Note: This review is by my husband Jim.
I never would have chosen to read this book had it not been selected by one of the book clubs to which I belong. Nevertheless, I am quite happy to have read it. Subtitled “Stories from My Life,” all of its chapters (except the first one) relate to events that took place before Moore’s movie, “Roger and Me,” was released and Moore, now an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker, author, and well-known contrarian, became famous.
Moore begins with his birth and babyhood in 1954, and it didn’t take long before he embarked on his career of protesting, muckraking, and agitating. He even complains about his newborn years in retrospect, expressing outrage that doctors encouraged women to feed babies (including him) “Carnation Sugared Milk-Like Fatty Liquid Yum-Yum Substance” rather than breast milk.
At age 14, he got kicked out of St. Paul’s Seminary in Saginaw for asking too many questions. [He must have been very bad, indeed. My classmates at Notre Dame High School in Niles, Illinois still remember me as the boy who drove the priests crazy with my “challenges,” but they never went so far as to kick me out!]
Moore then went to the local high school and got elected to conservative local school board, becoming the youngest elected official in the United States. He also founded a newspaper in high school and started an abortion hot line and crisis center. But he couldn’t get a date.
Moore is portly, sloppy, and generally not considered attractive physically, and so he was shy and generally unsuccessful with girls in high school and college. His description of the terrors of asking an attractive girl for a date is very entertaining.
Despite growing up in a conservative Catholic environment, Moore seems never to have had a Republican-leaning thought in his life. He has always sympathized with the oppressed and downtrodden, which makes for heartfelt descriptions of the treatment of blacks in the 1950’s and 1960’s. As one would expect, he vigorously opposed American involvement in Vietnam. Nevertheless, his description of Richard Nixon, who was disgraced by the Watergate scandal and so derided that he could scarcely travel outside the White House, is poignant and almost sympathetic.
Moore’s outstanding characteristic is his chutzpah. When Ronald Reagan placed a wreath on the graves of some of Hitler’s S.S. troops, Moore and a Jewish friend snuck through tight security to unveil a sign saying, “They killed my family.” His lack of fear of disapproval also enabled him to film a group of neo-Nazis and to confront the President of General Motors (Roger Smith) and the president of the National Rifle Association (Charlton Heston).
Evaluation: Even while not agreeing with Moore on all issues, I found this book to be – like his movies, consistently entertaining and often downright funny.
Published by Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc., 2011