American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot
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American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  12,506 ratings  ·  1,106 reviews
In American on Purpose, Craig Ferguson delivers a moving and achingly funny memoir of living the American dream as he journeys from the mean streets of Glasgow, Scotland, to the comedic promised land of Hollywood. Along the way he stumbles through several attempts to make his mark—as a punk rock musician, a construction worker, a bouncer, and, tragically, a modern dancer.

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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Harpercollins (first published January 1st 2009)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4* of five

I like Craig Ferguson because he's got that knowing edge to his humor, he's letting us in on the joke, he's not just cracking wise. So that's why my review gives his memoir 4 stars:

http://tinyurl.com/n4zn9uh
William Johnson
Reprinted from my website Secure Immaturity:

I’m trying to love Craig Ferguson while I can because let’s face it world. . .Craig Ferguson is coming! I’m not one of those intellectual yuppies who hates anything mainstream but there is, admittedly, something really fun about liking something cult or limited in appeal because, well, you are kind of the hip (or hipster) guy or gal who caught on to something early. Craig Ferguson, and his late night talk show The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, is...more
Amanda
This is a re read for me. I first read Craig Ferguson's autobiography back in 2009 when it was released. I really enjoyed reading it back then. My second go around was just as fantastic, and I am still amazed how crazy and missed up his life was back in the 70's and 80's. I really love the way Craig words his story, even though there are some very dark and sad moments, Craig gives great visions of places and people, that were a part of his life back then.

Peter Capaldi was a name I didn't no whe...more
Sue
Nov 17, 2012 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: memoir readers., followers of humorists
This is a very entertaining, warts and all, memoir of a Scottish-born but now American on purpose late night talk show host. I don't often manage to watch his show because of the time he is on, but when I've seen it, I've always been impressed by his way with words and with people.

This autobiography provides the background for it all, from the streets of Glasgow, to Edinburgh, traveling through Britain and anywhere he could do his thing. Always there---a dream of America, love of family and frie...more
Glee
I am adding to this review, since I just listened to it on CDs. (I read the book in late 2009.)

I generally don't listen to books on tape/CD, because I am usually driving and I don't multi-task very well. Listening to this book was a different experience for me than reading it -- maybe because of the lovely Scottish burr, maybe because the listening is less intense than actually reading. I dunno. I did enjoy listening as much as I did reading it, but I'm not sure what I would have gotten out of i...more
Schuyler
Book was good. Well written, full of insight, self deprecation, and second chances. Ferguson documents his alcohol riddled past which includes brushes with death, drumming for punk bands, stardom, marriages, etc.

Now, a word about Craig Ferguson. I started watching The Late Late Show this past summer, maybe before. I had not watched much of him up until this point. I had only known him as the mean English boss on The Drew Carey Show, as I'm sure most Americans did, and I didn't find his character...more
Theresa
Fans of Craig Ferguson’s work as host of CBS’s The Late Late Show may be familiar with elements of his autobiography. The actor/comedian is not shy about using his own life as fodder for his opening monologues, making frequent mention of his alcoholism and even dedicating a show to his late father on the day he died. With humor, humility, and wit, Ferguson describes his childhood in Scotland (he grew up in a city named “the second-worst town in the United Kingdom”) and his fractious adulthood ma...more
whichwaydidshego?
Oct 04, 2009 whichwaydidshego? rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like honestly & humor
I'm a bit taken aback at how personal and honest this book was. I expected wit and irony and sass throughout, but instead it's insightful and hopeful. Of course there was humor, but only when life made it funny. It was never affected. (How refreshing!)

I appreciated experiencing Ferguson's journey - what he came from, what he became, how he transformed that person. It was endearing to walk with him through the path he had to take to finally fully achieve his life-long dream. I also enjoyed seeing...more
Rose
Craig Ferguson is one of my favorite late night hosts without question, and I've had "American on Purpose" on my to-read list for a longer time than not (so much that it's probably criminal considering how long it's been now). When I realized this was available as an audiobook from my local library and narrated by Ferguson himself, I jumped at the chance to read it, probably even moreso just to have him narrate his life to me in his adorable accent. (No shame, really!)

I've followed him for a nu...more
Maria
If you watch "Late Night with Craig Ferguson", you'll probably have some set expectations of this book. I expected an irreverent sense of humor; I got it. I expected profanity; I got it. I expected a thoroughly enjoyable read; I got it! I did however, with some trepidation, expect some graphic details of his life as an alcoholic; I didn't get that. Not that he glosses over that period of his life (it obviously had a major effect on who he is today), he just doesn't go into elaborate details of t...more
Frank
This is Craig Ferguson's memoir. It's a fast and enjoyable read, and pretty interesting to see how he went from an alcoholic with no future to being like the best late-night tv host ever (in my opinion at least). The most interesting part is his earlier life, perhaps because that's when the story is developing, before stuff really happens. I don't give this book more stars because towards the end, when his Hollywood career begins in earnest, it made me wonder how any of it happened. From this bo...more
Nathan
Dear God, could anything be more tedious than a celebrity autobiography about how he rose from humble origins to conquer substance abuse and then Hollywood? Little rivals the genre for tedious depths, but I'm glad to say that Craig Ferguson's contribution is not a bottom-dweller. He writes lightly but clearly, paces well, and is unmawkishly honest about his failures and successes.

This was a very quick read (perhaps two or three hours to bowl it off) but for all the ease of the simple story arc,...more
Kerry
I’ve loved Craig for years. His Late Late Show is the only late night talk show that I watch on a regular basis. What I love about his talk show is that he doesn’t do a standard monologue of lame jokes. He just stands in front of the camera and talks with honesty and warmth about anything and everything or sometimes nothing. Sure he has writers and they obviously do write some jokes, but you can tell that it’s completely spontaneous as to whether Craig actually tells the jokes or not. He can go...more
Eric
Jan 23, 2013 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Craig Ferguson's comedy
Shelves: humor, memoirs
I expected this to be lighter and funnier and much less serious, like a Scottish version of Denis Leary's Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid, but was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't. I knew nothing of Ferguson's personal life before reading, but now I have even more respect for him. The book -- more memoir than comedic rant -- was serious, sincere and just felt real. It was also still quite funny, considering it delved deeply into alcoholism, drug addiction...more
Rick Starr
I don't know how I came to start watching The Late Late Show; I'd never seen him on the Drew Carey show; heck, I didn't even know he existed. But for some reason I picked up a Late Late show or two on the TiVo, and became a fan, and when the book came out resisted for a while but finally gave in and bought it.

While he has been brutally frank with the broad strokes during the course of his monologues and/or guest interviews (the drunken years, the blackouts, the drugs, etc.) the book fills in the...more
Jonny99
Tales of a charmed life. If you are unaware of who Craig Ferguson is, and likely you are, he is the late night U.S. television chat show host who is not among the first tier - David Letterman, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien or the second tier – Jimmies Falon and Kimmel. Basically, he is that other guy. Ferguson is an adulterous, profane, self-centered, lecherous, uneducated, violent, lazy, neurotic, alcoholic drug addict with only marginal talent and an unstable personality. That is not an insult bu...more
Emily
Craig Ferguson, host of The Late Late Show on CBS has always wanted to be an American. Even before he knew what he wanted to do for a living, he knew he'd be doing it in America. In this memoir, he chronicles the bumpy and hilarious road he took to get there. Ferguson is funny and self-depricating, more than fair to his exes and people who have wronged him, pointing out that due to his behavior, it was more his fault than theirs. His journey wasn't an easy one, and his fortitude is to be commend...more
Angela Blount
4 1/2 Stars, were that allowed.

One of the more excellent memoirs I've ever read. And I mean that for both it's candid poignancy and cynical Scottish hilarity.

I'll admit up front, I'm a bit of a Craig Ferguson fan. He's always been, to me, one of the very few televised personalities whom I'd love to know personally. I felt the book was true to his particular blend of endearing guile and cheeky lowbrow humor.

He admits to his own biases and misconceptions and makes no point of taking political si...more
Scott Huizenga
American on Purpose seems to be a carthartic exercise for the late-night funnyman (though that is the last thing he thought he would be doing early in life). Ferguson is adept at delivering his autobiography at a brisk pace despite some pretty heavy topics - alcoholism, drug abuse, adultery, divorce, parenthood, and death - just to name a few, though not always in that order. The book probably is not always as "funny ha-ha" as one may expect from a guy who has strayed wackily, and hiliariously,...more
Nicole
I'm a fan of Craig's late night show; his honesty, his wit, and his unquestionable sex appeal. And after reading this book, he has me as a fan for life.

Perhaps it's because I'm a newly minted American as well, but his roller coaster tale of rise and fall and rise again resonated with me. The idea of this country as a land of the Second Chance, of a place where he could truly be, was just so profoundly relatable to my own life that it's difficult for me to read this book with any kind of objectiv...more
Leticia
This was one of the best biographies I have read. Though Craig had a rough childhood his description was like a more lively description of a horrible childhood than Frank McCourt's "Angela Ashes". Craig's description of what alcoholism was for him is scary and moving. Though he had a rough upbringing he doesn't blame his alcoholism on his childhood nor offer up excuses and doesn't use his experiences as a lesson for those reading the book, but it was just how it was. Craig's writing flows and hi...more
Bettina
I had the pleasure of seeing the Craig Ferguson's Late Late Show for the first time after I saw an ad saying one of my favorite actors was scheduled to appear. I watch that night and have watched almost every night since. I love his sense of humor and his non-traditional show style. I decided to check out this book after hearing several guest rave about it. I am not a huge fan of memoirs, but decided to give this one a chance. I saw it as an opportunity to get into the mind and background of som...more
Mary
Aside from the magnitude of spelling and grammatical errors, which at points I was surprised the editor couldn't catch, American On Purpose was a great read. If anything it showed me a new and different side of our beloved Craigyferg.

The one thing I admired most of his story was how he was completely unwilling to settle for an acting job that undermined his skill. It didn't matter if he was working with Betty White or alongside Drew Carrey, he wanted his voice to be heard. He's a very driven in...more
Darlene
Jul 03, 2010 Darlene rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to remember their own patriot heart
Recommended to Darlene by: Craig Ferguson
Shelves: memoir
I loved this book. As you would expect, there were a lot of laughs. Craig is best at making the fun of himself. But he lets you climb into his soul as he travels you about Scotland, the UK, and finally USA. I faithfully attend his show, though I usually use it to aid my caffeine in the morning. I feel as good reading him (I did read his first book, too) as I do watching.

No true comedian evokes laughter without tears. I think you have to know heartache and anger, and the extent of all emotions t...more
Alison
I really liked this! I don't read many celebrity books, but I've always loved Ferguson's Late Late Show, and I quite enjoyed his novel, Between the Bridge and the River. I guess you could call me a Ferguson fan. This book is witty and wise and fun, and I'm glad I got to hear about his pre-America days, about which I knew almost nothing.

"Between safety and adventure, I choose adventure." Good words to live by.

(P.S. It's totally worth it to listen to CraigyFerg read his own audio book.)
Knitpurlgurl
If you're a fan of Craig Ferguson's intelligent and witty comedy, than chances are you'll enjoy this autobiography. Ferguson talks about growing up in a poor town in Scotland, moving to NYC, playing in punk rock bands, and participating in the early '80s drug scene. His autobiography is frank and funny. And if you enjoy audiobooks, you're in for a real treat as Ferguson narrates his own book.

Scottish by birth, American on Purpose. That says it all. :)
Ray Campbell
I recently read Between the Bridge and the River, Ferguson's first novel. I enjoyed it and was curious to read more. Ferguson doesn't have anymore fiction, but he has this memoir. Life began in Scotland with all the Scottish cliches. The family was poor, everyone in the country drinks too much and the Catholic kids and Protestant kids take turns pounding the life out of each other. Not surprisingly, when Ferguson had the opportunity to visit the U.S. as a young man, he did and fell in love with...more
Christine Bode
I have been a fan of CBS’ The Late Late Show host, Craig Ferguson, since I first saw him in the 1999 film, The Big Tease, followed by 2000’s Saving Grace: a gem of a comedy written, co-produced, and starring Ferguson that has since become one of my all-time favourites. I never really watched him play Drew Carey’s drunken boss, Nigel Wick, on The Drew Carey Show (1996-2003), although I might have caught the odd episode, but I have been watching him faithfully on The Late Late Show since July 2005...more
Denise
American On Purpose is Craig Ferguson's story of how he traveled from a childhood in Scotland to a career in Hollywood, an American citizenship, and a descent into and recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. Though Ferguson is a comic, the story is mostly told with heartfelt, straightforward honesty. He comes across as a likable guy who made some mistakes along the way, but who never gave up on his dreams. The story offers some interesting and fresh insights into addiction and takes us behind...more
Neil Collins
“It’s a great day for America everybody!” in a thick Scottish borough is how TV’s Craig Ferguson begins his monologue each weeknight. As host of The Late Late Show, Craig follows David Letterman, spinning his unique and very different style of late night comedy. Fans of the show are well aware that the Glasgow native is now a naturalized American, and a recovering alcoholic, but few have known the whole story.

American On Purpose is a fascinating memoir, a cautionary tale, and a damned funny adve...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Craig Ferguson is a Scottish-American comedian, television host, actor, and writer. He is the current host of CBS's The Late Late Show, a role which earned him an Emmy nomination in 2006. He became an American citizen on February 1, 2008.
More about Craig Ferguson...
Between the Bridge and the River I'm Here To Help I'll Go to T'Foot of Our Stage: The Story of Yorkshire Pop Music. Craig Ferguson DVD Book of Leeds United

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“Alcohol ruined me financially and morally, broke my heart and the hearts of too many others. Even though it did this to me and it almost killed me and I haven't touched a drop of it in seventeen years, sometimes I wonder if I could get away with drinking some now. I totally subscribe to the notion that alcoholism is a mental illness because thinking like that is clearly insane.” 126 likes
“....maybe fear is God's way of saying, "Pay attention, this could be fun.” 122 likes
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