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Summary

Almost everything you know about Mickey Mouse is wrong: He wasn’t Disney’s first star; Steamboat Willie wasn’t his first movie; Mickey wasn’t a nice guy - and Walt Disney didn’t invent him.

In 1928, two very different best friends invented Mickey Mouse. And the success tore them apart. Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks’ friendship is a story of betrayal, love, war, money, power, tragedy, intrigue, humor, despair, and hope. You’ll love them both - when you don’t want to drop anvils on their heads. Discover the men behind the mouse and the mystery behind the magic. 

A Mouse Divided is a stirring depiction of two underdogs. One invented Mickey Mouse - and one said he did. You’ll love Walt Disney more than you ever thought possible - until you don’t. And you’ll sympathize with Walt’s friend-turned-rival Ub Iwerks, always in Walt’s shadow. 

This true story of how the Disney empire was made is a captivating, addictive listen, endlessly fascinating and revealing. And it’s never been fully told - until now.

©2018 Jeff Ryan (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"This is a fascinating story about the early years of what would become the Disney empire. Walt's a big part of it, but others - particularly Ub Iwerks - played critical roles, which are thoroughly explored in this breezily readable book. Disney fanatics - you know who you are - will love it." (Dave Barry)

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  • C. White
  • 05-07-18

And they all lived happily ever after... Not quite.

Wow... Just when you thought you knew a seemingly public story it's amazing how little we often know. In full disclosure I am a complete Disney fan (heck, in my youth I worked at Disneyland and still live only minutes away), but I found myself completely captivated by this Disney story that has been lost to time and propaganda. Given my lack of familiarity with Ub's story, at first I thought this story was going to be yet another story of the genius of Walt Disney ...but as the complex relationship between Walt and Ub unfolded (often seemingly reflected in the personalities of the characters they created), it became very much a story of an inconvenient truth that never quite fit the narration that Walt wanted to present to the world. Despite the human drama between these visionary men, this is an excellent exploration into the early history and art of animation. The narration of JD Jackson is utilitarian but not outstanding. Given the very dry monologue, this felt like and audio version of a Ken Burns documentary. However, the fascinating seldom told story held my attention with little distraction.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Jack J. Dauer
  • 15-05-19

Learned a lot from this book

I enjoyed this history. I learned a lot about UB.
The picture of Walt is more realistic then most warts and all.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Robert
  • 07-10-18

Needs more Ub

Not as much about Ub Iwerks as I had hoped. its much more Disney focused than I would have thought.

1 person found this helpful

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  • J. Marrrrr
  • 22-08-18

A love letter to Walt, Mickey and the indefatigable Ub!

Don’t be fooled by the first few lines. This is NOT a ‘hatchet job’, but rather a reasoned and researched look at two very different men and the character — and company — they created.

There are a lot of interesting anecdotes, little known facts and some genuinely beautiful writing. A great read for Disney fans looking to dig a little deeper!

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  • Marissa Tropea
  • 27-07-18

Interesting historical picture

This was very interesting! The history was very insightful. I wish I could hug Ub Iworks! He's a very notable man. I'm grateful for the Disneys and what they did for my childhood as well as many others. It was fun googling each episode that was talked about especially the ones that were not popular like Flip the frog.

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  • E. Johnson
  • 27-12-18

Wasted money and wasted time

I bought this book to listen to on a long drive and we got about halfway through it and I don't intend to ever finish it.

I bought this book hoping to learn more about the relationship between Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney. I'll admit that I may have heard a couple stories that I've not heard before but this book seems to me to be a missed opportunity. The early chapters are heavily padded with extended descriptions of the plots of some of the early Disney shorts - including one that is interspersed with the story of Walt in New York as if the two events were somehow happening at the same time and related or parallel to each other. There is also a long digression on how the Nazi party and Hitler felt about Mickey Mouse (they were against him, if that matters to you). There were also excursions into Walt's alleged racism and anti-semitism with extensive catalogs of his sins followed by the conclusion that he was just a man of his time. I tend to agree with the latter opinion but within the structure of the book it is completely unsupported by the case being built up.

My personal opinion on this book (or at least the first half) is that it was just a money-grab by an author who seems to be a hack (I've not read anything else by Mr. Jackson so that description may well be incorrect overall.) I would advise anyone interested in this book to buy almost any other book on Disney history. Gabler's book is much better and seems to offer a more evenhanded presentation of Disney's life even if his premise seemed to be that Walt was a sad, twisted soul. For all the supposed use of interviews with various Disney luminaries of the past, I would much rather read the biographies and autobiographies of those people or some of the books of interviews that Didier Ghez has assembled (although those may not be available as audio books).

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  • Gordon Harvey
  • 11-04-21

Good story until the author went moralistically preachy

This book was pretty solid I took the last couple of chapters when the author started pontificating about a clouded legacy of the main character of the book and his creation. Until that point it was a solid study of the two men who created Mickey Mouse and had divergent paths in their lives and careers. Then the author had to get moralistic and teach us all a lesson and ruin the ending of the book. you don’t need your own melodrama for a story as rich as this

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  • Shoe
  • 03-11-20

Long-winded but Useful

We don't really need two or three paragraphs dedicated to the description of what a rodent is or tangents of fairly unnecessary definitions. At times, it felt like the author was trying to hit a page count for publishing purpose. So, it often felt like I was reading some sort of college book report.

That being said, there are nuggets of gold that his deep research on the topic have unearthed. I just wished there was less flowery words and we could get to the point a little more quickly.

The performance was good. As this is a historical research book, there's not a whole lot of range of emotion or intonation. That's the material and that's what the narrator has to work with.

Overall it's a bit dry and can be hard to power through. The bits of information are useful when you actually get to them.

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  • Mark A. Bender
  • 16-03-20

very good

very good. made me want to go back and rewatch a bunch of the classics.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 14-11-18

Bouncy, clever writing carries thorough research

A truly well written book. The author's use of puns, word play, irony and symbol seem effortless but elevate the writing beyond fact. "Clever" writing can be annoying, but Ryan's prose never seems forced or stilted. I entered the text thinking it might be nice to read about Mickey before a Disney vacation, but I ended up learning so much more about Iwerks, Disney, Bugs Bunny, labor unions, animation, war propaganda, camera technology, Snow White brand hams, Nazi Germany, and American mythology. I actually listened to the last chapter over again after I finished. It is quite well done, balancing research and storytelling perfectly.