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Hopper: A Journey into the American Dream

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  176 ratings  ·  41 reviews
A rollicking biography of Dennis Hopper, the actor, activist, artist, and wild man who died in May 2010. As unconventional a biography as Dennis was a man, Hopper charts his roller coaster life and career, through the lens of the landscape of American popular culture.

The chopper-riding hippie outlaw in Easy Rider. The prophetic madman in the jungle in Apocalypse Now. The t
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by It Books (first published March 3rd 2013)
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Michael Ritchie
Mar 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
Terrible, pretentious, scattered biography of an actor, director, and cultural icon who deserved better. The author tries to go "gonzo," aping Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson, but failing. Almost unreadable.
Terry McCarty
Mar 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Tom Folsom's marketed-as-gonzo biography of actor/filmmaker/artist/art collector Dennis Hopper tries hard to imitate the fragmented, above-it-all prose styling of Nick Tosches' 1992 Dean Martin bio DINO. But Folsom's book has its genuinely insightful moments; the chapters on Hopper's mostly-unseen, disastrous THE LAST MOVIE (1971) are the highlight of HOPPER. But the definitive Dennis Hopper biography is yet to be written.
Steven Pattison
Feb 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
This was a poorly written biography of one of the most interesting character actors ever - this book was all over the place and was a poor attempt to emulate the 'gonzo' writing of Hunter S Thompson - Denis Hopper deservers a better book about his life than this.
Apr 30, 2013 rated it did not like it
Spectacularly poorly-written. Bordering on incoherent at times.
Jun 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
I shouldn't even count this as I didn't finish it.
Nope. Terribly written and the attempt at trying to establish this writer as "gonzo" or "counter culture" is just pathetic.
Nov 13, 2014 rated it did not like it
Completely incoherent writing makes this biography impossible to follow. I have no idea how this author was published.
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
The recent passing of counterculture icon Michael Parks (perhaps the most famous native of my hometown, by the way), a maverick film actor in the Dennis Hopper mode, brought this strange book back to mind.

This isn't your usual biography: It's a series of haphazard vignettes that track Hopper's life-voyage from rural Kansas to Hollywood, and the many points between and beyond. Enjoyable and entertaining here and there, but I would have preferred a mainstream bio based on deep research and present
David Ward
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Hopper: A Journey Into the American Dream by Tom Folsom (IT Books 2013)(Biography) is the first biography of Dennis Hopper that I've run across, and I was excited to find it. After all, Dennis Hopper is an original Hollywood rebel and outlaw; the stories would have to be great. Alas! It was as though nobody from Hopper's camp cooperated with the author, because the stories are WEAK, brother. It could have and should have been so much more. My rating: 3/10, finished 1/13/14.
Leenda dela Luna
Mar 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Quick read. Little disjointed - time hopping. Refers to some people by nicknames or "common info", instead of proper names, so I sometimes had no idea who was being discussed. But otherwise an interesting read.
Stephen Naish
This is a good read, but I feel it could have been way better. Tom Folsom's style is not his own, he tries, and fails to bring a Gonzo style to Hopper's narrative. Check out Peter Winkler's Hopper bio for a better, less distracting, and more informative read
Aug 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Fascinating guy, boring biography. Amazed I finished it. 3* only because Hopper was a unique icon.

Tom Folson: You Blew It, Man.
Rena Sherwood
I know that this biography was trying to do something different and maverick and "wow, man" because Dennis Hopper was the subject, but GEEZ. There is something to be said for comphrensible prose. This is a mess.

Celebrities blur in and out in one or two pages. Just how Vincent Price became Hopper's "mentor" is unclear -- but, then again, almost all of this book is unclear. Except for when Hopper first tried to give Natalie Wood head. We get to hear all about that.


The blurb claims that the autho
Joshua Stewart
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An exceptionally well-written journey into one of the most insane legends to ever outlive his expectancy. If you didn't know better, you'd think half of this is fiction. Nobody can be this crazy, and SURELY nobody can bounce back from it.

Dennis Hopper did.
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
For a man who couldn't stop moving and talking, Hopper's life was summed up in far too few pages. Most of the book seems to be a brief report into the making of Dennis the wild man, and very little of Dennis the recovered artist. The author elaborated more on James Dean and Jack Nicholson in the 60's and 70's than anything post-rehab-Dennis did, other than his art collecting.

The book seemed like a brilliant walk down memory lane for his peers, but to readers who aren't familiar with all the 'pl
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This chronicle of Dennis Hopper's life is exciting to read, in that the author captures the dizzy, coked, psychedelic mess of Hopper's mind. It is not a pretty picture, but well written.

Because he was an artist he could do whatever he wanted.

"We blew it."

We were Easy Riders, cool and hip and in touch with nature and creation. Not inhibited by any traditions of the past.

But behind the Hollywood facade were spoiled, violent, drug crazed members of the same Hollywood elite families that they rebel
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
A fantastic, if brief, glimpse into the life of Dennis Hopper. Folsom's gonzo prose is heavy on Dennis' early life, but a disconnect occurs later in Hopper's life around the time he sobered up. Other than Blue Velvet, little anecdotal mention is made of his career after Hoosiers, with a focus more on his art inspirations and collection. However, a great read into a Hollywood icon who mixed it up with Dean, Nicholson, Brando and more--an oft forgotten actor who made every part he played worth wat ...more
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Tom Folsom portrays in great prose, worthy of the mad and extraordinary life lead by Dennis Hopper, the essence of the man for whom the term "out-there" seems tailor-made. Drugs, lovers, motorcycles, and the art he loved to collect and create are all examined and detailed in Folsom's clever take on this crazed genius. A memorable life; a memorable book.
Pat Lampe
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-books
I enjoyed this audiobook. I was young in the 60s and had read, seen, and/or heard the artists he hung out with. He was definitely an original. Like one of his acquaintances, I had thought he had gone insane and dropped out in the 80s. He actually had done some big projects in his later years. And was shrewd. And generous with his knowledge. A most interesting man.
Rui Carlos
Just finished this wild and sprawling tale of a demented cowboy from Kansas roped into the coke-addled world of Hollywood, only to find that he is no Anthony Hopkins. Fucking amazing, man. I really mean it, fucking amazing.
Malcolm Frawley
Mar 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Folsom warns us @ the beginning that this will not be a traditional biography but I couldn't help feeling that this book was as much about its author as it was about its supposed subject. Disappointing.
Mar 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great biography on Dennis Hopper. Crazy life he had. An artist and visionaire with his virtues and mistakes. Recommended to anyone interested in his life, hollywood, movies or hippies!
Mar 13, 2013 rated it liked it
The man was a hot mess - but a fascinating hot mess!
Jack Schultz
Apr 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Not a conventional documentary. Written in a style that reminds one of Hopper. Very enjoyable.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it

74 years of a crazy life condensed down into 286 pages. The author warns readers up front that if they're looking for a dry, detailed filmography, they've come to the wrong place. True that. Tom Folsom writes a loosey-goosey, fast-paced bio about one the more interesting film stars ever. And yet, somehow, the book still drags; so caught up in drugs and drama, some fundamental element seems to be missing from the story. Like...interviews with ex-wives, children, anyone other than D
Ernest Hogan
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was expecting this to be a counterculture nostalgia lark of a read, but it kept surprising me. It didn't turn out to be another story of genius self-destructing on cocaine. It's about creative genius surviving in corporate Hollywood. What is real success anyway? The American Dream refuses to die . . . And it helps that Tom Folsom is a helluva writer. The book reads like a novel. Could be easily adapted into a screenplay. Hmm . . .
Emory Dunn
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, library
There were no sources/bibliography in the book so I hesitate to believe a lot of the stories. I did buy a copy of Hopper’s Life Magazine cover off of ebay to read. He deserves a better biography but I guess it’s hard to give such a mythic person a really good one.
Stephen Tubbs
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dennis Hopper could never be boring.
Aug 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, cpl, film, art, the-1960s
This isn't one of those thorough, completely chronological, academic biographies. You get the feeling Folsom wanted this to be as cool and strange and slightly off-center as Hopper himself. That aspect of it gets annoying, but maybe sometimes Folsom was able to use that tone in personal situations to get some interesting stories and quotes out of people, and to be able to fit them into the book. At times Folsom's tale gets too disjointed. Content is secondary to an attempt at style. I will need ...more
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Understanding Dennis Hopper, one of modern cinema's great iconoclasts, is perhaps a fool's errand. Notoriously willful, often contradictory, and at times frustratingly combative, Hopper's exploits make for great entertainment even as they confound. Folsom's biography is a good, quick read which helps to contextualize much of Hopper's career, but excepting a lengthy stretch on Easy Rider (and its ill-fated follow-up The Last Movie) the book skips hastily from one milestone to the next without eve ...more
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Not a typical biography. Very drift and not in depth but interesting in a Hunter S. Thompson gonzo journalism hopscotch of thoughts. But it seems an apt tribute for Hopper' style.

Wish there was a little more about Speed and Waterworks. I wish I was a fly on the wall watching Keanu and Hopper getting into character.
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