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Publisher's Summary

Award-winning master critic Robert Gottlieb takes a singular and multifaceted look at the life of silver screen legend Greta Garbo and the culture that worshiped her.

“Wherever you look in the period between 1925 and 1941,” Robert Gottlieb writes in Garbo, “Greta Garbo is in people’s minds, hearts, and dreams.” Strikingly glamorous and famously inscrutable, she managed, in 16 short years, to infiltrate America’s subconscious; her decision to suddenly end her film career at the age of 36 only made her more irresistible. Garbo appeared in only 24 movies, yet her impact on the world - and that indescribable, transcendent presence she possessed - was rivaled only by Marilyn Monroe. She was a phenomenon, a Sphinx, a myth, but also a Swedish peasant girl, uneducated, naïve, and always on her guard.

In Garbo, acclaimed critic and editor Robert Gottlieb attempts to capture the ever-elusive essence of Garbo through the eyes of others: In addition to a vivid and thorough retelling of her life, Gottlieb combs through glimpses of Garbo in literature, music, private letters, and, of course, films, in order to better understand her. Discovering her within Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and in the letters of Marianne Moore, and following her from her early movies with MGM to her career-defining, Academy Award-nominated role in Camille to her world-stopping decision to leave the limelight, Gottlieb crafts a biography of unprecedented intimacy and scope in the hopes of capturing the woman that only the camera knew.

©2021 Robert Gottlieb (P)2021 Random House Audio

What listeners say about Garbo

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Very good and very not good

I am a giant fan of Robert Gottlieb and his work. And of the brilliant actress (and Gottlieb’s wife, Maria Tucci). Yet I feel I’m going to have to read “Garbo” in print to truly comment on it as the narration is so extremely melodramatic and, often, sarcastic that it changed the intention of the book itself. (And, yes, I heard the whole thing.)

3 people found this helpful

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Garbo: Just a pretty face.

I grew up watching classic film and saw several of Garbo's films as a little girl. All I knew was the Garbo had mystique and so when this book came out I thought it time to learn about what made Garbo so famous and wonderful. I was very excited to start this book after all it has glowing reviews on Amazon. However, as I listened I found it harder and harder to read. I cannot say that I came out of this book any better off in my knowledge of Garbo.

Turns out that people referred to her as a peasant girl and she did little to grow or expand herself beyond that perception. She was cold, unfriendly, and uninterested in other people. The book focuses heavily on her movies. Complains considerably about her leading men. (So which man in Hollywood would have been worthy of Garbo at the time? If none of the one's she acted against were?) The book talks endlessly about her beauty.

Towards the end when the book moved on to stories about Garbo. I was interested and hopeful once more that I might at least conclude the book with some kinder and softer impressions of Garbo. After a bit the stories turned back into the usual where Garbo is cold, uninterested, and has no emotional attachments to other humans. She didn't give to charity, didn't like fashion, and had no pets that the book focused on, didn't like people, and just wanted to be private.

I had hoped the book would give me a new appreciation of Garbo’s films but rather it left me struggling to not outright dislike Garbo as a person.

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Narrator

I unfortunately could only listen to about 1 hour of this book , as the narrator is impossible to tolerate.

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Fascinating listen

A fascinating and eloquent biography, beautifully and entertainingly read by the narrator. Am mystified by some of the bad reviews of a narration that has both personality and wit. I thoroughly loved the book and its reader.

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You don't know everything about Garbo!

An incredibly well researched, well written, and fascinating book about a legend I thought I knew everything about.
I was wrong. Highly recommend!

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No Pictures

was very upset that pictures not included . loved the reading of the book.

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The Legend That Is Garbo

Born in 1905 in Sweden- retired from acting at 36yo- she is still a worldwide phenomenon, when one discusses the history of film and acting- this book is worthy of the attention of any film buff-the narrator- Maria Tucci is the author’s wife and gives a theatrical realism to the biography.