OUTRAGEOUS GOOD FORTUNE by Michael Burke
Kirkus Star

OUTRAGEOUS GOOD FORTUNE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Brains, charm, pizazz: Burke has it all, and he knows it--but he's just modest and vulnerable enough that the reader is still on his side after nearly 500 pages of his ""outrageous good fortune."" A jack of all trades, Burke has mastered practically all of them: athlete (star offensive and defensive back at Penn), soldier (he parachuted behind Nazi lines and fought with the French Resistance), spy (CIA agent in postwar Europe), showman (general manager of Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus), media executive (16 years near the top of CBS), sports mogul (president first of the Yankees, then of Madison Square Garden), friend of the famous from Ernest Hemingway to Reggie Jackson), sexy socialite, bon vivant, and now autobiographer. Writing from his self-chosen exile/ancestral home in Ireland, Burke reviews the long and astonishingly varied guest list of the banquet that has been his life: the angels (Marianne Moore), the S.O.B.s (Walter O'Malley), the heavies (Charles Bluhdorn), the ordinary people (roustabouts and Ranger fans)--Burke loved talking and matching wits with them, and now he revels in his memories of the whole motley crowd. (But does this genial, table-hopping host have any intimates?) Toward his family, friends, and associates Burke is almost un-stintingly generous, save for George Steinbrenner, whom he finds strident, dishonest, and pathetic. He feels little resentment, not toward William Paley, who cut him dead over an imaginary betrayal, not even toward Jimmy Hoffa, for what his Teamsters did to the ailing Circus. On the subject of his two ex-wives (they divorced him), Burke is so discreet that we never really learn what his married life was like. Obedient to CIA censorship rules, he describes his four years of covert operations with irritating vagueness. And every now and then he strains for poetic effect, and flops. (""The desolation to come, no less than the love that went before, would echo and reecho in the canyons of the heart."") But otherwise his joie de vivre and natural gifts keep a colorful, detailed story going in high gear.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1984
Publisher: Little, Brown