Sandison, David (?)-2004

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Sandison, David (?)-2004


Died 2004.


Writer, journalist, columnist, and biographer.


Oxtoby's Rockers: The Eternal Fan, Phaidon (Oxford, England), 1978.

(Author of story) David Oxtoby, Once upon a Christmas, Barron's (Woodbury, NY), 1986.

The Art of Ancient Egypt, Laurel Glen Publishing (San Diego, CA), 1997.

Che Guevara, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 1997.

The Art of the Celts, Laurel Glen Publishing (San Diego, CA), 1998.

Sharon Stone, Chelsea House (Philadelphia, PA), 1998.

Ernest Hemingway: An Illustrated Biography, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 1999.

Jack Kerouac: An Illustrated Biography, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 2000.

(Editor) Rock 'n' Roll People: The Pioneers of Pop in Their Own Words, Watson-Guptill Publications (New York, NY), 2000.

(With Graham Vickers) Neal Cassady: The Fast Life of a Beat Hero, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 2006.


David Sandison, who died in 2004, was a multifaceted author who wrote on diverse topics, including pop music and art history. His art books include works on the art of the Celts and ancient Egypt. He was the author of a number of biographies; his subjects included revolutionary Che Guevara; actress Sharon Stone; famed author Ernest Hemingway; and beat-generation chronicler Jack Kerouac. In Ernest Hemingway: An Illustrated Biography, Sandison provides a summary biography of the venerable writer, outdoorsman, and tragic literary figure. He addresses the fundamental facts of Hemingway's life, including important dates, places, and people. Though Library Journal reviewer Michael Rogers noted that the book is best suited for grade school or junior high libraries, the biography could be of interest to the reader "who is simply looking for the basics" of Hemingway's storied life.

Jack Kerouac: An Illustrated Biography offers a detailed portrait of writer, counterculture leader, and beat-generation participant Kerouac. "Kerouac's frenzied but futile search for meaning—or at least sensation—is documented in near-voyeuristic detail in this disturbing biography," commented reviewer Jan Tarasovic in School Library Journal. Sandison begins with an overview of Kerouac's early life in Lowell, Massachusetts, his working-class roots, and his education. A football player at Columbia University, Kerouac developed a late interest in writing, and after becoming involved in the less-savory side of New York City, dropped out of school to pursue newly developing interests. Sandison explores the development of Kerouac's literary style and follows along as he sets out on several of the drug-fueled road trips that became a signature element in his writing. Though revered by intellectuals and misfits alike, Kerouac's life and work often failed to result in meaning and purpose, Tarasovic observed, frequently resulting in a frenzied rush to get nowhere and accomplish nothing.

Sandison returned to another prominent figure in the beat generation with his in-depth biography of Neal Cassady. With Neal Cassady: The Fast Life of a Beat Hero, written with Graham Vickers, Sandison approaches Cassady's life as a mythbuster, seeking to "separate the facts of Cassady's life from the various legends that surround it," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Cassady achieved a level of fame through his portrayal as Dean Moriarty in Kerouac's seminal On the Road, and from there, his life evolved in an almost mythical manner. Vickers and Sandison derive their portrait from primary source materials, including Cassady's letters and correspondence; interviews with individuals who knew him; and other memoirs and biographical works by authors such as Cassady's widow, Carolyn. In Vickers and Sandison's telling, Cassady was deeply conflicted and torn between practical and mundane desires and personal quirks that made it difficult for him to fulfill his responsibility. He wished to be a good husband and father who provided well for his family, but found himself drawn away from any sort of stable family or work life by many troublesome personal traits and interests, including a nonstop desire for sex, drugs, and gambling. Cassady also suffered from an unquenchable restlessness and desire to remain on the go. Vickers and Sandison explore how the myth of Cassady's life evolved, and how he came to be revered among some of his contemporaries as a figure representing freedom and unashamed hedonism, and for others, a sociopath. The authors also provide information on the bisexual Cassady's relationship with famed poet Allen Ginsburg, and how Kerouac carried on an affair with Cassady's wife, Carolyn. Though his troubles were perhaps endemic to being an active participant in the time period in which he lived, they were eventually greater than the man himself could bear: Cassady died at age forty-one.

The authors portray Cassady as "all too human," commented William Gargan in Library Journal, a "desperate, lost soul who was plagued by contradictions and sought personal fulfillment and spiritual salvation." Cassady "blazes across these midnight pages like a falling meteorite," observed Donna Seaman, writing in Booklist.



Biography, spring, 2007, James Campbell, review of Neal Cassady: The Fast Life of a Beat Hero, p. 256.

Booklist, September 1, 2006, Donna Seaman, review of Neal Cassady, p. 42.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, March, 2000, M.H. Begnal, review of Jack Kerouac: An Illustrated Biography, p. 1303.

Library Journal, February 1, 1999, Michael Rogers, review of Ernest Hemingway: An Illustrated Biography, p. 88; July 1, 2006, William Gargan, review of Neal Cassady, p. 79.

New York Times, November 19, 2006, James Campbell, "The Mad One," review of Neal Cassady.

Publishers Weekly, June 19, 2006, review of Neal Cassady, p. 52.

Reference & Research Book News, August, 1999, review of Ernest Hemingway, p. 167.

School Library Journal, August, 1999, Laura Pate, review of Ernest Hemingway, p. 190; June, 2000, Jan Tarasovic, review of Jack Kerouac, p. 178.