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The Autobiography of Santa Claus (The Christmas Chronicles)

3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,578 Ratings  ·  518 Reviews
This enchanting Christmas Chronicles classic combines solid historical fact with glorious legend to deliver the definitive story of Santa Claus. For anyone who has ever wondered ... you're right to believe in him! In The Autobiography of Santa Claus, Santa reveals his story for the first time. Nicholas (his real name) was born in the Middle Eastern country of Lycia to weal ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published October 19th 2006 by Tarcher (first published 1994)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Beth F.
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Julie F.
Dec 12, 2011 Julie F. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 29, 2012 Charly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 persp ...more
Kathleen Nightingale
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
Dec 22, 2014 Shannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 old. ...more
Charlane Lucardie
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
Dec 05, 2015 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
A. Teez
Dec 12, 2015 A. Teez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Katrina (trinakb)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 11, 2010 Claire rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 15, 2009 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 navigatio ...more
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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 accord ...more
Jan 02, 2014 Nicole marked it as half-read  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 18, 2011 Susie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 30, 2010 Ellen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 29, 2011 Annette rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Toni Tortorello-Allaway
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
Dec 16, 2010 Sadie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Book Concierge
Book on CD narrated by John H Mayer

From the book jacket This enchanting Christmas Chronicles classic combines solid historical fact with glorious legend to deliver the definitive story of Santa Claus. For anyone who has ever wondered … you’re right to believe in him!

My reactions
I should really pay closer attention to book jacket information. Somehow I expected this to be a light , fluffy, humorous story of the “jolly old elf.” But it is a history of Western civilization told through the lens of
Jan 19, 2013 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 06, 2016 Marnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Autobiography of Santa Claus
By Jeff Guinn
3 Stars
This is the first Jeff Guinn novel that I have read. I didn't realize at first that this is the same author who wrote the book everyone was recommending to read after Doc. I like his style so now I will read that in the future.
This is the tale of Santa Claus in his own words. All the way back to his historical beginning as a boy in the country of Lycia around 300 AD. It was very interesting to read about the history of Santa. His beginnings wer
Keith Parrish
Jan 02, 2015 Keith Parrish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Santa Claus as told by the man himself. Who else would be in a better position to tell the story. Santa tells ghost writer Jeff Guinn about his life story and how he came to be the world-wide phenomenon he is today. From his childhood and and adulthood in Turkey, where he started his career in giving gifts, to his current secret outpost at the North Pole, Santa gives away his secrets of how he accomplishes all he does. And apparently he is not alone. Joining him at the North ...more
Dec 26, 2015 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-60-books
This was a nice little book to read. I'm not sure it will ever live to be the family classic read year after year though. Some of it is that even reading a chapter a night from December 1st to Christmas Eve, takes a lot for younger kids. My 10 year old and I read this together. We both liked the historical facts being explained into the myth. One glaring issue I had that also bothered the 10 year old, was the weight/waist line comments about Santa. One time, would have been okay, but it seemed i ...more
I really wanted to like this book, I really did. But it didn't really have the magic of Christmas that I was expecting...There was a bit too much history in it, and after a while it got repetitive and predictable. The same things kept happening over and over again, and instead of making a beautiful story about Christmas, it kind of felt like "A Scientific and Historical Breakdown About Santa Claus".

The historical figures were cool and all, but I don't think that the creators of popular video gam
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Fiction Fanatics: December 2014 - The Autobiography of Santa Claus 6 14 Dec 23, 2014 08:40AM  
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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 reporti ...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.” 9 likes
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