Itas All a Kind of Magic: The Young Ken Kesey

Rick Dodgson (Author)

Product Details

University of Wisconsin Press
Publish Date
November 12, 2013
6.36 X 0.84 X 9.23 inches | 1.08 pounds
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About the Author

Rick Dodgson is associate professor of history at Lakeland College in Wisconsin. English by birth but global by inclination, he has lived much of his life outside the United Kingdom. In his younger years, he worked as a plumber, heating engineer, soccer referee, handyman, Mediterranean deckhand, and teacher of English in a village on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. He is also the creator and producer of Mission to the Stars: A Space Rock Opera. This is his first book.


"Every page is an illumination. This is a brilliant, landmark biography of the novelist who gave the world One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion."--Douglas Brinkley, author of Cronkite
"A rich, complex, and historically telling portrait of the sixties author and acid luminary Ken Kesey. Dodgson's research is impeccable, and he captures Kesey's individualistic ethos, physicality, and creative flair."--David Farber, author of The Age of Great Dreams: America in the 1960s
"Kesey took part in early LSD experimentation, and Dodgson does an excellent job of describing the drug culture of the era. . . . Dodgson's preface entertainingly explains how he came to write about Kesey for his dissertation, eventually meeting the man himself."--Publishers Weekly

"This fine story of that temporary, partial revolution and of the formative years of a key figure who sparked some of it is a very worthy read."--Huffington Post

"It's . . . an important, well-researched work, one that meticulously traces Kesey from the time his dustbowl Okie parents hightailed it to Oregon . . . to when he wrote his masterpiece. . . . It's All a Kind Of Magic offers a painstaking catalog of detail, one that achieves the most complete portrait of Kesey's early life to date."--Oregonian

"Rick Dodgson has pored over Kesey's published and unpublished writings, interviews, and historical records to write a colorful biography of this charismatic American character. The resulting portrayal challenges assumptions about Kesey's place in the counterculture."--Erika Dyck, Journal of American History

"Dodgson's lucid prose, all the quirky anecdotes, as well as the occasional sharp comment, make for an entertaining read that will no doubt appeal to broad audiences outside academia, but this is in no way detrimental to the main informative function of the book, which does a fine job analyzing a complex figure of American literature."--Chris Elcock, Journal of Canadian History

"Rarely do I say this about an academic book: I did not want to put it down. But that is exactly how I feel about this wonderful biography of Ken Kesey's early years. . . . Kesey was serious about his work and its larger purpose. But he was also committed to having fun. This book parallels those themes, offering both substantive information and entertainment."--Oregon Historical Quarterly