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I Walked the Line: My Life with Johnny

By Vivian Cash with Ann Sharpsteen

Schirmer, 326 pages, $27

Reviewed by Ken Burke, November 2007

Find it on Amazon
In this often touching autobiography, the revelations from Johnny Cash's first wife, Vivian, completely contradicts the fairy tales concocted for the 2005 film "Walk the Line."

Shortly before her death, Cash's ex confided to author Ann Sharpsteen that despite her 1967 remarriage, she never stopped loving the Man in Black. Further, she portrays second wife June Carter as a no-talent vixen who provided a harmful drug connection.

Although he was at as much to blame as Carter, Cash's ex lets him off the hook for a lot of bad behavior proclaiming that the drug-addled country superstar wasn't the man she fell in love with. Indeed, the heart and soul of the book are the dozens of letters Cash wrote young Vivian (she was 17, living in San Antonio, Texas at the time) when he was stationed as a soldier in Germany. Surprisingly articulate, these tender and reflective missives provide an insight to the young would be performer that no other biography could conjure

Unfortunately, we do not see Vivian's letters to Cash, so she remains somewhat enigmatic within the context of her own book. Other than revealing that daughter Roseanne' s name was inspired by Johnny's nickname for his first wife's breasts, the four Cash daughters are discussed with rather terse brevity. A true co-dependent, she blamed herself for not fighting hard enough to keep her man, but eventually found a way to live happily without him. Despite its flaws, this is an account Cash fans must read.