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Book Cover for: The Rulebreaker: The Life and Times of Barbara Walters, Susan Page

The Rulebreaker: The Life and Times of Barbara Walters

Susan Page

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79% of readers

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Critic Reviews


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A "smart, juicy, deeply reported" (Katie Couric) biography of the most successful female broadcaster of all time--Barbara Walters--a woman whose personal demons fueled an ambition that broke all the rules and finally gave women a permanent place on the air, written by bestselling author Susan Page.

Barbara Walters was a force from the time TV was exploding on the American scene in the 1960s to its waning dominance in a new world of competition from streaming services and social media half a century later. She was not just a groundbreaker for women (Oprah announced when she was seventeen that she wanted to be Barbara Walters), but also expanded the big TV interview and then dominated the genre. By the end of her career, she had interviewed more of the famous and infamous, from presidents to movie stars to criminals to despots, than any other journalist in history. Then at sixty-seven, past the age of many female broadcasters found themselves involuntarily retired, she pioneered a new form of talk TV called The View. She is on the short list of those who have left the biggest imprints on television news and on our culture, male or female. So, who was the woman behind the legacy?

In The Rulebreaker, Susan Page conducts 150 interviews and extensive archival research to discover that Walters was driven to keep herself and her family afloat after her mercurial and famous impresario father attempted suicide. But she never lost the fear of an impending catastrophe, which is what led her to ask for things no woman had ever asked for before, to ignore the rules of misogynistic culture, to outcompete her most ferocious competitors, and to protect her complicated marriages and love life from scrutiny.

Page breaks news on every front--from the daring things Walters did to become the woman who reinvented the TV interview to the secrets she kept until her heath. This is the "stunning" (Norah O'Donnell), "brilliantly written" (Andrea Mitchell) account of the woman who knew she had to break all the rules so she could break all the rules about what viewers deserved to know.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publish Date: Apr 23rd, 2024
  • Pages: 464
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.10in - 6.20in - 1.80in - 1.50lb
  • EAN: 9781982197926
  • Categories: Entertainment & Performing ArtsWomenRich & Famous

About the Author

Page, Susan: - Susan Page is the award-winning Washington Bureau chief of USA TODAY, where she writes about politics and the White House. Susan has covered seven White House administrations and twelve presidential elections. She has interviewed the past ten presidents and reported from six continents and dozens of foreign countries. In 2020, she moderated the vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris. Her previous books, The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty, and Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power, were both instant New York Times bestsellers. She lives in Washington, DC.

Critics’ reviews

Praise for this book

"A smart, juicy and deeply reported book about the woman who put up with a lot of s@*# so those of us who came after wouldn't have to--or at least as much." --Katie Couric

"I thought I knew the Barbara who valiantly paved our way and earned her divadom but Susan Page uncovered so much more." -- Connie Chung

"Page's brilliantly written and researched biography breaks new ground in conveying a fascinating new portrait of an American icon in a book that is impossible to put down. Simply put, as a friend - and sometime competitor - of Barbara Walters, Susan Page's biography is a triumph." -- Andrea Mitchell

"Susan Page pulls a Barbara Walters -- asking all the right questions, just as personal and sharp as Barbara used to in her xray-penetrating interrogations: how did she land her "gets," how did plot out her interviews, who did she think of she thought of as her rivals (and how she dealt with them)... along with questions about her far less successful personal life." --Lesley Stahl

"A stunning account of Barbara Walters' journey to change television - and history - as we know it." -- Norah O'Donnell

"An impeccably researched and deeply sourced biography and a respectful and balanced portrait of this groundbreaking icon of American journalism." --Booklist (starred review)

"Incisive and evenhanded, this is a triumph." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"...Soars and shines with intriguing story after story about such a legendary life... Page expertly portrays Walters as an important figure in society, but she also shows what made her human.. A definitive and deeply researched biography, likely to be in high demand at all libraries, especially those with book clubs." -- Library Journal

"A biography of a woman of rare achievement... perceptive." -- Kirkus Review

"[A] thorough, compassionate biography... In placing the emphasis on all the rule-breaking Barbara Jill Walters had to do over her long life -- she died in 2022 at 93 -- the biographer pays respect to a toughness easy to undervalue today." -- The New York Times Book Review

"A compelling, deliciously readable biography of a journalist who changed the face of TV news." -- The Washington Post

"[Barbara Walters'] outsize role, and often equally outsize lifestyle and tactics, come alive in The Rulebreaker, an entertaining and well-considered new biography of the pioneering broadcaster... The Rulebreaker shows that icons don't sparkle all the time, but reminds us that's sometimes OK, that judgments can be made on the overwhelming balance of a life's work rather than by questioning every single move as if we're some latter-day Barbara Walters." -- The Boston Globe

"Page's excellent new biography of Barbara Walters, is a nuanced, deeply researched history of the legendary newswoman.. The book ticks all the boxes for a compulsively readable celebrity biography, relating Walters's improbable rise to fame, her tumultuous personal life, and plenty of juicy gossip featuring a veritable who's who of the past 70 years." -- Washington Monthly