Elizabeth Partridge - This Land Was Made for You and Me - The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie.jpg

This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie

Before Springsteen and before Dylan, there was Woody Guthrie. With "This Machine Kills Fascists," scrawled across his guitar in big black letters, Woody Guthrie brilliantly captured in song the experience of twentieth-century America. Whether he sang about union organizers, migrant workers, or war, Woody took his inspiration from the plight of the people around him as well as from his own tragic childhood.

From the late 1920s to the 1950s, Guthrie wrote the words to more than three thousand songs, including "This Land Is Your Land," a song many call America's unofficial national anthem. With a remarkable ability to turn any experience into a song almost instantaneously, Woody Guthrie spoke out for people of all colors and races, setting an example for generations of musicians to come. But Woody didn't have the chance to find everything he was looking for. He was ravaged by Huntington's disease, just like his mother, and died in a mental institution at the age of fifty-five.


New York Times Book Review, July 14, 2002
"If 'This Land Is Your Land' -- originally meant as counterpoint to the sentimental "God Bless America" -- has been stripped of its undercurrent of irony by all the children who sing it each year, then Elizabeth Partridge will certainly return it to those who read her excellent, photo-studded biography of the song's author, Woody Guthrie."

San Francisco Chronicle; June 2, 2002

"Partridge does a beautiful job…comprehensive and impressive…a rich portrait of a towering figure in American music.

 Publishers Weekly, February 25, 2002, Starred review

The author of Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange shapes a lucid, affecting portrait of another indisputably restless spirit, the prolific songwriter and impassioned folksinger, Woodrow Wilson Guthrie… Partridge offers intriguing insight into the singer as well as the creation of his songs... A memorable biography of this talented artist and understated proponent of social change.

 School Library Journal; Spring 2002 Starred review

This outstanding biography belongs in every library collection, large or small. Partridge has written a fascinating portrait not only of the man, but also of the historical upheavals that shaped his life and were captured and reflected in his songs… readers are left with an overwhelming sense of the remarkable creativity and productivity of those years and its enduring legacy for future generations.

 Horn Book; March/April 2002 Starred review

Biographer Partridge lays out the complexities as well as the contradictions of Guthrie’s life, drawing a full picture of a man who defined both the pain and the pleasures of so many Americans during the second quarter of the twentieth century. Well-chosen illustrations of Guthrie’s own sketches, family snapshots and archival photographs both personalize and extend this account.

 Kirkus Reviews; January, 2002 Starred review

Woody Guthrie was arguably the greatest of American folk singers. … this fascinating, new biography will introduce him to a new generation of readers. Beautifully designed and illustrated with over 70 black-and-white photographs, this well-written account is a fitting tribute to an American legend. Partridge, whose earlier work on Dorothea Lange (Restless Spirit, 1998) was equally powerful, portrays many of the rough and tragic sides of Woody’s life.


National Book Award Finalist
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction
SCBWI Golden Kite, Nonfiction
The Commonwealth Club of California
ALA Best Books for Young Adults –Top Ten
ALA Notable Book
School Library Journal Best Books
Booklist Editor’s Choice
Horn Book Fanfare
BCCB Blue Ribbon
Publisher's Weekly Best Books of the Year
New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing