Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart
Booklist Reviews 2014 September #1
Industrious Rogak constructs rudimentary living portraits of such innovators as Stephen King, Stephen Colbert, and, in this assemblage of secondary sources, the ingenious, gutsy, and very private Jon Stewart. Though skillful in meshing together previously broadcast and published interviews with other material, Rogak can be banal and clichéd in her analysis. Nonetheless, anyone interested in how a boy from Jersey named Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz took the helm of cable television's hilarious and surprisingly influential The Daily Show and The Colbert Report will read on undaunted. Her writing sharpens as Rogak covers Stewart's rage at his father for deserting their family and his struggles as an aspiring stand-up comic. We also see, in behind-the-scenes accounts of The Daily Show's creative frenzy, how the discipline, endurance, and competitiveness Stewart developed as a college soccer player serve him well as a diligent and daring host and executive producer with "exacting standards." Rogak also maps the unstable realm of "fake news" as she explores how and why this self-deprecating and driven comedian became an inspiring international figure of political conscience and responsibility. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2014 October #2
Born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, Jon Stewart enjoyed the typical middle-class life in suburban New Jersey. He learned from an early age that despite his small stature, his humor could ward off the bullies. He was class clown and a troublemaker, but he excelled at soccer, even attending college on a sports scholarship. But after graduation at age 24, the late-night host headed to New York City to pursue his dream of being a stand-up comic. For seven years, Stewart suffered the usual indignities that new comics suffer, until MTV came knocking. The Jon Stewart Show debuted in 1993, and when it was canceled, Stewart moved to L.A., where he acted in films until he landed The Daily Show hosting gig in 1999. Rogak, author of biographies of Stephen Colbert, Stephen King, and others, sheds light on Stewart's personal life, what goes on behind the scenes at The Daily Show, how the show evolved from Stewart talking about the absurdity of current events to it becoming a major liberal voice in the United States, and where the TV host is headed next (directing). VERDICT Not much has been written about Stewart and this is a well-researched, well-written addition to the biography genre that readers will welcome.—Rosellen Brewer, Sno-Isle Libs., Marysville, WA[Page 97]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2014 August #2
In this pseudo-biography of Jon Stewart (né Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz), Rogak (Hillary Clinton in Her Own Words) packages a canned chronology of a figure's life and career. Starting from the very beginning, she tracks Stewart's childhood a short, Jewish kid in the WASPy neighborhood of Lawrenceville, N.J.; his adolescence as a class clown and talented soccer player; his first attempts at stand-up at the Bitter End and other New York haunts; his early stints on TV; his landing on The Daily Show in 1999; all 15 years of his tenure there up to the present; and all the various projects he has taken on in the meantime (including three books, several movies, award shows, and much more). While the thought-provoking questions surrounding Stewart's tenuous, and often contradictory, relationship to his work as both a fake-news-show host and an influential political pundit hang in the air, Rogak does little to shed new light on the topic. Instead, she borrows from other journalists to create an uninspired collection of repurposed quotes, which are interspersed with her own repetitive prose. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC