Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “George, Being George: George Plimpton's Life as Told, Admired, Deplored, and Envied by 200 Friends, Relatives, Lovers, Acquaintances, Rivals--and a Few Unappreciative ...” as Want to Read:
George, Being George: George Plimpton's Life as Told, Admired, Deplored, and Envied by 200 Friends, Relatives, Lovers, Acquaintances, Rivals--and a Few Unappreciative ...
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

George, Being George: George Plimpton's Life as Told, Admired, Deplored, and Envied by 200 Friends, Relatives, Lovers, Acquaintances, Rivals--and a Few Unappreciative ...

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  213 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Norman Mailer said that George Plimpton was the best-loved man in New York. For more than fifty years, his friends made a circle whose circumference was vast and whose center was a fashionable tenement on New York’s East Seventy-second street. Taxi drivers, hearing his address, would ask, “Isn’t that George Plimpton’s place?” George was always giving parties for his friend ...more
Hardcover, 423 pages
Published October 21st 2008 by Random House (first published January 1st 2008)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about George, Being George, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about George, Being George

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  213 ratings  ·  50 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of George, Being George: George Plimpton's Life as Told, Admired, Deplored, and Envied by 200 Friends, Relatives, Lovers, Acquaintances, Rivals--and a Few Unappreciative ...
Dec 24, 2008 rated it liked it
In this oral history/hagiography of George Plimpton, we are treated to over-the-top antics of the patron saint of Upper East Side privilege. At times the breathless tone seems overblown, given that his three miracles appear to be:

1. Being born rich
2. Being born well-connected
3. Being not quite as snobbish as someone that rich and well-connected typically is.

It's hard to talk about a book like this and not make it a referendum on the subject. I hope my complaints are more about the book itself t
Casey Logan
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
loved it. this will sound like a complaint (though it's quite the opposite): after reading 300+ pages full of thoughts by the people who seemed to have known him best (including the two women he married), he's still an enigma. amazingly approachable and yet totally unknowable; remarkably warm and yet oddly cold in certain circumstances. loved it. ...more
Mark Feltskog
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I remember the "Paper Lion" special on television as well as George Plimpton's amusing guest appearance ("I'll go back to doing whatever it is that I do") on "The Simpsons." I've always found him an appealing and sympathetic figure, so I suppose I was predisposed to like this. Nonetheless, it is a fine book, and well worth a read. ...more
John Hood
Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing

Bound - Miami SunPost

Nov. 20, 2008

A Gentleman Among Men

George Plimpton Was All That and Then Some

By John Hood

George Plimpton and I first met at his Manhattan home back in ’90 or ’91 when he hosted a wedding reception for then Paris Review Senior Editor Fayette Hickox. I was just coming into my ego then and still a bit reticent around celebrity, but Plimpton made me feel immediately welcome into his world. That his world consisted of every 20th century wri
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
As I read this book, I was reminded of James Thurber's Walter Mitty who escaped the boredom of his life and the miseries of his marriage by imagining himself in all sorts of situations that are far more exciting and (especially) much more glamorous. Having an equally active imagination, George also proceeded to do (or at least attempt to do) whatever seemed like "fun" while living an already exciting and glamorous life that included relationships with those who share their reminiscences and obse ...more
Jan 04, 2009 rated it liked it
This oral biography of George Plimpton has the feel of a chat over drinks with friends of a celebrity. You hear lots of great anecdotes, get some sense of what it must have been like to know him, but don't run into a lot of deeply considered evaluations.

He comes across as starting out a life of incredible privilege (cocktails with young Jackie Bouvier, dinner with Princess Elizabeth of England)and then stumbling into publishing The Paris Review because his literary friends from college thought h
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this because I'm interested in people living more fulfilling and memorable lives, and Plimpton certainly belongs to that group. Growing up, I mostly knew him as the WASPy sounding Coleco pitchman and actor, and was unaware of the extent of his accomplishments, which include boxing with world champions, wrestling the gun out of Sirhan Sirhan's hands, and setting off a myriad of illegal fireworks.

I loved the "oral biography" format - a more multifaceted approach than you can achieve when al
This book gave a bit of a portrait of George Plimpton's life, a bit of a glimpse in to a certain segment of New York society. Having read The New Yorker "faithfully," off and on over the years, and recalling meeting him briefly at the LA Book Festival in 2001, it was so much fun to hear more.

The editor stitched together narratives from many, many people who knew him, so it was different than a traditional biography or memoir. Very gossipy and full of intriguing stories and intriguing people.

Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
meh, didn't love it. liked reading about plimpton but didn't like the set-up of scattered anecdotes by people who knew him ...more
Nov 13, 2008 rated it liked it
This was interesting, but maybe not as well done as George would have done it himself.
Dec 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
5 stars for George himself, but only 3 stars for a pretty lightweight read. Carry the one...
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an oral biography of an admittedly flawed character. George Plimpton is famous for his participatory journalism efforts and for an endless stream of adventures that dotted his whole life. The book is a collection of a multitude of anecdotes from his friends, partners, etc. I thoroughly enjoyed and I recommend it.
George Howland
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
All time favorite of mine. Imagine living a life with so many friends that your biography is just a series of memories about you. I’m a sucker for sports and for society, and Plimpton was certainly both of those. Highly recommend this book.
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A terrific recounting of a life richly lived but always wanting, George Being George is structured as an oral history of George Plimpton's life. Rather than take the form of a traditional narrative, the book is a collection of brief anecdotes, observations and snippets harvested from interviews with Plimpton's friends and associates from his youth on the Upper East Side, to his New England schooling, the founding of the Paris Review, the assasination of Bobby Kennedy and Plimpton's growing celeb ...more
Dec 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
Ok. I really really wanted to love this. Have always been a big fan of Plimpton the writer as well as Plimpton the raconteur, Plimpton "the brand"...but sad to say this book just did not grab me at fact i was only able to get about two thirds of the way through it (if that) before giving up. It mostly had to do with the way it was put together...brief one or two paragraph recollections on a variety of topics from various (dozens) former colleagues, co-workers, friends, lovers, spouses, ...more
Ryan Chapman
Nov 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
We all know a word cannot be defined by reiterating the word itself: "Confusing? That's when you're, you know, confused about something." This same idea is why this is a thrilling biography. Some will see it as its main weakness, but for this reader it's its strongest suit. Let me explain.

Two of the most common phrases in this oral biography of blue-blood Paris Review editor and bon vivant George Plimpton are, "George was George," and "That was just George, being George," as if adjectives wou
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's compulsively readable, of course, given the people that Plimpton knew (Ric Burns floats in for a one-shot statement, for example). What it doesn't really do is establish why he was important to anyone but his friends, since it really doesn't establish the Paris Review's place in literary history --- it sounds more like a Mickey/Judy "let's put out a magazine!" project. I was flabbergasted by the list of books Plimpton wrote at the end, most of which aren't mentioned at all. And while it is ...more
Feb 13, 2009 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this collection of comments about Plimpton, whom I didn't know all that much about. But the book is not very well organized; chapters are ostensibly chronological, but the editor deviates from that a lot. In the chapter on the 70s, I was confused when one writer mentioned cell phones, until I realized that he worked at the Paris Review in the late 90s. After that, I noticed a lot of comments that seemed to be in the wrong place, which was distracting. Still, it's an interesting first t ...more
Michael Backus
Feb 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
Diverting in its way. You come to understand that Plimpton was who he seemed to be; an old style WASP who had a pathological need for company. Somehow though nothing terrible comes down about him, I liked him much less after reading it than before. Ditto on Peter Mathieson who somehow manages to come off as snarky, passive-aggressive and mean-spirited towards Plimpton with every quote. Not sure it adds up to anything, maybe the presentation of a life that had genuine literary promise and degener ...more
David Ward
Feb 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
George, Being George: George Plimpton's Life as Told, Admired, Deplored, and Envied by 200 Friends, Relatives, Lovers, Acquaintances, Rivals--and a Few Unappreciative ... by Nelson W. Aldrich Jr. (Random House 2008)(Biography). This was obviously written by admirers (bootlickers). George Plimton was much richer than I knew, he was an inveterate party-goer, and he was cruelly distant to his wives and children. This brings to mind Dorothy Parker's crowd at the Algonquin Round Table thirty years be ...more
Jun 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Oral history is the laziest way to write about anyone. Simply asking a bunch of people about someone then writing that down is, to borrow a phrase, not writing, but stenography. I understand the editor's job in culling these interviews and putting them in a (somewhat) coherent order, but I would have much rather read a biography of Plimpton than this. The saving grace is that Plimpton's enthralling personality and abundant wit shine through, making the book less of a chore than it might have oth ...more
Josh Frost
Jun 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
George Plimpton was a real life Walter Mitty -- if Walter Mitty had actually did all the things he dreamed of doing. Whether wrestling with Sirhan Sirhan after the assassination of RFK, or playing a game with the Detroit Lions, or pitching baseballs to major league hitters, George did it all. Makes you wish you could have spent an evening with him. (Sounds like he wasn't an easy person to be married to though). ...more
Nov 24, 2008 rated it liked it
An oddly organized, but very readable, biography of George Plimpton. Presented in "oral history" format, including entries from ex-wives, rivals, literati, and friends. Plimpton ran in the most exlusive of circles - but was revealed to be a very lonely man. An interesting look at the world of American publishing in the secod half of the 20th century. ...more
Feb 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is not a conventional biography by any means. It is written in the style that Plimpton himself used to write/edit his life stories on Capote and Edie Sedgwick. By allowing the interviewees to speak for themselves, more is revealed about Plimpton than would be in a straight chronological narative. Enlightening, funny, sad and complicated - much like the man himself. It was a "good read." ...more
May 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I certainly grew up knowing about George Plimpton, but before reading this I don't think I fully appreciated the scope of his literary reach. The book details the start of the Paris Review, Plimpton's extensive network of famous friends, the parties Plimpton threw, and the evolution of the New York literary world. This is a fun, breezy read. ...more
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
reminded of this after watching "The Eye Needs to Travel," which uses Plimpton's conversation with Diana Vreeland as scaffolding. So entertaining yet wistful, too. Many mysteries in his life. Second read. ...more
Sue Russell
Nov 16, 2016 rated it liked it
I wish I could give 3.5 stars. Did not grab me at first then picked up speed (and interest/fascination) during the Paris years. (I skipped forward. Had I not, I don't think I would have continued with the book which would have been a pity.) Enjoyable overall. ...more
Diana Tilson
May 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Can we start a shelf for written/edited?

Aug 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Read it in galleys; fabulous!
Nathan Rabin
Nov 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Utterly motherfucking delightful. The next best thing to chillaxing with the man himself.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • D.V.
  • Beat Writers at Work
  • Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews (2nd Series)
  • The Power Notebooks
  • Weather
  • Let's Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By
  • Cleanness
  • The Comfort of Strangers
  • Never Any End to Paris
  • Woodcutters
  • Pity the Reader: On Writing With Style
  • Edie: American Girl
  • Hard Rain Falling
  • Shadow Box
  • Slow Motion
  • What the Weather Was Like
  • The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking
  • The River Why
See similar books…

Related Articles

Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
116 likes · 20 comments