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Atticus Finch

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The book explores the background of the famous character "Atticus Finch" from the literary classic " To Kill a Mockingbird" . The author starts by discussing the stories of Harper Lee and her father, and where the inspiration came from. I am a fan of Atticus Finch as a character and it was interesting to read about all the sources of the ideas and how Harper Lee channeled it into her story.

Saying that I somewhat doubt how appealing this would be to a person who is not a fan of Atticus Finch. The story entirely revolves around the books. So it might be necessary to read the books first.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I really liked how the author utilized both the book and the movie as a means of comparing the people around Harper Lee to the beloved Atticus Finch. I do wish that the author had touched more on To Kill a Mockingbird, rather than Go Set A Watchman and the movie, though. I also felt that the writing style was somewhat inaccessbile as well, there were a large amount of footnotes that I noticed at the end of the book. I also think that it tried too hard to touch on all of its topics, but in a watered down version, and as fast as the author possibly could. 
I think this book would be perfect for those who have consumed all  of the books, along with the movie, and want to try doing some research on how the story came to be.
Overall, I admire how the author did research to convey its messages, and created a pocket-version of To Kill A Mockingbird's history. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me access to an e-version of this book!
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Atticus is a deep dive into the life of Harper Lee’s father, the real life inspiration for Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. The thing that struck me as I read Atticus, was just how much our past determines our future. The unresolved problems that our country grappled with in AC Lee’s time are pretty much the same problems we deal with today. And, while the fictional Atticus was  given the gift of perfection, the real Atticus, Mr, Lee,  was much more complicated and layered. 

Another thing that stood out to me about about AC Lee, was the fact that he actually started publishing a newspaper because of his political aspirations. Today we long for unbiased news sources that just report the facts. Unfortunately, this illustrates the fact that our country doesn’t have a history of this CD and it doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.

I enjoyed the book and drew many parallels between the current events of AC Lee’s America and the one we live in today. As a native Alabamian, I found myself mostly annoyed by the author’s use of the term Alabaman. While not technically incorrect, this is a term rarely, if ever,  used in Alabama.
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It's interesting to read a book about the character behind the character in another book.

What I liked:
I took up reading this as a break from Gone With The Wind. The latter spurred in me an interest in the South and racism therein.

What I disliked:
The run-on sentences. There are quite a few. Also, I spotted a mistake or two, but there isn't anything wrong in mistakes in any work.


(Netgalley.)
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Thank you to NetGalley, Joseph Crespino and Perseus Books for an advance copy of Atticus Finch for review.
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books so this book really appealed to me. Atticus Finch is a fictional character many people have always felt was based on Harper Lee's own father. It was interesting for me to read and helped me to understand Harper Lee's writing a little more. Fantastic read for Miss Lee's fans.
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This book is fascinating in that is a biography of a fictional character but also an analysis of real people, including the creator of the fictional character.  Fans of To Kill a Mockingbird will welcome the opportunity to delve into the mind and experience of the person who created such a masterful work.  Fans of social history will find it appealing for its dissection of racism and the different types of racism which exist and how these are  manifested.  Somewhat detracting from this was the sense of disorder or disjointedness in the way the book was presented.
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this book gave me the perspective I needed to accept Go Set A Watchman (GSAW) for what it is and to reclaim Atticus Finch, the character, and what he means to me. the publicity and marketing of GSAW billed it as a sequel, but I had read enough already to know it was really an early draft. I was saddened, like many readers, by the Atticus I found in GSAW, and troubled by the idea that was rumored - that it was only through skillful editing that this book had morphed into To Kill A Mockingbird (TKAM). Perhaps, the media would have us think, the great Harper Lee only produced one book because she never really wrote that one. At the time GSAW was published I felt great sadness for Nelle Harper, who had clearly never meant for it to be published. But I also felt some of that doubt. How did the Atticus of TKAM come out of this unrecognizable figure in GSAW?
Joseph Crespino has answered that question and in doing so, he has given me back Atticus Finch. GSAW is far more "real" in a way, than TKAM ever was, and in today's literary climate, "real" is marketed as "better" than fiction. characters "based on a true story" are popularized. But fictional characters are not real because they are based on real people. the Atticus of GSAW is "really" a thinly disguised stand in for Nelle's own father, A.C. Lee. the Atticus of TKAM is a character, sprung from the root of the one in GSAW, but freed from the constraints of what the "real" man would do. TKAM is a better novel than GSAW because it's fiction with bits of reality. GSAW is too close to Nelle Harper's reality and the publishers who rejected it knew that. When Nelle put aside her personal experience of what was, creating a story of what could be, she found her voice at last. The Atticus of TKAM is, in a way, more "real" than the one in GSAW, because he has gone down his own path, one that the man who inspired him could not take.
Reading this book gave me a better insight into how TKAM came to be and helped me understand my own emotional reactions to GSAW. it also helped me understand Nelle and her father a bit better.
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A wonderful look into the life of a man who raised one of the great authors. It was an eye opener to see the real person behind the stories.
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Atticus Finch by Joseph Crespino is the “biography” of the father character in the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Crespino explains how Atticus came to be modeled after A.C. Lee, Harper Lee’s lawyer-turned-newspaperman father.  Crespino gives many behind the scene details regarding the making of the film in Hollywood as well.

He also discusses the later-found work, Go Set a Watchman, in which a totally different persona was developed for Atticus. Rather than scorn it, he says the book shows how Lee was conflicted about how she wanted to portray her father in literature. Lee was crafting her work in a historical period of militant segregation politics at that time in the South, and she was trying to make sense of how her father fit into the scheme of things.

In this scholarly work, Crespino shares his insider’s look at letters and documents that were made available to him, some from private collections, as well as his conversations with three grandchildren of Lee’s father, her own nieces and a nephew. With his background in history, Crespino is able to put Lee’s work into a social and political history context. Several photographs in the book show a more flattering Harper Lee than the author shots that are usually used.

Fans of Lee and her work will learn much about her life and how it found its way into her writing.

Joseph Crespino, the Jimmy Carter Professor of History at Emory University, is an expert in the political and cultural history of the twentieth century United States, and of the history of the American South since Reconstruction.  

My review will be posted on Goodreads starting October 30, 2020. 

I would like to thank Basic Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, a subsidiary of Hatchette Book Group, Inc., and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in return for an objective review.
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The premise of “Atticus Finch: The Biography”, as I understood it, was this: to understand the character Atticus Finch, one must first understand Harper Lee’s father, AC Lee, his times, and the relationship between father and daughter. That book would have been interesting. The book I read lacked any real focus or unifying narrative thread, making it too frustrating to hold my attention for any length of time.

The book is broken down into three sections. The first is a random intermingling of Lee family history, area scandals, and tedious summaries of AC Lee’s eighteen years of editorial pieces in the local newspaper. The second discusses Harper Lee and the writing of Go Set a Watchman and To Kill a Mockingbird. The third section recounts the making of the film version of Mockingbird and the legacy of both it and the novel.

There are several problems with this book, but the main one is that there are few parallels shown between AC Lee the man and Atticus Finch the character. There are some mentioned occasionally, especially in the first section, but they become more rare and more vague as the book continues. If connections between father and character are the basis of the book, shouldn’t they be featured, rather than relegated to an infrequent afterthought?

Another problem with this book are the endless pages of political history that are included. National political history, Alabama state political history, local political history- we’ve heard these stories before, told elsewhere and better.

The core issues with Atticus Finch: The Biography were that the author couldn’t decide what book he wanted to write, coupled with a misleading advertising campaign. This is not a book comparing Atticus Finch with AC Lee. It’s mainly a political history of South Alabama at that time, jumbled with history of the Lee family, AC Lee’s writing, the writing of Watchman and Mockingbird, and the making of the movie.

This is a two-star disappointment for someone who loves books-about-books, history, how movies were made, and nonfiction books.
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This book was an ARC copy from Netgalley.  I read this book thinking it would give me more of the story about one of my favorite books... TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  This was more of a background of how the key character  Atticus Finch came to play. An enjoyable read that was almost like an autobiography to Harper  Lee's life
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The subtitle of this book is: Harper Lee, Her Father, and the Making of an American Icon.  I felt while reading this book that the subject was fractured beyond even what the subtitle leads us to expect.  Is it a biography of A.C. Lee, Harper Lee's father, the model for Atticus Finch? In part. There is a history of his background and personal life but it is not very interesting; a person who led a quiet life but had a famous daughter wouldn't normally be the subject of a biography.  An excessive amount of the biographical part of the book is actually a summary of many of the weekly editorials that Lee wrote for his local newspaper and the current events that inspired those essays.  Some readers might jump at the chance to read this material, but I'm not one of them.  
     Another chunk of the book compares what is known about A.C. Lee and his beliefs about segregation with Harper's portraits of Atticus in her two books.  To that is added a fairly small amount of primary source material about what Harper said and wrote about her relationship with her father;  also, the versions of Atticus in Mockingbird and Watchman are compared and mostly contrasted.
     The third segment of the book is about the actual writing of Mockingbird and its transformation into film.  For me, these were the most interesting parts of the book.  Two different art forms dealing with the same story is itself an interesting story.  It is primarily in this part of the book that the Atticus in Mockingbird is dissected.  Is he too good to be true?  Does he represent "good" white southerners? Is he at some level racist (as was the Atticus  in Watchman) but he just hides it better than other white southerners?  Is he a larger-than-life hero who is meant to inspire our best selves?  Obviously, there is no categorical answer to this question...the reader's opinion grows out of his/her own life experiences and beliefs.  And this is where the book felt the most fractured to me.  In the last section of the book that examines Atticus #1 as a human being there is a huge (to me) retelling of the Civil Rights movement, particularly as it happened in Alabama.  We get a history of 20th century southern governors, Jim Crow, the Freedom Riders and marchers and so much more.  I wasn't sure what all this detailed history had to do with the character of Atticus, and given the generous number of excellent books recently published about the Civil Rights movement, racism in history and the present day, etc. this material was too little to be a full history and too much to stick in the biography of a man and a fictional character.  Other readers will no doubt have different opinions but I simply didn't enjoy this book nor learn very much.
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I really didn't know much about the real Atticus Finch, this was a great read and a really well done biography. I really went in and I questioned everything.
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My son is reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" in school this year, so I have been hearing a lot about the book and decided to reread it. I loved it just as much as I did the first time. Atticus Finch, by Joseph Crespino, gives greater insight into Harper Lee's life and family, and why and how she created this beloved character. For those of you interested in the details around one of the most beloved books of all time, I highly recommend this biography. It is well-written and well-researched.
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Atticus Finch
The Biography
by Joseph Crespino
Perseus Books, Basic Books 
Basic Books
 Biographies & Memoirs 
Pub Date 20 Oct 2020 




I am reviewing a copy of Atticus Finch, The Biography through Perseus Books, Basic Books and Netgalley:




Atticus Finch was born on Christmas Day 1956.  She would not be heading home to Alabama for the Holidays.  She couldn’t get time off from her job as an airline reservationist, so she spent Christmas with her closest friends in New York, Michael and Joy Brown and their two boys.





Watchman was Harper Lee’s effort to make sense of her father’s conservatism amid the madness of massive resistance. Yet that first novel didn’t succeed.  




In this book, historian Joseph Crespino draws on exclusive sources to reveal how Harper Lee's father provided the central inspiration for each of her books.   Harper Lee’s Father, A.C Lee was a lawyer and newspaperman.  He was a principled opponent to opponent but he was also a racial paternalist.



When Harper Lee created the Atticus Finch of the Watchman out of the ambivalence she felt toward white southerners like him.  After a militant segregationist movement arose that mocked his values, she revised the character in To Kill a Mockingbird to defend her father and to remind the South of its best traditions.   




If you are looking for an in-depth look at Harpers Lee Character Atticus Finch, I recommend historian Joseph Crespino in depth book on the Subject titled Atticus Finch!



Five out of five stars!



Happy Reading!
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Interesting. But bogged down in too much detail and no small amount of speculation. The ideas here would make a great piece of long form journalism but was too drawn out as a book.
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