Wallechinsky, David 1948- (David Wallace)
Wallechinsky, David 1948- (David Wallace)
Wallechinsky is original family surname; the surname Wallace was bestowed on the author's grandfather by a U.S. immigration agent at Ellis Island; born February 5, 1948, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Irving (a writer) and Sylvia (a writer) Wallace; married Flora Chavez; children: Elijah, Aaron. Education: Attended University of California at Los Angeles, Santa Monica College, and San Francisco State College (now University).
Home—Santa Monica, CA, and Provence, France.
Writer, screenwriter, and movie director. Parade, coauthor of "Significa" column, 1981-84; author of "Column of Lists," syndicated to forty newspapers, 1988-93; National Broadcasting Corp. (NBC), radio commentator covering 1988, 1992, and 1996 Summer Olympics.
(With Frank "Chico" Bucaro) Chico's Organic Gardening and Natural Living, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1972.
(Editor, with Michael Shedlin) Laughing Gas, And/Or Press (Berkeley, CA), 1973.
(Editor, with father, Irving Wallace) The People's Almanac (Literary Guild special selection), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1975.
(With Michael Medved) What Really Happened to the Class of '65?, Random House (New York, NY), 1976.
(Editor, with Irving Wallace and sister, Amy Wallace) The Book of Lists (Book-of-the-Month Club special selection), Morrow (New York, NY), 1977, revised edition (with Amy Wallace), Canongate Books (Edinburgh, NY), 2005.
(Editor, with Irving Wallace) The People's Almanac #2 (Literary Guild special selection), Morrow (New York, NY), 1978.
(Editor, with Irving Wallace; mother, Sylvia Wallace; and Amy Wallace) Book of Lists #2 (Literary Guild special selection), Morrow (New York, NY), 1980.
(Editor, with Irving Wallace and Amy Wallace) Book of Predictions, Morrow (New York, NY), 1980.
(Editor, with Irving Wallace) The People's Almanac #3, Morrow (New York, NY), 1981.
(Editor, with Irving Wallace, Sylvia Wallace, and Amy Wallace) The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1981.
(Editor, with Irving Wallace and Amy Wallace) Book of Lists #3, Morrow (New York, NY), 1983.
(Editor, with Irving Wallace and Amy Wallace) Significa, Dutton (New York, NY), 1983.
The Complete Book of the Olympics, Viking (New York, NY), 1984, revised edition, 1992.
Midterm Report: The Class of '65; Chronicles of an American Generation, Viking (New York, NY), 1987, published in paperback as Class Reunion'65: Tales of an American Generation, Penguin (New York, NY), 1988.
(Editor, with Amy Wallace) The Book of Lists: The '90s Edition, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1993.
The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1993, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 2002 edition, 2002.
(Editor) The Twentieth Century, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1995, published in paperback as David Wallechinsky's Twentieth Century: History with the Boring Facts Left Out, 1996, revised and updated, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 1999.
The Complete Book of the Summer Olympics, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1996, 2000 edition, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 2000, Athens 2004 edition, Sport Classic Books (Wilmington, DE), 2004.
Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators, Regan (New York, NY), 2006.
Author and director of feature film Gas, 1969, and of short comedy films. Contributing editor, Parade, 1985—. Contributor of articles and poems to magazines.
What Really Happened to the Class of '65? was adapted into a television series for NBC in 1977.
Although born David Wallace to the authorial family that includes parents Irving and Sylvia Wallace, and sister Amy Wallace, David Wallechinsky changed his surname to match that of his grandfather, whose own name was shortened to Wallace when he arrived at U.S. Immigration on Ellis Island. Wallechinsky followed his parents' lead in becoming a professional writer early in life, and since then has collaborated with various members of his family on several highly popular works—books usually centering on various lists, facts, and other significa. But Wallechinsky is also the author of two books that examine the lives of his former high school classmates. In the first, What Really Happened to the Class of '65? written with school chum turned film critic Michael Medved, Wallechinsky presents an oral history of his group of Los Angeles high school alumni ten years after their graduation.
The authors received praise for their project, which revealed how youthful expectations can be fulfilled or dashed, depending on twists of fate and personal choices. The book also proved a commercial success, selling in high numbers and inspiring a television series. A subsequent ten-years-after volume seemed inevitable, and Wallechinsky, working alone this time, delivered on the concept in 1987, when he published Midterm Report: The Class of '65; Chronicles of an American Generation. In this edition, the author broadened his scope beyond Los Angeles to include a cross-section of Americans who all had the "class of '65" experience in common. As the former hippies, jocks, and flower children approached middle age, Midterm Report showed how the acquisitive values of the 1980s had influenced the youth of the 1960s.
Those critics who compared the two books generally found What Really Happened to the Class of '65? more rewarding. Washington Post Book World contributor Jonathan Yardley, for instance, gave Midterm Report a somewhat mixed review. On the one hand, he wondered if Wallechinsky's selection of participants did not reveal some of his own sympathies: "With only a few exceptions, they are the people whose experience and opinions conform rather conveniently to [the author's] own Berkleyesque Weltanschauung, which is to say that Midterm Report portrays only a rather narrow percentage of the class of '65." On the other hand, Yardley noted that "some of the people come quite fully to life." The reviewer added: "If one is willing to read Midterm Report solely for the stories they tell, then it is an interesting piece of oral history." A Chicago Tribune contributor noted that "even the most mundane [of these histories] are fascinating and worthy of the reader's respect."
In another Wallechinsky solo effort, The Complete Book of the Olympics, the author employs his listmaking skills to chronicle "the first eight finishers for every single Olympic event since 1896, along with their times and distances—as well as the world's record at the time," according to Erich Segal, writing in the New York Times Book Review. "But the bare statistics are fleshed out by anecdotes that add a human and often humorous dimension." Noting that the only important element missing from the book is an index, Segal remarked: "Nothing can diminish the fact that this is an extremely meticulous—one may even say Olympian—piece of scholarship."
In Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators, Wallechinsky lists and profiles the top twenty tyrants in the world, from Kim Jong-il of North Korea to Fidel Castro in Cuba. The author discusses various categories of wrongdoing for each dictator, such as human rights violations, torture, forced labor, and censorship. In addition, he tells how each dictator came to power and explores American views concerning the tyrants. Also included is a discussion of what Wallechinsky sees as the U.S. government's human rights abuses—including corruption, torture, and denial of legal rights—committed during the war on terrorism under the administration of President George W. Bush. "Liberals will relish this book; right-wing conservatives probably will not," wrote George Cohen in Booklist.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2006, George Cohen, review of Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators, p. 19.
Chicago Tribune, January 24, 1988, review of Class Reunion '65: Tales of an American Generation, p. 5.
New York Times Book Review, June 3, 1984, Erich Segal, review of The Complete Book of the Olympics, p. 31.
Washington Post, January 27, 2006, Mark Leibovich, "The Editor Who Puts Dictators in Their Places," interview with the author, p. C01.
Washington Post Book World, August 17, 1986, Jonathan Yardley, review of Midterm Report: The Class of '65; Chronicles of an American Generation, p. 3.
Steve Goddard's History Wire,http://www.historywire.com/ (March 16, 2007), review of Tyrants.