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Lake of the Ozarks

My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America
Narrated by: Bill Geist, Allan Robertson
Length: 4 hrs and 49 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (71 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 members say

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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 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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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So much fun!

My wife and I love Bill Geist (and Willie) and grew up in Missouri near the Lake of the Ozarks. And, we are old enough to remember much of the Lake of the Ozarks as it was when Bill was working there. His coming of age story allowed us to reminisce about our own youth and the experiences we enjoyed that were similar and very different. The story was so enjoyable that there were many laugh-out-loud points that required us to stop the story and replay it so that we didn't miss anything. We highly recommend this book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great Book

This is a really great book I didn't want to put it down!!! I think it could also make a really great movie!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful Stories from a Great Storyteller

I loved every minute of Lake of the Ozarks. I grew up in Missouri and vacationed at the Lake in the late 50s. Bill's stories and vivid descriptions brought back fond memories of a different time and place.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Funny, insightful, a brilliant story of days gone by!

This is Book was stories of places that were treasured, simpler times. Enjoyable fun read! Thank you for your memories.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful & Entertaining Read About A Simpler Time

As a native of The Show Me State that has many great memories of trips to the Ozarks, this was a great story of fun summers past at "The Lake"

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OMG...laugh out loud funny!

Outstanding read/listen, but take caution if listening while driving down the interstate. Tears from laughter may blur your vision.

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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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful