A genial look at a beloved figure.



An entertaining if superficial biography of the host of America's best-known quiz show.

As in previous biographies of Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and Rachel Maddow, among others, Rogak relies almost entirely on secondary sources to piece together the story of Trebek’s steady rise through the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the game show circuit, and, eventually, in 1984, Jeopardy! The author has combed through the likes of People and TV Guide, along with articles from multiple daily newspapers, for pithy quotations and amusing anecdotes. Trebek fans will enjoy stories about his one-month stint at a Trappist monastery (“I'm not one to keep my big mouth shut,” he noted), a brief early marriage to a former Playboy Bunny, and his surprising fondness for musk oxen. Hints about a more complicated family history—e.g., a half brother who was conceived and secretly given up for adoption after Trebek's parents divorced—will leave readers wanting more. Although the Trebek that emerges in these pages has a few flaws, including a hot temper, a colorful vocabulary, and a tendency to overspend at Home Depot, he generally comes across as the bright, steadfast father figure generations of Jeopardy! fans have come to depend upon. Rogak forgoes any hint of scandal to dutifully show her subject as a loving husband and father and generous philanthropist. Followers of the show will appreciate the details of the production; the conception, based on an idea by producer Merv Griffin's wife; the incremental changes over the decades; and the examination of the impact on the show of big winners Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer. Rogak also touches on—but does not dwell on—Trebek's ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer, which he announced to the public in 2019.

A genial look at a beloved figure.

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-77366-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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