Here is a review from Publishers Weekly for the book Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry by Holly George-Warren.
Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and
Times of Gene Autry
Holly George-Warren. Oxford, $28 (352p)
April 30, 2007
In this enjoyable, thoroughly researched volume, author and pop culture commentator George-Warren (Cowboy!) details the life and work of Gene Autry, the influential star of music, movies and television.
After a descriptive genealogy, George-Warren takes the reader through Autry's formative years, featuring his deadbeat dad, the oft-married Delbert, and his long-suffering mom, Nora. Born Orvon Grover Autry in 1907, the cowboy's childhood was spent watching Tom Mix movies in Achille, Okla., and singing for classmates in Tioga.
The bulk of the book is devoted to Autry's career as a musician and a film actor, beginning with the telegraphing job he neglected in order to make his early recordings, and his subsequent discovery by American Radio Corporation A&R man Art Satherley. Most striking, though perhaps not surprising, is that the much-revered man who "reinvent[ed] the saga of the cowboy and the West" was not a cowboy at all, but a deft performer and professional who made the unexpected, highly fortuitous move from film to television in the late 1940s.
Included are abundant notes, a bibliography and a brilliant, chronological list of Autry's 640 recording sessions. An easy, fluid read, this illuminating biography also provides a look into the early days of the radio and recording industry. (Apr.)