Difficult Men by Brett Martin
Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad

79%

10 Critic Reviews

It's rare to read something that matches these excellent shows in intelligence and thoughtfulness. But Brett Martin has done it.
-Guardian

Synopsis

A revealing look at the shows that helped TV emerge as the signature art form of the twenty-first century

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the landscape of television began an unprecedented transformation. While the networks continued to chase the lowest common denominator, a wave of new shows on cable channels dramatically stretched television’s narrative inventiveness, emotional resonance, and artistic ambition. Combining deep reportage with cultural analysis and historical context, Brett Martin recounts the rise and inner workings of a genre that represents not only a new golden age for TV, but also a cultural watershed. Difficult Men features extensive interviews with all the major players, including David Chase, David Simon, David Milch, and Alan Ball; in addition to other writers, executives, directors and actors. Martin delivers never-before-heard story after story, revealing how cable television became a truly significant and influential part of our culture.
 

About Brett Martin

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Brett Martin is a Correspondent for GQ and a 2012 James Beard Journalism Award winner. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Esquire, Food and Wine, and multiple anthologies. He is a frequent contributor to This American Life. He is the author of The Sopranos: The Book (2007).
 
Published June 27, 2013 by Penguin Books. 321 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Difficult Men
All: 10 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 19 2013

A lucid and entertaining analysis of contemporary quality TV, highly recommended to anyone who turns on the box to be challenged and engaged.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Lisa Schwarzbaum on Jul 12 2013

Martin writes with a psychological insight that enhances his nimble reporting...

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Jun 24 2013

Despite such lapses, Mr. Martin, a correspondent for GQ, provides vivid glimpses of these show runners at work, and the high-stress writers’ rooms they presided over. He also deftly situates their shows within a larger cultural context.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Theo Tait on Sep 18 2013

There's not a great deal in the way of criticism in this book, which is perhaps a pity, because Martin does it well.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Emma G Keller on Jul 29 2013

It's rare to read something that matches these excellent shows in intelligence and thoughtfulness. But Brett Martin has done it.

Read Full Review of Difficult Men: Behind the Sce... | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on May 13 2013

Martin deftly traces TV’s evolution from an elitist technology in a handful of homes, to an entertainment wasteland reflecting viewers’ anomie, to “the signature American art form of the first decade of the twenty-first century.”

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Washington Times

Above average
Reviewed by Kevin P. McVicker on Jul 29 2013

Fans of “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” have to wait until the last quarter of the book to get the inside story on these shows...Mr. Martin only devotes one rather short chapter to “Mad Men.” Nevertheless, “Difficult Men” is required reading for anyone interested in the sweeping changes in television and the creative forces behind them.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Alex Good on Jul 19 2013

...Martin’s book covers the field nicely and even fans will find it informative. But as a cultural history of this period it is even more intriguing.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Scott Stinson on Jul 12 2013

Martin...describes the odd confluence of factors that gave birth to what he calls a “creative revolution” wherein high-end television now rivals — and often 
exceeds — the quality of work produced by Hollywood film studios.

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Scott Stinson on Jul 12 2013

Martin’s work is most interesting when it describes the conversations that took place between network types who, unlike the showrunners, have not been the subject of magazine profiles.

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