Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story

Front Cover
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Apr 23, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 400 pages

A groundbreaking new look at an American icon, The Wizard of Oz.

Finding Oz tells the remarkable tale behind one of the world’s most enduring and best loved stories. Offering profound new insights into the true origins and meaning of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 masterwork, it delves into the personal turmoil and spiritual transformation that fueled Baum’s fantastical parable of the American Dream.

Prior to becoming an impresario of children’s adventure tales—the J. K. Rowling of his age—Baum failed at a series of careers and nearly lost his soul before setting out on a journey of discovery that would lead to the Land of Oz. Drawing on original research, Evan Schwartz debunks popular misconceptions and shows how the people, places, and events in Baum’s life gave birth to his unforgettable images and characters. The Yellow Brick Road was real, the Emerald City evoked the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, and Baum’s mother-in-law, the radical women’s rights leader Matilda Joslyn Gage, inspired his dual view of witches—as good and wicked.

A narrative that sweeps across late nineteenth-century America, Finding Oz ultimately reveals how failure and heartbreak can sometimes lead to redemption and bliss, and how one individual can ignite the imagination of the entire world.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BrokenSpines - LibraryThing

"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" is going to be the next book I read thanks to Evan I. Schwartz. His book is a fascinating account of the life of L. Frank Baum. The Baum story touches scores of 19th ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jbeckhamlat - LibraryThing

Evan Schwartz's FINDING OZ is an enjoyable biography of L Frank Baum, as well as of Baum's semi-wicked (threatening, intimidating) mother in law Matilda Joslyn Gage. Matilda was a leading suffragete ... Read full review


Part II
Part III
A Great Awakening
End Matter

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

EVAN I. SCHWARTZ is a former award-winning editor at Business Week and the author of The Last Lone Inventor, named one of the seventy-five best business books of all time by Fortune. The idea for Finding Oz came to him while reading Baum’s classic to his daughter at bedtime.

Bibliographic information