Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

by Gregory Maguire

HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS | September 21, 2009 | Trade Paperback

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West is rated 3.8302 out of 5 by 53.

When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum''s classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked?

Gregory Maguire has created a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 432 pages, 9.25 × 6 × 1.06 in

Published: September 21, 2009

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0061862312

ISBN - 13: 9780061862311

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Challenges your Perspective Note: I watched the musical prior to reading this book. This book was definitely not what I expected. I read the first half and loved the extra background it provided about Elphaba's upbringing. Initially, I did not enjoy the second half of the book as I found it a little strange and very different from the musical (which I loved). However, upon reflection, I really like the perspective of the book. The musical was more of a fairy tale plot but the book has a harsh reality to it. You learn to see the good in Elphaba, but you also see her imperfections and craziness that you question. There's a lot of political power play so the book isn't for everyone. TLDR: It's a really good read if you want something down to earth, with a bit of political power struggles, and digs deep into the flaws and limitations of human nature and our society.
Date published: 2014-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved it This is not your dorothy's Oz. I love the story from the Wiches perspective.
Date published: 2014-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from so imaginative Loved this book!!! Gregory Maguire did such a good job recreating the story of the Wicked Witch of the West and many of Oz's great characters. I loved the imagination behind the entire thing! I had read many mixed reviews on this book, and the trend was that if you had seen the musical, you didn't like the book. Lucky for me, I hadn't. My two favorite characters were Elphaba (of course) and Nanny. I found Nanny's character brought a much needed sense of humor to the story. The crazier that Elphaba got towards the end of the story, the less I tended to like her. But, she was just so passionate that I felt myself rooting for her right until the bitter end
Date published: 2013-10-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not good I read this book before it became a play, mostly because of all the hype around it. It was awful. The plot dragged, the author barely went into the issues (political oppression, racism, etc.) that Oz was supposed to have, and the unnecessary and vulgar sexual references distracted and ruined the story (eg: mountain passes likened to a very vivid description of a woman).
Date published: 2010-02-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from High Expectations Ruined it I think the book's downfall came from the fact that I saw the Broadway play first (which was absolutely magical)...this story is only remotely similar to the play that was based upon it. I found the book to be much darker, much slower, much more convoluted and slightly boring
Date published: 2010-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Everything I'd hoped it would be! This is my second book by Maguire, and I have to say it was a wonderful, exciting and yet exploring story. By inventing a 'back story' for the infamous Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz, Maguire tells an epic tale of a bizarre and fantastical land and a woman who struggles to find her place in it. Elphaba (a homage to L. Frank Baum) is born with green skin -- marked as different in a land where Animals can speak and magic is taught in schools. As she struggles to both fit in and stand out, Elphie (as she is known to her friends) struggles with questions of religion, with politics and with loyalties to friends and family. Obviously we know how the story ends... but its the getting there that is so fantastic. And the ending is, somehow, a wee bit different now. Not quite so black and white...
Date published: 2008-09-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beginning Great - Ending Boring I was entranced by this novel as soon as I started reading it. Just to be able to see their world in a different light was amazing to me. But it started getting into politics which I didn’t find very interesting. I loved how the book followed The Wicked Witch of the West’s life and it was great to see the relationships that she made and how they came together to build the story behind the Wizard of Oz musical. The book did contradict the musical a little but I think that was the point the author was trying to make when he wrote this book. We had been seeing the story through one set of eyes when in reality there were many more people involved in the story. Overall I would recommend it but it did get a bit boring in the middle to the end of the book.
Date published: 2008-04-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Definitely different The beginning of this book was really creative and instantly drew me in. After a while though, I realized I didn't like the direction it was taking. The underlying political messages were something I didn't care to analyze, and the characters were not very relatable. A few parts did come to life thanks to the colorful settings and witty dialogue, but it just wasn't enough to keep me totally interested. Try Mirror, Mirror, or Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister for more excitement.
Date published: 2008-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully Wicked! I absolutely adored this book. Gregory Maguire wonderfully retells the story of The Wizard Of Oz. Poor Elphaba. She isn’t made out to be wicked in this story or innocent. She is just a person trying to get through life as best she can. The book examines evil. Is Elphaba born evil? I think evil things just happen to and around her. Though from birth, from conception, she seemed destined to play an important role in the history of her country. Of course she wanted the shoes, the ruby slippers. They were her sister’s shoes and The Good Witch Of The North had no right to give them away. Both Glinda and Elphaba were only trying to do what they thought was right. After all, Dorothy was sent to the castle with the purpose of killing the Witch. I’m sad that a horrible accident, a happenstance of circumstance, cost Elphaba her life.
Date published: 2008-02-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from wickedly addicting growing up as a huge fan of wizard of oz, it was so enjoyable to see the other side of it. a great read
Date published: 2008-02-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Great idea but sadly disappointing The concept of this book is brillian. I loved the musical and have watched it many times. So what a great idea to explore the life of one of the characters before the arrival of Dorothy. Sadly, after a tremendous beginning, the book slows down and it ultimately became a slog for me to continue on. It could have been so much more.
Date published: 2008-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An amazing must read Sometimes classical children's literature and fairy tales might seem a bit boring after a million repetition and retelling. Wicked is an ingenious creation that leads us to revisit the good old "Wizard of Oz" story from a totally different angle. What if nothing is as it seems? As the bookcover intro said, "challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil." While getting to love the Wicked Witch of the West, I won't be surprised that the same kind of mis-stereotyped good or evil might be occurring in our so-called reality all the time. An amazing must read.
Date published: 2008-01-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Awfully Dissapointing I have never felt the urge to write a review until reading this book. If you are taken away by the original Wizard of Oz, you will feel insulted by this book. It is nothing in resemblance to the magically and wonderfully crafted work of Mr. Baum. However, what it turned out to be was a cheap modern day slew of infidelity and politics linked to the infamous Wicked Witch to sell copies. Poorly written and extremely upsetting. I was in love with the musical but this book was a let down. If you were in love with the Wizard of Oz, don't read this book or you'll end up feeling like you could have spent your time reading something that was more than a mere "hype" and an actual work of literature.
Date published: 2008-01-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Horrible book I was looking forward to this book and it started out well, but it goes no ware. The book introduces things and characters that it doesn't develop and have no relevance (i.e. the golden carp in the well). I was very disappointed with the book over all. I have not seen the musical and judging from the other reviews, if you tie this book to the show the book gets a good review, but if the book is simply reviewed only on its own, the reviews are not good.
Date published: 2007-12-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from An Adjective for Awful Indelicately torn from the inspirational mind of L. Frank Baum is this roundabout tale of "The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West". Gregory Maguire begins, perhaps expectedly, with a prologue of distorted source material and the fact that Elphaba, the green-skinned infant with venomous teeth, is not wanted by her parents. In the next chapter, Elphaba is the intelligent, outspoken girl who is supposed to challenge our first impression of her (in “The Wizard of Oz”). It is a failed experiment, however, because Maguire avoids – of all things – her childhood – her development into this character. He leaves out great slices of time like this without informing the reader of any change, and he seems to forget by the end what he thought was important in the beginning. “Wicked” is a coarse, frustrating, and avoidable read. Adapted for the stage by Winnie Holzman (book) and Stephen Schwartz (music and lyrics).
Date published: 2007-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! If you ever wondered why the Wicked Witch of the West was SO evil this book is for you! This is the story of a girl who was born green in the great land of Oz and the years she spent just trying to fit it. Though you watch the movie and think you could never forgive that horrible witch, reading this book makes you feel sorry for the little girl inside! The adult land of Oz is full of political turmoil, assassinations and bribery! I will forever love this story!
Date published: 2007-11-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sweet Read This book was actually really well written. Definately for the 'adult mind' though... Some scenes get pretty graphic... This book made me feel for the characters and really gave each of the characters a distinct and 'real life' personality. I lauged out a loud more than a few times, and I couldn't wait to keep reading through the life of the most misunderstood and underestimated villain of the time period.
Date published: 2007-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wicked I purchased this book one day I was looking for something to read. I got started it was slow at first, but it became more fast paced, it ends in a way that was not fully expected (after all we have all seen the movie, The Wizard of Oz.) and so it kept me on the edge of my seat. Gregory McGuire's writing is unique and very well thought out. I recommend this book all the time to customers who come to me looking for something fun and interesting. Quite a few times the customers choose it.
Date published: 2007-06-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great intro to Maguire This is the first Maguire book I've read and I greatly enjoyed it. I can't wait to read Confessions. I have a whole new respect for the Wicked Witch. This book really makes you think about the original movie in a whole new way. I would recommend it to anyone. I already have three people who want to borrow it.
Date published: 2006-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Loved this book, alway a huge Wizard of Oz fan but this book was a huge twist from the wizard of oz.. Loved reading it, would recommend it to anyone, can't wait to try another of his books.
Date published: 2006-12-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It's a good read! I read the book, knowing that it was completely different from the musical in order for me to see how different it really is. Maguire's imagingation and use of descrition makes the book a fantastic read for anyone who loves The Wizard of OZ. Please read this novel and make your own decision but don't think twice about seeing the musical. I couldn't put the book down as Maguire takes you into the psyche of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and explains how she becomes "wicked" and how her life is changed by Galinda, Nessarose and everyone at Shiz.
Date published: 2006-11-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A WIcked read! Being a huge musical theatre fan I was immensly dissappointed when I was unable to see the musical version of Wicked. In order to comfort myself i bought the book and if the musical is anything like the book then it was no comfort at all to know I missed it. The book was wonderful. Gregory Maguire takes Baum's tale and extends it and embellishes it to CS Lewis and Tolkien levels. It is a fantastic read for anyone who liked the Wizard of Oz although discretion is advised for children as it gets a little racey!
Date published: 2006-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful I was expecting something interesting out of this book since it had glowing reviews and the musical was sold out in Toronto MONTHS before it actually came, but what I read was incredible. It was an insight on evil and good, and how people are neither in entirety, it had love, murder, magic and adventure all at once, and so much feeling I thought I would cry from beginning to end. This book is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, and develops characters in the Oz World. It leaves the Wizard and Dorothy and makes for an enormous backstory which seems to be hidden under our own eyes when we read the first Oz book or even watch the Judy Garland movie. It's incredible, one of my favourite books to date. It also doesn't try to be great literature like The Da Vinci Code, and because it doesn't really try, it is. It is more philosophical and more colourful than most books of this "new" century. The English isn't very hard to understand either, while not insulting its readers with simplistic notions. I'm no expert, but I enjoyed reading this book and I hope so will you.
Date published: 2006-08-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Save your time and just see the musical This book was okay...I was frustrated with the extravagant detail and continuation of bits and pieces of story that didn’t really add up to anything in the end. In truth, the book was hard to get through and by the time I had finished I felt as though I had wasted too much time reading an unsatisfying story. But I hear the musical is fantastic!
Date published: 2006-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great twist to a Classic After seeing the Musical here in Toronto last year. I wanted to read the book to see the difference. I was very pleased to find the book having more information and was a little different than the Musical. After reading Gregory Maguire's take on Wizard of Oz and the witches it has got me more curious to read all his other books. I have than recommended this book to others looking for something to read.
Date published: 2006-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely "Wicked"! Having just completed this absolutely fascinating story, there is only one thing I can say. I will never watch the Wizard of Oz with the same perspective again! Maguire's characters are well developed, the plot is interesting and moves at a good pace. The Witches struggle with life, identity and love is easily transferrable to life today. A wonderful book! I highly reccomend it.
Date published: 2006-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read! What a great book! I loved this one - in fact, I recommended it to my friends and family and they have all loved the book!
Date published: 2006-07-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Too wordy and long I had already seen the Musical and was still looking forward to reading the book. I was unfortunately very disappointed in the book. I found it hard to read as it was very dry and boring and it actually took me months to read it. While the story line is very interesting and I did like how it took a look at the Witch's life growing up, I found once she left school the story line was too wordy and really unexciting. I have always been a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz and I liked how the book did tell the "other side" however I would have liked more character development for the lion, the Scarcrow and the Tin Man. All in all I am glad I read it, and will now be reading the next book "Son of Wicked".
Date published: 2006-07-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well worth the read I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the life of the Wicked Witch of the West. And although the story was not what I expected, I found it very interesting and entertaining. I'm looking forward to reading some of Maguire's other works and seeing the musical version of "Wicked".
Date published: 2006-07-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Whoop-de-doo for Wicked What an interesting spin on a classic. By providing the back story for the Wicked Witch of the West Gregory Maguire causes the reader to examine all that they previously held dear from the land of Oz.. The reader sees the Wicked Witch as a person and not just a cartoonish conduit for evil. The Witch as a bizarre child with questionable origins; her life at university; her troubled twenties with her lover; her time in a convent and role as a possible mother to a meek little boy are facets that are all explored in Maguire's vision of Oz.. A must read for any lover of The Wizard of Oz!
Date published: 2006-06-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Justifed evil Why do we have to justify the reasons for the wicked witch to be wicked? I found this book to be drawn out and even boreing at times. I would not recommed this book to anyone.
Date published: 2006-05-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from better than the musical This book gives you an amazing new view on the Wizard of Oz's "Wicked Witch". This tale shows you what really happened between Glinda and the Witch...and Dorothy too. If you've seen the play, read this book, you'll love it even more.
Date published: 2006-05-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Boring and Pretentious This book has a really interesting premise, but is actually incredibly boring. Although I'm a fan of the "epic," virtually nothing happens in this book. The characters muse endlessly on the nature of good and evil, and the reader is bored to tears.
Date published: 2006-05-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from New Way To See Things This will give you a totally different take on "The Wizard of Oz" story. You'll never see things the same again. Who knew that the witch had a life? or a love? So cool!!
Date published: 2006-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wickedly good! Rarely do we have the chance to read a book that has the power to make us laugh, shed a tear or two and reflect upon the vast gray area separating good from evil. This masterpiece gives us all of this and much much more, surrounded in a geniusly imagined and often philosophical world. Once you step into Maguire's version of the land of Oz not even the fiercest tornado will be able to pull you away from it. A must-read!
Date published: 2006-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truly Wicked! This book was nothing but amazing. The way Maguire gave such a detailed spin on the land of Oz, which wasn't really given much depth in L. Baum's original novel, is amazing. In many parts of the story I found myself marvelling at how Maguire included so many unanswered questions in this novel that I could not have even thought about answering, or even asking, for that matter. Reading this book one tends to get attached to Elphaba, the Wicked Witch, the poor misunderstood being who finds herself becoming something she never thought she would; wicked. You can't help but feel sympathy for her, the way she stands up for herself and what she believes in and gets nowhere. Everything in this novel makes it an altogether wonderful story. Don't let this book pass you by!
Date published: 2006-03-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not Impressed Although this book has high reviews, I, personally, did not enjoy it at all! For some reason, I just found it exremely boring, and had to force myself to read it. Maybe the Broadway Play is better???
Date published: 2006-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting I'll never look at The Wizard of Oz in the same way. This book was very interesting. It was hard to get into at first, but after the first few chapters, I really started to enjoy this. A friend of my mom's told me about it. Being only 16, I thought it might have been to old for me. But, once I got used to the style of writing, it got better and better. I am currently reading Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and I can't wait to read more books by Mr. Maguire.
Date published: 2006-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Gregory Maguire takes the beloved world of OZ and adds amazing depth to the story and makes the Characters even more timeless then they where once. His use of Prose is unrivaled in anything that I have ever read before and makes this one of my top favorite books of all time. Simply Put.......Amazing!!!
Date published: 2005-11-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not So Good I was really excited about reading this book. The idea of it was very intriguing. However, i found it almost impossible to get in to. It did start to get better near the end but i found it was more of a chore to read. At times it was enjoyable, but just barely. I wouldn't feel comfortable recommending this book to anyone unless they are avid readers who love to read a variety of different books.
Date published: 2005-09-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from excellent it was my first gregory maguire book i ever read ,so i found it hard to get into..but 1/2 way through i started to realize the complexity of the story and the way he goes about telling it...it is a very brilliant book and i enjoyed it so much....i would recommend reading confessions of an ugly step sisters as well...it was also very well done and fun to read!!!
Date published: 2005-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Amazing Novel This is one of the best books I've ever read, and my favourite out of all of his books. Gregory Maguire created a world which I thought was real. I just loved it and would recommend it to anyone.
Date published: 2003-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wicked: a Revolutionary Retelling of Oz If you have ever been discontent with the mysterious background of that famed Wicked Witch (of the West), this is a book to be bought and enjoyed immediately. Every single query about that green-skinned oddity is answered: how she was born, her relationship to the Wicked Witch of the East, her education, and her downfall - her death - all covered in this above standard piece of work. Gregory Maguire changes Oz from a magical, perfect land to a land with, like every other land, its own problems. There is not only political overtake, going from the traditinal monarchy of Ozmas, to the tyranny of the Wizard of Oz, but also racism,assassinations, and the revealing of the fact that the life of the talking Animal is not so perfect after all. 'Good' characters are revealed to be not so nice through the eyes of Elphaba, the Witch herself. Indeed, it is to be savoured as a masterpiece of modern literature and a true rulebreaker that challenges the norm in reteling fairy tales
Date published: 2001-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Fairytale This was a fun book to get swept up in. Many of us enjoyed the tale of the Wizard of Oz growing up, but this book retells it for adults in a way which makes it seem more...well, realistic. The location and types of characters may be odd, but the relationships and character dynamics are real and believable. I found myself sympathising with the Wicked Witch, but I felt sorry for Dorthy too. It's a fabulous story but the thing that drives it are the solid characters.
Date published: 2000-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's Not Easy Being Green. "Wicked..." is possibly the most exciting recount of what might have been. Gregory Maguire fills each page with evil and sentiment, it's easy to become one with any chosen character. To see all of our own "human" foibles laid bare is no simple task. It is achieved brilliantly. A must-read for any disenfranchised person. Proving once and for all, what you see isn't necessarily what you get.
Date published: 2000-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply outstanding! Simply outstanding! This story captured my imagination, rich in detail, intrigue and spirit. It will never make you look the same way at Oz again. Gregory Maguire displays pure genius! The story goes deep into the life of Elphaba demonstrating how incredible and unique she really is. A grade "A" masterpiece! Truly facinating and passionate. This is something never to pass up!
Date published: 2000-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a true page turner I loved this book. One of those books that captures your imagination and you cannot put down. It presents a truly unique perspective of the original story with enough ties to truly force you to rethink the movie and original book. Something not to be missed, especially if you have ever thought that you were misunderstood
Date published: 2000-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mind-blowing! Simply stated, this book, and its author, are without peers. Tantalizingly vivid, and mind-blowingly creative, you will find yourself up at odd hours of the night unable to put this masterpiece down. Maguire is a true genius - keep your fingers crossed that he is busy at work drafting his second novel...
Date published: 2000-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW What an amazing book, the wizard of OZ will never be the same for me again. Maguire does an amazing job of telling this classic storey from the villan's point of view.
Date published: 1999-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW What an amazing book, the wizard of OZ will never be the same for me again. Maguire does an amazing job of telling this classic storey from the villans point of view.
Date published: 1999-08-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Strange...very strange I tried to read this book a number of times but had a difficult time getting into the story. My solution was to read the Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and this helped me to understand the plot line better. The Oz book is quite different from the movie. Maguire took a difficult topic and made an enjoyable read.
Date published: 1999-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wicked Before the Wizard of Oz, there was Wicked. Have you ever wondered what events made the Wicked Witch of the West so mean? Well, this book answers that question. It's an amazingly written story that goes deeper into the mysteries of the Land of Oz. fabulous new characters and elaborate illustrations all add up to a tale of pure genius. Learn all about Oz, its witches, the yellow brick road and all your favourite friends before Dorothy and Toto came along. Two thumbs way up for Maguire and his weird imagination.
Date published: 1999-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 'Wicked'ly Wonderful This book is simply marvelous. The way the author portrays Elphaba is rich and thought-provoking. He delves into her past and present in such a way as to make the reader sympathize with her plight and actually see why she did what she did and the very valid reasons behind it. She is very human, very green, and it makes you question the nature of evil, whether it's inborn or develops as a result of the environment. One thing's for sure...you will never watch "The Wizard of Oz" the same way again!!
Date published: 1999-03-15

– More About This Product –

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

by Gregory Maguire

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 432 pages, 9.25 × 6 × 1.06 in

Published: September 21, 2009

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0061862312

ISBN - 13: 9780061862311

About the Book

This "New York Times" bestseller--the basis of the Tony Award-winning musical "Wicked"--introduces Elphaba, a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who will grow up to become the infamous "Wicked" Witch of the West in Oz. Now, her side of the story is told.

From the Publisher

When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum''s classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked?

Gregory Maguire has created a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again.

About the Author

Gregory Maguire is the bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Lost, Mirror Mirror, and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men. Wicked, now a beloved classic, is the basis for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Editorial Reviews

"A staggering feat of wordcraft ... would all books with this much innate commercial appeal were also this good." (Los Angeles Times)
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