Books: Madison County’s Frank L. Baum, Wizard of Oz


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This summer the film “The Wizard of Oz” marked its 70th anniversary. Just in time comes The Real Wizard of Oz: The Life and Times of L. Frank Baumby Rebecca Loncraine, the first full biography of L. Frank Baum – from his birth in 1856 and his youth in the Finger Lakes region, to the years following his death – that looks at the people, places, history, culture, and literature that influenced the renowned storyteller. From the Civil War to women’s suffrage, from amputation to modern medicine, from psychics to industrialization, Baum saw it all and it was reflected in his writings. Loncraine is an acknowledged expert on Oz and Baum who traveled the US to study him, his works and the impact they had on our culture for the book.

When The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written at the turn of the century, it quickly became an icon of American Culture. The public and the media were entranced by myths surrounding Baum’s creation, all covered in the book:

Was OZ really named from the O-Z on his file cabinet?

Was the book really a reaction to the Populist party?

What was Baum’s incredible connection to PT Barnum?

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