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American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot

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In his memoir American on Purpose, Craig Ferguson, host of The Late, Late Show, traces his journey from working-class Glasgow to the comedic limelight of Hollywood and American citizenship. Moving and achingly funny, American on Purpose moves from Ferguson’s early life as an alcoholic to his stint on The Drew Carey Show to his decision to become a U.S. citizen in its unique and honest look at his version of the American dream.

268 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2009

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About the author

Craig Ferguson

12 books788 followers
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.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,489 reviews
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,890 reviews1,919 followers
March 25, 2014
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:

Profile Image for Ashley.
2,651 reviews1,689 followers
February 10, 2017
This is the best celebrity memoir I've ever read.

Now, I'm probably biased because I went into this already loving Craig Ferguson from watching him on The Late Late Show, but he did in his book everything that a book like this should do. He was funny, sincere, and his honesty is that of the 'warts and all' persuasion. In fact, showing those warts is the whole point of the book, which he opens by stating, concerning his son, "He will know from an early age that failure is not disgrace. It's just a pitch that you missed, and you'd better get ready for the next one." This isn't just some book of unconnected stories by a famous name, contracted by a publisher to piggyback some moola off of their cultural cachet (although I have read and enjoyed books of that type before, notably Tina Fey's and Amy Poehler's). This is a book with a purpose--it says it right there in the title. And that automatically lends it something I always feel is missing from those other types of memoirs, an authentication borne from the need to tell a story.

The book is told (mostly) in chronological order, detailing from his birth in Scotland to poor, working-class parents, to his dropping out from high school, dedicating himself to being a rockstar and taking as many drugs as possible, finding his way into comedy (by way of punk rock and Peter Capaldi), through finally realizing his (literal) life-long dream of moving to America, and actually becoming American. And of course, the most affecting bits in all that had to do with his struggle with alcoholism, which he says "broke my heart and the hearts of too many others", and with the relationship to all the women in his life. He writes most eloquently when he's speaking about the ways loving these women (and being loved by them) changed his life.

And that's the other thing about Craig Ferguson's book, is that besides being funny and moving (and FUNNY), it's also well-written. Truly. I didn't know before reading this, but he's actually written film scripts and even a novel (all of which he talks about in the book). The stories he was telling would have been interesting no matter what, but they became something special in the way that he told them. His prose was nothing fancy and was certainly irreverent, but it was unmistakably his. The man has style. If you're going to write a book about yourself, write a book about yourself! And he does.

There's too much in the book that I loved for me to mention all of it. Probably the best thing I can say at this point is that I was very happy when I could be in my car and listening to this, and when it was over, I wished it wasn't. (P.S. Get the audiobook if you can--it's fantastic. He reads it himself. Worth the price of admission just to hear him say 'farty'.) When he ties everything all together at the end, he does get a bit sentimental, but it's an earned sentimentality, and if there's anyone who disagrees with the way he sees our country, I don't want to know about it.
“America truly is the best idea for a country that anyone has ever come up with so far. Not only because we value democracy and the rights of the individual, but because we are always our own most effective voice of dissent....We must never mistake disagreement between Americans on political or moral issues to be an indication of their level of patriotism. If you don't like what I say or don't agree with where I stand on certain issues, then good. I'm glad we're in America, and don't have to oppress each other over it. We're not just a nation, we're not an ethnicity. We are a dream of justice that people have had for a thousand years.”
And now I shall leave you with one of my favorite Craigy Ferg moments. If you aren't just so happy after watching that clip, I don't even want to know, because knowing you are dead inside will just harsh my buzz.

(Also, I miss Secretariat.)
Profile Image for Antigone.
500 reviews741 followers
February 9, 2018
Contrary to the title (and that rather dashing tri-color kilt), very little of Craig Ferguson's memoir revolves around America. The country operates more as a mystical symbol for him; the alluringly earnest concept of a better life. The idea of "America" hooked him at an early age, when he was being beaten by his Scottish teachers and bullied by his classmates; when he was legitimately afraid to compete or excel and suffer the punishment such attention would accrue. In the grip of that evolutionary paralysis, he took a close look at the poverty that surrounded him - the lack of safety, goods, opportunity, support - and determined there must be a better way to live. America came to represent that aim and, though he never claims this (quite possibly hasn't even conceptualized it), American on Purpose is another way to say that, after a yeoman's amount of work, spent money, spilt blood and shed tears, he's achieved his goal. Intentionally.

The journey was not an easy one. Alcohol, drugs, a dozen false starts, hard knocks, broken hearts, and his own self-sabotaging nature - Ferguson skips no sins here. Most of this experience, hence most of the book, takes place in Scotland and England. These are dark years; humorously rendered, yes, yet honest enough to deliver a sense of the madness he went through...and the angry man it turned him into. (He's still got that anger, by the way. It surfaces on the odd page, generally in reference to stupidity or unkindness.) Potential readers should know too that, while the career trajectory holds its share of celebrity appearances, there is no dish. It's a life story, and he sticks to his.

After what he's been through, who can blame him?

Profile Image for Cody.
304 reviews69 followers
April 27, 2018
First Review: I already knew Craig Ferguson was a great late night talk show host, but after reading this book I have a new found respect for the man, including his humor, battles with alcoholism, and his second chance coming to America. A very good book!

Second Review: This review is going to be a bit different and more personal than my previous reviews on Goodreads. (Get ready for the use of the word "I" a bit.)

Growing up I was unimpressed with late night talk shows, viewing them as superficial, robotic, unintellectual, and by all means "safe" in the most boring sense of the word. Detestable is probably the most accurate of words. Firstly, I'm not a person who generally enjoys learning the personal tastes, habits, or backstories of celebrities. The fact that these conversations between hosts and guests is engineered through pre-interviews while the audience is forced to give an appropriate level of reaction back feels un-organic to a platform that seems to be going through the same shallow motions. Sure, people like Leno, Letterman, Colbert, or Fallon can offer genuine laughable content from time to time, but the contemporary vehicle of the late night talk show has been driven to something far from the actual informative driven banter that Johnny Carson once offered.

Enter Craig Ferguson. When Ferguson took over the Late Late Show in 2005 through the 10 years he hosted the show he managed to rock late night talk show format to its very foundation and build it back up into something freshly organic, and yes, absurdly fun. I knew Ferguson from the Drew Carey show playing Drew's English boss, so that became the starting line to try his rendition. Craig started his show when I was about half way through high school, and I remember at the time becoming a real night owl, either through the peace and quiet the night offered me, or in a desperate attempt to finish my school work due that following morning (quite often both). This was how I really uncovered him as a comedian and entertainer, and suddenly there was a talk show that appealed to me. Craig used every opportunity to poke fun at the rituals late night talk shows had become, and the fact that he felt like an underdog who was allowed the freedom to explore the format made it even more entertaining to watch, from his robot sidekick Geoff Peterson, to ripping up the cue cards, to willingly putting himself out side the box when it came to his humour and topics with the guests. His banter with Geoff was reason alone to watch the show, and I still go back to youtube to watch those two go on about arbitrary and hilarious topics.

In a strange way Ferguson himself, his rendition of the Late Late Show, and this very book are subjects that greatly influenced a major decision in my life. Before them, Scotland was some far off land that I associated with Braveheart and people who ate haggis for every meal and washed it down with Scotch. A stereotype, I know, but what can I say, I grew up in small town America. I left the U.S. four years ago and lived in Glasgow for a year, going to graduate school and visiting the very places Craig talks about in this book. I lived in the West End district, a block away from Great Western Road where Craig used to walk down, frequently walked into Kelvingrove Park, a place where Craig reminisces in the book about taking acid and being frightened by the ducks who live there whilst so. Ubiquitous Chip, a restaurant he worked at, became a place I went for good meals. Oddly this book was sort of a side travel guide for Glasgow, which drew some laughs from people I admitted this to. I now call Scotland my second home, and have a Cross of St. Andrews flag proudly displayed above my bed.

Ferguson's story, while originating in Scotland, is uniquely American. His underdog status, various life hurtles, and eventual success is the very definition of the classic American dream story. He's very frank about his own faults, from alcoholism to being unfaithful, but his eventual realisation and determination to overcome these faults makes him enduring. This is a great contemporary book about chasing dreams and is full of second chances, wit, and hope.
Profile Image for Sue.
1,241 reviews533 followers
November 17, 2012
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 friends. I recommend this--it's fun to read and interesting and has a few surprises I didn't expect.

Profile Image for Amanda.
259 reviews45 followers
May 6, 2014
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 when I first read this. But now, I am aware of him and I could put a face to his name.

I'll most likely be reading it again, maybe in another 5 years.
Profile Image for Rose.
1,872 reviews1,055 followers
November 17, 2012
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 number of years on late night TV, and although my schedule has changed so much to where I can't always stay up to watch The Late Late Show in full, I still try to keep my weary eyes open long enough to catch his monologues, which never fail to get a least a smile or a good hearty laugh, or somewhere in the spectrum between.

Ferguson navigates his life from a young boy through his various careers and relationships to his current work as a late night host with a refreshing voice and ease. He peppers his stories with a good dose of humor, but also with a narrative that allowed me to get to know the people in his life and how they interacted and influenced his journey. It hasn't been an easy road for him to be sure, especially with his aspirations to come to America as an immigrant and reach his dreams. As I listened to some of his experiences between struggles with alcoholism, trying to make his loved ones happy, and ultimately seeking his own happy place despite his struggles mentally to find it, I really appreciated his honesty and his words of remorse and perseverance on the road to recovery. Ferguson has an open gratitude about the space he's in now - crediting the people standing behind him, the experiences he's had, and even thanking America for his respective successes, while still retaining his gratitude for his homeland of Scotland. "Scottish by birth, American on Purpose" sums it up quite nicely, really.

I really enjoyed this on many levels and would recommend it, certainly because Ferguson has a lovable, potent, and sincere voice through this entire narrative. It's engaging, funny, and certainly left an indelible impression on me.

Overall: 4/5
Profile Image for whichwaydidshego.
129 reviews94 followers
October 4, 2009
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 how he learned that embracing his past and where he came from was as important as engaging in the present, reaching for the future, and treasuring his new home.

There are fantastic life-lessons I learned from Craig (we're on a first name basis now, apparently) because he was willing to expose the depth of his failures and in that revealed what failure really is - just failure. It doesn't mean success won't or can't be had still. Failure can be funny and bring hope when used right, and Ferguson did just that. And I'm grateful.
Profile Image for Schuyler.
208 reviews62 followers
October 24, 2009
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 particularly funny, which probably says more about The Drew Carey Show than it does about Ferguson. I'm not really sure why I started watching The Late Late Show. I work at night and don't get home until about 9:15pm and then me and Nancy have to eat dinner, and by the time we are done it's 10pm or so, and she has to get ready for bed because she has to get up early for work the next morning, and obviously we are operating on different schedules and when she goes to bed, I still feel kinda wired but we don't have cable or anything and I'd spent the entire day reading at work and on busses, so I kinda just felt like watching television.
Late night television sucks. Well, most of it does anyway. Leno is absolutely terrible, Fallon has his moments but not enough of them, Conan is a shell of his former self in his new time slot, Letterman is hanging tough and getting kind of crazy but still does stupid monologues and Paul Schafer is just annoying, Kimmel is generic, and Carson Daly...don't get me started on him.
And then there is Craig Ferguson. He, I feel, is the best late night talk show host on television. His entire monologue is mostly ad-libbed. He has talking points rather than punch-line jokes. He is self-deprecating. He is sincere. He is original. He has perfect comidic timing. He actually talks to his guests, has actual conversations with them, without the help of those stale interview questions. He uses puppets on a semi-regular basis. He answers e-mails on the air. Not all of this works all the time. I have watched more than a few episodes that just weren't very funny. But performing five days a week...you win some, you lose some. But Ferguson, I feel, has the highest batting average when it comes to the funny/not-funny ratio. He is (don't cringe) a postmodern talk show host, and I mean that as a compliment. He works within the tradition of the late night talk show but almost completely reinvents the format in a way that is new, fresh, and daring. While he can be glib and sarcastic and even cheesy, above all he is genuine.
A lot of Ferguson's appeal is hard to explain and really, you just have to watch him a few times to understand what I'm talking about. He has a certain amount of charisma that isn't really charming but more jovial, like "Hey, can you believe they're letting me do this talk show thing?" I think what I like most about his humor is the absurdity: about show business, about the world, about America, about L.A., about his show, about himself, all of it. It reminds me a little bit of Letterman but not as polished. Watch Ferguson if you get a chance. He's the funniest thing on broadcast television.
Profile Image for Luisina.
66 reviews
September 2, 2015
This is one of the best memoirs I've ever read. It's candid and touches very important and sensitive topics in an honest, funny and touching way. Craig has lead an extremely interesting life, and tells you his story as if he's sitting next to you having a little chat. I think everyone can learn something from this book.
Highly recommended if you're even a little bit interested in Craig's life and career.
Also, if you can, get the audiobook, it's brilliant and so worth it.
Profile Image for Nathan.
Author 5 books114 followers
February 18, 2012
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, it still works. I enjoyed two things in particular: his frank description of his alcoholism and how he realized that his grumpiness and hatred of the middle-class and comfortable was largely unjustified.

The shift in my alcohol intake was noticed by others. I never used to drink before a show, but now I had to have a beer or three just to settle my nerves. There was a kind of panic that stalked me nearly all the time. As long as I was occupied by drumming or dancing or listening to very loud music or doing drugs or having sex or, of course, drinking, then I felt okay, but as soon as I was left with no money or opportunity to get out of myself, I would feel the terror creeping up. I felt that I might go completely insane at any moment. I couldn't sleep unless I was drunk, and when I did pass out I was tormented by awful dreams. Decapitations and stabbings and mutilations. One nightmare rolled around every few days. I would be walking toward Buchanan Street bus station in Glasgow on a clear day and see, in the distance, the unmistakable shape of a mushroom cloud forming in the clear blue sky. I was seeing the end of the world twice a week. Then, for a few hours, or a even few days, it would stop. Just like that. I did sleep, I didn't drink with quite the same urgency, and I began to feel a little more human. It returned just as abruptly. I would never know when the terror would strike. In a car, on a bus, in bed. Sometimes I would wake up screaming. I knew something lived inside me that was out of my control. It could be sedated and calmed with alcohol, but one of the side effects of that particular medicine was that when I sobered up, the panic would be worse. A very vicious circle. I have been asked many times since then why I didn't seek help, but the truth is, I didn't really know what was wrong with me. I thought, "This is just who I am, a terrorized man, a lunatic, a neurotic," and thought the only way through was to try to maintain some outward semblance of normalcy or else I'd be locked up forever in a padded cell. Internally, I lived in almost constant panic.

All of these individuals were hugely influential in British comedy, and I felt tremendously uncomfortable around them, assuming that they looked down on me for not attending a swanky school or being from the "right" family, but I see now that that was hogwash. If anyone was unfairly prejudiced it was me--I had a chip on my shoulder because of my background. I didn't want anybody's fucking help or influence. I was better than them because I was, I don't know, Scottish, or angry, or something. Also, I didn't know how to behave around these rather brilliant people who treated me with tact and charm and sympathy, not because they feared me, which is what I told myself at the time, but because they loved Helen and knew she loved me. These people came from the privileged English middle and upper classes, they were the very people I'd grown up believing were the enemy, yet here I was among them, even living with one of them. And they had no problem with it. I was the one in conflict.

Ferguson's book was a reminder that sometimes the hardest place we live is in our own heads.
Profile Image for Glee.
628 reviews15 followers
January 20, 2011
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 it if I hadn't already read it. This approach was a lighter experience, but still very touching and funny.

Listen or read it. Just do one or the other....


(This is original review from 2009)

Very Craig-like. Funny, witty and profane. Many very astute observations about drunks and people and achieving a measure of grace. Also, quite touching in its sincerity just when you least expect it.

For my friends, I bought the book so if anyone wants to borrow it, just let me know.

Just to give you a flavor -- his observation on violence:

"Violence of any kind, once it starts, is like f**king [my asterisks:] a gorilla -- you ain't done until the gorilla's done."

Highly recommended for any fan of Ferguson's -- and if you aren't, what is wrong with you????

Profile Image for Theresa.
93 reviews5 followers
January 4, 2010
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 marked by forays into the music world as a drummer, fist fights, failed relationships, his first taste of audience approval as a comedian, an alarming affinity for alcohol, and more failed relationships. After a successful stint in rehab, he saw greater career success, landing a job as a series regular on The Drew Carey Show before being chosen for his current position. Ferguson’s story reveals his belief that true failure comes from not trying and how a second (or fifth) chance can make a difference. A touching, funny memoir.
Profile Image for Alison.
133 reviews26 followers
July 10, 2012
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.)
Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews125k followers
October 17, 2017
I was going through a few rough days. I read the prose version of this memoir, which discusses Scottish origins, alcoholism, and Hollywood perils, and decided to get the audiobook. Craig Ferguson narrates with a good sense of humor, wry self-deprecation, and philosophical hindsight about his life. He’s always going to be Gobber from How to Train Your Dragon, but before that he was a person.

–Priya Sridhar

from The Best Books We Read In June 2017: https://bookriot.com/2017/07/03/riot-...
Profile Image for Kerry Dunn.
661 reviews30 followers
October 19, 2009
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 off on crazy tangents, but he’s so good off the cuff that you’ll find yourself cracking up at next to nothing. He’s just naturally funny.

What I loved about his memoir was that he writes exactly how he talks: with humor, with honesty, and with warmth. Craig has lived a hell of a life, growing up in one of the worst cities in Scotland, being tormented by teachers and fellow students, swept up by the punk movement, drumming in different punk bands leading to drugs and alcoholism, eventually sobering up, finding a career in comedy, marrying three very different women and finally achieving his lifelong dream of becoming an American. He writes very openly about all of this, admitting when he was a sh*t, apologizing to those he hurt along the way, giving a big f*ck you to those that screwed him over, thankful for those who stuck by him, while being very funny and affectionate throughout.

The book is also short and sweet. There is no filler, no over dramatic bullsh*t, no long windedness. He knew what he wanted to say and he said it. I appreciate that. It’s a touching, funny, honest, warm, and compelling memoir. Oh and make sure that you read it with a Scottish accent.
Profile Image for Angela Blount.
Author 5 books670 followers
April 18, 2016
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 sides. As only the best comedians seem able to accomplish, he gives everyone fairly equal time in the mocking chair--himself included. And it is likely his self-depreciating sense of humor that leaves me with such a genuine sense about him. Though he readily admits to his faults and errors—of which there are many—he is refreshingly void of excuses/justifications for his relationally-destructive engagements. He describes his full-bore collision into Alcoholism and drug use with a matter-of-factness that was both enlightening and oddly relatable.

Through it all his love for certain aspects of the Scottish people, and for his new homeland, shine through with tarnished pride and an arcane sense of honor. His life has been a fascinating series of tragedies and triumphs—tremendous loss and heartening redemption. Toward the end, I found that he'd even sneaked in enough sobering compassion and sincerity to make me cry. And I love him all the more for it.
Profile Image for Frank.
51 reviews86 followers
December 31, 2009
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 book it seems like Craig is just a lucky person, who happened to make friends who were well connected. Craig is no doubt a very talented person, but it seems like he didn't have to work for any of it, like he just stumbled into it. Of course, this can't be true, but the way he tells the story makes it seem like that. So I suppose his glossing over of the work that went into his career is one of the book's weaknesses.

This is also the first book I read on Kindle! Which is a great product that I was surprised to find is actually like reading the pages of a book.
Profile Image for Eric.
872 reviews77 followers
January 23, 2013
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 and multiple failed relationships and marriages.
Profile Image for Mystereity Reviews.
778 reviews45 followers
June 5, 2015
American On Purpose I'm a big fan of Craig Ferguson. I've been meaning to read this for a long time and after watching one of his standup videos, I decided it was finally time. This was no less enjoyable than watching his standup act, in fact, I found it hard to put it down. Compelling, poignant, honest and side-splitting funny, and intimately casual. It was like sitting down for a coffee with the man himself and listening to him spin tale after tale. Very recommended to anyone, especially if you're not familiar with Craig Ferguson's work.
Profile Image for JZ.
679 reviews89 followers
February 24, 2019
One more review eaten before digested. Let's try again.

I liked this book very much. I wrote about it once, but what I'm really remembering is the two shows he did as wakes: one when Johnny Carson died shortly after he had gotten the job, and later, the night his father died. He talks about them here. I was so glad.

I'll never forget how he touched my heart. The genuine article. What a man.

His book is wonderful, his reading is humorous, the the timing is perfect. What's not to love?
387 reviews13 followers
August 16, 2010
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 but rather a summary of his autobiography. Ferguson looks back at the mess that has been his life to this point and marvels, as does the reader, that somehow he has achieved rarified success despite making self-destructive decision after decision. Ferguson’s life stories are fascinating in the same way television shows about things blowing up or the old Warner Brothers’ Road Runner cartoon are captivating. His forays into love always end with him cheating. Except for his final foray into sobriety all the others always end with him passed out. And his forays into performance always (up until his current success) eventually end in anger and regret from those who hired him. In short, Ferguson’s choice to begin the book with a story of meeting the former, junior President George Bush at the White House Correspondence Dinner perfectly sums up the rest of the tale of his life – there may be no other two people more successful and yet less deserving of it than the two men.

Ferguson is somewhat perversely proud that the only academic credential he every attained (never having completed even high school) was a wine-tasting certificate. His writing style tends to betray this. The text is a little too plain-speaking, falls back on the crutches of profanity a little too often and chapters are sometime brief and end abruptly to the point of absurdity. However, the often fantastical personal anecdotes rarely fail to be self-conscious with Ferguson often openly saying: I couldn’t believe it either! The tales also seem to lack a personal agenda, at least none can be inferred from someone willingly admitting they wet the bed until they were 29 years old.

In short, the book gets a mild recommendation largely because it sets of the back story for when Ferguson eventually and inevitable fucks up his current marriage, stardom or sobriety. It appears he has not done anything truly self-destructive in about six year so it should be quite the blast when it happens.

Profile Image for Vikas.
Author 3 books145 followers
October 11, 2022
I loved it, I enjoyed every bit of the tale/experiences shared by Craig. Now admittedly I never saw him when he was hosting his show because I am India and by 2014 when Craig left it wasn't 2020s because that's when I had discovered compilations of his interactions with his guests and his quick banter and I instantly fell in love. It was great to learn how many things he tried to do before landing on the show something he didn't even want to do or thought he could do.

I am happy that Craig was finally become sober and continued to do well, and even though it took him a third try at marriage but that seems like a charm as he's still married to Megan. After all, as the book was published in 2009 it's 13 years behind the current times so I went and checked Wikipedia to check the current status and all things seem OK.

I would continue to watch those compilations because they always capture the best moments so there isn't any downtime. Okay, then I will see if I watch a few more videos of Craig's or start a new book, hmm, maybe both so let's all just Keep on Reading.

People who don't read generally ask me my reasons for reading. Simply put I absolutely love reading and so to that end I have made it my motto to Forever Keep on Reading. I love reading everything except for Self Help books, even those once in a while. I read almost all the genres but YA, Fantasy, and Biographies are the most read. My favorite series is, of course, Harry Potter but then there are many more books that I adore. I have bookcases filled with books that are waiting to be read so I can't stay and spend more time in this review, so remember I loved reading this and love reading more, you should also read what you love and then just Keep on Reading.
Profile Image for Maria.
38 reviews1 follower
May 31, 2011
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 the physical aspects of it. He does cover, much more, how it affected his relationships, and that's far more interesting anyway.

What didn't I expect? I didn't expect him to be so humble and so grateful to the people in his life. I didn't expect him to be so profoundly thankful to be able to fulfill his lifelong dream of living in America, and, eventually, becoming a naturalized citizen. And I didn't expect him to be so respectful of his Scottish heritage at the same time.

I liked that Ferguson loves the US, but refrains from jingoism. He takes full responsibility for all his bad choices, and usually gives credit for his good ones to others. His auto-biography is a breezy, funny read, which seems a strange appeal for an alcoholic's memoir. It's going to have staying power in my mind, which considering that somedays I can barely remember my children's names, that says more than you may know! I've got his novel "Between the Bridge and the River" on my to-read list. I hope I enjoy it as much as this one.
Profile Image for Leticia.
621 reviews23 followers
February 5, 2016
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 his humor shines through and through. If you enjoy his storytelling from his show, pick up this book and learn more about him. He doesn't bash anybody in a hurtful way but states facts on how life happened to him.

It says a lot of Craig’s personality when even when he was a stinking drunk; he still had friends he could depend on and hang about. Friends that helped him get back on his feet and stuck around even after he made it big. Alcoholics for the most part are alienated people and become loners cus no one can stand them or be around them other than other alcoholics. Based on Craig’s recounting, he was surrounded by people who liked him for who is was, drunk or sober. Which makes me want to meet him even more. The over all theme of this book is that he considers himself a very lucky son of a bitch to have survived all that and become a successful performer.
40 reviews
January 24, 2010
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, from the the traditional late-night script. Ferguson intended this to be introspective. He succeeds. He very candidly delivers the reader through the darkest points of his life to some of his later triumphs. He does justice to every topic; yet he is not so beholden to one theme or event that the reader is forced to endure minutiae of material that strays from the theme. He expresses his point, and he moves on. His attitude seems to be, in essence, "Yeah, some of this stuff happened. And, it really sucked. But, I am better now and here's why." And, once in while he is pretty funny while saying it. Fans and non-fans will enjoy the ride.
Profile Image for Nicole.
7 reviews68 followers
April 12, 2010
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 objective eye.

His biography is a heartwarming tale of a hard lived life, of loves found and lost, and ultimately, of redemption. You can hear Craig's voice from beginning to end; he pulls no punches and revels in the naked truth. From his drug addled days to his late-night present, Craig has a lived a full and enviable life. I adore his occasional bout of cussing, and I admire his stance on religion and politics.

So, yes, read this book if you're a fan of the show. Also read this book if you want a truly entertaining ride about how a poor alcoholic Scotsman somehow made his way to become a late night television host in the U.S. You can't get much more American than that.
Profile Image for Emily.
804 reviews118 followers
December 29, 2012
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 commended, as well as his conversational and detailed writing style.
I had read Ferguson's fictional work, Between the Bridge and the River and had wanted to know more about a man that I only knew minimally from sporadic viewings of The Drew Carey Show and his late night talk show. I was mightily impressed and plan to check out more of his work, particularly the straight-to-video film The Big Tease, which sounds hilarious and totally got a raw deal from the studio.
Kudos to Ferguson and a great big (belated) welcome to America!
Profile Image for Mary.
4 reviews1 follower
December 8, 2010
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 individual who had no other goal but to entertain the masses with his innate talent of being both funny and charming.

I didn't find the book very funny, but I don't think it was his intention. He just wanted to tell us how and why he loves America, and the struggles he overcame to find success and peace of mind. It's a great book if you ever truly wondered the context of the jokes and stories told on his show.
Profile Image for John.
42 reviews42 followers
December 16, 2009
I checked this out thinking it would be novel to hear someone from Hollywood speak fondly and proudly of the U.S. OK, I confess I have also seen enough of Ferguson’s zany monologues to think he is very clever and funny - for a Scotsman, that is.

The book is as advertised, an unblinking look at drunken foolishness, failed relationships, and eventual show-biz success, all told with Ferguson’s exceptional wit and irreverence. Despite this truth-in-advertising, I cannot recommend this book for two good show business reasons. First, Ferguson’s gratuitous profanity quickly wears thin and offensive. But as we all know, in show-biz it is a far greater sin to bore an audience than to offend it. By midway through this short biography I was wishing he would abbreviate the tale of dissipation, and get to the turn-around. By the end, I was just glad it was over.
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