Letterman by Jason Zinoman
The Last Giant of Late Night

80%

5 Critic Reviews

Zinoman’s ambitious work succeeds in capturing Letterman’s cultural impact while unearthing the human being behind the frequently inscrutable television icon.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman delivers the definitive story of the life and artistic legacy of David Letterman, the greatest television talk show host of all time and the signature comedic voice of a generation.

In a career spanning more than thirty years, David Letterman redefined the modern talk show with an ironic comic style that transcended traditional television. While he remains one of the most famous stars in America, he is a remote, even reclusive, figure whose career is widely misunderstood. In Letterman, Jason Zinoman, the first comedy critic in the history of the New York Times, mixes groundbreaking reporting with unprecedented access and probing critical analysis to explain the unique entertainer’s titanic legacy. Moving from his early days in Indiana to his retirement, Zinoman goes behind the scenes of Letterman’s television career to illuminate the origins of his revolutionary comedy, its overlooked influences, and how his work intersects with and reveals his famously eccentric personality.

Zinoman argues that Letterman had three great artistic periods, each distinct and part of his evolution. As he examines key broadcasting moments—"Stupid Pet Tricks" and other captivating segments that defined Late Night with David Letterman—he illuminates Letterman’s relationship to his writers, and in particular, the show’s co-creator, Merrill Markoe, with whom Letterman shared a long professional and personal connection.

To understand popular culture today, it’s necessary to understand David Letterman. With this revealing biography, Zinoman offers a perceptive analysis of the man and the artist whose ironic voice and caustic meta-humor was critical to an entire generation of comedians and viewers—and whose singular style ushered in new tropes that have become clichés in comedy today.

 

About Jason Zinoman

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JASON ZINOMAN is a critic and reporter covering theater for The New York Times. He has also regularly written about movies, television, books, and sports for publications such as Vanity Fair, The Guardian, The Economist, and Slate. He was the chief theater critic for Time Out New York before leaving to write the "On Stage and Off" column in the Weekend section of The New York Times. He grew up in Washington, D.C., and now lives in Brooklyn, New York.
 
Published April 11, 2017 by Harper. 368 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Apr 30 2017
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Letterman
All: 5 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on Feb 13 2017

This incisive, illuminating book shows the personal toll that success took on all responsible, the price paid for laughs.

Read Full Review of Letterman: The Last Giant of ... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Good
on May 24 2017

Zinoman’s ambitious work succeeds in capturing Letterman’s cultural impact while unearthing the human being behind the frequently inscrutable television icon.

Read Full Review of Letterman: The Last Giant of ... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Good
Reviewed by Rich Kienzle on May 15 2017

Mr. Zinoman provides as clear and definitive a portrait of Mr. Letterman and his achievements as we’re ever likely to get.

Read Full Review of Letterman: The Last Giant of ...

20Something Reads

Good
Reviewed by John Bentlyewski on Apr 28 2017

For talk show fans longing for a reminder of a defining era in late-night television, I recommend introducing a copy of LETTERMAN to your coffee table, where his signature wide grin with an added cigar will serve as a gesture to the sensational memories he created.

Read Full Review of Letterman: The Last Giant of ...

BG Daily News

Above average
Reviewed by Dan Zak on May 07 2017

...Zinoman plots Letterman on a continuum, describing – without sounding like an encyclopedist – how “Tonight Show” hosts Jack Paar and Steve Allen set the stage for him; how Letterman first thrived as the dark, ironic counterpoint to Ronald Reagan’s “morning in America”; and how this, in turn, prepared the world for the incisive comedy...

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Reader Rating for Letterman
69%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 11 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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