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 gave Barbara her first taste of glamour.
It also made her aware of the ups and downs, the insecurities, and
even the tragedies that can occur when someone is willing to take
great risks, for Lou Walters didn't just make several fortunes-he
also lost them. Barbara learned early about the damage that such an
existence can do to relationships-between husband and wife as well
as between parent and child. Through her roller-coaster ride of a
childhood, Barbara had a close companion, her mentally challenged
sister, Jackie. True, Jackie taught her younger sister much about
patience and compassion, but Barbara also writes honestly about the
resentment she often felt having a sister who was so "different"
and the guilt that still haunts her.
All of this-the financial responsibility for her family, the fear,
the love-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
was the first woman cohost of the Today show, the first
female network news coanchor, the host and producer of countless
top-rated Specials, the star of 20/20, and the
creator and cohost of The View. She has not just
interviewed the world's most fascinating figures, she has become a
part of their world. These are just a few of the names that play a
key role in Barbara's life, career, and book: Yasir Arafat, Warren
Beatty, Menachem Begin, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy
Carter, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Roy
Cohn, the Dalai Lama, Princess Diana, Katharine Hepburn, King
Hussein, Angelina Jolie, Henry Kissinger, Monica Lewinsky, Richard
Nixon, Rosie O'Donnell, Christopher Reeve, Anwar Sadat, John Wayne
. . . the list goes on and on.
Barbara Walters has spent a lifetime auditioning: for her bosses at
the TV networks, for millions of viewers, for the most famous
people in the world, and even for her own daughter, with whom she
has had a difficult but ultimately quite wonderful and moving
relationship. 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.