At over 800 pages long, “Steel True” is the very definition of an extensive biography. (Keep in mind this book only covers Barbara’s life up until 1940. The other fifty years will be covered in future volumes.) In fact, this may very well be the most extensive movie star biography I will ever read. In “Steel True,” Wilson doesn’t simply offer a look at Barbara Stanwyck’s life, she immerses the reader in Stanwyck’s world. Barring any advances in the field of time travel, “Steel True” is the closest thing to actually being there with her. You don’t just learn what Stanwyck was doing, you learn about her friends, family, and co-workers, what they were doing, and what was happening in the world at the time.
Whether or not I would recommend “Steel True” solely depends on what type of biography you’re looking for. Even though I really appreciated Wilson’s in-depth approach, I can see how it might not be what other people are looking for. Perhaps you’ve just seen a Barbara Stanwyck movie for the first time and you want to learn a bit more about her. In that case, “Steel True” may be a bit overwhelming. However, if you’re already a big Barbara Stanwyck fan and want to know about her life in greater detail, this is absolutely the book you want.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher.