From Publishers Weekly
In this humorous, anecdotal account, King at 75-plus marvels good-naturedly at his staying power for a half-century as a talk-show host for radio and TV. Born in Brooklyn in 1933 to Jewish immigrant parents, young Larry Zeiger was profoundly influenced at age nine by the untimely heart-attack death of his father and by the medium of radio. Rejected by the army for bad eyesight and uninterested in going to college, he got his break filling in for a deejay at a radio station in Miami, where he took the name King in a pinch. His early scrapes are hilarious, especially with women (he married eight times), and he had an uncanny ability to snag famous personalities like Jackie Gleason, Frank Sinatra and Richard Nixon to be interviewed on air. By simply being curious and unassuming, King could make anyone seem fascinating, from a plumber to the famously laconic Robert Mitchum. Despite being fired in 1971 for financial shenanigans, King swept back on the air in Washington, D.C., before being hired to host a show for Ted Turner's fledgling CNN in 1985, where he has been following current affairs for the past 25 years. King, writing with Fussman (After Jackie
), has produced a cultural history as much as a personal testimony, touching on world-shaping events over the last 50 years and sharing, with inimitable humor and grace, some quirky POVs from King's family and friends. (May)
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The greatest softball pitcher of all time lobs a few more, but this time the subject is himself. Although King has written other books, this is as close to a full-scale autobiography as he is likely to come. Although he writes about some of the traumatic events of his life (his father’s death; his heart troubles, both physically and emotionally), he is not much interested in self-examination. Fortunately, the comments at the end of each chapter from King’s family and friends (which he says he won’t read until the book is published) delve a little more deeply into analysis of the talk-show-host’s psyche. No matter what one thinks about King’s interviewing skills, between his radio days and his CNN show, there’s no doubt that he has talked to just about everyone and made friends with more than a few—among them, Al Pacino, who turned up at a restaurant to help King impress his soon-to-be (eighth) wife, and George W. Bush, who spent two hours in the White House talking baseball with his pal, Larry. There’s no explaining the Larry King phenomenon; even King agrees with that. This may be a soufflé, but it’s decorated with stars, and it goes down easily. --Ilene Cooper