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Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: 1948-1988 The Man Who Learned Better di [Patterson Jr., William H.]
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Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with his Century: 1948-1988 The Man Who Learned Better: The real-life story of Robert A. Heinlein in the second volume of the authorized biography by William H. Patterson!

Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988) is generally considered the greatest American science fiction writer of the twentieth century. His most famous and widely influential works include the Future History series (stories and novels collected in The Past Through Tomorrow and continued in later novels), Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress—all published in the years covered by this volume. He was a friend of admirals, bestselling writers, and artists; became committed to defending the United States during the Cold War; and was on the advisory committee that helped Ronald Reagan create the Star Wars Strategic Defense Initiative in the 1980s.

Heinlein was also devoted to space flight and humanity's future in space, and he was a commanding presence to all around him in his lifetime. Given his desire for privacy in the later decades of his life, the revelations in this biography make for riveting reading.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.


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  • Formato: Formato Kindle
  • Dimensioni file: 5178 KB
  • Lunghezza stampa: 672
  • Editore: Tor Books; 1st edizione (3 giugno 2014)
  • Venduto da: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Lingua: Inglese
  • ASIN: B00HTJ05PA
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Amazon.com: 4.3 su 5 stelle 75 recensioni
16 di 16 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle Flawed but important 11 luglio 2014
Di Michael Booker - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
The late Bill Patterson has engaged in the staggering task of assembling the details of the life of Robert Heinlein. The sheer size of the two volumes he produced will likely mean that only the most serious of Heinlein's readers will tackle them. I will admit that I found the first volume an easier read; there were more surprises and more bits of fascinating Americana there. The second volume suffers under the weight of access to the Heinleins' correspondence; details about things like lawsuits against shifty publishers occupy much of the book. That said, the biography was very much worth reading.

The second volume starts with Robert's marriage to Virginia, and I think it could have been appropriately been subtitled "the Virginia Years." She was an amazing individual and the great love of his life. The two letters included at the end of the book that Virginia wrote to Robert after he died are deeply moving -- would that we were all so lucky to know such love. She was also his muse, his business manager, and most insightful critic.

Three things stand out in this volume:
1. Even the most casual Heinlein fans knows that he had health problems. The biography spells out just how profound and varied they were. One has to wonder what his creative output would have been without so many ongoing medical crises.
2. The Heinleins were astonishingly generous people, even during hard times. They helped family, they helped fellow writers, and they fought for causes that they believed in.
3. The amount of disrespect that Heinlein endured...from Hollywood, from publishers, from fans, from critics, from his ex-wife...is really quite heartbreaking.

At any rate, the book's well worth reading.
6 di 6 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
3.0 su 5 stelle The Authorized Chronology 30 giugno 2014
Di Dharma - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
This two volume chronology of the life of Robert Heinlein is a tantalizing beginning to the process of understanding his writings. Using the extensive personal files of Heinlein and his wife Virginia, along with interviews and other published material, Patterson has given us the bones of the man, but the meat is missing. We learn a great deal about his family, his military career, and his interactions with publishers and critics.

The pre-war short fiction which established his reputation was written mainly in Los Angeles during his ill-fated second marriage. His third marriage to Virginia and his life in Colorado Springs saw the publication of the dozen "juvenile" novels which created an immense base of fans and inspired a generation of scientists. The three adult novels; Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Starship Troopers, wrenched science fiction out of the genre dungeon and arguably changed the social and political landscape of the country. The later novels, written after a move back to California, amidst illness and fame, are clever, but lack the narrative drive and technical invention of the earlier works.

Many questions linger. How was Heinlein able to create the humorous, heroic, and human characters that populated his best work? What enabled him to see the direction of technology so clearly that he forecast dozens of industries and inventions? Where did those stories come from? Why has no other writer equaled his popularity and impact?

Most writers would be happy to have one or two novels in print after 20 years. More than a dozen Heinlein novels are still being reprinted more than 50 years after they were written, and finding new audiences.
7 di 7 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle Highly Detailed Biography of the Grand Master 30 giugno 2014
Di Nyssa - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
Robert Heinlein was my favorite writer and easily the most influential author I read during my teens, twenties, and through later years. I had read the first volume of this biography when it came out and waited eagerly for the continuation of the biography for the rest of the story. I was ready to give it five stars out of the box simply because of the subject. Instead, I read the book slowly, savoring the details and absorbing the new data. Once I finished the biography, I still let it simmer for a while before writing this review in order to judge fairly not just the content, but its presentation and what might have been missing from the treatment of the biographical information.

To start with, you'll need two bookmarks when you read this biography: one for your place in the narrative and another to keep your place in the end notes where you'll find not only the usual reference citations, but further explanations, source quotations, and anecdotes.

This book does not lack in detail, but at times it seems that the details take over from the big picture of Heinlein and his work, and at other times only a small amount of information is given on some topics almost as a teaser before dropping it and moving onto something else.

An example of a teaser topic is the mention of the opus system of organization that Virginia Heinlein set up for her husband to track his various writing projects. After a few sentences briefly describing the system, it is mentioned in passing throughout the rest of the book without ever giving an example or describing it in full. Photographs of the cards and numbering system for one of his works used as an example would have been ideal. Since this system was so important to Heinlein's work, why wasn't it given a more thorough treatment in the text? On the other hand, we're told about each and every time that one of the Heinleins went to see a production of Wagner's Ring operas, and each time reminded how Robert wasn't that keen on them.

There were some factual errors in the text and endnotes, mostly having to do with events of the times rather than directly to do with the Heinleins themselves. (One was the statement that Ford did not have automatic transmission for their cars until 1973. Since I had 1960 and 1966 Fords, both with automatic, I know this to be untrue. I don't know why this would even be mentioned since the Heinleins had a Chevrolet at the time, and the endnote was explaining a term used by General Motors to describe their transmission. Why even mention Ford, especially when you've just introduced an error into the text?)

Mr. Patterson was authorized to write this biography by Virginia Heinlein, and with that authorization he was given free access to the Robert Heinlein archives at UC Santa Cruz and hours of time with Mrs. Heinlein for interviews. I remember when Mrs. Heinlein was a participant in the Usenet newsgroup alt.fan.heinlein (as was Patterson), and she was gracious in answering questions and joining in discussions of her husband's works. It was quite clear from her interactions that she regarded herself as Keeper of the Faith for her husband's legacy. That same tone can be found in this biography. Patterson is acting both as a biographer and a defender which limits his usefulness to the reader when an unbiased analysis or criticism is needed. It is a case of the author being too close to his subject through his close relationship to Mrs. Heinlein.

In conclusion, although to me the topic of Robert Heinlein is always worth five stars, I am giving this volume of his biography four stars due to the lack of critical analysis and overview. Yes, I learned things I did not previously know about Heinlein, but this book could have been much more than a cataloging of details and minutiae of his life with a side trip of a defense of his politics. I recommend it to fans of Heinlein, those wanting to know more about how a successful writer got and stayed that way, and anyone interested historically in the post-World War II era of science fiction.
3 di 3 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle Required but somewhat disappointing 18 dicembre 2015
Di E. Hynes - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato: Formato Kindle Acquisto verificato
This is the second volume of a two-volume biography. The first thing to say about the biography as a whole is that any fan of Heinlein’s should read it. The second thing to say is that the first volume is in many ways more interesting than the second since it cover’s Heinlein’s life up to 1948 and includes a good deal of material on his life before he became a writer. While I knew the very broad outlines of his life, most of the first volume was new to me and I assume it would be to most readers. Of particular interest to me was the material on his years in the navy, starting with Annapolis, his prewar political involvements and then his work during World War II. It was also entertaining to discover that Heinlein had quite liberal views on sexual relationships well before they started to appear in his novels with Stranger. Of course volume one also covers his early development as a writer, and shows what writing as an occupation looked like if you weren’t a major mainstream author.

The second volume is devoted to Heinlein’s maturity (from about 40 on) and focuses on his writing and post-war political development. It is strictly chronological and goes into considerable detail about the genesis of each book and story and his sometimes difficult relations with his publishers. It also describes his growing political conservatism, although the author makes a reasonable case that Heinlein’s political views changed relatively little while the larger political environment shifted around him. There’s also a good deal about his second marriage, and I thought some suggestion that his second wife, Virginia, influenced his move to the political right. Politics are an important sub-theme in the biography, and the two volumes could be taken as documenting the shift in the country’s prewar and post-war political attitudes.

Unfortunately, the strict chronological structure and lack of critical distance between the author and his subject creates problems. The second volume reads like a third-person transcription of Heinlein’s personal diary and appointment calendar, with very little selection or attempt to differentiate between the significant and insignificant. The result is a great deal of repetitive detail about daily life and the nearly identical mechanics of writing and publishing each novel in turn; I think all but the most devoted fan will skim here and there. In addition, since things are told purely from Heinlein’s perspective, he’s always right in any encounter with an editor or would-be critic, and, needless to say, in his political judgments. Repetitiveness aside, I think the book would have benefited if the author had been more objective and at least occasionally allowed that Heinlein might have been wrong or unreasonable. It also would have been interesting to see something more about the actual critical reception of his books.

As noted, Heinlein’s political views and activities play a significant role in this volume, and in my view the result is not flattering. Without going into details, I would simply say that besides being dogmatic, he also seems to have been extremely naïve (see, for example, the section on his reaction a Reader’s Digest article by a retired admiral on Pearl Harbor). Given that he seemed to think that Russia was considerably more powerful than the U.S., it would have been interesting if he had lived long enough to see the collapse of the Soviet Union. Finally, there is a puzzling claim that Heinlein was comfortable supporting Barry Goldwater in 1964 since Goldwater, like Heinlein, had supported the New Deal. The implied chronology doesn’t make any sense since it suggests that Goldwater was in Congress in the 1930s, and I at least don’t remember anything in The Conscience of a Conservative that would suggest Goldwater was anything but a consistent critic of the New Deal.

In sum, I think anyone who grew up with Heinlein’s books like I did would find the biography interesting and worth reading, but also somewhat disappointing.
6 di 6 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle Only For Hardcore Heinlein Fans 23 giugno 2014
Di Jim Harris - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato: Copertina rigida Acquisto verificato
I've been reading Heinlein since 1964 and always wanted to know more about his life. Patterson's two volumes gave me a wealth of details about Heinlein, details I greatly appreciate, but ultimately the biography didn't explain how Heinlein created so much sense of wonder in his science fiction books. I was disappointed by that. Patterson covered in detail the facts about writing each book, the arguments with editors and publishers, how much he made, and a bit about the reviews, but leaves the impression that Heinlein was just writing books to pay his bills - which is exactly what Heinlein always said he did. But I wanted to know more about Heinlein's personal passions that inspired him to write his books, and what science fiction books inspired him. Patterson's biography is an excellent summary of Heinlein's papers, but not really an insight into the man. Most of the second volume of the biography is spent on defending Heinlein against the most famous attacks made on Heinlein since the 1960s. And for the most part Patterson does deftly justifies Heinlein's side of things. My biggest complaint is Patterson interviewed few people, and never tried to get the other side of the story. I was especially disappointed that Patterson didn't interview Alexei Panshin, author of Heinlein in Dimension, the first book about Heinlein.
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