I Walked the Line: My Life With Johnny

Vivian Cash, with Ann Sharpsteen

The heart of this memoir by Johnny Cash’s first wife—the mother of his four daughters, including singer Rosanne Cash—is in hundreds of letters he wrote to her while overseas in the Air Force. Full of longing, and at times unbearably juvenile, the letters are the root of Cash’s destiny: his struggles to avoid drinking, followed by apologies for drunkenness; his rigid Christianity; hopelessly idealized conceptions of womanhood, love and marriage—and his love of music. Sandwiched between Vivian Cash’s often self-serving (though she most certainly was wronged) account of her marriage to Cash, the letters are a treasure trove that make clear how far back his struggles with addiction went. And perhaps God’s forgiven June Carter, but despite her protestations, it’s clear Vivian never did.