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Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit tells the compelling story of how Walt Disney’s beloved graphic alter ego, the most enduring pop icon ever created, was born, how it soon took on a life of its own, and became an instantly recognizable figure virtually everywhere on earth.
It is an extensive illustrated “biography” and pop culture study of the diminutive cartoon star whose unprecedented success laid the foundation for everything the Walt Disney Company has achieved over the years.
Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit chronicles the life and times of Disney’s cheerful signature character, beginning with his lively syncopated debut in 1928 in Steamboat Willie at the tail end of the Jazz Age and into the Depression, and traces his impact on the realms of high art, literature, even politics — in peace and in war — both in the United States and abroad.
With over 300 images — many rarely or never before seen, most in full color —, Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit is a worthy companion to Christopher Finch’s classic volume, The Art of Walt Disney. Join Garry Apgar and The Walt Disney Family Foundation Press for a fascinating look at the multiple ways Walt Disney’s iconic Mouse has impacted our lives, individually and as a society.
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Art historian, cartoonist, and journalist Garry Apgar has taught art history, French literature, and cross-disciplinary topics at Brown University, Princeton University, the University of Delaware and Southern Connecticut State University. He is a co-founder and Secretary-Treasurer of The Voltaire Society of America, co-author of The Newspaper in Art (1996), and editor of A Mickey Mouse Reader (University Press of Mississippi, 2014), an anthology of articles and essays by, among others, Diego Rivera, E. M. Forster, Maurice Sendak, Stephen Jay Gould, John Updike, and Walt Disney himself.
“Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit is a magnificent book. It is well written and the research is exhaustive. The production job is impeccable. While nothing may ever be truly “definitive,” this one is as definitive a study as we may ever have of Mickey. I am envious and only wish I had written it.” Author: M. Thomas Inge is Professor of Humanities at Randolph-Macon College (Ashland, Virginia) and a leading authority on popular culture and comic art history.
“You can now add Garry Apgar to the ranks of Canemaker, Barrier, Kaufman as one of the finer Disney historians writing today. Apgar combines social history, art history and cultural studies, along with a healthy dose of new research, to cover everything leading to Mickey’s creation, his popularity and his long lasting social impact on America and in the larger world...The book is beautifully designed and contains numerous images of Mickey that fill the pages to supplement, remind, inspire and delight. Intelligent, detailed, thorough and important. The final word on the subject and a great read. This is a must-add to your library.” Author: Jerry Beck is editor of the Cartoon Research blog, author of I Tawt I Taw a Putty Tat: 50 Years of Sylvester and Tweety (1991), The 50 Greatest Cartoons (1994), The Hanna Barbera Treasury (2007), and co-author, Warner Bros. Animation Art (1997).
“I use the following criteria to judge a Disney book:
- Is the subject matter compelling?
- Does the text contain new information?
- Is it easy to read?
- Are there endnotes or sources for the information that give me confidence that what I'm reading is accurate?
- Does the book include visual material I've not seen before?
For Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit the answer to all five questions is an enthusiastic "yes." This huge illustrated volume is clearly one of the most important recent Disney history books and will remain a key reference for years to come. I learned a lot by reading it and discovered dozens of visual documents I was not aware of. I will read and re-read with tremendous delight Garry Apgar's magnum opus.” Author: Didier Ghez, proprietor of the Disney History blog, author of Disney’s Grand Tour (2013), They Drew As They Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney’s Golden Age (2015), and editor of the Walt’s People series of books (2005- ).
“This is a beautifully illustrated, well researched “must have” book. Having researched for many years and written my own history of Mickey Mouse, I was amazed and delighted by all the things I had not known or seen before. Each page is filled with wonders, like the photo of young John Kennedy Jr. meeting a costumed Mickey at the New York World’s Fair. The book is incredibly accurate and Apgar’s research can be trusted. If you are a Disneyphile or love Mickey or pop culture, you should stop reading this review and immediately buy a copy for your personal library.
This was one of the final book projects approved and supported enthusiastically by Walt’s daughter, the late Diane Disney Miller, and I am saddened that she never got to see it published, but I also know she would be proud of this exemplary piece of work that will be used as a primary reference for generations to come.” Author: Jim Korkis is a Disney historian who has authored countless articles, blog posts, and books, including The Revised Vault of Walt (2012) and The Book of Mouse: A Celebration of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse (2013).
“With a torrent of Disney books issuing from various presses, it is no easy task deciding which ones are worthwhile. Mickey Mouse: Emblem of the American Spirit raises the bar substantially because it presents masses of new material and prompts fresh thinking about Walt Disney and Mickey. A gorgeous — scholarly yet buoyant — volume , it contains 323 plates covering Disney representations of the Mouse (production art, comics, toys, etc.) as well as non-Disney images that, together, illustrate the many changes in Mickey’s “look” over the years.
There are photos of the Beatles, Madonna, and graffiti on the Berlin Wall that demonstrate how significant Mickey has been as a global symbol of what Apgar calls “the American spirit.” I love the “Mickey” cartoons by Charles M. Schulz, David Levine, and Robert Grossman. And what a surprise to see a comic strip panel that Walt signed for Sergei Eisenstein and a “Mickey Mouse Diagram” used as a nautical chart for the invasion of France on D-Day. Examples of Pop Art further document how Mickey’s image has escaped Disney corporate control and is now deeply ingrained in the national and global consciousness.” Author: Robert Neuman is Professor of Art History at Florida State University, and a specialist in Baroque and Rococo art who has published several articles on Disney.
If optimism is the defining American virtue—and it had better be, you sometimes can’t help feeling—then this book’s central proposition, that the essence of the nation is more fully embodied in one animated rodent than all the flag-hoisters and touch-downers of nearly 250 swaggering years, makes perfect sense. Author: Keith Miller Source: The Times Literary Supplement
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