Lake of the Ozarks

My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America
Narrated by: Bill Geist, Allan Robertson
Length: 4 hrs and 49 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (171 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Before there was "tourism" and souvenir ashtrays became "kitsch", the Lake of the Ozarks was a Shangri-La for middle-class Midwestern families on vacation, complete with man-made beaches, Hillbilly Mini Golf, and feathered rubber tomahawks.

It was there that author Bill Geist spent summers in the '60s during his school and college years working at Arrowhead Lodge - a small resort owned by his bombastic uncle - in all areas of the operation, from cesspool attendant to bellhop.

What may have seemed just a summer job became, upon reflection, a transformative era where a cast of eccentric, small-town characters and experiences shaped (some might suggest "slightly twisted") Bill into the man he is today. He realized it was this time in his life that had a direct influence on his sensibilities, his humor, his writing, and ultimately a career searching the world for other such untamed creatures for the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, and CBS News.

In Lake of the Ozarks, Emmy Award-winning CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Bill Geist reflects on his coming of age in the American heartland and traces his evolution as a man and a writer. He shares laugh-out-loud anecdotes and tongue-in-cheek observations guaranteed to evoke a strong sense of nostalgia for "the good ol' days". Written with Geistian wit and warmth, Lake of the Ozarks takes listeners back to a bygone era and demonstrates how you can find inspiration in the most unexpected places. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Bill Geist (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Readers of Geist's vintage will enjoy sauntering through his formative summers and perhaps recall some of their own on the way." (Booklist)

"Geist's writing is consistently nostalgic as he shows how those carefree summers helped mold him into the man he became. The book is a quick, pleasant read that effectively reflects how his time at the lodge showed him that 'life is more difficult and rewarding and fun when you manage to do things your way.' Old-fashioned, wistful stories that will appeal to fans of Geist's previous books." (Kirkus)

"A tenderhearted remembrance...Geist's entertaining account of life in a resort town in the 1960s will certainly resonate with folks of his generation, and will offer younger readers a glimpse into a bygone era." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Lake of the Ozarks

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So nice I listened twice!

This is a perfect summer read. Bill Geist has written a funny memoir of his teen summers spent working at his uncle's Arrowhead Inn at n the early to mid 1960's. You'll be transported back to a simpler time, and enjoy stories of Bill's family, friends, and memorable interactions with the guests of the inn.

3 people found this helpful

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A look back at a bygone era

I realize it’s unfair to judge an era fifty years in the past by today’s norms. But living now and reading about then, it’s impossible to not draw comparisons. I was expecting kind of a rosy nostalgic memoir but Bill Geist doesn’t shy away from some of the seedy, even a smidge scandalous, details of his summers in the sixties working for his uncle in the Ozarks. His Uncle Ed made money hand over foot, but paid his mostly teen staff between a dollar and five dollars a day. His uncle spent most of his days barking orders, partying on his boat, and drinking. He always drove new Cadillacs, took yearly trips to Europe, and yet provided rather dismal living quarters for his employees. But Bill Geist, and the other teen employees returned summer after summer...for the freedom of being away from home, saving hundreds of dollars in tips for college, summer romance, parties, drinking, and maybe doing a bit of growing up between high school and college. And with all his flaws, everyone single one of them seemed to have both fondness and respect for Uncle Ed, a WWII veteran, a man of few words, zero tolerance for self pity, and a huge heart for matchmaking. Bill Geist credits his summers there for giving him his work ethic, honing his comedic skills, and giving him some much needed practice with just being around girls. The cast of characters from Uncle Ed and Aunt Janet, to the alcoholic chef, to the wealthy married guy who came to party on his boat every weekend, sans his wife, but surrounded by women, are memorable. The tales of cigarette ashes in the salad and the open air septic tank are queasy making. The book overall is a good read, probably geared mostly toward folks that lived at least a few years in that era, I don’t think someone who is 20 today would relate to this book. The photos in the provided PDF are very cool, tho I do not understand why they are in black and white and the photos in the book are in color. The narration is a bit uneven, Bill Geist narrates the first section, then another, quite good narrator takes over, then Bill Geist returns, then Bill and his son Wille chat after the book ends. There is nothing wrong with Bill’s narration, it’s just that it feels a bit jarring to go from him to the other gentleman, and then back.

5 people found this helpful

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Incredibly funny.

So honestly presented. The narrator/author has incredible timing. It is so funny because it rings so true. A gem not to be missed.

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Thoroughly enjoyable!

Entertaining, fast read/listen. Hearing this tale of youth at a resort in the 60's is fascinating, and nostalgic. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a glimpse into life in 1960's middle America.

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I was their

Mr Geist wrote a book so special that I thought I was there with him. Loved every word can't wait to let my family read this book . I laughed a lot

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fantastic

This book was so good. It made me think of when I was little and my dad would take us to Lake George in upstate NY. It made me feel sorry for kids who will never know a simpler time. I recommend this book highly. Well done Bill. A+

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Memory Lane

As a childhood resident of mid-Missouri, this audio book was able to bring alive those crazy memories of Lake of the Ozarks visits. I laughed out loud and enjoyed the fact that someone else had had these similar experiences of unforgettable summers in the sometimes bizarre world of the Ozarks. Thank you so much, Bill Geist!

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A great coming of age story

Very pleasant to listen to! pretty funny felt like I was there,great narration,I'd listen again

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Gotta love Bill Geist

Although it begins and ends with Bill, the bulk of the book is read by Allan Robertson, who does a credible job but doesn't have the nasal midwestern, wry and sarcastic tones of Bill Geist, that are so familiar. the stories at times, made me laugh out loud at inappropriate times, like the train to NYC at 630am. Be sure to listen past the usual warnings at the end for a convo with Bill and his son Willie.

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Laughs Abound

Bill Geist’s wit and delightful storytelling bring alive a time and place of summer teenage adventures and innocence. Listened to this on a trip which seemed to fly due to the humor and passion conveyed in his recounting of youthful summer days. If you want to laugh out loud, I highly recommend!

1 person found this helpful