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Letterman Audiobook

Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman delivers the definitive story of the life and artistic legacy of David Letterman, the greatest television talk show host of all time and the signature comedic voice of a generation.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, David Letterman redefined the modern talk show with an ironic comic style that transcended traditional television. While he remains one of the most famous stars in America, he is a remote, even reclusive figure whose career is widely misunderstood. In Letterman, Jason Zinoman, the first comedy critic in the history of the New York Times, mixes groundbreaking reporting with unprecedented access and probing critical analysis to explain the unique entertainer's titanic legacy. Moving from his early days in Indiana to his retirement, Zinoman goes behind the scenes of Letterman's television career to illuminate the origins of his revolutionary comedy, its overlooked influences, and how his work intersects with and reveals his famously eccentric personality.

Zinoman argues that Letterman had three great artistic periods, each distinct and part of his evolution. As he examines key broadcasting moments - "Stupid Pet Tricks" and other captivating segments that defined Late Night with David Letterman - he illuminates Letterman's relationship to his writers and, in particular, the show's cocreator, Merrill Markoe, with whom Letterman shared a long professional and personal connection.

To understand popular culture today, it's necessary to understand David Letterman. With this revealing biography, Zinoman offers a perceptive analysis of the man and the artist whose ironic voice and caustic meta-humor was critical to an entire generation of comedians and viewers - and whose singular style ushered in new tropes that have become clichés in comedy today.

©2017 Jason Zinoman (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (236 )
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  •  
    Richard D. Ross Seattle, WA 04-21-17
    Richard D. Ross Seattle, WA 04-21-17 Member Since 2016

    Dickard

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    "Fails to Capture What Made Letterman Great"

    While the book does a nice job of chronicling the various stages of Letterman's career, it fails to capture what made his show - at times - great. His personal demons and self loathing are chronicled in excessive detail while the skits and interviews are presented humorlessly. A reader who never watched his show would have no understanding why this apparently bitter, often cruel, man made it 30+ years on late night. It was depressing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Yerkes United States 04-26-17
    A. Yerkes United States 04-26-17 Member Since 2017

    Expatriate American academic with high, middle, and low-brow taste.

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    "Reminder of Letterman's Absurdist Genius"

    Before and surpassing all current late-night hosts, Letterman innovated in countless ways (remote shoots, absurdist pranks such as dropping watermelons off buildings or putting a guy on the streets of NYC in a bear suit, using show staff as recurring characters, top-ten-style jokes) that today's hosts copy. What is missing is Letterman's sarcastic, ironic, hilarious detachment from the nonsense that surrounded him. The pleasures of this book are found in a briskly paced, satisfying recounting of the changing role that Letterman played in the show over the years, also including interesting stories of his youthful creative efforts. Zinoman describes Letterman's on-air personality as paradigmatic of the era. It is fun to be reminded of Dave's hilarious obsessions and routines: Larry "Bud" Melman, Connie Chung, Stupid Pet Tricks. It also convincingly explains the changes as the show became massive and softened in later years, factoring in his subject's shortcomings as well as his genius. There was no mention of Alan Coulter, "TV's Uncle Jerry," Tony the cue-card boy, or dog poetry, but you can't fit everything in. Overall a great listen, well-read.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    scottie 05-03-17
    scottie 05-03-17

    b-ok

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    "Great cover photo. Book a total waste of my time."

    I can't believe I wasted my time listening to this,
    it's my own fault. this author has cobbled together 4 or 5 ideas and driven them ALL right into the ground. This would have been a good NY Magazine article. it is a dreadful waste a book and a huge waste of YOUR MONEY AND TIME

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chelsea 09-14-17
    Chelsea 09-14-17 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent."

    Great narration. Well researched. Insightful and occasionally poignant. Doesn't dwell unnecessarily on childhood like many biographies. Superb read overall.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Jacklyn WALNUT CREEK, CA, United States 08-29-17
    Jacklyn WALNUT CREEK, CA, United States 08-29-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Scant Insight"

    My disappointment is that there just isn't enough of "David" himself in the story. That part of David he refuses to share, the vulnerable self we get to glimpse occasionally, has eluded us once again. While I do appreciate Zinoman's knowledge and insight, I still want the voice of David that apologized to his wife on national television, the one who grieved with us after 9/11, the one who knows when he's being a jerk and wants to do better, the one who will book an expert to explain a confusing time or major event (without laughs)......

    Unfortunately for all of us diehard Letterman fans, David does not understood how much we admire and appreciate his imperfect intelligent funny self.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    dignan brown LOUISVILLE, KY United States 08-24-17
    dignan brown LOUISVILLE, KY United States 08-24-17 Member Since 2017
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    "well-intentioned but you already know the stories"

    if you are more than a casual fan you have most likely heard all the bits and pieces which are assembled here in to the book. I wish I had not found out that my hero could be as big of a jerk as had been previously reported it turns out it takes a village to make King Dave,

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    08-07-17
    08-07-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Boring"

    Nothing more to say. Very long-winded. nothing juicy. it was horrible. Do not waste your time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    anyc 07-23-17
    anyc 07-23-17
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    "Nothing you didn't new"
    What disappointed you about Letterman?

    This is just a list of facts you can read anywhere that were strung together with award segues to make it seem like a bio.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Not this


    What didn’t you like about Michael Goldstrom’s performance?

    He did ok, I just hated the book so much


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I can turn it off.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Chimack 07-12-17 Member Since 2016
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    "A fun trip down memory lane"

    I watched Dave's first show from my college dorm room, his last show shortly after my 50th birthday and an estimated 75% of his shows in between. This book provided an all too brief but enjoyable synopsis of Dave's life. I particularly enjoyed the part of the book that described the pre-famous Dave's life. It was a nice backdrop that explained the on air personality Dave fans would grow to love.

    The book was dense and thick with detail at times. Goldstrom did a good job with the narration. I hoped there would be more Dave quotes from his various shows. At the end of the day, if you enjoyed the NBC or CBS version of Dave's show (or both!) you will enjoy this book either whole or in parts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Guinness77 07-11-17
    Guinness77 07-11-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Great insight "

    Great insight into the comic genius. Loved him since his first morning show.
    Glad I got to learn more about Letterman!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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