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If I Only Knew Then...: Learning from Our Mistakes Hardcover – November 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446581151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446581158
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When actor and TV commentator Grodin (It Would Be So Nice if You Weren't Here) asked Shirley MacLaine about her biggest mistake, she suggested he go ask President Bush about his. Others of the 82 celebrity contributors to this collection who look back at lessons learned the hard way squirmed to evade Grodin's truth or dare, while many have risen to the challenge with painful memories of nervousness, humiliation, social embarrassments, shame, regret, denial and guilt. Recalling an incident when she was 13, Mary Steenburgen can still feel my face burn with shame at my own snobbery. After Leonard Nimoy ignored a publisher's warning, fans wrongly interpreted the title of his memoir, I Am Not Spock, to mean he was rejecting the character and all things connected with Star Trek. Walter Cronkite's biggest mistake was retiring too soon. The standout piece is by Pete Hamill, who compresses his entire life into five pages as he reflects on the aftermath of his decision to drop out of high school. (Grodin will donate his royalties to HELP USA, which serves the homeless.) (Nov. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Charles Grodin is a recipient of the William Kuntsler Award for racial justice and of the HELP Hero Award for his humanitarian efforts on behalf of the homeless. He is best known for his starring film roles in The Heartbreak Kid, Midnight Run, the Beethoven films, and dozens of others. He has written five books, including the bestseller It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here, and was a commentator for 60 Minutes II. Grodin is currently a commentator for CBS News and was nominated for the New York Festivals 2007 Radio Broadcasting Lifetime Achievement Award.

More About the Author

Charles Grodin is a recipient of the William Kuntsler Award for Racial Justice and has been honored by Habitat for Humanity for his humanitarian efforts on behalf of the homeless. He is best known for his starring roles in "The Heartbreak Kid," "Midnight Run" and the "Beethoven" movies, among dozens of others. He has written seven books including the bestseller "It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here." Charles Grodin was a commentator for 60 Minutes II and is currently a commentator for CBS News. he also writes a weekly op-ed column for the New York Daily News.

Customer Reviews

I wish I hadn't bothered to listen to it.
Mully
A lot of the essays are too short and don't contain enough details to make the story interesting.
Mediaman
Even some of the responders admitted that they didn't have anything relevant to say.
babyboomerlarry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on October 24, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Remember when Archie Bunker met Sammy Davis, Jr.? You probably do: that episode of "All in the Family" was iconic television - a memorable moment. You'd be surprised to learn who wrote the script for it: I was. That answer and many more are tucked away inside If Only I Knew Then..." by Charles Grodin.

What happened when Carol Burnett met Cary Grant? Carol tells you right here. It's a moment you'll long remember-Carol does.

How did Goldie Hawn feel as she left the popular TV series Laugh-In? What lessons did she take from Laugh-In as she moved to a new career in movies?

How did actor Gene Wilder meet director Mel Brooks? Hint: a woman was involved. Wilder and Brooks went on to combine their talents in many successful movies.

Paul Newman, Rosie O'Donnell, Robert Redford-the list goes on and on. Deeper than just `celebrity gossip,' these vignettes provide an inside look at what actors, artists, television personalities and others have learned from life-they share not only their wisdom, but the difficult ways they acquired it.

Charles Grodin has compiled the life lessons of many of his friends so that the rest of us can learn from their experiences. Meanwhile, Grodin is donating 100 percent of his book royalties to an organization that serves the homeless. Obviously, he's not in this for the money. Instead, he is genuinely trying to pass along collective wisdom.

Pick up this highly readable new book and start reading anywhere: you won't put it down!

Armchair Interviews says: Charles Grodin is a comedian, actor and former talk show host.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By FilmBuff on November 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Some very touching stories about people's mistakes in life, and how they overcame them to have successful careers. I thought Robert Towne's story about Robert Evans and the story behind the making of "The Two Jakes" was hilarious. There's a bit of something in here for everyone - along the lines of "Chicken Soup for the Soul." Found myself laughing out loud at one point, and at another point wiping away a tear. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Long Island Momma on December 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. There are stories from different famous people about a mistake they have made and what they learned from that mistake. The stories are often funny and sometimes sad, bringing a tear to your eye. It's a great book to take when you are waiting at the doctor's office. I read some stories to my 15 year old son that he found very interesting, and lead to some interesting conversations. I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Constant Reader on December 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Charles Grodin has assembled eclectic information from many interesting people - much of which is valuable - and gives his proceeds to a very worthy cause. Great gift item.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Book Carpenter on December 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you can admit that you are not perfect (yet), and want an instruction book for life, this it it. Buy it. Read it. Learn from it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Andrews on April 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Everyone can look back on their life and describe a significant mistake they've made and the lesson they learned from it. But how many of you would be willing to write it down and have the world read about it?

Charles Grodin found over eighty people to contribute to his collection of essays in If I Only Knew Then..., and the net profits from book sales go to HELP USA, a not-for-profit organization. HELP USA's mission is to empower the homeless and others in need to become self-reliant, an excellent cause in this reader's book.

Many of the contributors are celebrities such as Alan Alda, Carol Burnett and Ben Stiller. Others are accomplished and well-known people in the industries of politics, business and Hollywood.

Sally Kellerman (Hot Lips from the movie M*A*S*H) learned what happens when you play hard-to-get with Marlon Brando. Judge Judy got a lesson in how to gain respect as a woman. Senator Orrin Hatch regrets voting against the Martin Luther King holiday.

Some of the essays are entertaining, the lessons poignant and universal. Others seemed to have missed the point, or were turned in like last-minute homework assignments, perhaps out of guilt or obligation to Grodin.

One lost lesson in particular comes from Leonard Nimoy, who still bristles over the memory of inappropriately naming his book I Am Not Spock. He declares that he is still unconvinced he was wrong. He writes, "Live and learn," but did he?

This book feels like it was put together more for the sake of HELP USA than for the readers. If I Only Knew Then... hits and misses. The "hits" are moving and, at times, heartbreaking. If you do decide to purchase this book and read selectively, do not miss the stories by Barbara Feldon (from TV's Get Smart) or Sheldon Schultz.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By HarbinCreative on November 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Want to learn from other people's mistakes? This book might help if you happen to read the appropriate story. Overall, I would say this is a mixed bag. Some vignettes are funny, poignant, heart-felt. But for some, you wonder why Grodin bothered putting them in the book. And who are some of these people anyway? Certainly, I am impressed with the diversity of the author's friends and acquaintances. The idea for the book has merit because we all want to learn from our mistakes or missed opportunities. A light read except for those stories which contain the gravitas that many clearly lacked.
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