*Includes pictures of Dean and important people and places in his life. *Includes some of Dean's most famous quotes, and quotes about Dean made by friends and co-stars. *Includes a Bibliography for further reading. Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today. - James Dean A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' American Legends series, readers can get caught up to speed on the lives of America's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never kwn. It would be exaggeration to say that James Dean has been more mythologized than any other actor in history, a development due more to his off-screen personality and conduct than the films he actually starred in. Much of Dean's appeal derives from his humble and ordinary origins, and audiences are drawn to the romance of the Indiana farm boy who catapulted to the top of the motion picture industry in a single year - the same year that would see him die. Of course, James Dean remains well-kwn for being anything but humble and ordinary. As famous as his films are, Dean's story is inextricably tied to his love for racing cars and his death in a high speed car crash. And though Dean was already wildly famous at the time of his death, there is question that his death only enhanced his fame. One study found evidence of a James Dean effect, which concluded that a star's popularity benefits if the star dies young instead of living longer and losing luster. By dying young, Dean actually ensured that his name would remain famous, and his appeal has transcended generations. For better or worse, the mythology surrounding him complicates any attempt to accurately depict his life, and it remains extraordinarily difficult to arrive at any cohesive understanding of many of the details of Dean's life. While Dean's fame will continue to live on, it is important to ackwledge that his star persona was formed in response to the era in which he came up. His film career illuminates 1950s Hollywood, a period that was rife with tension and change within the industry. Although Dean remains an American icon and culturally relevant, his popularity was also greatly tied to his own cultural epoch. At the same time, many cultural groups and fanzines have appropriated Dean as their own, making it that much harder to find the true details of Dean's life. American Legends: The Life of James Dean profiles the life and legacy of the famous actor and rebel without a cause. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about James Dean like you never have before, in time at all.