Customer Review

37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For me, the best parts are those about her personal life, her daughter, her sister, etc., May 17, 2008
This review is from: Audition: A Memoir (Hardcover)
I had very mixed reactions after reading this book. The personal sections, the ones dealing with her daughter, father and other aspects of life OFF screen were very engaging.

I can remember Barbara Walters from the days when she was a very young reporter or television journalist, the distinctive speech that was parodied on Saturday Night Live, the Barbara "Wah Wah" jokes and all the rest.

As a young female watching all that occur in a time when women's roles were changing, I often cringed when I saw her on television. It was like watching and FEELING a cultural paradigm - and I think this book reflects that as well.

Although Walters maintained a fairly professional facade throughout her career, I'm sure plenty of what happened to her, on air and off, stung. So to judge her too harshly would be wrong.

However, I DO think there are parts of this book which are too braggy, perhaps unintentionally so, perhaps even defensively so. The woman is used to attention, to a certain degree of power and to having fought her way from being scorned by male co-anchors to winning respect. That deserves note.

Still, it wasn't all the list of Firsts and Great Interviews that Walters writes about that actually touched and engaged me. Instead, it was her honesty about her personal, behind the scenes life. I recall seeing a show she did on adoptive parents and her own interview and the revelations of her adopted daughter. There were struggles between the two and even estrangement for a time. Also, Barbara had a sister with mental challenges and there was that as well as times when she had to put her career first and marriage and even her daughter second. There was a cost for that and I didn't feel Walter shied away from being honest about the realities.

Love her, hate her or feel indifferent towards her...the woman took on a tough job at a tough time for women who aspired to be on television as something other than stereotypes. I do think she seems to fawn a bit too much over some celebs in interviews but with others she surprises them and gets them to open up.

Finally, I'm always eager to know what keeps people like Barbara Walters to push on when others fall by the wayside. The answer? Insecurity and some fear. She is not unlike Larry King in that regard, a man who once had money and lost it all while in Miami and has seemed relentless since then. She is not unlike Sarah Jessica Parker, a woman who grew up on welfare and worries about every cent she spends (not that Walters and Parker are the same in every way but...) I think great insecurity often leads to great success and the unceasing drive to succeed.

Her revelations about her father, the danger of impoverishment and the responsibilities placed on Walter's shoulders were new to me. These parts of the book were particularly engaging.

I enjoyed this book far more than I thought I would but felt it was an uneven ride but worth the trip.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 18, 2008 5:51:00 AM PDT
Karen Joan says:
Mmm. Insightful review. But not sure I want to read this.

Posted on May 18, 2008 6:29:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 18, 2008 6:29:50 PM PDT
Linda Bulger says:
You do a great job breaking this book down into what worked for you and how it worked. I especially like the way you draw an inference or conclusion from her material. Like Karen, I may not read this but I'm very pleased to have read your thoughtful review.

Posted on May 19, 2008 6:43:03 PM PDT
Great job!
My mother went (on scholarship, because she was poor then) to the same college as Barbara did. Barbara would never want to take her turn waiting the tables as the students all eventually had to do and so she would ask my mother if she wanted to wait the tables in Barbara's place. Barbara gave my mother some money to do it--Barbara was always "rushing into the city (New York City) to do something," my mother recalled.

Posted on May 20, 2008 4:53:55 AM PDT
Thanks for sharing your thoughts so candidly: I really appreciated your review.

Posted on May 23, 2008 4:45:20 PM PDT
Very n ice review. You capture a lot of the issues in this book. Not sure I'm going to read it, but your review lays out what is at stake here.

Posted on May 25, 2008 9:15:09 AM PDT
R. Kyle says:
I think I'd like the parts about her as well.

Posted on Aug 12, 2008 9:01:21 AM PDT
I've met Walters, while working with one of the celebrities she interviewed, and she could not have been more courteous or thoughtful with my client and me. She even took the time to take me aside privately and ask about MY welfare and career (my client was going through a highly publicized public meltdown at the time).

I had much the same reaction to this book as this reviewer, although I ranked it 3 stars rather than four. One thing that bothered me was her rather pedestrian writing style, which I'd attribute to her experience of writing relatively short amounts of copy for TV. It is written in chronological order, with a fair amount of repetition (as if we would have forgotten was was written before); the chapters that address themes ("Heads of State," for example) give her a chance to compare and contrast individuals effectively. One thing that took away from the book's content for me was her relentlessly positive view of the people around her (with only a handful of exceptions), UNTIL she gets to two of her former View colleagues: Star Jones and Rosie O'Donnell. Star's fate has been thoroughly hashed in public so there is little that's new here but Rosie is truly eviscerated, showing a steel-in-the-velvet-glove side of Walters that isn't brought forth in the first 98% of the book. And it probably took a lot of courage to criticize the now-sainted Peter Jennings.
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