Steve McQueen—The Life

By Dwight Jon Zimmerman. Review by Gary Smith.


The Life of Steve McQueen served in two to four page sections with historic photos on nearly every page. Nice size for comfortable reading.The author covers all the phases of Steve’s life—acting and movies, marriages; cars, racing, motorcycles, friends, influences, ego and drive; and his becoming a Christian.

The extremely well-written biography breaks down Steve’s life and career into eleven chapters:

  1. Roots of the Legend—The Forever King of Cool; The Ugly Early Years; Julian Crawford McQueen; The Rebel Becomes One of the Few
  2. From Acting School to Hollywood—The Neighborhood Playhouse; Actors Studio; Denise McCluggage
  3. The Salad Years: Early Movies—Somebody Up There Likes Me; The Blob; Never So Few
  4. The Salad Years: Television—Studio One; Wanted: Dead of Alive; Firearms
  5. Seizing the Limelight—The Magnificent Seven; Robert Vaughn; Cowboy Hats; Hell is for Heroes; The War Lover; The Great Escape; The Great Escape Motorcycle; James Coburn; Love With The Proper Stranger; The Cincinnati Kid; Nevada Smith; The Sand Pebbles; The Thomas Crown Affair; The Thomas Crown Affair Dune Buggy; Suits in the Thomas Crown Affair; Persol Sunglasses; Bullitt; The Bullitt Mustang Fastback; The Bullitt Look; Papillon
  6. Expanding the Legacy—Junior Bonner; The Getaway; Ali McGraw; The Towering Inferno; Paul Newman; An Enemy of the People; Tom Horn; The Hunter; Karen Wilson
  7. Racing to Live—Racing to Pay the Bills; Rookie Car Racer; Barbour International Jacket; The King of Cool’s Race Cars; Stirling Moss; Peter Revson; Le Mans; Bell Helmet; On Any Sunday; Triumph Bonneville Desert Sled;  Husqvarna 400 Cross; Bud and Dave Ekins
  8. A Life in Style—California Dreaming: The Home on Solar Drive; Neile Adams McQueen; Cool Jazz; The King of Cool’s Street Cars; Bruce Lee; Chuck Norris; Barbara Minty McQueen
  9. An American Icon for Men’s Style—Jack Purcell Canvas Sneakers; Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket; The King of Cool’s Watches
  10. Drinks and Dining—The King of Cool’s Cool One of Choice; Mixed Drinks Inspired by the King of Cool; The Restaurants
  11. McQueen Exits the Limelight—The Eclectic Eye for Americana; Vintage Motorcycle Jewels; Opening the Treasure Chest; The King of Cool Finds Inner Peace; The Two Friends Who Helped Him Find God; Santa Paula and the King of Cool’s Final Flight


Available on Amazon.

Just the right size for reading. Many candid photos I’ve not seen previously. Nicely designed cover. Inside front and back covers with black and white spreads. Matte coated throughout. Running page numbers and chapter title on outside margin. Easy to read serif font with ample leading and white space. Indexed.

Perfect bounding creates curled pages. Sewn binding would have allowed the book to open flatter.

Description from the publisher

The Life Steve McQueen explores and celebrates the films, racing, style and overall life that made Steve McQueen The King of Cool and an enduring icon.

Steve McQueen remains the embodiment of cool some three decades after his death. Whether on the silver screen, racing a Triumph motorcycle across a California desert, dueling with other racers at Le Mans, or simply hanging with his pals, McQueen exuded an effortless style that belied his rough and tumble past. It’s a trick that ensures he continues to appear in advertising and pop culture all the while embraced by cinema, racing, and motorcycle fans as one of their own. He remains the ultimate guy’s guy.

The Life Steve McQueen explores and celebrates the memorable aspects of McQueen’s life that, taken as a whole, defined the man and cemented his reputation as a Hollywood rebel and risk taker. Peppered with period photos, illustrations, posters, and more, The Life Steve McQueen surveys the movie roles, racing, personal style, art, and pop culture that all combined to crown the King of Cool and ensure his legacy.


About the Author

Dwight Jon Zimmerman is a best-selling and award-winning author, radio show host, and producer and the president of the Military Writers Society of America. Zimmerman has authored the text for several graphic novels, including the acclaimed The Hammer and the Anvil, a dual biography of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. His other titles include The Vietnam War: A Graphic History and Uncommon Valor: The Medal of Honor and the Six Warriors Who Earned It in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is also the co-author, with Bill O’Reilly, of the New York Times number-one bestseller Lincoln’s Last Days.


Published by Motorbooks
Format: Hardback, 240 Pages
ISBN: 9780760358115
Series: The Life
Illustrations: 250 color & 50 b-w photos
Size: 6.69 in x 8.86 in / 169.93 mm x 225.04 mm
Published: December 8, 2017
Cost: $30

  1. Spirit

    Like so many things that many people experienced at a distance, especially during the 60’s, Steve is severely overrated on almost every level – but I understand why guys today admire him. They get to skip past the stuff about him being a neglectful father, a selfish wife-beating husband and a serial cheater. Once you’re past that you can really dig what now seems like a hedonistic lifestyle (though by period standards quite conservative) filed with racing, fast cars and motorcycles and other stuff. But you really need to hold your nose tight about that other stuff. By the way, and in case some might not notice, Paul Newman raced and won championships during this same time, and after…and you could breathe around his life with Joanne Woodward. He never knocked her out cold. Steve couldn’t say that about his wife.

  2. craig Haines

    Many years ago we had a place called Mullholland Dr. in the SM mountains where people would come from miles around to test their skills in go-carts, bicycles, cobras, motorcycles, Corvettes, Datsuns, Minis—where McQueen would bring his factory super-charged Mini with the Union Jack on roof—and WOW, the crowds! I don’t know who wrote a coffee table book describing the races up there, because there is name for every turn! I know the book exists because I’ve seen it! I think I’ll check into that.

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