Not Cease from Exploration

Monday, December 30, 2013

Johnny Carson

After reading a review of the book Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin by a fellow blogger, I eventually got around to getting the book myself.  I have mixed feelings about the whole experience.

On the positive side?  It's a pretty compelling read.  Most of us who spent time watching Johnny Carson really never knew all that much about the man, other than the fact that we had heard he had been married a few times.  Four to be exact.  The book, written by his one-time lawyer, Henry Buskin, is at times very insightful...at least as far as most of Carson's career at the Tonight Show is concerned.  It's also a fairly complex story about a man who was clearly both very talented and easily driven to rage.  It was a relatively fast read for me, being something I picked up while buying some Christmas presents at a local bookstore.

On the negative side?  Henry Bushskin is, well, a rat.  Over and over again Bushkin talks about how much Carson valued his privacy, and how he trusted so few people in his inner circle.  Some of that trust has clearly been betrayed, for sake of money, by Bushkin.  The author also paints a fairly vanilla picture of himself, and while some bad behavior is alluded to, by and large Bushkin wants to be seen as a "good guy".  I felt slightly soiled for having purchased the book and rewarding Bushkin's rat-esque behavior.

I'll also note that you really don't learn all that much about Johnny Carson's life from the book.  Yes, it's pretty clear he had a tough upbringing, but there are no details to speak of.  You also don't learn anything of substance about Carson's final years, as he and Bushkin had a falling out years before he died.

Would I buy it again?  I'd have to say no, at least not new in a hardcover.  However if you are fan of Carson, you may want to pick up a used copy on-line.  It's worth that price.

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