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Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart
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Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart

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3.0 of 5 stars 3.00  ·  rating details  ·  502 ratings  ·  115 reviews
A New York Times Bestseller Since his arrival at The Daily Show in 1999, Jon Stewart has become one of the major players in comedy as well as one of the most significant liberal voices in the media. In Angry Optimist, biographer Lisa Rogak charts his unlikely rise to stardom. She follows him from his early days growing up in New Jersey, through his years as a struggling st ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published September 3rd 2014)
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Angie


Yes sir!

The list of tv things that bring me more joy than Jon Stewart ripping into someone that really really deserves it is pretty short.



If you're looking for thorough coverage of his childhood and personal life, you may disappointed. The big moments are touched upon - his father leaving, school atmosphere shaping his sense of humor, marriage to wife Tracey and birth of his children - but the majority of the book is spent on his time at The Daily Show. That's fine, that may be what some people
...more
James
Unfortunately this is not the book it purports to be. It is not a biography of Jon Stewart. Instead what it is is a book about The Daily Show under Stewart's leadership. I don't think the problem is necessarily Rogak's lack of talent or interest (and certainly not her lack of research ― the thorough references for each and every quote attest to the work she's put in). Instead I put the blame on Stewart himself: clearly he doesn't feel ready for there to be a biography of him yet, and as the book ...more
Debra Komar
I love Jon Stewart but I hated this book, and the fault lies entirely with the author (although I hesitate to apply that word to Rogak). This is the worst kind of "biography". It is clear from the first word that she has not met Jon Stewart, or even anyone who knows Jon Stewart. She sat at home, googled "Jon Stewart" and slapped together a 200 page mishmash of other people's reporting on Jon Stewart. The introduction doesn't even make sense - its just random thoughts other articles have printed ...more
Matthew Ciarvella
When it comes to penning a biography about a famous person, there's always the "depth of access" question: how deep can the book go? What if the person is particularly private? A shallow book might not be the author's fault if the subject or those around him/her are not particularly forthcoming.

My feeling is that Rogak wasn't able to get too deep below the surface, which isn't really surprising considering her subject. I enjoyed her writing style and I'm looking to pick up a few more of her biog
...more
Peter Mcloughlin
This is more a celebrity biography than a political biography. I would have preferred the latter to the former but on its own merits it is not bad. To me however the Jon Stewart behind the scenes although interesting is not as important as what Jon Stewart was on the screen. In a time when real broadcast news being a joke after 9/11 and the Washington press corps becoming a palace court lap dog Stewart was a jester you could trust. It was fake news but it pointed to MSM and said the emperor has ...more
Amanda
I grew up in a family that watched Fox News religiously. Every day, from the time I was home from school to the time we went to bed there was hardly ever anything but Fox in the background. It was like the soundtrack to my life. My dad's favorite: Bill O'Reilly. I have a family member who keeps the radio tuned to Rush Limbaugh and I've had to suffer through whenever I was visiting. I hated every moment of it and after a while I grew anxious every time the tv was on.

One day I ran across The Dail
...more
Susan
The beginning of this biography of Jon Stewart felt like it was a high school writing assignment. Facts, no heart, fairly boring. No, not fairly boring; really boring. It stayed that way for far too long. It became more interesting once Jon Stewart became host of The Daily Show. At that point, there was more about the person, his personality, his interactions with people, some anecdotes sprinkled in.

I knew very little of Mr. Stewart although I usually enjoy The Daily Show. I still feel like I do
...more
Keith
I was disappointed, as I was hoping for a more detailed and thorough look at Stewart's life. While this was well researched and competently (if more than a little ploddingly) written, it's all old news. If you don't know Stewart's show, or are a very casual fan who hasn't read at least a couple of articles about him or The Daily Show over the last decade, I can see where it has value.

But if you have read more than a couple of such interviews, and if you are indeed one of the millions who have ma
...more
Teresan
Interesting chronology of Jon's life, but the unofficial-ness of this biography is rather obvious from the repetition of certain quotes and the lack of new interview material (or only with very peripheral people). Still, it was a quick read and nice to relive different parts of the Daily Show's history
Vivian
It's nice to find out more about Jon Stewart, his background and career and how he ended up on The Daily Show... but holy geez, this woman is a terrible writer. The book is a compilation of various articles about, and interviews with, Jon Stewart. Those other writers did the work; Rogak just copied what she could get away with under "fair use," added some connective tissue consisting of badly-written sentences, put it all together in book form and slapped her name on the cover. It isn't really h ...more
Liz Murphy
I, admittedly, have a bit of a celebrity crush on Jon Stewart and associate my rise to adulthood with Jon Stewart taking over The Daily Show (I’m dating myself…both 1999). This book is less a biography on Jon Stewart and more a biography about the ins-and-outs of The Daily Show (Dogs are allowed in the office, but women writers are frowned upon.). It is interesting to note that this is an unauthorized biography with no approval or cooperation from Stewart nor his family or coworkers. Saddened th ...more
Michael Linton
This book glossed over on how he became successful and spent a great amount of about the Daily Show. Not worth reading. I felt like it was a summary and not a book of his life.
Ashley
What a letdown. All the author has done is compiled quotations and basic facts from interviews others have published and then cobbled them together in this disjointed volume.

It's really a history of The Daily Show, in some cases going a few pages without discussing Stewart at all, particularly when discussing well-tread topics like women in the writers' room. The author doesn't go any deeper than the surface in these areas (or elsewhere), continually describing him as being difficult to work wi
...more
Barry Wightman
At some point in the late 1970s, smart-alecky teenager Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, flips on some New York radio station. Bruce Springsteen comes blaring out and all that passion, fire and teenage angst reaches out and touches this kid somewhere in the swamps of Jersey. “We gotta get out while we’re young…someday girl, I don’t know when gonna get to that place where we really wanna to go and we’ll walk in the sun….”

Made an impression on the kid.

Decades later, famous and fabulously successful TV s
...more
Anne
This book is basically the wikipedia entry for Stewart padded out with quotes from interviews and performances arranged to look as though he said them about specific events in his life, which he clearly didn't. The author even uses the same quote in two radically different time frames. It's like a biography made by a computer algorithm. The various bits are strung together with perky transition sentences that don't always fit the context.
I was really shocked by the poor quality of this book. Th
...more
Nikki
I love Jon Stewart but I did not love this book. Unfortunately the author chose to rely entirely on quotes from other sources and attained none of her own. The author then tried to tie all of the quotes used together to make a coherent tale of Stewart's recent life, largely during The Daily Show. Sadly this led to much repetition and a book that felt lackluster. Rogak desperately needed to have one-on-one sources in order to bolster this book and/or make it a credible biography instead of attain ...more
Kevin
A light-hearted romp through the life of our Daily Show guy... Its quick and fills in a few details that fans don't know about him.
Roz Warren
Thirteen Random Things I learned about Jon Stewart from the book ANGRY OPTIMIST: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JON STEWART

His first crush was on Eve Plumb who played Jan Brady on The Brady Bunch.

His father had an affair with his secretary and left the family when Stewart was 10.

He wanted to become a professional soccer player.

He has described his college career as “waking up late, memorizing someone else’s notes, doing bong hits, and going to soccer practice.”

One of his first post-college jobs was t
...more
Aswin
Picked it to know more about the comic, I watch regularly. I felt like pages about his struggling, younger days flew by and are interesting in how he used wit and sharp humor to fend off bullying by his school peers- because of his perceived physical disadvantage- thereby becoming a popular kid. The chapters draw heavily from the show in latter pages and I know the show from 2006, as they are recent history and memory- so it lessened my interest. I am surprised that in this biography, how little ...more
Alaina Crosby
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathy Elrick
Quick read - but good. Gives basic background information on Stewart's earlier years without dwelling or judging, but it helps to give a foundation for about half of the book that discusses the construction of The Daily Show (with Jon Stewart - and why that's important, to a certain extent).
I do wish there could have been more in-depth parts about the women on the show (of course), or events like the writer's strike, but considering this ends up to the creation of "Rosewater" as well as has been
...more
Brooks
I like Stuart...but this was a poor book. Basically, I learned Stuart grew up outside of Princeton in NJ. He went to William and Mary on a soccer scholarship. He grew up an outsider with a lot of psycho-babble from the author. He did a lot odd jobs and then he decided at 24 to do Standup comedy. Finally started to have success. Got a show on MTV called the John Stuart show. Then became the 2nd choice for other late night shows before landing the Daily Show.
Deb
Oh, how I love Jon Stewart. He is so smart and so funny and so worthy of a really good biography. Unfortunately, this one is pretty cheesy. It's clear that the author had no access to Stewart or to anyone close to him; it's mostly a cut-and-paste of other sources. It served its purpose of distracting me while sitting in a hospital waiting room, and I'll give the author points for including negative opinions of Stewart instead of going for all-out hagiography.
Michael
A lazy biography assembled from old interviews. The author has as much access to Stewart as I do, and doesn't even offer an interesting take on her subject, as if she's as bored by this book as her readers will surely be.
Matt Viehdorfer
I'm conflicted on my opinion of this book. On one hand, the information presented is interesting and fairly well organized, but there's a frustrating lack of depth on some topics and some poor prose. For anyone unfamiliar with the information out there, I would recommend picking this up. It's quick, enjoyable, and summarizes the bulk of it pretty well. Otherwise, I would skip it for now. The author's lack of access to the subject leaves a book with a dearth of new information.

The subtitle, "The
...more
Robin
Lisa Rogak's narrative is one hot mess.

Jon Stewart's life is truly fascinating, and we do get some insight into the man himself. But Rogak brings nothing to the story other than repeating the same anecdotes over and over. That and her overuse of bracketed materials are distracting. The book needed a much sterner editor than it had; maybe reduced to 100 pages, it would have been a better read.

Pity.

Chico
This review can also be found here.

Disclaimer:
This review is based on the reading of the advanced reader’s edition of this novel provided by the publisher via NetGalley. The review, in its entirety, is of my own opinion of the novel.

Synopsis:
Since his arrival at The Daily Show in 1999, Jon Stewart has become one of the major players in comedy as well as one of the most significant liberal voices in the media. In Angry Optimist, biographer Lisa Rogak charts his unlikely rise to stardom. She follo
...more
Katherine
Fans of Jon Stewart will find this an interesting read, though it really just repeating and combining all of the interviews and and facts that have been given about Stewart throughout the years, no new or groundbreaking information.
Leslie
While the subject matter was great, the writing itself was painful at many points throughout the book. For example, a number of the quotes used were repetitive to the point that it felt as though the same quotes were being used again and again. I would say the blame for this could be laid at the feet of Stewart, but the author's writing was similarly repetitive, so I find myself thinking the author couldn't be bothered to find fresher quotes or to paraphrase Stewart in her own words.

Similarly,
...more
Mainon
This is essentially an unauthorized biography of Jon Stewart, which includes a lot of background on The Daily Show. I learned quite a bit of trivia about both, but the story they tell together is quite an engrossing one. Jon Stewart and The Daily Show have certainly had an outsize impact on popular culture and the engagement of young people with politics, and that's a fascinating subject to delve into more deeply. This book does a good job of balancing the humorous with the serious.
The only down
...more
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Lisa Rogak is the New York Times bestselling author of over 40 books on a wide variety of topics, from writers and their cats to sabbaticals to cemeteries in New England.
Through the years, in addition to writing books on an almost-schizophrenic range of topics, she has published newsletters and books, started a greeting card company for dogs and cats, bought and sold vintage funeral equipment, and
...more
More about Lisa Rogak...
Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King The Dogs of War A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein And Nothing But the Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert The Man Behind the Da Vinci Code: The Unauthorized Biography of Dan Brown

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“though actor Gael García Bernal, who starred as Che Guevara in the 2004 movie The Motorcycle Diaries, had already agreed to play Maziar Bahari in Rosewater, shortly before filming began he had asked for more money.” 0 likes
“Comedian David Feldman worked as a writer on The Daily Show and his memories of Stewart are anything but warm and fuzzy. “In my opinion, Stewart is very manipulative,” he said. “He’s a crowd pleaser and [only] gives the illusion of taking chances. I’m a staunch member of the Writer’s Guild of America and Jon Stewart fought his writers when they wanted to go union [in late 2006]. They went union and [he] has been punishing them ever since. If you watch the show, he doesn’t really do well-crafted jokes.” 0 likes
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