Mike Kueber's Blog

December 1, 2013

Sunday Book Review #114 – Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin

Filed under: Book reviews — Mike Kueber @ 3:37 am
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A couple of weeks ago, my brother and a Facebook friend were debating the merits of Johnny Carson based on my friend’s reading of Henry Bushkin’s book, Johnny Carson.  Their debate intrigued me, so I decided to read the book, too.  Based on that reading, I posted the following on my brother’s Facebook wall:

  • A while back, I recall you and Randy Smaaland discussing Johnny Carson. That discussion prompted me to read the new Carson book by his lawyer Henry Bushkin. Although the book depicts a guy who would often be a jerk/prick to some people, it also reveals a guy with Midwestern decency who was scarred in his youth by a cold, demanding mother. He reminds me much of Mickey Mantle dealing with celebrity – drinking, womanizing, and not much time for parenting. Despite these character flaws, he would be an excellent companion and someone you would want in your foxhole with you.”

Regarding the quality of the book, I am greatly impressed with Bushkin.  Although he comes across as a really good, smart man, he also comes across as someone perceptive and honest.  And most importantly, he seems to be an excellent writer.  The 279 pages flew by.

Some reviews of Bushkin (the person, not the author) have been tough.  I disagree with the Washington Post, which depicted the book as “payback time for Bushkin, whose book offers a fallen insider’s look at the high-maintenance superstar.”   And I disagree with the New York Times, which characterized the book as “Bushkin’s tell-all… treachery.”      Finally, the Chicago Tribune criticized Bushkin because “there is something distasteful about this self-aggrandizing rehashing.”

Yes, Johnny was high maintenance, but Bushkin portrays Carson, in my opinion, as a sympathetic man.  I would be pleased to have either man in my foxhole.

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