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What Makes Sammy Run?

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,949 ratings  ·  198 reviews
What Makes Sammy Run?

Everyone of us knows someone who runs. He is one of the symp-toms of our timesfrom 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.
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 7th 2002 by Random House (first published 1941)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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Richard Derus
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 timesfrom 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
Lewis Weinstein
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
I am about to eat serious crow. When "Sammy" was selected for my book club read, I wondered (aloud) why we should be reading an old book that could not possibly be relevant today. Oh how wrong I was!

Aside from being splendidly written, fast paced and absorbing ... the story, the quest, the always fragile success ... are totally relevant to life in America today.

Who do we know who, like Sammy Glick, is so completely absorbed in himself, who lies constantly and without remorse, and who destroys
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hollywood heels, blacklisted writers, authors who get in brawls with John Wayne
You might think a book written in 1941 about Hollywood would be too dated to be of interest to anyone but Hollywood historians. Wrong, baby, wrong! This modern classic is a must-read for anyone who is fascinated by Hollywood, or interested in character studies of incredibly compelling anti-heroes. In the 21st century, What Makes Sammy Run? is essentially a historical novel, but it's still a damn fine character-driven story, and let's face it, Hollywood is still crawling with Sammy Glicks.

Ben Loory
Jun 29, 2008 rated it did not like it
a book about an asshole, narrated by a dickhead.
Writer's Relief
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hollywood is a very different place today than it was in the 1930s. Back then, the studio system was in full force, stars were essentially slaves to their studios, and a few major movie moguls ran Hollywood. Budd Schulbergs father, B.P. Schulberg, was the head of Paramount, so the author had a lot to draw from when he wrote his 1941 debut "What Makes Sammy Run?"

"What Makes Sammy Run?" is narrated by newspaper columnist-turned-screenwriter Al Manheim, who is working for a newspaper in New York
Richard Knight
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
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
Jon Boorstin
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: movies, los-angeles
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.

Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hollywoodbabylon
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.

Andrei Alupului
Aug 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
"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.
Marc Gerstein
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Imagine novels can talk and The Great Gatsby says: All right, no more Mr. Nice Guy. The result could be What Makes Sammy Run.

Narrator Al Manheim, a run-of-the-mill drama critic for a New Your newspaper introduces us to Sammy Glick, a teenage copy boy who wants to rise. Al swats him aside briskly, no surprise given Sammys irritating personality and the absence of any apparent talent. Bad move. really bad move.

Since when did a outsized ego and lack of talent stand in the way of success! Actually,
Kingshuk Mukherjee
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Having followed Ryan Holiday's work over the years, this book was mentioned quite favorably many times. I can't believe it took me this long to get around to reading it. I devoured the book in one sitting.

It's a fantastic story and an incredibly insightful peek into the ambitious mind. I found myself thinking that the tactics Glick used can be applied without screwing people over while still getting ahead. I also found myself being reminded of Robert Greene's 48 Laws, for this book illustrated
Thomas J. Hubschman
Aug 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tight, succinct writing. Schulberg is a master storyteller who doesn't waste a word. He knows how to stick to a theme. This moral cautionary tale about a Hollywood writer consumed by his ambition should be a textbook for good writing.
John Mccullough
Aug 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sammy is the little guy, the one you miss seeing, who you forget about. But he is ruthless. And he is running. Always running. Schulberg provides us a chilling portrait of fairyland - where the movies aremade. A very, very good read.
Aug 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lifestyle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting outlook on a young man who is ruthless in his tactics in getting ahead - it doesn't matter who he destroys on his way up -- it's all about him

pg 263, paperback edition

". . . instead of letting himself go he just sounds one note over and over again.

I know which note this is too, I said. Mi mi mi mi mi . . ."

Sound familiar?

Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: s, 2015

Sammy Glick is a winner. Aggressive, ruthless, belligerently self-centred, sprinting out of his mothers womb, turning life into a race in which the only rules are fight for the rail and elbow on the turns. Sammy storms his way out of the New York slums to reach the top of the Hollywood film world in the 1930s.

Sammy is a way of life, a way that was paying dividends in Americas Depression era and is paying dividends today. For the Sammy-drive is still to be found everywhere and will
Richard Thompson
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sammy is a classic. Schulberg's characterization totally nails a personality type that all of us know. Sammy isn't unique to show business, but because show business rewards Sammy-type behavior more than most walks of life, we have a lot more of them in show business than most people see in regular everyday life. The only thing that Schulberg got wrong is that this personality type is not something that can only arise in places like the tenements of New York's old time Lower East Side. I have ...more
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
KINDLE EDITION: An incredible amount f trpos
anf formatting errors.

Very good book. Awesome even. Maybe a bit long on the union politics -- ok, VERY long on the union politics -- but it pays off a bit later on.

Also included are the two original short stories that started Sammy running. Well worth the extra effort to read them -- not that they add to Sammy's "legacy", but rather to see the acorns that grew the mighty oak.
Apr 14, 2014 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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.
Aug 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Al Manaheim is one of my favorite characters in fiction. I was bound to like this book since it has many parallels to The Great Gatsby, although its subject, Sammy Glick, is romanticized much less than Jay Gatsby. In many ways I feel this is an essential modern tale that all other modern stories have sprung from, but that is probably hyperbole. I love this book though.
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A portrait of a particularly American monster, the man on his ruthless way to the top of what he deems the ultimate success. Chilling and brilliant and, often, very funny.
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it
This style of this 1941 book made me think a bit of "lowbrow" bestsellers that came much later like Jacqueline Susann's "Valley of the Dolls" (1966) or Harold Robbins'"The Carpetbaggers" (1961). It has that "rags to riches" storyline and focus on Hollywood..

I found this interesting because most of the early 20th century American fiction I've read has either been literary classics (e.g. "Great Gatsby" (1925) or "Mice and Men"(1937)) or children's books/Fantasy/SciFi. So it was nice to read
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bette Davis recommended this (indirectly, of course) - I saw her on YouTube being interviewed by Dick Cavett. At one point he asked which book did she think best summed up Hollywood; she didn't hesitate: "What Makes Sammy Run?"

I've known of the book for years and have seen some of Schulberg's film work. But Bette's reminder was enough for me to get around to a read.

The story has a narrator (a drama critic) - it's through his eyes that we Sammy rise (like a rocket) from over-eager newspaper
Howard Eisman
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bud Schulberg can be counted on to tell a good story. I guess thats why he was a successful screenwriter. His books are also cinematic. Things more along at a brisk pace with snappy dialogue and many changes of settings. He doesnt burden the reader with dense, overly processed or pretentious prose. His main characters have a history and a personality, while secondary characters are barely sketched in. Thus, What Makes Sammy Run is efficiently written and entertaining. Sammy is the All American ...more
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Budd Schulberg (19142009) 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 Awardwinning 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

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