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Cosby: His Life and Times Hardcover – September 16, 2014
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2014: Woody Allen famously said that only creators of serious works get to “sit at the grown-ups’ table.” Comedians, in his self-loathing view, were childish, lesser, not to be respected. Perhaps one of the greatest achievements of Mark Whitaker’s Cosby is how forcefully it disproves that notion. According to this detailed and generous account, Bill Cosby, for all his goofy faces, physical comedy, and earnest philosophizing, has done more to change cultural attitudes than just about any “serious” actor ever could. Whether at a Greenwich Village club that also showcased Bob Dylan, or on the beloved 1960s TV show, I Spy, or on his wildly successful eponymous sitcom (1984-92), Bill Cosby became what Whitaker calls entertainment’s Jackie Robinson, smashing racial barriers, teaching hard truths to the black community, leading the way. (Comics as diverse as Richard Pryor and Jerry Seinfeld have acknowledged their debt to Cosby.) Whitaker dutifully takes us through Cosby’s life, from his youth in the Philadelphia projects, through his years at Temple University on a track scholarship, to unimaginable financial success and fame, to the tragic death of his only son and the complications of his 50+ year marriage to the elegant and stalwart Camille Cosby. But if some of the less savory parts of his history—the alleged womanizing and perfectionist temper tantrums—are a bit glossed over, the portrait that emerges here is of a guy who has worked tirelessly and earnestly to change the race conversation in this country, one silly bit at a time. – Sara Nelson
“Whitaker’s wonderfully thorough biography of America’s most accomplished comedian provides context and depth as he analyzes Bill Cosby’s work.” (New York Times Book Review)
Fluid, admiring, packed with detail and anecdotes.” (Wall Street Journal)
“Invaluable . . . Whitaker makes a convincing argument that issues of race and politics have preoccupied Cosby throughout his life.” (New Yorker)
“Whitaker’s clear-eyed, fair-minded and deftly written book takes up all the momentous stops of Cosby’s life’s journey . . . by allowing us to see Cosby’s tumultuous life in full, Whitaker’s book makes it possible to imagine Bill Cosby being regarded as one of the first prophets of what optimists of all colors believe will someday be a “post-racial America.” (USA TODAY)
“Absorbing . . . makes a persuasive case for Cosby as a groundbreaking comic and a quiet but far-ranging pioneer of black advancement.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Readable, thoughtful life of the brilliant comedian and . . . an eye-opening book and a pleasure to read.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Provides an in-depth look at the triumphs and tragedies of a man who has kept America laughing for decades.” (New York Daily News)
“This is a compelling look at a man who has had a major impact on American race relations and television and whose “Cosby effect” helped prime the nation for its first black president.” (Booklist (starred review))
“An insightful, well-researched exploration . . . a generous portrayal of a complicated yet ultimately compassionate man.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Editor’s Picks (Ebony)
“Written with the entertainer’s cooperation, it is admiring but not fawning, honest but not lancing, with a narrative drive that matches the soaring arc of Cosby’s career . . . [Whitaker] has a masterly command of detail . . . a must-read for the comedian’s fans, and a book that will reward anyone interested in comedy, television or the wellsprings of popular culture.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“A solid, well-researched reminder of Cosby’s impact on the pop-culture landscape.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
“Cosby: His Life and Times tells a quintessentially American tale of adversity and triumph, influence, betrayal and—yes—lots and lots of laughter.” (Boston Globe)
“The book is at its strongest when the author puts Cosby’s comedy and to education into a broad social and cultural context.” (Washington Post)
“The biography examines the non-comedic side of Bill Cosby, and features interviews with 60 of his closest friends and associates. The author calls Cosby ‘entertainment’s Jackie Robinson, smashing racial barriers and teaching hard truths to the black community.’” (Sacramento Bee)
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Top Customer Reviews
Wrote David Carr in The Times "Whitaker...did not find room in his almost-500-page biography...to address the accusations that Mr. Cosby had assaulted numerous women/"
To which Whitaker replied on Twitter "I was wrong to not deal with the sexual assault charges against Cosby and pursue them more aggressively." False. He didn't pursue them at all. Wrote not a word.
Don't waste a dime on this worthless whitewash. Whitaker couldn't report his way out of a paper bag.
Mark Whitaker is deplorable on every level in his presentation; the mention of the affairs and other "critical" aspects of the book were clearly greenlit by the Cosby press team who got final cut. This biography is as legitimate and true as a supposed "behind the scenes" history of the Disney corporation, authorized by Disney, and being sold at Disney gift shops. No, that's being unfair--this book is far worse than a sanitized stocking stuffer picked up in a gift shop. The allegations of pathological drugging, molestation, and serial rapes over four or five decades are completely absent here. A total whitewash.
Mark would have gotten away with it too, with perhaps nothing more damning for him than a brief footnote in a Salon article a few years down the road about the omissions of the rape allegations--had it not been for social media, which is beyond the Cosby PR machine's manipulations and control.
I wonder if Mark squirmed and groveled like the AP interviewer while the camera still rolled during the infamous shoot where Cosby demands they "scuttle" the very mention of the allegations at the tail end of the interview? No, he probably did not--I am being too fair to the author. He probably never even brought the 2006 settled lawsuit up in Cosby's presence. Mark's a media lifer... he knows the game. He plays by the rules. Unfortunately for him, the public has wised up, no thanks to the media machine that protected Cosby and demonized and dismissed his victims all these years.
Sleep well at night, Mark?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought it for a friend as it was his request for a bday gift, prior to the horrible allegations being revealed...Wish I could get it off of his book case now and BURN it. Yup. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Doe-ray-me
How is it that a stand-up comedian was aware of Cosby's past indiscretions but a Harvard-educated journalist was not? Read morePublished 7 months ago by sean321
The Watergate scandal would have never been exposed if Mark Whitaker had been in charge of the Washington Post's investigation. This "bio" is a joke.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Stresses the good that Cosby has done and does cover some of his marital indiscretions. Date rape experiences are not mentioned. Leaves doubt in the mind of the reader.Published 9 months ago by Customer
What a crock, Amazon shoud be ashamed of itself for disseminating this kind of dishonest garbage. Take it down.Published 10 months ago by Patrick Doyle
Serial rapist sexual predator pedophile monster. The most prolific serial rapist in American history if not the world. If you own this book please burn it. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Tall Paul