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Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy! Hardcover – September 5, 2006
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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From Publishers Weekly
In this eccentric, energetic and engaging memoir of his long run on America's favorite television quiz show, Harris, a former standup comedian and current comedy writer, gives readers the lowdown on life as "one of the show's big winners—and big losers." He promises to tell all, and he does, from the show's beginning in 1963 to his own blow-by-blow experiences as a contestant. He discusses his growing obsession with winning, how it cost him a girlfriend and how he luckily found another. For those who would follow in his footsteps, he is generous with tips on strategy: buzzer skills, how to predict topics (keep holidays in mind), how to suss out a Daily Double, which clues to tackle first, how to one-up your competition (though one of the gems of this often charming book is the account of the quite sincere friendships that grew among the top competitors). Like many a standup routine, his narrative zigs and zags back and forth in time and topic, but like the best of routines, it is sharply timed, pulling out many swerves and surprises to keep the reader alert. And what is Alex Trebek really like? "I dunno," says Harris, but the Trebek we meet is highly professional and unfailingly courteous. "Just like on TV." (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Although reality shows and other mindless drivel seem to dominate the TV landscape, it's reassuring that Jeopardy! still remains as a last vestige of academic pursuit in a sea of pop culture. This book provides a behind-the-scenes look at this holy grail of trivia contests. Harris, who won five games in a row (the limit in 1998), was invited back several more times to participate in Tournament of Champions competitions. Far from being a scholar, Harris recounts how he used whimsical mnemonics and his Eightfold Path of Enlightened Jeopardy to win over seemingly superior competition. Harris' account is a personal story and manages to cram in enough fun facts to keep any trivia nut happy. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Harris, despite himself, has written an engaging, thought-provoking book that is funny, horrifying, tragic, superficial, and profound by turns. It describes how getting onto a televison game show became a journey into a much larger and richer world - and it's one that is waiting for anyone who, like Harris, is willing to make the effort.
Harris has much to say about Jeopardy - but what makes the book such a good read is that he says it in a way that places it into a larger story, of living a life, making discoveries, not merely learning facts but learning the things that give those facts - and life - meaning. What could have been an exercise in sciolism becomes a path to enlightenment.
While Harris jokingly refers to himself as a Prisoner, to live in Trebekistan is to open oneself to the larger world that learning brings. I could easily see Harris becoming the leader of a cult-like movement, save for his frequent willingness to admit he doesn't know squat.
If you know anyone who is a teacher, this is a book they should read.
Harris also tells the story of his family's ongoing struggle with his sister's autoimmune disease. He gives a very moving and compassionate portrayal his admiration for her strength and his own helplessness in the face of the never-ending, grueling effects of the disease on his beloved sister. Harris writes a very human account of the impact that chronic disease can have of the friends and family of the afflicted.
And, on top of all of that, Mr. Harris has written a laugh-out-loud funny book. Trebekistan is a well-paced, delightful read! Buy this book!!
If you like Jeopardy!, read it. If Jeopardy! makes you want to puke, read it. If you've ever heard of Mrs. Butterworth's syrup, Sony, President Garfield, Jabberwocky, galoshes, the snowbelt, stage make-up, Bhutan, Radio City Music Hall, E.M. Forster (you'll never think of his works the same again), traffic signals or masking tape and a ball point pen, read it. Just read it.
If you're human, you'll love it.