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The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  273 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Walt Disney (1901-1966) was one of the most significant creative forces of the twentieth century, a man who made a lasting impact on the art of the animated film, the history of American business, and the evolution of twentieth-century American culture. He was both a creative visionary and a dynamic entrepreneur, roles whose demands he often could not reconcile.

In his comp
Paperback, 393 pages
Published April 7th 2008 by University of California Press (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30)
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Brian Daniel
Jul 12, 2013 Brian Daniel rated it really liked it
I've read Gabler's definitive biography and the family-commissioned Bob Thomas biography and even though they were both great, I found myself enjoying this one the most. Given Barrier's obvious bent toward the history of animation and Disney's place in it, I didn't have the highest expectations. I am generally more interested in Walt's life than in the medium itself. But the fact is that Michael Barrier made me care. He made Walt's life through the lens of historical animation even more interest ...more
May 23, 2009 Hinch rated it really liked it
A well written biography. Like any man, Walt was a complex person, with good and bad traits. The author respects the many facets of Walt's personality; he does not attempt to undermine or unnecessarily praise the man, nor does he seek to align the actions and achievements of Walt with some grand (and unsubstantiated) overarching theme (as other biographers might). There is no agenda here: just an easy to read book, rooted in the facts, about a passionate, driven, and fascinating character.
Apr 03, 2011 Starlak rated it it was ok
Michael Barrier took a lot of well known information about Walt Disney and combined it with an equal amount of guessing and opinions - at least he didn't try to hide the fact that he was guessing. The author skipped from one year to another; at times I felt like I was reading random notes rather than a well written biography.
Feb 23, 2015 Brent rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: history fans, cinema fans, architecture fans and culture vultures
Recommended to Brent by: author Mike Barrier, and Atlanta-Fulton Public Library
Mike Barrier began this scholarship in his great fanzine, Funnyworld, which I was able to read in the 1970s. He uses his earlier interviews with the great animators under Disney to great effect here.
If you must read about Disney, read this book.
Highest recommendation.
Jack Gattanella
Aug 20, 2015 Jack Gattanella rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio
"I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing... that it was started by a mouse." - (Walt Disney in a promotional video clip on one of the early 80's VHS tapes I used to watch when I was really little which told the "Story of Disney's origins" in five minutes, i.e. how he made Steamboat Willie, from how it would tell us, out of his garage)

I think if you come to this book about Walt Disney what you think about the man, whatever it is, should be put to the wayside. If you come to this book al
Gijs Grob
Mar 10, 2017 Gijs Grob rated it really liked it
'The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney' is animation historian Michael Barrier's attempt to grasp Disney's life and persona. Barrier's focus is on facts, shunning everything remotely hagiographic, and on animation, especially that of the Disney studio's golden age (1930-1940). This means that the first chapter, on Disney's youth, is dense with facts, to the brink of the unreadable. It also means that the chapters on Disney's golden age are the most elaborate and the most interesting. Unfortuna ...more
Sep 15, 2014 Damian rated it it was amazing
A great book about a great -- and oh, how flawed -- man.

Lots of surprises to come out of this admiring but very tough look at the man's life.

Here's maybe the biggest: The success of Walt Disney, the company, though not an inevitability, makes a lot more sense when we realize that Disney the man was first and foremost a businessman and only secondarily, almost accidentally, an artist and the practical inventor of modern animation. In the early days it was his artist employees that were on the cut
Feb 27, 2013 Brett rated it really liked it
As a child who grew up visiting Disney World, and recently returned from one of many trips to Disneyland with my kids, I wanted to learn more about the man behind it all. I have heard several different stories about Walt Disney (some very harsh), and as such, I found this easily readable, but very detailed, biography an entertaining read.

There are many revelations to be had, and I'll try not to spoil them for the reader. This is the story of a man who grew up in a small Missouri town and worked
Sep 08, 2014 Randy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

Walt Disney (1901-1966) was one of the most significant creative forces of the twentieth century, a man who made a lasting impact on the art of the animated film, the history of American business, and the evolution of twentieth-century American culture. He was both a creative visionary and a dynamic entrepreneur, roles whose demands he often could not reconcile.

In his compelling new biography, noted animation historian Michael Barrier avoids the well-traveled paths of previous biographers, who

Feb 06, 2014 Sem rated it it was amazing
Shelves: film, americana
There's a great deal of what some readers would consider extraneous matter in the early chapters of this book although, for my part, I prefer the subject to be placed firmly within a particular environment. One could always skip the peregrinations of the Disney family even if what happened then bears on what follows.

What struck me the most as I read the later chapters was how little this is a biography in the usual or expected sense. It charts Disney's progress through his many enthusiasms and
Dec 27, 2013 L'aura added it
Shelves: bios
I ventured into this book expecting to hate Walt Disney by the time I'd be finished with it--in fact, I was a bit scared I really would, and this is one of the reasons it took me forever to be done with it. I had just seen "Saving Mr. Banks", and I had seen the Mary Poppins bts features years before that, and needless to say the former glorified Mr. Disney and the latter was crowded with people who obviously adored him and spoke of him with tears in their eyes. Who can possibly believe a person ...more
Dec 06, 2014 Jake rated it it was amazing
If you are looking for a Disney-sanctioned biography of one of the Twentieth Century's greatest entrepreneurs, this isn't it. Having said that, it's vital to point out that author Michael Barrier also doesn't turn this into a tabloid biography by dwelling on rumors of some of Walt Disney's faults. Some lesser ones are acknowledged (chain-smoking and a penchant for profanity) but never used as sensationalist crutches. They are merely presented as parts of the Walt Disney personality. As are his i ...more
Ivan Probst
Oct 28, 2013 Ivan Probst rated it really liked it
The book itself gives a great account on Walt's life, with loads of interviews and quotes from people who knew him, personally or not. Mostly not emitting any judgements, but letting facts and others' words tell the story, you read through these discovering the man, and always relearning who he is as his personality is changing over the years. It's a long and exciting adventure about somebody very famous who actually isn't well known from the public, except surface stories.

I don't know if we can
Jul 09, 2011 Kay rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Nice (and yes a little nostalgic) to be reminded of the days when Walt Disney was a person more than a brand (although he was a brand too from pretty early on). Barrier does an excellent job of showing how and why the Disney studio became prominent and explaining the role of Disney himself in the Disney empire. He didn't write, direct or draw much after the 1920s but everything the studio produced was distilled from his personality. There's a lot of overlap between this book and the Disney chapt ...more
Carlotta Borasio
Nelle ultime pagine di questo libro si dice che Walt Disney è spesso considerato un personaggio immaginario, come quelli che ha creato o contribuito a creare. In effetti da bambina mi ci è voluto un po' per capire che Disney fosse una persona in carne e ossa. Ora ne so di più: era un genio, un pioniere, uno che aveva voglia di sperimentare, di provare, di fallire. In questa biografia c'è tutto questo, le sue aspirazioni (a volte folli), i suoi progetti, e i suoi fallimenti, le sue fragilità, i l ...more
May 06, 2013 Emily rated it it was ok
Shelves: never-finished
SLOW. Interesting but overburdened with too many details. Who cares about the address of every place he ever worked?! The first 58 pages are painfully slow. After about 150 pages I finally just decided to skim the rest. How does this have such high reviews?? This book could have been so much better with some tightening and a lot of red ink from a concise editor. At about half the length this would have been readable. As it is, I could only recommend it to animation history buffs and I don't know ...more
Melinda Elizabeth
Sep 08, 2011 Melinda Elizabeth rated it really liked it
A fairly good biography... I still think Neal Gabler's version is the definitive Walt bio. What let this one down was the rushing through his last few years of life. Also I found it a little unsettling when big films like sleeping beauty etc were glossed over and suddenly sleeping beauty's castle is being built in disneyland, but why ? It ruined my timeline a little bit when I was reading it. Otherwise quite good .
Jan 14, 2013 Mark rated it liked it
"The Animated Man" was OK. I think it's the 6th or 7th biography of Walt Disney that I've read. I'd say read "An American Original" by Bob Thomas and/or "Walt Disney" by Neal Gabler first. Barrier touches on some of the more negative aspects of Disney's personality, temperament, etc than Thomas did, but doesn't get into as much detail as Gabler did, and simply glosses over certain important events in Walt's life/Disney history.
Mark Baker
Dec 15, 2011 Mark Baker rated it really liked it
I found this to be an interesting and balance biography of Walt Disney. The author played media critic a bit too much, which bothered me, but in the end I walked away with a clearer picture of a true American success story.

Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.
Sherrie Simpson
Mar 15, 2015 Sherrie Simpson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What made Walt Disney the man he became? Anecdotes, stories from those who knew him tell the answer. Walt Disney is a hero of mine, and I enjoyed this biography that didn't pull any punches and revealed him as an actual human, faults and genius both.
Nishant Chandra
Jun 07, 2013 Nishant Chandra rated it liked it
The aim of picking this book up was to get to know the cradle to grave story of Walt Disney. This book does deliver that adequately, though it could have used a bit better editing.
Jessica Lam
Dec 14, 2012 Jessica Lam rated it liked it
Really interesting and in depth look at the development Disney's professional life. Used it for a leadership class and it was pretty much spitting out theories at me.
Apr 27, 2014 Nancy rated it it was ok
Not the happy man you would think would make Disneyland.
May 13, 2010 Jim rated it liked it
Now that I'm working for his company, I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the man. This was a good, short biography that felt fairly well-balanced to me.
Jonathan rated it it was ok
Apr 05, 2009
Steve Fawcett
Steve Fawcett rated it really liked it
May 21, 2014
Elaine rated it really liked it
Apr 20, 2009
Peter Berger
Peter Berger rated it really liked it
Sep 16, 2015
Emily rated it really liked it
May 09, 2014
Kevin Yang
Kevin Yang rated it it was amazing
Oct 31, 2015
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