My Life in War, the White House, and Hollywood
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Onetime special assistant to LBJ and head of the Motion Picture Association of America pens his memoirs, definitely rated G.

It should come as no surprise that when somebody like Valenti (Protect and Defend, 1992, etc.) finally gets around to writing the story of his life, he not only dishes no dirt, but eliminates every hint of grime. As he tells it in a narrative that hops willy-nilly through time, life is peachy, filled well-nigh to bursting with wonderful opportunities, lucky coincidences, helpful friends and memorable dinner parties. Things started out peachy growing up among Greek and Italian immigrants on an unpaved street in Houston and just kept getting better, almost without fail. Sure, serving as a B-25 pilot during WWII had its tough moments, but the GI Bill got him into Harvard Business School, which eventually helped him set up an ad agency back in Houston, so that worked out OK. It was a bummer for this well-connected Lone Star Democrat to have helped arrange JFK’s Texas visit in November 1963, but hours after the assassination he was on Air Force One as a special assistant to the new president, so there’s a silver lining there too. Valenti accords readers a fascinating and rightfully adoring glimpse of volcanic, passionate LBJ, but his time at the White House ended in 1966, when he was wooed by Hollywood to head up the MPAA. (He finally stepped down in 2004.) It would be nasty to conclude that Valenti comes off here as nothing more than a company man with a toothy Cheshire grin, but it’s hard to find anything much more positive to say about a memoir more intent on name-dropping and ticking off plaudits to buddies and bosses than in giving a reckoning of Valenti the man.

A book-length Special Achievement Oscar acceptance speech.

Pub Date: June 12th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-307-34664-3
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Harmony
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2007