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Superman: The High-Flying History of the Man of Steel

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  1,170 ratings  ·  207 reviews
Seventy-five years after he came to life, Superman remains one of America's most adored and enduring heroes. Now Larry Tye, the prize-winning journalist and "New York Times" bestselling author of "Satchel, " has written the first full-fledged history not just of the Man of Steel but of the creators, designers, owners, and performers who made him the icon he is today.
Hardcover, 409 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Random House
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 ·  1,170 ratings  ·  207 reviews

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Kerry Nietz
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been a Superman fan most of my life. Read the comics, seen the movies, watched the television shows, and even have a few Superman shirts in my collection. That to say, I doubtless know more than the average person about Superman and his legacy. That's why this book appealed to me. I was curious what it would have that I might have missed...

Quite a bit, really. This work is the most definitive telling of the Superman history that I've seen so far. Everything from his early beginnings until t
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had a Superman outfit as a small boy, Superman wallpaper on my bedroom walls and was a fan in the way of many small boys of my generation – in that I never read the comic books, but did have a religious devotion to the Christopher Reeve films. That childlike love followed me into my adult life. I found myself at first day showings of ‘Superman Returns’, ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘Batman v Superman’ – little realising, as I watched the first of those, that I was at the high point of Twenty-First Centu ...more
Kelly Knapp
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Superhero buffs, history buffs, young men, anybody
Recommended to Kelly by: Goodreads Firstread giveaway
Nicely detailed and carefully researched. I loved reliving some precious moments with one of my favorite heroes.

Watching Superman evolve, I did not notice many of the changes. they were too gradual. However, reading about them opened my eyes. For example, I never noticed that Dean Cain played Superman as the alter ego. In all the comic books and early movies, Kent is the alter ego, placing emphasis on Superman.

Nor did I notice the way that Superman evolved with the political climate of the worl
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
In his unique history of the iconic character, Larry Tye delivers an insightful biographical account from the perspective of the creators, publishers, and stars behind Superman. Beginning with Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel in Cleveland through the character's re-birth as part of DC's recent 52 remake, Tye analyzes and reveals many fascinating behind-the-scene aspects such as why Superman didn't fight oversees during World War II, the complex origins of kryptonite, and the stories behind the v ...more
Douglas Gibson
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Close friends know Superman has been in my top 5 favorite heroes since early childhood, but DC’s Rebirth version of the Man of Steel a few years ago, started my new obsession with the hero that has lead to me reading this book.
This awesome read goes into delicious fanboy level details about Superman’s creators Joe Shuster and Joel Siegel’s tragic lives. TV-wise he takes the reader through the George Reeves period, all the animated verions, Lois and Clark, and then into amazing detail about Small
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
There are plenty of books about Superman, but few (if any) like this one: a full fledged biography of not only the character but those important (and not-so-important) figures surrounding his creation, subsequent zeniths and nadirs, and everything in between right up to the production of the 2012 Superman film. We learn more than we wanted to know about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, both of whom, frankly, do not come across as sympathetic characters. Sure, in comparison to modern comic creators, ...more
Dani Shuping
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: not-amazon
Coming on the heels of Grant Morrison’s Supergods, Larry Tye gives readers a history of the quintessential supergod--Superman. One of the oldest, and definitely one of the most long running comic heroes, Tye presents the history of Superman in a new way. Coming from an outside perspective (an author who wasn’t even aware that Smallville existed), Tye writes as a biographer telling the story of the men and women that shaped Superman’s history, that gave rise to who he was and is. Tye put a great ...more
Larry Zieminski
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Larry Tye’s new book is a comprehensive history of Superman, from his creation by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to the ongoing legal battle by his heirs over the rights of the beloved hero. This is a history of the Superman franchise, but not a history of the Superman comic book character. Tye isn’t interested in explaining/detailing the twists and turns in the comic books (except for the Death of Superman storyline, which affected his public image and DC Comics’ profits).

I really enjoyed this bo
Robert Greenberger
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
The problem for me with a book like this is that I want to be surprised but know the history so well that I wind up somewhat disappointed. The book is incredibly well researched as noted by the 100+ pages of back matter. It's exhaustively researched with 200 people interviewed, definitely making this the most comprehensive history of the franchise ever. For those less familiar with the overall history it's a terrific read. I do, though, wish Tye spent a little more time on the more recent years ...more
Nov 26, 2012 rated it liked it
This was an exhaustive uncredibly detailed account of the lives of Superman and men and women responsible for his creation and success. As a result it was a fairly dense and at times laborious read, but an absolute must for any Superman fan such as myself. The author says in the afterward that he sold the idea for this book was to treat its subject as real as he is to so many in their hearts, as a sort of a bio for a fictional character that has become such an important part of american and by e ...more
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a well-written and engaging look at the history and development of SUPERMAN over the 75 years since his development. It covers Superman in all of his media embodiments: comics, movies, stage plays, newspaper strips, tv, etc. etc. The longest and, to me, most interesting section is the initial section that covers his initial creation and development. The remainder of the book does a good job of covering his other incarnations, but mostly on a cursory level. (After all, there's over 75 yea ...more
Tye's work contains all the information one could possibly want about the Man of Steel in one fun and well written volume. For instance, the reader is treated to bios of Superman's creators and original publishers as well as discussions of his powers, origin story, friends, foes, and physical appearance. Other portions of the book deal with the various actors who have portrayed the Metropolis Marvel as well as the various screen depictions of everyone's favorite Kryptonian. (Did I mention there ...more
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a fantastic documentation of Superman from his debut on newstands in June 1939 through his multimedia personae that exists as of the end of the first dozen years on the new millennium. This book is crafted with compassion, respect and honesty towards this fictional icon. Whether you consider him a paragon, reflection or puppet of American and/or Western culture you can find new perspectives on Superman in this book.
Sep 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Easy to read, this history of the Superman character and franchise covers a lot of familiar ground, but Tye includes fascinating details about the lifelong bitter search for adequate compensation by creators Seigel and Shuster, the financial juggling of the Salkinds for the first Superman film, and much more.
Michael Rhode
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Well-done overview that includes little new material for long-time fans, but is still an interesting read. The business overview of the early years is particularly good. A lot of the focus moves from the comic book to the media versions after the 1930s.
Phillip Lozano
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Generally well-written, but curiously dry and plagued with omissions and easily-correctable errors.
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics, non-fiction

On a spring day in 1954, in room 110 of the United States Courthouse at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan, William Gaines sat behind a table at the Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. Gaines twitched and shifted in his seat, sweating from amphetamine withdrawal. His father, Max Gaines, invented the modern comic book, originally a vehicle for reprints of newspaper strips and then, well before the 50s, as magazines of original comic art. The younger Gaines w
David Stephens
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Larry Tye's Superman gives a solid account of the myriad incarnations the original comic book hero has had over the years from his inception in Action Comics in 1938 to the short animated films of the early 1940s to the long-lived radio program to the live action shorts and TV shows to the more recent movies and the more cohesive graphic novels of the last few decades (and, of course, the numerous pieces of merchandising throughout the years).

Tye also covers the lives of many of the figures who,
Brad Hodges
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the debut of Superman, one of the most recognizable fictional characters in the world, ranking right up there with Mickey Mouse and Sherlock Holmes. In honor of the anniversary I read Larry Tye's "biography" of the character, Superman: The High Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero.

I've never been a big Superman guy. I was more of a Marvel Comics guy or, if it were a DC hero, I preferred Batman. Superman was too bland and uncomplicated for me. But
Sep 16, 2020 rated it liked it
About halfway through this I realized the book I wanted to read and the book Larry Tye had written were not the same thing. Not to say this book is bad, I think Tye accomplishes what he sets out to do—provide an overview of Superman’s history. This does that.

I found what I really wanted was a history of DC Comics and/ or a more sociological perspective of Superman’s impact on culture and how culture has impacted him. The most interesting portions of this book are the early chapters that profile
Jared Millet
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Larry Tye's book is a fascinating and thorough history of the Superman character, franchise, and creators from his inception in Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's childhoods to the period between Smallville and Man of Steel, during the latest phase of the copyright battles between the Siegel family and Time/Warner. Tye follows Superman as a cultural phenomenon, going in depth on how the world affected the character over time, and the effects that Superman had on the world at large. Despite all the s ...more
This was very informative and told in an entertaining way that held my attention. It went into a lot of details about Superman and his creators and didn’t skim over the rough stuff. It was fair and complete as a history of the character. Highly recommended. The only complaint I have is that it was published in 2012 so it didn’t get to discuss the DCEU, only mentioning that Zach Snyder was set to direct Man of Steel in the future.
Bill FromPA
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, comics, dc
Pretty good history of the character - lots of information on Siegel & Schuster, maybe too much. A bit fan-boyish in recounting plots of selected comics (which ones to pick?). Lots of information on Superman actors and selected TV and movie personalities, especially Salkind father & son, but not that much on artists and writers beyond S & S. Curt Swan is mentioned as the longest running Superman artist, but there is nothing about his life story. ...more
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Superb history of Superman, covering his comic book origins to his adventures to radio, movies and TV. Tye gives great insight into how the character has involved, especially highlighting his more violent past (in the TV show, a dog was even killed). Just a great read for anyone wanting to know most everything about one of the great characters of fiction.
Mike O'Connor
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable listen, entertainingly read by narrator Scott Brick. The info on the films and TV were not necessarily new to me but I did find the early years stuff with Jerry and Joel very interesting and informative. Fwiw, the last film covered is SUPERMAN RETURNS, it mentions that Snyder's MAN OF STEEL was on the way.
Jim Savastio
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fun and informative history of the Man of Steel. The book covers the early lives of Jerry Seigel and Joe Schuster and their creation of Superman as teenagers living in Cleveland to the making of a multi-billion dollar empire. The author covers the role of Superman in popular culture, marketing, and even religion.
Jenel Cope
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A solid basic history of Superman as it relates to his official DC Comics persona - would have liked to see it look at the cultural phenomenon in some more complete way, and perhaps a bit more on how the types of stories being told reflected changes over time (there's some of that, but not a lot that I hadn't read before), but still really enjoyed it.
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nice thorough coverage of the Superman story- about Siegel and Shuster and the lawsuits, and especially about how Superman is a multi media sensation...and how much that has been a factor for the last 80 years.
Very well done.
Willie Kirschner
Everything you wanted to know about Superman and more

A history of the super hero from his invention until about 10 years ago. An interesting story and a story that will continue to be told. The Man of Steel and his continuing life in our country and our world.
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great. I have read several accounts on the subject, but this one gave more insight to the plight of Jerry Seigal than any other, including his biographies.
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Larry Tye is a New York Times bestselling author whose most recent book is a biography of Robert F. Kennedy, the former attorney general, U.S. senator, and presidential candidate. Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon explores RFK’s extraordinary transformation from cold warrior to fiery leftist.

Tye’s first book, The Father of Spin, is a biography of public relations pioneer Edward L.Bernays

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