ANGRY OPTIMIST by Lisa Rogak

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The Life and Times of Jon Stewart

Narrated by Cassandra Campbell

I am a long time fan of Jon Stewart so I was delighted to come across this new biography. I learned that his real name is Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz and he changed it after a comedy club introduction was botched, then legally changed it after he got married. I learned a tiny bit about his wife, and a little about his childhood. I definitely get the feeling that this is an unauthorized biography – the only quotes are from a few former employees and critics.

The vast majority of the book is a look at Stewart’s career, which can more easily be obtained from imdb.com or Wikipedia. I found some of the information given repetitive at times, and at least in one instance, completely inaccurate (no book can reach the New York Times bestseller list in one week; they compile two weeks of sales before placing on the list.)

Rogak presents Stewart for half the book as insecure but hard working, and then skews towards overbearing, demanding and still hard working. I have to say that I didn’t love this book. It really didn’t shed a whole lot of light on much in the way of personal information; she claims repeatedly that Stewart is a very private person, so that is understandable. But if you want to trace his career, it’s all in there. All that said, I’m not sorry I read it by any means, so I would suggest it for diehard fans. It is not the juicy celebrity bio, the type that often lingers on the bestseller lists.

Finally, I didn’t love the narrator of this book. I found her tone unnecessarily snarky much of the time.

10/14 Stacy Alesi

ANGRY OPTIMIST by Lisa Rogak. Thomas Dunne Books (September 9, 2014). ISBN 978-1250014443. 288p.
Audiobook on CD: Tantor Audio; MP3 – Unabridged CD edition (September 9, 2014). ISBN 978-1494555559. Listening Length: 6 hours and 16 minutes

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