THE WAY I HEARD IT By Mike Rowe
Building on his popular podcast, the author “tells some true stories you probably don’t know, about some famous people you probably do.” Some of those stories, he allows, have been subject to correction, just as on his TV show he was “corrected on windmills and oil derricks, coal mines and construction sites, frack tanks, pig farms, slime lines, and lumber mills.” Still, it’s clear that he takes pains to get things right even if he’s not above a few too-obvious groaners, writing about erections (of skyscrapers, that is, and, less elegantly, of pigs) here and Joan Rivers (“the Bonnie Parker of comedy”) there, working the likes of Bob Dylan, William Randolph Hearst, and John Wayne into the discourse. The most charming pieces play on Rowe’s own foibles. In one, he writes of having taken a soft job as a “caretaker”—in quotes—of a country estate with few clear lines of responsibility save, as he reveals, humoring the resident ghost. As the author notes on his website, being a TV host gave him great skills in “talking for long periods without saying anything of substance,” and some of his stories are more filler than compelling narrative. In others, though, he digs deeper, as when he writes of Jason Everman, a rock guitarist who walked away from two spectacularly successful bands (Nirvana and Soundgarden) in order to serve as a special forces operative: “If you thought that Pete Best blew his chance with the Beatles, consider this: the first band Jason bungled sold 30 million records in a single year.” Speaking of rock stars, Rowe does a good job with the oft-repeated matter of Charlie Manson’s brief career as a songwriter: “No one can say if having his song stolen by the Beach Boys pushed Charlie over the edge,” writes the author, but it can’t have helped.
Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.
Emmy-award winning gadfly Mike Rowe presents a ridiculously entertaining, seriously fascinating collection of his favorite episodes from America’s #1 short-form podcast, The Way I Heard It, along with a host of memories, ruminations, illustrations, and insights. It’s a delightful collection of mysteries. A mosaic. A memoir. A charming, surprising must-read.
Mike Rowe’s The Way I Heard It collects thirty-five fascinating stories “for the curious mind with a short attention span.” Five-minute mysteries about people you know, filled with facts that you didn’t. Movie stars, presidents, Nazis, and bloody do-gooders—they’re all here, waiting to shake your hand, hoping you’ll remember them. Delivered with Mike’s signature blend of charm, wit, and ingenuity, their stories are part of a larger mosaic—a memoir crammed with recollections, insights, and intimate, behind-the-scenes moments drawn from Mike’s own remarkable life and career.
# I first saw Mike Rowe on Dirty jobs, and enjoyed his humor, his willingness to try anything. Reading this I learned he is or was, a big Paul Harvey fan, as was my husband. Everyday my husband would stop and listen avidly until the end and the words, the rest of the story. This is what Rowe does here, tell stories, some of people well known, well maybe depending on the age of the reader, others not as familiar. They are surprising, little known, at least to me, events I their lives. I bet most readers will find a surprise or two within.
After each story. Mike tells us the journey his life has taken. He has done many different jobs, met many different people, from many walks of life. His life has taken some strange turns. His writing is as humorous, self deprecating as his show on TV was, he just seems to have a natural talent. A big plus is that this is a book that will appeal to both men and women, a book that will provide fodder for some good discussions.
I found this impressive, entertaining and interesting.
#'I had a pedestal once. I put a pig on it. You can google it. Go ahead, do it- I’ll wait.'
In The Way I Heard It, Mike Rowe shares stories about famous people interspersed with tales of his own fascinating journey, from his youth cutting trees with is Dad, his days at QVC selling all sorts of odd products (I recommend his Katsak clip on YouTube), the famous Dirty Jobs (which many of us sorely miss) to his current podcast, The Way I heard it, you will be riveted. Did I read with Mike’s trademark sonorous voice in my head? You betcha! In fact, I should be writing this is my own voice and yet here I am using his! I could spend all day pondering what it is that draws people to Rowe, his charm, charisma, self-deprecating humor and wisdom, like putting a pig on a pedestal (he admits he is best when he gets out of the way and shines a spotlight on others) instead I will say this book is fantastic. Though it is perfect for those with ‘short attention spans’ or people too with busy their careers or families to sink into a long novel it is also the right fit for readers like me, who eat books every single day. The tales are short but rich in the telling, I was surprised by the many things I didn’t know about certain celebrities, particularly ones I admire- how did I not read about it on the internet where we are inundated by strange trivia? Rowe humanizes folks in the telling, and I find admirable qualities which can be surprising and a few that were downright heartbreaking.
There are winners and losers, because life is also luck as much as success requires cleverness and a fierce heart. How did we get here, how does one person’s idea change the world we live in? Why do some people push themselves hard and honor their promises much like a debt? Why do some give up? One’s fame can hang on a pretty face, but behind it there can be brilliance that no one can dim, though we see the world try. Fame for others can remain out of reach, until they take a plunge. Not all of the subjects are still alive, and often they had a far richer life, a more generous nature than the cameras or history revealed. Not to say some didn’t make mistakes or downright asses of themselves in the process, Mike included!
I spent time after finishing this uplifting book thinking about the strange turns of fate, the vital connections we often don’t even realize until later that are being made, and how we can set sail on a plan but find ourselves blown off course and yet right where we’re meant to be. As Mike Rowe himself has proven in his own full life, what looks like disaster on your worse day can lead to something far greater. That’s the way I heard it, anyway.
Beautifully written, kept me smiling and I am recommending it to every person I know.
THE WAY I HEARD IT, Mike Rowe, ebook 2019, review The Way I Heard It
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