James Dean

Here is yet another Ballantine paperback/hardcover combo.  James Dean, a biography by William Bast, was first published by Ballantine Books as a paperback original, meaning that the true first edition is the paperback.  It was subsequently published by Ballantine, also in 1956, as a hardcover with dust jacket.  They have distinctly different looks.

Front of paperback

Front of paperback

As you can see, the paperback features a rather casual photo of Dean who made his starring film debut in East of Eden and went on to star in Giant and Rebel Without a Cause.  Tragically, he died in a car crash just as his career was on the rise at the age of 24.

The hardcover features a dust jacket cover photo of Dean by Roy Schatt that is rather haunting.  The same photo is used as the frontispiece in the hardcover.

Front of hardcover

Front of hardcover

This was Bast’s first full-length book, and it was the first biography of the iconic Dean.  Bast was a long-time Dean roommate in both New York and Los Angeles.  He tells us what sort of young man Dean was and “what he was searching for, and what were the compulsions that spurred his meteoric career.”  Text on the dust jacket flap calls the book a “portrait of youth in turmoil.”  Bast chronicles Dean’s career as an actor and his own as a writer as they shared ambitions, the search for expression, the disappointments, set-backs, and sudden successes.



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