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What I Learned When I Almost Died: How a Maniac TV Producer Put Down His BlackBerry and Started to Live His Life Hardcover – May 24, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145162767X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451627671
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 6.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Chris Licht is the co-creator and original executive producer of Morning Joe—the popular daily morning show on MSNBC hosted by Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Willie Geist. Before Morning Joe, Licht worked as executive producer on Scarborough Country. He lives in Manhattan with his wife Jenny and their two sons.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

prologue
The Killer Producer


Lately, if I happen to be looking through my address book for a phone number, I’m apt to stop when I come across the name of someone I haven’t been in touch with for a while. A friend, maybe, or an acquaintance. When I do, I’m likely to fire off an e-mail with no more length or gravitas than this:

Hey, how you been?

The gesture is a small one, but I didn’t used to do this. Days that were filled with the pressure and crises of running a national cable television program had little room for casual nicety. If I wasn’t in the control room producing it, I was in my office thinking about how to produce it. If the talent was unhappy, I’d let it gnaw at my gut. If somebody screwed up, I could go off like a roadside bomb, in a finger snap. I knew this. But the show so consumed me that it couldn’t be merely acceptable. It had to be great. I had ambitions. I had to be the killer producer.

Then one day, with no warning whatsoever, I became scary sick in a random and hard-to-figure way, given that I was not even forty years old. Most people with the medical emergency I had do not emerge from the experience physically intact, if they emerge at all. Weeks later, my health restored, I went back to work, and was eager and happy to do so. Illness hadn’t scared me into some big life makeover. I had no urge to surrender my spot in the fast lane for ownership of a B&B in Vermont.

But serious illness had recalibrated me. It had brought a trove of knowledge, as if I had involuntarily paid a painful tuition for an elite education. It was about letting go of my fears. It was about what I could control and what I couldn’t, and how people felt about me, really felt about me. It was about how to use time. It was even about Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States.

It would be nice, I thought, if everyone could get the education I had gotten without having to nearly die.

So I decided to write a book.

© 2011 Chris Licht

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Customer Reviews

This is not a bad book but I just kept waiting for it to turn more religious and it never did.
LonghornAlex
Chris Licht's story reminds us that we're not, that we have to "stop and smell the roses", and appreciate the really important things in life - namely our loved ones.
NYC Purchaser
It seems the only reason the author wrote this book, was so that he could name drop and boost his own ego.
perch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Rick Shaq Goldstein on May 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All book reviews are always subjective, and even though an event that brings the fear of death or disability into the life of any human being, whether a homeless person or a young man living a charmed life in the public's eye as an executive producer for a national TV show is poignant... the review... for the benefit of potential readers should never be sugar coated. I have written over five hundred Amazon reviews and I normally adhere to one of the guidelines regarding not commenting on other people's reviews, but in this case, I feel I need to for the benefit of potential readers... and that's the one other early "lonely" reviewer who commented on the author's "name dropping and ego"... because that is the exact impression I was left with. I might also add that I am a grateful, blessed, *BRAIN-TUMOR-SURVIVOR* who in addition to the fear of dying or being disabled by the brain tumor itself... almost died from unforeseen complications during the surgery which involved bleeding in the brain during the tumor removal.

This is an extremely, extremely, short book with 5" x 7" pages and only 165 of those, and most of those pages are filled with name droppings that ranged from Joe Scarborough to Vice President Joe Biden to Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC Universal. In fact Biden used his "influence" to get his preferred Doctor assigned to Licht. The average reader, especially, anyone who has personally gone through medical traumas such as his brain hemorrhage or much, much worse... will not be impressed with all the cars and limos that are made available at no charge of course to Licht. Additionally the author (in my opinion) never fully details the horror of ordeals such as MRI's which to most people are just words... until you're locked inside one.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Lucerne07 on August 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
For the first few chapters of this book, it seemed that the author was setting up what a self-involved, name dropping, arrogant person he was so that later on he could reveal his enormous changes. By the end of the book the only major change is that instead of eviscerating his co-workers or taxi drivers to their faces, he passive-aggressively lays out his litany of complaints in a book published by Simon and Schuster. Congrats? To his own admission, even his own family was disappointed that his life-altering incident didn't prove to be more life altering. While this event could produce an interesting and inspiring story in the hands of the right person, don't expect to find it in this book.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Dixon on May 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A fascinating story of how one's life can turn on a dime; and what one can do and learn when it does. Thought-provoking and thoughtful, by turns scary, tender, funny and smart, "What I Learned...." is a must-read for anyone who needs to reset their priorities or redouble their efforts to really LIVE RIGHT NOW (and don't we all?!?)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By My Opinion on August 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a very short story written on 5x7 pages with plenty of white space (large margins and space and a half between lines). If you have an interest in the author's episode with near death, view the Charlie Rose TV episode for all you need to know.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By King Bip on May 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If there's one thing you have to give Chris Licht credit for, it's honesty. Very few people would feel comfortable writing about being self-absorbed, paranoid, and chronically distracted. As I flipped through the pages of this book that is refreshingly well-written and captivating, I found myself raising my eyebrows as the author described how he chewed out coworkers and was unable to fully appreciate the arrival of his first born son.

Most of the first half of the book chronicles the details of the Licht's mysterious brain bleed and the emotional roller coaster that he endures as he gradually understands the seriousness of his situation. Eventually, Chris' famous coworkers (TV's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski) enter the picture and word gets out to family and friends that this always healthy and hard driving guy is suddenly undergoing catscans and having contrast dye injected through a catheter inserted into his leg and threaded all the way up to the brain.

Ultimately, the book is about the author's vulnerability during a medical crisis and about how he is is moved by how many people were willing to rally to his support. True, the book spends some time dropping names like Joe Biden and Mike Barnicle and maybe not quite enough time talking about the folks you haven't heard mentioned on cable news, but that's probably just a reflection of the world that Licht lives in. The reader gets the impression that these people are just part of his everyday life as a television producer.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Francy Ronayne on May 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author should be applauded for his honesty and for the compelling picture he creates. This isn't just a story about a busy TV producer. It's also a love story about how someone can change for the people they care most about. The author's faults are something all readers can all identify with and his personal growth and health are things all readers will celebrate.
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