Format: Trade Paperback, 288 pages
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
ISBN: 978-0-7710-1668-4 (0-7710-1668-9)
Pub Date: November 13, 2007
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An entertaining, often surprising look at the life of the world’s most influential fictional character.
He is the embodiment of charity and generosity, a creation of mythology, a tool of clever capitalists. The very idea of him is enduring and powerful.
Santa Claus was born in early-nineteenth-century America, but his family tree goes back seven hundred years to Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children. Intervening generations were shaggy and strange — whip-wielding menaces to naughty boys and girls. Yet as the raucous, outdoor, alcohol-fuelled holiday gave way to a more domestic, sentimental model, a new kind of gift-bringer was called for — a loveable elf, still judgmental but far less threatening.
In this engaging social and cultural history, Gerry Bowler examines the place of Santa Claus in history, literature, advertising, and art. He traces his metamorphosis from a beardless youth into a red-suited peddler. He reveals the lesser-known aspects of the gift-bringer’s life — Santa’s involvement with social and political causes of all stripes (he enlisted on the Union side in the American Civil War), his starring role in the movies and as adman for gun-makers and insurance companies. And he demolishes the myths surrounding Santa Claus and Coca-Cola.
Santa Claus: A Biography will stand as the classic work on the long-lived and multifarious Mr. Claus.
From the Hardcover edition.
“The definitive chronology of hope and imagination. . . . Filled with humor and warmth, this ‘biography’ should be kept among the other tales of Christmas to be read the moment holiday cynicism begins to gather.”
— Publishers Weekly
“[An] exceptionally entertaining . . . chronicle of the evolution of the modern-day Santa.”
— Halifax Chronicle-Herald
“Santa has found a thoughtful champion in Bowler, and well deserved, too.”
— Globe and Mail
“Graced with a wry wit . . . Santa Claus: A Biography is informative and entertaining. . . . Recommended for all libraries.”
— Library Journal
"Offering the definitive chronology of hope and imagination, Bowler follows the Santa myth from its origins to the jolly man's appearance on the big screen....Filled with humor and warmth, this "biography" should be kept among the other tales of Christmas to be read the moment holiday cynicism begins to gather."
"[Gerry Bowler studies] Santa in all of his incarnations, from a slightly tricky character in earlier centuries to the cherubic personality promulgated by advertising….[Santa Claus: A Biography] is graced with a wry wit that makes it both informative and entertaining…recommended for all libraries."
—Tessa L.H. Minchew, Georgia Perimeter Coll., Clarkston in Library Journal
Praise for The World Encyclopedia of Christmas
“Meticulously researched, well-written, and often downright funny, this encyclopedia does justice to its fascinating subject.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Gerry Bowler received his Ph.D. in History from King’s College, London, and presently teaches at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of Santa Claus: A Biography and The World Encyclopedia of Christmas, and the co-author of Europe in the Sixteenth Century. He has published works on topics ranging from Renaissance monarchy and Bloody Mary to the Simpsons, the Spice Girls, and the history of professional hockey. Dr. Bowler was the founding director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Contemporary Culture at Calgary’s Nazarene University College. He lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with his wife, Karen, and three daughters.
From the Hardcover edition.
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