Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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An unprecedented behind-the-scenes view into the life of Anthony Bourdain from the people who knew him best.
When Anthony Bourdain died in June 2018, fans around the globe came together to celebrate the life of an inimitable man who had dedicated his life to traveling nearly everywhere (and eating nearly everything), shedding light on the lives and stories of others. His impact was outsized and his legacy has only grown since his death.
Now, for the first time, we have been granted a look into Bourdain’s life through the stories and recollections of his closest friends and colleagues. Laurie Woolever, Bourdain’s longtime assistant and confidante, interviewed nearly a hundred of the people who shared Tony’s orbit - from members of his kitchen crews to his writing, publishing, and television partners, to his daughter and his closest friends - in order to piece together a remarkably full, vivid, and nuanced vision of Tony’s life and work.
From his childhood and teenage days, to his early years in New York, through the genesis of his game-changing memoir Kitchen Confidential to his emergence as a writing and television personality, and in the words of friends and colleagues including Eric Ripert, José Andrés, Nigella Lawson, and W. Kamau Bell, as well as family members including his brother and his late mother, we see the many sides of Tony - his motivations, his ambivalence, his vulnerability, his blind spots, and his brilliance.
Unparalleled in scope and deeply intimate in its execution, with a treasure trove of photos from Tony's life, Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography is a testament to the life of a remarkable man in the words of the people who shared his world.
Featuring the voices of Adam Epstein Alex Getmanov Alex Lowry Alison Mosshart Amy Entelis Ben Selkow Beth Aretsky Bonnie McFarlane Chris Collins Christiane Amanpour Christopher Bourdain Daniel Halpern Dave McMillan David Choe David Rosenthal Diane Schutz Eileen Opatut Fred Morin Helen Cho Helen Lang Hilary Snyder James Graham Jared Andrukanis Jason Rezaian Jeff Allen Jeff Formosa Jeff Zucker Joe Coleman Joel Rose John Lurie José Andrés Josh Ferrell Karen Rinaldi Kimberly Witherspoon Laurie Barnett Laurie Woolever Lenny Mosse Lizzie Fox Lolis Elie Lydia Tenaglia Maria Bustillos Matt Goulding Matt Walsh Michael Ruhlman Michael Steed Mike Ruffino Morgan Fallon Mustafa Bhagat Nari Kye Natasha Phan Nathan Thornburgh Nick Brigden Nigella Lawson Panio Gianopoulos Pat Younge Patrick Radden Keefe Patti Jackson Peter Meehan Philip Lajaunie Rennik Soholt Rob Stone Robert Vuolo Robin Standefer Roy Choi Sally Freeman Sam Goldman Sam Sifton Sandy Zweig Shant Petrossian Steven Tempel Todd Liebler Tom Vitale W. Kamau Bell Web Stone Whitney Ward Yeganeh Rezaian Aspen Miller Barbara Rosenblatt Billie Fulford-Brown Cheryl Smith Dan Bittner Ewan Chung Gabra Zackman George Newbern Hillary Huber James Lurie Jason Culp Jean Brassard Joe Knezevich Oliver Wyman Rob Shapiro Roger Wayne
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|Listening Length||11 hours and 28 minutes|
|Narrator||Laurie Woolever, Christopher Bourdain, José Andrés, Nigella Lawson, W. Kamau Bell, full cast|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 28, 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #326 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#3 in Biographies of Culinary Professionals
#10 in Culinary Biographies & Memoirs
#15 in Biographies of Celebrities & Entertainment Professionals
Top reviews from the United States
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Reading Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography, it's clear that those impressions were hardly a fluke. The line separating Bourdain the person from Bourdain the TV character was narrowly thin. While there were certainly differences between who he was and what he allowed himself to reveal in front of the TV camera, what you saw or read was largely who he really was. A brilliant writer, a charismatic and funny host, a lover of food and travel and people, constantly curious and knowledgable, narcissistic but also incredibly self-aware, one of the coolest cats around but a giant nerd at heart, an introvert in many ways, but one who could command the attention of an entire room and made himself the center of that attention and who gave his time selflessly to those around him. A former heroin addict, Bourdain was constantly finding and feeding new addictions to keep him clean, from travel to jiu jitsu, and romantic obsessions that he knew were doomed, such as his love affair with Asia Argento.
Writer and editor Laurie Woolever was Bourdain's personal assistant, his lieutenant, for over a decade and co-authored Appetites: A Cookbook and World Travel: An Irreverent Guide with him. For The Definitive Oral Biography, she interviewed over 90 people that knew Bourdain at various points of his life, including his brother, Christopher, his mother, Gladys (who passed away in 2020), ex-wives Nancy and Ottavia, daughter Ariane, and those who worked closest with him, such as producer-director for Zero Point Zero Production, Helen Cho and Tom Vitale (whose own book about working and traveling with Bourdain, In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain, releases in September), Bourdain's literary agent Kimberly Weatherspoon, chefs José Andrés, Nigella Lawson (who co-hosted The Taste with Bourdain), Eric Ripert, and Roy Choi, as well as David Simon and Eric Overmyer, the cocreators of the HBO series, Treme, for which Bourdain wrote, movie director Darren Aronofsky, CNN reporters Anderson Cooper, Christiane Amanpour, and president of CNN worldwide, Jeff Zucker, and many, many, many more.
Through all these various personalities, we're given an incredibly well-rounded, and, more importantly, honest, portrait of the late Bourdain, the good, the bad, and the ugly. As Woolever notes in her introduction, this biography is far from a hagiography and makes no attempts to deify the man it's about, just as Bourdain no doubt would have wanted. There's no sugar-coating the lesser aspects of Bourdain's personality, his addictions, or the questionable decisions he made along the way, including his toxic relationship with Argento and his final choice to commit suicide at the age of 61 in a Le Chambard hotel room. Even a year or two removed from Bourdain's death, you can feel the shock and grief and confusion in the words of those interviewed as they continue to struggle with the emotional fallout and process his reasons and behavior during the last year of his life as he was consumed by his affections and infatuation for Argento, a relationship that Bourdain was keenly aware was doomed to fail right from the start, telling friends, "It's gonna end so badly." Neither Bourdain or Argento come across particularly well in the accountings and recollections compiled here of that time, with the latter almost appearing as a virtual hurricane that upended Bourdain's life and wreaked devastation upon those closest to him, while Bourdain himself kowtows to the Italian actresses demands at the expense of his own long-term personal and professional relationships, and, ultimately, seemingly, his own mental health and well-being.
Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography is a wide-ranging exploration of the man's life and larger-than-life legacy from those who knew him best. It's not always a pleasant read, particularly in the build-up to, and exploration of the aftermath of, his suicide, but for fans of the man hoping for a peek behind the curtain it certainly is a necessary read, for better or worse.
[Note: I received an advance copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]
Laurie Woolever, who was Bourdain's assistant for nearly a decade and co-authored "Appetites: A Cookbook" and "World Travel: An Irreverent Guide" with him, admirably pieces together Bourdain's private and professional life with input from his mother, two ex-wives, daughter, brother, publishers, and the producers, writers and technicians on his TV shows. The main person missing from this tapestry is Asia Argento, the Italian actress Bourdain fell in love with, and for whom he left his wife and began alienating friends. His suicide followed a tabloid frenzy suggesting she was cheating on him. She's not interviewed, but numerous friends and colleagues feel his obsession with her was his downfall.
One of the book's most fascinating chapters details the writing and publication of Kitchen Confidential, his frank and profane memoir, which changed his life, brought him fame and magnified his best and worst traits. Although those interviewed are mainly friends and family, this oral biography doesn't shy away from examining Bourdain's loneliness, addictions, abrasive nature and bouts of depression. This is an outstanding and illuminating biography of a complex man plagued with many demons.
Anthony Bourdain wrote and lived with an intoxicating brashness that hid his depression and addictions, and this fascinating oral history delves deep to create a true portrait worthy of the man.