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Friday, May 22, 2009


I never expected to like Bill O’Reilly’s A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity. But I was given this book, and I opened it with a jaundiced eye. Because we’re about the same age, Bill O’Reilly and I share a history. Our fathers fought in WWII; we’re baby boomers; we were the first TV generation; we became teenagers in the ‘60s. He went to Marist College in Poughkeepsie; I was across the river at New Paltz. I wonder if we were ever in Poughkeepsie’s Frivolous Sal at the same time. I thought that was where our similarities ended. But no. Our values are very similar. Though he’s Catholic and I’m not, we became “traditionalists” who respect the values with which we were raised, and we look at many of today’s changes as detrimental to society. I was surprised at how clearly and succinctly O’Reilly expresses his attitude, and I was surprised how similar it is to mine.

The book reads as a conversation with Bill O’Reilly simply explaining himself to his reader. We grew up in troubled times. The ‘60s gave us a close look at racial hatred, war, and assassination. It also gave us changes in music, self-expression, an open drug culture, and sexual freedom. We had to adjust and find our way. Some of O’Reilly’s friends made it; some did not. Same here. Some of our friends became Vietnam vets; some did not. But he probably can find friends’ names, as I can, on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC.

By the time I finished a few chapters, I was laughing a bit at these unexpected similarities that shape how we approach life. A few chapters more and I began sharing some of anecdotes with Rob. A few chapters more and I was quoting Bill O’Reilly. That was a shocker!

This is an interesting book, and Bill O’Reilly is a bold, fresh, piece of humanity. Do I like his TV style any more than I did before? I think not. Perhaps I understand why he takes some of the strong positions he does, why he relentlessly calls on the carpet lenient judges who excuse heinous pedophiles, crooked politicians who are supposed to be representing us, and a host of other people who use their power and money to exploit "the folks." It's more than the individual wrongs; it is the impact on society as a whole each time evil people are given a pass. Each time a victim is neglected, the slope becomes slippier. O'Reilly is very selective, and very often I am with him for many of the same reasons.

I recommend this book. It reads quickly, and it is interesting. Because Rob and I regularly watch his program, we’re aware how wrongfully he is vilified by others. Reading his book gives a better perspective of where this influential man, whether or not you like him, gets his moxie.

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