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Bill Hicks Agent of Evolution Paperback – April 1, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


'I thought he was the most intelligent, most liberating social and political comic I had ever, ever heard.' John Cleese

About the Author

Born in Connecticut in 1961, Kevin Booth grew up in Austin, Texas as Bill Hicks's long-term friend and the co-creator of many of his shows.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Smithsonian Books (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007198302
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007198306
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,084,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kent D. Bentkowski on May 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
At long last, the definitive biography of the late American comedian and political philosopher Bill Hicks has been published. Written by his lifelong friend Kevin Booth, Bill Hicks: Agent of Evolution is an inside look at the fast times and early death of a comedic genius. When I spoke with Kevin for the interview that appeared in Maybe Quarterly # 02 (Spring Equinox 2005), he told me that he wrote the book by dictating "Bill stories" into a microcassette recorder as he took his pet wolves for their daily afternoon walk. This was a long process of remembering earlier days that had become clouded by both the partying and legend that now surrounds Bill Hicks, and Kevin mentioned that the process of writing this book took approximately five years.
As I opened the book for the first time, I was immediately impressed by the twenty-four pages of exclusive color photographs. Taken from Kevin's own photo albums, these photos show the softer, private side of Bill Hicks. A few of these photos captured some of the infamous moments of Bill's life. For example, can you imagine the atmosphere when Bill partied with Sam Kinison, another of the Texas Outlaw Comics? The inclusion of the color photo section shows how well-respected Bill Hicks continues to be in the United Kingdom. As a matter of fact, Kevin states on his own website that when this book is published in the USA sometime in 2006 (most likely in paperback), he expects that the USA edition will not include the photos in their original color format.
As for the book itself, Kevin, having admitted that he is not a writer, worked with Austin, Texas USA entertainment writer Michael Bertin, who co-authored the book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found `Bill Hicks: Agent of Evolution' to be an extremely frustrating read. On one hand it is extremely informative and reveals a great deal about Bill's life and his personality. On the other hand I found myself anxious to get through this book and on to the other two Bill Hicks books I purchased because it was such a meandering disjointed undertaking.

My main grievance is with the primary contributor Kevin Booth who, in spite of being one of Bill's closest friends; sounds resentful and sarcastic in his characterization of Bill throughout the entire book. I know they were very close friends and he must have loved and cared about Bill, but you wouldn't know it from reading this book. Throughout the book he tends to focus almost exclusively on the negative aspects of Bill's personality. For example he spends a great deal of time focusing on Bill's preoccupation with getting laid, and the fact that he was less adept at it than his friends were. After so much coverage devoted to this singular aspect of Bill's childhood, I began to understand that it is Kevin Booth who is the one who has a preoccupation with getting laid. He chooses to focus on one of Bill's most volatile and controversial performances without once making mention of Bill's most provocative performances, which were the rule, not the exception. At times I found myself saying, almost out loud, "Dude! Did you even like him?"

It is not until almost the final chapter that you get any indication at all that he had any love for Bill, only to find him reverting immediately back to his standard defensive posture in the final chapter. (For those of you who have seen the documentary `It's Just A Ride' on the `Bill Hicks Live' DVD Kevin Booth is the one with the mullet.
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Format: Hardcover
'Agent of Evolution', after years of waiting, is the Hicks portrait you've been hoping for from the people who knew him best. Bill's life-long cohort and mushroom-buddy Kevin Booth gives an unflinching, almost painfully honest and intimately detailed account of the obssessionally driven man who - in the eleven years since his tragic death - has risen from trendy stand-up comedian status to a position of near-mystical reverance as the world's most eloquent (and funny) spokesmen of anti-authoritarianism and the visionary. Best of all, Booth lets us in on the foibles of the man rather than espousing myth. Depravity, addiction and arsehole traits are all present and accounted for, and it's nice to see Bill was as much of an overpowering and obnoxious pain in the neck as his stage persona suggests. It's more personal and intimate than the Cynthia True biog. A few might say it's more than they wanted to know, but this too is in keeping with Hicks' stage persona: you always got the whole human being, warts and all. Censored and smothered by corporate America during his life, Hicks' legacy continues to spread, and remain spookily timeless.
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Format: Hardcover
For the die-hard Hicks fans, this book is probably the most intimate look you will get. Kevin Booth airs it all out and by the end you're convinced he held nothing back, at least the 450 pages would lead you to believe so.

The accounts are broken up, there is a main narrative and then reflections by Booth and many other of Bill's close friends. That keeps the book going, although some of the accounts overlap and become repetitive, I'm sure they just wanted to include everybody who knew Bill well. You get a lot of great stories that show his different sides, each friend has a unique view.

You can't write a book like this and not get very personal. Some of the stuff makes you ask yourself what you would reveal about your own best friend, but in keeping with honesty, Booth is candid about Bill's abuses and dark moments. You also get lots of great bits about their mushroom trips and UFO fascination. So the good, bad and ugly bits all kinda balance out.

All in all, it's mostly fun reading and also very serious. There are a lot of things to learn from Bill Hicks and this book helps you understand some of what went into the making of the man.

The moral of the story? It's just a ride.
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