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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,712 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Roger Ebert Narrator: Edward Herrmann Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2011 ISBN: 9781609410346
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Roger Ebert is the best-known film critic of our time. He has been reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967 and was the first film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. He has appeared on television for four decades, including twenty-three years as cohost of Siskel & Ebert at the Movies.

In 2006 complications from thyroid cancer treatment resulted in the loss of his ability to eat, drink, or speak. But with the loss of his voice, Ebert has only become a more prolific and influential writer. Now for the first time, he tells the full, dramatic story of his life and career.

Roger Ebert’s journalism carried him on a path far from his nearly idyllic childhood in Urbana, Illinois. It is a journey that began as a reporter for his local daily and took him to Chicago, where he was unexpectedly given the job of film critic for the Sun-Times, launching a lifetime’s worth of adventures.

In this candid, personal history, Ebert chronicles it all: his loves, losses, and obsessions; his struggle and recovery from alcoholism; his marriage; his politics; and his spiritual beliefs. He writes about his years at the Sun-Times, his colorful newspaper friends, and his life-changing collaboration with Gene Siskel. He remembers his friendships with Studs Terkel, Mike Royko, Oprah Winfrey, and Russ Meyer, for whom he wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and an ill-fated Sex Pistols movie. He shares his insights into movie stars and directors like John Wayne, Werner Herzog, and Martin Scorsese.

This is a story that only Roger Ebert could tell. Filled with the same deep insight, dry wit, and sharp observations that his readers have long cherished, this is more than a memoir—it is a singular, warm-hearted, inspiring look at life itself.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Ebert is exceptionally good company. Like Christopher Hitchens and Kirk Douglas, he works prodigiously and narrates his Job-like woes with a surprisingly chipper voice…and a captivating, moveable feast it is.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Candid, funny, and kaleidoscopic…This is the best thing Mr. Ebert has ever written…The book sparkles with his new, improvisatory, written version of dinner-party conversation…Its globe-trotting, indefatigable author comes across as the life of a lifelong party.”

    New York Times

  • “Thoughtful, entertaining, and emotional…Ebert comes across as smart, bighearted, and eccentric…and writes with unflinching candor about difficult subjects.”

    Entertainment Weekly (A-)

  • “Tales from childhood, interviews with film stars and directors, funny and touching stories about colleagues, and evocative essays about trips unspool before the reader in a series of loosely organized, often beautifully written essays crafted by a witty, clear-eyed, yet romantic raconteur…Ebert’s work as a film critic sent him traveling, and his wonderfully personal essays on places around the world where he seeks solitude are highlights of the book, rich in reflections, imagery, and sensory detail.”

    Washington Post

  • “[Ebert’s] silence has made his inner voice more vivid, and—as he himself says in his introduction—the book is proof of it. In particular, he summons his youth and those who were close to him then—family, friends, neighbors, teachers—with a wealth of detail that is at once a tribute to the vigorous fullness with which he has lived and to his power of perception, recollection, and description…The dialogue Ebert reproduces is a comic masterwork.”

    New Yorker

  • “Ebert’s new memoir, Life Itself, is an episodic, impressionistic, and skillfully written exploration of his life, from his 1950s childhood in Urbana, Illinois, to his recent battles against thyroid cancer, which have left him unable to speak, or to eat or drink through his mouth. What shines throughout the book is Ebert’s humility, his down-to-earth and powerful sense of decency.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “A gentle look back, Life Itself: A Memoir is as moving as it is amusing, fresh evidence that Roger Ebert is a writer who happens to love movies, not a movie lover who happens to write.”

    Associated Press

  • “His story is inspirational, and his memoirs, Life Itself, are a pleasure to read…Spellbinding.”

    Boston Review

  • “[A] candid examination of an extraordinary life…Reminiscences both witty and passionate from one of our most important cultural voices.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Poignant…It’s the most personal segments, dealing with his struggle with alcoholism, his supportive wife, Chaz, and his recent illness, that give the book its considerable emotional heft. Ebert illuminates and assesses his life with the same insight and clarity that marks his acclaimed movie reviews.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2011 for Nonfiction
  • Recipient of the 2011Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award for Nonfiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hilary Callahan | 2/4/2014

    " I really like Roger Ebert's reviews and have read some of his blog entries. It's nicer to read in book form. I'm younger than him and my parents are older than him, but I enjoyed it and will probably give a copy to my parents as a gift. It provides terrific perspective on late 20th century culture, and his prose is always absolutely delicious. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 1/24/2014

    " I know the book is a memoir, but it really picks up once Ebert gets out of Urbana and his family background and starts talking about the Chicago newspaper scene in the 60s and 70s, directors and actors he admires, etc. When talking about reviewing an Ingmar Bergman movie, Ebert mentions discovering a reviewing method for the times he would be stumped by an impenetrable film: "Focus on what you saw and how it affected you. Don't fake it." That's one of the strengths of the book, Ebert tells great stories in his recollections of newspapermen, film people, and Chicago personalities. He seems to have had an eagerness to be around performers who are self-possessed and unconcerned with the opinions of those around them. He admires Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum, Werner Herzog, and others of their ilk. Great stories about them all.... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom Holehan | 1/21/2014

    " A brave, literate and mostly entertaining memoir by the famed movie critic. I always enjoyed watching Ebert on TV and reading his incisive interviews. This is a very honest but never sentimental look back on his active life prior to his current illness. His attitude is smart and upbeat throughout and the cast of characters he has met over the years is impressive. I wish there had been more about movies and his relationship to film here, but I suppose he feels that's already been covered in his previous books - of which there were many. Although the memoir seems to repeat itself here and there, it is also one of those reads that gets better as it goes along. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 1/19/2014

    " Great job! Honest and wonderful. Thumbs up, Roger Ebert! You epitomize Chicago and all its true grit! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caitlin | 1/2/2014

    " This was a very good book - I really enjoy Ebert's blunt style of writing and the way he seems to view life. I do wish he had delved more into stories about his interactions with celebrities or his reactions to certain movies, but I think that's the Hollywood-interested part of me. I understand that this is a memoir and liked how it didn't necessarily go in chronological order after a certain point, but instead was organized by one topic/person per chapter, and each chapter was of a different length depending simply on how much Ebert had to say about its subject. A must-read for anyone who is a fan and even anyone interested in journalism and/or the movie industry. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sandylutz | 12/4/2013

    " Frankly, I found I wasn't that interested in Roger Ebert. It was 50% too long. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cindy Knoke | 11/27/2013

    " Ebert's experience with cancer is moving, and finely expressed. His wife and their relationship is strikingly impressive. Everything else was just okay. His life is interesting. This book? Not so much. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tina Hamilton | 11/22/2013

    " Excellent book about the critic's career and life experiences. I especially enjoyed the chapters he devoted to John Wayne and Werner Herzog. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Doug | 11/18/2013

    " A little slow going at first, with many anecdotes about family and personal life in Chicago I have no reference for, but picks up, and ends up with some interesting thoughts on theology at the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Penny | 11/16/2013

    " A wonderful autobiography covering many aspects of his life. His writing is honest, reflective, funny. I enjoyed it especially because he and I are the same age. Much of what he reflects on rang bells in my own childhood! An excellent read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pam | 10/31/2013

    " Great as an audiobook! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christine Lacasse | 7/10/2013

    " Again, wish there were a half star system. Would give it a 3 1/2. Interesting, thought it would be more about the movies, but still interesting, made me laugh, though sometimes he is repeating himself and it kinds of takes you off track. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eileen Frankil | 8/12/2012

    " I highly recommend this memoir. So glad roger evert shared this part of himself at the end of his life "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Barbara | 8/6/2012

    " The beginning and the end of Roger Ebert's autobiography were mildly interesting. The majority of the book is about people I've never heard of and wasn't interesting to me at all. I think this was written by Roger for Roger. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jimmy Herring | 6/22/2012

    " A book for readers of Roger Ebert, but not a book for all readers. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andreas | 1/27/2012

    " Some good stories well-written but not for people who aren't fans of Ebert or the movies. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenny | 11/18/2011

    " I never see a movie without reading Ebert's review (either before or afterwards), because I like his writing style and insights. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kirsti | 11/3/2011

    " I did not expect this book to include an anecdote that ends with the line, "Oh, waiter! Blow jobs for everyone." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie | 10/25/2011

    " This might be a 2.5 for me. I generally have a lot of patience for a memoir, but I really struggled to stay interested at times. It was clear he wrote this for himself and not for the reader, more so than most memoirs. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andreas | 10/23/2011

    " Some good stories well-written but not for people who aren't fans of Ebert or the movies. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Merinda | 10/19/2011

    " This book was all right. Some parts were pretty slow and as this is a compilation of essays some things were repeated. Nothing particularly salacious, just a story of a life. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sandylutz | 10/17/2011

    " Frankly, I found I wasn't that interested in Roger Ebert. It was 50% too long. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jon | 10/16/2011

    " I skimmed parts I didn't connect with (a chapter about Lee Marvin, one on Russ Meyer, some on Ebert's childhood etc.), but, still, I liked what I read. Ebert values friendship, kindness, and clarity. I appreciate that. "

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About the Author
Author Roger EbertRoger Ebert won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1975, and his reviews were syndicated in newspapers around the world. He was cohost of Siskel & Ebert and Ebert & Roeper for thirty-three years, and was a managing editor and reviewer for Ebert Presents At the Movies. He was the author of seventeen books, including Scorsese by Ebert and Awake in the Dark. Roger Ebert was also an honorary member of the Directors Guild of America. He received the Carl Sandburg Literary Award of the Chicago Public Library and won the Webby Awards Person of the Year in 2010. His website, rogerebert.com, receives 110 million visits a year. He lived with his wife, Chaz Hammelsmith Ebert, in Chicago. Roger Ebert passed away in 2013.
About the Narrator

Edward Herrmann (1943–2014) was one of America’s top audiobook narrators. He won multiple Audie Awards and twenty-two Earphones Awards, and his narration of the King James version of the Bible remains a benchmark in the industry.