot like the human reproduction talk.
Jan 23, 2008 Rachel rated it liked it
Not the best Christmas book I've ever read, but it was different and interesting, and explains a lot of the Christmas traditions and how they came about. I'm glad I read it, but it's not one that I would probably read again...
Jan 10, 2012 Jennifer rated it liked it
Recommended to Jennifer by: Sally
Love how it intertwines actual history with Santa's life story and how there is such a Christian foundation to Santa's life.
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Jeff Guinn is the author of MANSON: The Life and Times of Charles Manson, THE LAST GUNFIGHT: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral And How It Changed the American West, and GO DOWN TOGETHER: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie & Clyde, which was a finalist for an Edgar Award in 2010. He was a longtime journalist who has won national, regional and state awards for investigative ...more
More about Jeff Guinn...

Other Books in the Series

The Christmas Chronicles (3 books)
  • How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas (The Christmas Chronicles #2)
  • The Great Santa Search (The Christmas Chronicles #3)

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“Not all magic is fireworks and fanfare. Sometimes magic is quiet and sneaks up on you. An illusion is what needs all the bells and whistles to make itself appear grander than it really is, which is just a trick that can be explained.” 10 likes
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