The best books about Judy Garland

Many authors have picked their favorite books about Judy Garland and why they recommend each book.

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The Wizard of Oz

By L. Frank Baum, Lizbeth Zwerger (illustrator),

Book cover of The Wizard of Oz

I love when an author weaves social issues into the plot and character. Baum wrote an extensive political allegory in the guise of children’s literature. You have to know a little about the controversies of the time he wrote the story, especially backing paper currency with precious metals. Gold (yellow brick road), silver (Dorothy’s slippers are silver in the book), and greenbacks (the Emerald City is a metaphor for Washington, D.C.) are all in the story and reflect Baum’s views about the illusory value of paper money. More importantly, he is commentating upon power and wealth and oppression in America.

The narrative structure is a straightforward hero’s (heroine’s) journey–leave the current world (Kansas), travel on a dangerous adventure in a faraway place (Oz), and return home wiser and transformed. I first learned about this in an American history class. The movie adaptation of the book is great, but it doesn’t…

Who am I?

I have come to better understand myself as a character in a wonderful story called life. That story, in this lifetime, is bookended by birth and death. It’s my own personal narrative of transformation and it’s ongoing. What will come next on my individual Hero’s Journey? Understanding this story structure provides me with insights and inspiration to make it a good story with a happy ending. It also helps me appreciate that there are many challenges to be overcome along the way.

I wrote...

Serpent Rising

By Victor Acquista,

Book cover of Serpent Rising

What is my book about?

Winner of the 2021 International Book Awards for Best New Age Fiction. A blend of mystery, suspense, adventure, and thriller, book one of The Saga of Venom and Flame recounts a heroine's journey of transformation into a warrior for truth in the great War of the Two Serpents.

Serena Mendez is a pill-popping dysfunctional who is haunted by trauma she experienced in her youth. She is unaware of her latent potential. A clandestine brotherhood hunts her for the threat she represents. To fulfill her true destiny and unleash the power within her blood, Serena journeys to six continents where she uncovers the truth of who she is, and what she must do. A warrior stirs—a Lightbringer… She is Serena Mendez… She is a Candelaria.

Majestic Hollywood

By Mark A. Vieira,

Book cover of Majestic Hollywood: The Greatest Films of 1939

It might seem presumptuous to call 50 films from 1939 "classics" but I agree with Vieira that these 50 movies deserve that distinction. This book is filled with all the pertinent information, fun facts, and great visuals. Movie stills, behind-the-scenes candid photos, portraits, and poster art make this a memorable volume to treasure. I particularly like the attention Vieira gives to the many outstanding movie directors working in 1939.

Who am I?

I have been writing books about film, theatre, and popular music since 1991 but my love of old movies goes back much further. Before VCRs, DVDs, and streaming, one could only catch these old films on television (often cut to allow for commercial time) or revival houses. Today even the more obscure movies from 1939 are attainable. Writing 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year gave me the opportunity to revisit dozens of old favorites and to see the many also-rans of that remarkable year.

I wrote...

1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

By Thomas S. Hischak,

Book cover of 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

What is my book about?

This book looks at all 510 Hollywood feature films that were released in 1939 in the context of what was happening in the U.S. and the world. The format is a day-by-day chronicle covering major news events (national and international) as well as the activities on Broadway, radio, the music business, literature, and other arts, and sporting events. This is followed by a full description and commentary on the Hollywood movies that were released on that day. Also included are many notable shorts, cartoons, and foreign releases.

While other books look at the movie highlights of this momentous year, I wanted to evaluate Hollywood’s entire screen output of 1939, including B pictures, serial installments, and memorable international releases.

A Private View

By Irene Mayer Selznick,

Book cover of A Private View

The dutiful daughter of one studio mogul and devoted wife of another, Irene Selznick was Hollywood royalty throughout the 1920s to 40s, the Golden Age of American cinema. Her father, the tyrannical Louis B. Mayer, steered MGM, Hollywood’s most successful studio, discovered Greta Garbo and victimized Judy Garland. Her husband, David O. Selznick made the first A Star Is Born and Gone with the Wind before self-destructing from drugs and megalomania. Irene escaped the shadow of overpowering men to become the respected Broadway producer of A Streetcar Named Desire, a woman to be reckoned with and—in this powerful memoir—a first-class storyteller.

Who am I?

I worked for 27 years at The Washington Post, where I won a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. But when I returned home in 2006, I wanted to write about my own country, and what could be more American than the movies? They’re a wonderful looking glass into the past, and my books explore the making of an iconic movie and the historical era in which it was created. My recent ones have recounted the making of The Searchers, starring John Wayne, and High Noon, the Gary Cooper classic and its connection to the Hollywood blacklist, a time of vicious conflict eerily similar to our own troubled era.

I wrote...

Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic

By Glenn Frankel,

Book cover of Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic

What is my book about?

More than 50 years after its release, Midnight Cowboy remains one of the most groundbreaking and memorable movies of the modern era. My book traces the origins of this bleak masterpiece and the gifted writers, actors, and filmmakers who made it. Set in a New York besieged by economic collapse and cultural ferment, the movie tells the story of two homeless loners—a male hustler from Texas and a tubercular petty con man from the Bronx, brilliantly played by Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman—who forge a wary friendship out of desperate circumstances. The movie was a surprise box office hit and the only X-rated movie ever to win the Best Picture Oscar.

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