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Audition: A Memoir

Audition: A Memoir

3.7 117
by Barbara Walters

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Young people starting out in television sometimes say to me:
“I want to be you.” My stock reply is always: “Then you have to take the whole package.”

And now, at last, the most important woman in the history of television journalism gives us that “whole package,” in her inspiring and riveting memoir. After more than


Young people starting out in television sometimes say to me:
“I want to be you.” My stock reply is always: “Then you have to take the whole package.”

And now, at last, the most important woman in the history of television journalism gives us that “whole package,” in her inspiring and riveting memoir. After more than forty years of interviewing heads of state, world leaders, movie stars, criminals, murderers, inspirational figures, and celebrities of all kinds, Barbara Walters has turned her gift for examination onto herself to reveal the forces that shaped her extraordinary life.

Barbara Walters’s perception of the world was formed at a very early age. Her father, Lou Walters, was the owner and creative mind behind the legendary Latin Quarter nightclub, and it was his risk-taking lifestyle that made Barbara aware of the ups and downs that can occur when someone is willing to take great risks.

The financial responsibility for her family, the fear, the love all played a large part in the choices she made as she grew up: the friendships she developed, the relationships she had, the marriages she tried to make work. Ultimately, thanks to her drive, combined with a decent amount of luck, she began a career in television. And what a career it has been! Against great odds, Barbara has made it to the top of a male-dominated industry.

She has spent a lifetime auditioning, and this book, in some ways, is her final audition, as she fully opens up both her private and public lives. In doing so, she has given us a story that is heartbreaking and honest, surprising and fun, sometimes startling, and always fascinating.

Editorial Reviews

Barbara Walters has been called the most important woman in the history of broadcast journalism, but she refuses to retire to a marble pantheon. Indeed, she continues to interview celebrities, stoke media controversies, and inspire mimics. Oddly enough, Audition is her first real book; a grand, deeply personal, sometimes defensive memoir that covers almost eight decades of intense activity. With surprising candor, the famed View host talks about her childhood as the privileged daughter of a Broadway producer who later went broke and her early career in an environment distinctly hostile to women. Although she describes in detail her numerous headline-making interviews with world leaders, Hollywood stars, and even Monica Lewinsky, one senses the author's presence throughout as a solitary, sometimes lonely beacon of self-sufficiency.
Janet Maslin
…[a] legitimately star-studded autobiography…the portrait of a deftly calculating woman with an impeccable sense of timing…There will never be another television news career like this one.
—The New York Times
Kathleen Matthews
Breaking news: Barbara Walters wears fake eyelashes, is afraid to drive, gave up her black married lover to save her career (while his went down the tubes). These and other true confessions provide the tabloid interest through 600 pages of the network diva's new memoir, Audition. But it's her heartfelt candor that lifts this book above mere titillation. Finally we learn why Walters is so relentless. It's a question I've often pondered watching her on television after beginning my own TV news career 30 years ago. In this engaging and chatty look back at a life largely lived in public view, Walters provides the answer.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Although Walters writes, "It was not in my nature to be courageous, to be the first," her compulsively readable memoir proves otherwise. No one lasts on TV for more than 45 years without the ability to make viewers feel comfortable, and Walters's amiable persona perfectly translates to the page. She gives us an entertaining panorama of a full life lived and recounted with humor and bracing honesty. Walters is surprisingly candid: about her older sister's retardation, her father's suicide attempt, her midlife affairs (including ones with John Warner—before and after his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor—and a very married Edward Brooke, the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction), her daughter's troubled teen years and her acrimonious relationships with coanchors Frank McGee and Harry Reasoner. She vividly recounts her decision to leave NBC's TodayShow after 14 years to become the first female nightly news coanchor, and tells of the firestorm of criticism she endured for accepting that pioneering position and its million-dollar salary. Alternating between tales of her personal struggles, professional achievements and insider anecdotes about the celebrities and world leaders she's interviewed, this mammoth memoir's energy never flags. 32 pages of photos. (One-day laydown May 6)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Listeners have two recordings of Walters's 580-page tell-all from which to choose. The abridged version is read by the media personality herself, and other than affording listeners her authentic voice, complete with her trademark lisp, this version is not worthwhile-lasting just six hours, it omits massive amounts of information; notably, Walters's affair with former senator Edward Brooke.In the unabridged version, Bernadette Dunne does a fine job as a surrogate for Walters. The quality of both versions is excellent, and both are appropriate for audio and biography collections in all types of libraries. The unabridged version is recommended for purchase, though some collections may warrant the abridged, CliffNotes™ edition. [Audio clips available through www.booksontape.comand www.randomhouse.com/audio; the Knopf hc, released in May, is an LJ Best Seller, a title most borrowed in U.S. libraries.-Ed.]
—Nicole A. Cooke

From the Publisher

“The crowning glory of a remarkable career.” 
—Liz Smith, New York Post
“An ambitious and successful book. . . . Suffused with an emotional intensity. . . . It belongs to a part of American culture that Walters helped invent.” 
The New Yorker
“Walters doesn’t shy from the tough stuff. . . . Nor does she, an entertainer as much as a groundbreaking journalist, skimp on the fun bits.”
“A frank, graceful memoir of a . . . groundbreaking career in television.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“Walters’ heartfelt candor lifts this book above mere titillation. . . . Blended with this personal drama is a delightful tale of the golden age of television. . . . She regales you with the juicy behind-thescenes details of the celebrities she’s interviewed, mixed in with stories of her own trials and tribulations. In the end, you envy her a little less and admire her more.”
The Washington Post
“Audition contains some fascinating stories (Walters censoring her interview with a sloshed Betty Ford), a good deal of frankness (defending her friendship with GOP power broker Roy Cohn), and grand old war stories from her groundbreaking stints with Today and ABC News.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Compulsively entertaining.”
“Witty, candid and full of history, both her own and of the events of the past five decades, Walters’s memoir is a fascinating look at the life of a groundbreaking journalist.”
The Post and Courier (Charleston)
“Audition is brutally honest, both about Walters and those she's worked with. Readers won't be left wondering what she thinks of anything, or anyone, for that matter. . . . It's a fascinating look at a woman who has lived a fascinating life.”
—Laura L. Hutchison, The Free Lance-Star
“…the book is a triumph!”
—Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic
“…the grande dame of TV news has written a blockbuster. . . . Readers will gobble up the excerpts from scores of interviews with world leaders, politicians, celebrities and murderers.”
—Kathleen Daley, New York Sun
“an indispensable book along with a surefire monster best seller . . . intensely readable. . . . She’s TV’s original monarch and superstar where power, show business and journalism converge. It’s Barbara Walters’ world, and the rest of us just live in it. [Her] mammoth memoir, doesn’t just touch chords, it’s a 600-plus page oratorio.”
—Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News
“Ms. Walters’s story is greatly humanized by the family memoir that colors her long litany of professional successes.”
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“The crowning glory of a remarkable career.”
—Liz Smith, New York Post
—Jo Piazza, New York Daily News
“Compulsively readable. . . . [Walters] gives us an entertaining panorama of a full life lived and recounted with humor and bracing honesty. Alternating between tales of her personal struggles, professional achievements and insider anecdotes about the celebrities and world leaders she's interviewed, this mammoth memoir's energy never flags.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)
“A smart, funny, fascinating book in which Walters captures possibly her most elusive subject: herself.” 
—Ilene Cooper, Booklist (starred)

Product Details

Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from the Prologue
Back in the sixties, when I was appearing daily on NBC’s Today show, I was living on Seventh Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street. My apartment was across from Carnegie Hall and on the corner of a very busy street. It was also near several large hotels that catered to businessmen. Perhaps because of this, the corner was the gathering place for some of the most attractive “ladies of the evening.” Each morning at five o’clock I would emerge from my building wearing dark glasses, as I hadn’t yet had my makeup done, and I was usually carrying a garment bag. It seemed obvious to the “ladies” that there was some big “number” I had just left. Now, bear in mind that, even then, I wasn’t exactly a spring chicken. But I would emerge and look at the young ladies, some of whom were still teenagers. “Good morning,” I would say. “Good morning,” they would answer. And then I would get into this long black limousine with its uniformed driver, and we would glide off into the early morning light. And you know what effect all this had on the ladies?
 I gave them hope.
 Perhaps this book may do that for you.
 So here it is, the whole package, from the beginning.


Meet the Author

Barbara Walters is an award-winning journalist and the first woman to ever cohost a network news program. She is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She is an ABC News correspondent, host of The Barbara Walters Specials and the creator of ABC Daytime's The View. She resides in New York City.

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Audition: A Memoir 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 117 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
B&N, are you kidding?! The nook book is barely a dollar less than the cost of the paperback?! What happened to Nook editions being so much more afordable than buying the book?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was quite taken with how she was brought up. That part of the book was wonderful. But then it seemed to take a turn with name dropping and patting herself on the back. I also got the feeling that writing this book was some how a way to forgive herself for some of the details in her life. Anyway, I got tired of rolling my eyes with all the wonderful things she has done for the media and this country, so I finished and put it on the back shelf.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At nine o'clock this morning, I arrived at Barnes and Noble, picked up Audition and sat down to read with a cup of coffee. I read for hours, bought the book and continued reading at home. At over 600 pages, this book cannot be read in a day. However, I have read enough to report that the book is magnificent extremely well- written, very pleasurable to read and absolutely fascinating. Open this book and on the inside jacket is a listing of the hundreds (thousands?) of people who Barbara Walters has interviewed and knows. It's pretty staggering, actually. Born September 25, 1929, Barbara Walters has led an extraordinary life. Walters was first known as a TV morning news anchor and became the first female evening news anchor and many of us know her as the interviewer who can make anyone cry. Walters has spent decades reporting the news and extracting juicy details and world events out of world leaders, celebrities, heads of state and other VIP's. In Audition, we get to learn about Walter's personal and professional life and her relationships with many of the most famous people in the world. In the introduction, Walters states: 'It feels to me that my life has been one long audition--and attempt to make a difference and to be accepted.' I was quite moved by her introduction and her feelings about her mentally challenged older sister, Jackie. Walters credits her sister as being the strongest influence in her life and credits her for teaching Walters about compassion and understanding--the traits that have made her such an outstanding interviewer. 'I've guarded my sister's privacy for years.' Walters writes. 'And although she was the central force in my life, she was part of the package that I'm about to unwrap on these pages.' Walter's warmth and compassion comes through in this book and you come to care very deeply about her. This book is an inspiration for everyone, but especially for women. Walters even writes that the book is about giving others hope. I see hope and inspiration in these books especially for young women and girls, because it shows that a woman can be highly intelligent, tough and successful and still be a woman. Walters is a role model and this book a gift to the world. From the author of the award winning book, Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify and Energize Your Life, Your Home and Your Planet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a page turner. Barbara led a very interesting life from childhood to where she is now.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Barbara Walters does herself no favors with this book. It is poorly written with no chronological order what-so-ever. It is very difficult to tell whether she is writing about something that happend last year or back in the 70's. She jumps all over the place in her stories. She exposes herself as selfish, arrogant, obsessed with her career and willing to sacrifice whoever to get to the top. She constantly says she feels guilt over her decisions as well she should. I hope she can look back at her career and think it was worth the people she stepped on to get there: her daughter, her parents, her mentally challenged sister, not to mention the countless men - some of whom were married. Quite frankly, I lost any respect I had for Barbara Walters and the majority of this book thoroughly disgusted me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book kept me up until daylight! I do have to question the amount of times Ms. Walters says she felt guilty about something--but had it in her power to do things differently (ie her sister, her daughter) Also, I know that she needs to be impartial due to her status as a Journalist but she sure went out of her way to befriend some truly disturbed and heinous people. Eating grilled cheese with Fidel Castro-really not necessary for the story and so offensive to Cuban Americans. Other strange 'friendships' include one of the Melendez brothers, Chavez, and Roy Cohn. However, the book was chock full of interesting facts and stories about tons of fascinating people. It seems like Barbara stepped on a lot of toes to get where she is today. But she is larger than life and I was extremely interested throught this book. Well worth reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have watched Barbra Walters all my years, and become to love her, she was very gifted in interviewing. She has seen, lived, and done more then any woman, 'other than Oprah', I've known. I admire her more now than ever, I love how gentle she was in explaining on Oprah, how she let the person know she was writing about the affair, which he said he approved of. As for Star, Barbra was 100% correct on her answer as to why they kept her gastric surgery quiet. I was a viewer who knew right up front, Star was lying about diet and exercise, she must have thought the real world was ignorant. I did quit watching the view, as I cannot stand a liar or a thief. When Barbra explained her side and how Star treated them with the People magazine article, 'which I read too at the time', I never believed a word that Star said, this ruined her character for me. But now I feel sympathy for Star since Barbra was compassionate and human enough to explain the situation. Barbra is 100% honest and believable and through the years I've watched her interviewing, she's always been honest whether it was good or bad. And I love her even more today because of what she told Oprah, no matter what, you will always be more respected if you tell the truth, especially being in the public eye. I understand why she wrote about her affair, her sister, and her daughter, she wanted the public to know that even though she was this major icon in our world, she was very much human and suffered pain with the rest of us. She is a woman of integrity in my eyes, and this book will stay on my shelf as a part of my historical collection, and she, along with Oprah, has given women hope. Barbra is truly a role model and a woman of great character. I highly recommend this book for everyone, man or woman to read. FANTASTIC!!
JustMyTwoCents More than 1 year ago
A Fascinating Memoir--Warts and All Look at the Life of a Very Accomplished Reporter I was too young to remember Barbara Walter on the Today Show and I've never seen The View as it is on during the day when I am working. I remember Barbara Walters, therefore, from a number of her interview specials. What a fascinating life she has led. The reader also gets to see how difficult it can be to "have it all."  While her career soared, it did have quite an impact on her personal relationships--her marriages, and her relationship with her daughter. Barbara Walters did not hold back and you got to see a many-faceted woman--competitive, sometimes selfish, often guilt-ridden, confident and insecure often at the same time. Her comments were also thought-provoking at times. For example, her explanation and sometimes conflicted feelings toward Roy Cohn--a man she would be forever grateful to because of the help he offered her father, but who she also felt negatively toward for his treatment of others. It made me think about how we expect famous people to take a stand on everything and treat relationships in an all-or-nothing way, when few people do that in their own lives. This was a long book, but hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is written like Ms Walters speaks. You can almost hear her talking. Good sense of humor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is as interesting as the woman herself!
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dwyerGL More than 1 year ago
Detailed and interesting insight into the life of Ms. Walters. Some surprising facts. It can be a bit tedious at times
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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