What Makes Sammy Run? by Budd Schulberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A criticism not only of Hollywood moguls but also of ruthless ambition, What Makes Sammy Run? is a landmark work from the 40s that turned out to be hauntingly prescient. Sammy's stab you in the back to ahead mentality represents America, and this book makes for an interesting Hollywood story that is relatable in every aspect of modern day business. You may even have a Sammy Glick in your life, which is scary to say the very least.
The story centers on the aforementioned Glick, and it's told from the perspective of somebody Glick walks over to get ahead, which paints an interesting story unlike the naive narrator from The Great Gatsby. In this book, the protagonist, Al Manheim, knows Sammy is slime and you get to see his outlook on the ambitious character. It makes for fascinating narration. In his climb to the top, Sammy screws over anybody and everybody (But they're all Jewish people like himself, which the author, Budd Schulberg, made sure of), making him a pretty repugnant character. That said, he's not one-dimensional, and you even start to feel sorry for him since he can't help himself. Some might even see him as a non-violent sociopath, taking his licks and accepting them if it means it will further his barreling career.
If I have only one complaint with the book, it's that the ending comes rather abruptly for my taste. That said, the book is enjoyable and has well thought out characters and excellent pacing. If you love movies, and more importantly, the story behind making movies, then you should definitely read this book. Maybe you'll uncover for yourself just what makes Sammy run.
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