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The first biography of the most popular anchor in cable news. Rachel Maddow has beaten the odds in a way that's novel in today's America: she uses her brain. In a world of banal and opinionated soundbites, she regularly crushes Sean Hannity's ratings thanks to her deeply researched reports. And in our highly polarized world, Maddow amiably engages the staunchest conservative The first biography of the most popular anchor in cable news. Rachel Maddow has beaten the odds in a way that's novel in today's America: she uses her brain. In a world of banal and opinionated soundbites, she regularly crushes Sean Hannity's ratings thanks to her deeply researched reports. And in our highly polarized world, Maddow amiably engages the staunchest conservatives, while never hesitating to expose their light-on-facts defenses. As a result, she's become the top anchor for MSNBC and a beloved representative for all that progressive America holds dear. The news that Maddow was the first publicly-out lesbian to anchor a prime-time TV news show seemed almost anticlimactic to her millions of viewers, who will be surprised and intrigued by little-known details of her life, as written by New York Times bestselling biographer Lisa Rogak. Growing up in a conservative California town - and viewing herself as a perennial outsider - helped spark an early interest in activism. After attending Stanford and Oxford, she opted for a minimum-wage job as a radio DJ in a tiny Massachusetts market while finishing her Ph.D. She planned to pursue a career as an activist, but 9/11 changed all that, so she returned to local radio where she could help listeners by explaining stuff. A stint at Air America raised her national profile, which led to her groundbreaking MSNBC show where she dissects the news of the day with an approach found nowhere else on TV.


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The first biography of the most popular anchor in cable news. Rachel Maddow has beaten the odds in a way that's novel in today's America: she uses her brain. In a world of banal and opinionated soundbites, she regularly crushes Sean Hannity's ratings thanks to her deeply researched reports. And in our highly polarized world, Maddow amiably engages the staunchest conservative The first biography of the most popular anchor in cable news. Rachel Maddow has beaten the odds in a way that's novel in today's America: she uses her brain. In a world of banal and opinionated soundbites, she regularly crushes Sean Hannity's ratings thanks to her deeply researched reports. And in our highly polarized world, Maddow amiably engages the staunchest conservatives, while never hesitating to expose their light-on-facts defenses. As a result, she's become the top anchor for MSNBC and a beloved representative for all that progressive America holds dear. The news that Maddow was the first publicly-out lesbian to anchor a prime-time TV news show seemed almost anticlimactic to her millions of viewers, who will be surprised and intrigued by little-known details of her life, as written by New York Times bestselling biographer Lisa Rogak. Growing up in a conservative California town - and viewing herself as a perennial outsider - helped spark an early interest in activism. After attending Stanford and Oxford, she opted for a minimum-wage job as a radio DJ in a tiny Massachusetts market while finishing her Ph.D. She planned to pursue a career as an activist, but 9/11 changed all that, so she returned to local radio where she could help listeners by explaining stuff. A stint at Air America raised her national profile, which led to her groundbreaking MSNBC show where she dissects the news of the day with an approach found nowhere else on TV.

30 review for Rachel Maddow: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    Rachel Maddow had blue hair! That’s my favorite tidbit from this biography. Why does that crack me up so much? I think it’s because a blue head in a sea of black and gray politics seems beautifully incongruent, especially when the head belongs to a person who isn’t flashy, who doesn’t like to draw attention to her appearance. But it’s not just blue hair that intrigued me; there are plenty of other interesting facts about this TV brainiac newscaster. Here’s one: Her pet peeve is when a person makes Rachel Maddow had blue hair! That’s my favorite tidbit from this biography. Why does that crack me up so much? I think it’s because a blue head in a sea of black and gray politics seems beautifully incongruent, especially when the head belongs to a person who isn’t flashy, who doesn’t like to draw attention to her appearance. But it’s not just blue hair that intrigued me; there are plenty of other interesting facts about this TV brainiac newscaster. Here’s one: Her pet peeve is when a person makes a statement sound like a question (using the wrong inflection at the end of a sentence). She is so passionate about this that she doesn’t allow her staff to use question marks—seriously! That sounds like a tall order to me! She says, “There will never be a question mark used as punctuation in any script ever given to me.” (!) I’m not sure why I wanted to read this book, really, as I’m not a crazy Rachel gusher. I watch her show (The Rachel Maddow show) only occasionally. I prefer fiction to politics; I’d pick punsters over pundits any day. But the woman fascinates me. Newscasters usually put me to sleep with their drony voices. Rachel Maddow doesn’t. She talks in layman’s terms, and she does so with a sparkle that others don’t have. She’s passionate, earnest, funny, and absolutely brilliant. (I better watch out because I’m dangerously close to sounding like a full-fledged gusher!) I loved hearing about how she got to be where she is today. I learned that she once was an AIDS activist, that she went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and got a Ph.D. She sort of fell into newscasting, starting with radio. The book talked a bit about Rachel coming out and about her partner, who she has been with since 1999. We learn what motivates Rachel (a fear of failure), and we learn her purpose (to explain things so we all can understand). She succeeds. Since watching political hearings and debates bores me, I’ll watch Rachel’s show to get a summary. She has an amazing talent for getting Republicans to talk with her. She tries to not raise her voice (her mom will let her know if she does!). There are all sorts of other cool facts. For example, she’s light on pop culture; she didn’t know that Jenner was related to the Kardashians, for example. And an irresistible tidbit: She co-wrote the lyrics of a political song with her musician friend Erin McKeown. It’s called “Baghdad to the Bayou.” I liked it so much I downloaded it! My very favorite part of the book was the description of her current work scene. The book goes into minute detail of how she and the show operate. She works super long hours and spends a good part of the day sequestered away so she can read and prepare. She is the consummate researcher! This section of the book was absolutely thrilling. I guess it’s because her high-speed workday was described so vividly; I felt like I was right there watching it all go down. So much goes into creating one live show! Complaint Board (minor infractions) -Not enough info about her childhood. I would have loved more anecdotes from friends and family, or from Rachel herself. -The straightforward journalistic style seemed flat occasionally. -Way too much time was spent on the inner workings of the Air America radio network. Yoo-hoo, this book is about Rachel, not radio! It was so bad I considered chucking the book. Just when I was about to bail, the book picked up and I became immersed again. -The books ended at 77 percent on the Kindle. I was settled in, hoping for more when suddenly, it was over. This is because the last quarter of the book is all footnotes! I’m sure this was fixed by publication date, but in my copy there are no footnote numbers in the text—so the list of footnotes at the end was completely useless to me. From now on, when I think of Rachel Maddow, I’ll think of how she once had blue hair and how she just hates the old question mark. But no question here—this is a good read. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lex Kent

    While I would give Rachel Maddow herself 5 Stars anytime, I’m disappointed to say that this book was only in the okay category for me. I’m a big Maddow fan. While I occasional watch a little Morning Joe while I’m getting ready for work, Rachel’s show is the only news show I consistently watch. I love how she easily explains things without talking down to her audience and that she gives you information so that you can make up your own mind. She doesn’t tell you how you should think and feel like While I would give Rachel Maddow herself 5 Stars anytime, I’m disappointed to say that this book was only in the okay category for me. I’m a big Maddow fan. While I occasional watch a little Morning Joe while I’m getting ready for work, Rachel’s show is the only news show I consistently watch. I love how she easily explains things without talking down to her audience and that she gives you information so that you can make up your own mind. She doesn’t tell you how you should think and feel like most news pundits love to do. Plus she has a nice calming voice which I appreciate since it seems like there is something awful happening every day now. Anyway, I was really looking forward to learning more about Rachel but I didn’t feel like enough of that happened. I’m not a huge nonfiction fan but I enjoy reading about people and subjects that I am interested in. What I realized after reading this book is that there is a big difference between biographies and autobiographies. Of course I know why they are different but I truly noticed that difference with this book. I think if this would have been an autobiography, especially an audiobook with Rachel narrating herself, I think I would have loved this. Instead I felt a real disconnect. This felt like someone who had an assignment, sourced all their information, and wrote a report. It was interesting but I didn’t feel connected to Rachel. I looked at the author’s notes and I don’t think she ever interviewed Rachel or any friends and family to make this book. It was all done from information that was already out there (as far as I can tell) and unfortunately it felt like it. Just when I was interested in something, the book would jump to a new topic. There was too much surface level info and not enough deep and hearty content. I did find some new info about Rachel. While I knew some of Rachel’s early life, I didn’t know just how much she did as an AIDS activist. Her early life is just as impressive if not more than even now. In fact, I thought the book dragged a bit when it got to Rachel starting her TV show. I don’t if it is because I knew most of the info already but the book slowed down for me at that point. I wish there was more about Rachel’s early life, personal life or even more from the current time period. This book stopped earlier timeline wise than I expected. If you are a casual Rachel fan and don’t know much about her life, this book might work better for you. If you know a good bit about Rachel already, you might not find much new information here. This book is readable and I did learn some, but it wasn’t really what I was hoping for. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that Rachel will write her own life story in the future. An ARC was given to me for a honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook... ....written by Kirsten Potter ...narrated by Lisa Royal Paul and I watch Rachel Maddow every evening on MSNBC. When 6 PM comes around... we turn on the TV for an hour. We love Rachel. Many viewers knew that she was away from the show for two weeks - in quarantine, having been exposed to Covid-19. But we didn’t know until a few nights ago, when she returned ( speaking on air from home), was that her partner, Susan Mikula, tested positive for the coronavirus, and was seriously sick. Rac Audiobook... ....written by Kirsten Potter ...narrated by Lisa Royal Paul and I watch Rachel Maddow every evening on MSNBC. When 6 PM comes around... we turn on the TV for an hour. We love Rachel. Many viewers knew that she was away from the show for two weeks - in quarantine, having been exposed to Covid-19. But we didn’t know until a few nights ago, when she returned ( speaking on air from home), was that her partner, Susan Mikula, tested positive for the coronavirus, and was seriously sick. Rachel gave a heart-wrenching emotional talk on national TV about the person she loves most in life. Rachel said: “At one point, we really thought that there was a possibility that it might kill her, that’s why I’ve been away”. Rachel then urged, begged viewers to stay home for Thanksgiving and reconsider any activities that might put them at risk of getting the coronavirus, or spreading it. I shared about how much listening to Rachel’s personal story affected me with Anne ( here on Goodreads), and she told me about this book. I was thrilled that our library overdrive had a copy. I had recently finished the audiobook of Obama‘s new autobiography.... I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to listen to more. THANK YOU, Anne!!! This book was so addicting and such a treat to listen to... there was not a lag anywhere. It was certainly enjoyable to learn about Rachel‘s development and new things which I had no idea. This is another quickie review... ( from the pool again) ... Paul with me... medicinal gummy... I probably can’t be trusted to share much more. Lots of wonderful tidbits to learn about Rachel and Susan ... for those who are interested. There’s a funny story about her coming out when she was at Stanford university— and personally I just love the way she thinks - I love who she is— and her commitment to the highest level of integrity when reporting the news. Paul and I had a little conversation about Rachel’s love of fishing. It’s easy to get that she’s wearing a pair of tennis shoes on the air that we can’t see and some raggedy old jeans underneath her blazer on TV — but fishing? Rachel loves the relaxation of fishing ( and often)... who knew? When I was a little girl at home in bed after having been in the hospital for a week with a bad case of the measles-all of 4 years of age... my father bought me Mickey Mouse ears... and promised me as soon as I got well he was going to take me fishing. The sad story 🙁 I got well, but he died before we had our father/daughter fishing day. I have never been fishing in my life. Paul keeps telling me I should go and complete the experience but I’ve never done it yet. Paul is soaking here next to me in this warm water yelling, “YES”. I’ve had a few opportunities in my lifetime and I wouldn’t go because the memories are still associated with my dad... But after reading Rachele‘s book ( loving fishing?/!).... and this crazy year of 2020... I’m willing I just want Paul to come with me. If you like audiobooks, and you like Rachel Maddow, there’s absolutely nothing to not like about this book. Thanks again, Anne... pure enjoyment!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    First book of 2020!! This was a fairly short read (just about 200 pages), on a person I greatly admire. I watched her show for years, but now listen to it while commuting to and from work each day. I didn't really know much about her as a person so I jumped at the chance to read this to get to know her better. I was surprised many times at how much she isn't that typical liberal. In listening to her show, I feel that she is very fair in getting at the truth (no matter at whose expense it is (libe First book of 2020!! This was a fairly short read (just about 200 pages), on a person I greatly admire. I watched her show for years, but now listen to it while commuting to and from work each day. I didn't really know much about her as a person so I jumped at the chance to read this to get to know her better. I was surprised many times at how much she isn't that typical liberal. In listening to her show, I feel that she is very fair in getting at the truth (no matter at whose expense it is (liberal/conservative)) and criticizing corrupt behavior and those people who work against the common interests of everyone in our country. However, she is much more down the middle than I realized and that only makes me respect her more. Her whole goal in life is to provide information to her fellow citizens about things that aren't getting the headlines so as to inform. Her preparation for everything she does is borderline obsessive and unhealthy, but that is the only way she can do it. It must come at a great personal toll on her health mentally and physically (and I now will try to stifle my feelings of annoyance when she takes the day off), but she has taught me something almost every time I listen to her and for that I am thankful. I think the biggest takeaway I'd like to mention is that if you write her off as the lead talking head of an ultra liberal network then you are sorely mistaken. If anything, this book further illustrates to me that we all are too quick to judge each other and put people in boxes based on certain characteristics. Rachel had great relationships with people you would be surprised at (i.e. Tucker Carlson and Pat Buchanan) despite her steadfast disagreement with their policy positions. I even scratch my head at some of her reasonings, but that is the point, isn't it? My one slight criticism is that I wish there would have been a chapter that was more current. It sounds like this kind of ended in mid 2018, but a lot has changed (particularly with people Rachel had close relationships with of conservative views) and I'm very curious how those relationships have evolved with those changes. Are those people unrecognizable to her? Or does she still find a way to bridge the political divide? I also wish that Rachel could have been interviewed for this book. Everything sighted that is her opinion or information about her is from other sources. Thank you to Netgalley, Thomas Dunne Books and Lisa Rogak for the opportunity to read this book and provide an honest review. Review Date: 01/01/2020 Publication Date: 01/07/2020

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    “Rachel Maddow: A Biography” (2020) is written by NYT bestselling author Lisa Rogak. “The Rachel Maddow Show” first aired in 2008: the Los Angeles Times quickly reported Maddow to be “MSNBC’s New Liberal Spark Plug”—her award winning show continues as the most popular highly rated cable news shows in the history of MSNBC. Maddow is also the author of “Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rouge State Russia, and the Richest Most Destructive Industry on Earth” (2019). Rachel Maddow (1973-) was a bright, q “Rachel Maddow: A Biography” (2020) is written by NYT bestselling author Lisa Rogak. “The Rachel Maddow Show” first aired in 2008: the Los Angeles Times quickly reported Maddow to be “MSNBC’s New Liberal Spark Plug”—her award winning show continues as the most popular highly rated cable news shows in the history of MSNBC. Maddow is also the author of “Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rouge State Russia, and the Richest Most Destructive Industry on Earth” (2019). Rachel Maddow (1973-) was a bright, quirky, inquisitive child raised in the conservative Castro Valley, California area by her “very very Catholic” parents. Maddow realized she was gay as a teen, and was keenly aware of racial tension and homophobic attitudes which were universally prevalent in her hometown. As result, Maddow became very open-minded and accepting of the opinions and viewpoints of others—this would be an important skill that would develop and serve her well, particularly in her adult career choice. As a Rhodes Scholar, Maddow attended Stanford University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in public policy (1994)-- she supported AIDS/HIV education joining the radical outspoken Act UP and volunteered in her community for AIDS/HIV related causes. At the University of Oxford, Maddow completed her education studying prison reform involving AIDS/HIV inmates in multiple American southern states, and was eventually awarded a PhD in political science (2001). In 1999, the relationship Maddow had with an un-named woman ended abruptly after Maddow met the photographer/artist Susan Mikula (1958-). Maddow applied to do some yard maintenance work for Mikula and admitted while she didn’t actually have a green thumb--she could carry and haul off dead things. It was love at first sight. The couple divide their time between their home in Massachusetts and their apartment in NYC where Maddow’s show is produced. Maddow avoids speaking publicly of Mikula and their personal life. This biography seems to be written carefully, most of the material was from Rogak’s research using public records and previously published articles and interviews. For readers unfamiliar with Maddow, her life, her reporting, her show, etc. the book is highly informative. However, the narrative input of family, friends, colleagues and others is noticeably lacking. In these times of fake news, the corruption and chaos associated with the Trump administration, Maddow lives and speaks with integrity and respect for the truth that can always be appreciated. (3.5* GOOD) **With thanks to St. Martin’s Press-Thomas Dunne Books via NetGalley for the DDC for the purpose of review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    I have been a fan of The Rachel Maddow Show for some time and late in 2019 was very glad to read Maddow’s Blowout, an excellent study of the political and environmental impacts of the international oil industry on us all. When St. Martin’s Press offered an opportunity to read Lisa Rogak’s new biography of Rachel Maddow, I readily accepted. While I have learned something about Maddow from her show and occasional guest moments on late night shows, most of the personal information offered by Rogak w I have been a fan of The Rachel Maddow Show for some time and late in 2019 was very glad to read Maddow’s Blowout, an excellent study of the political and environmental impacts of the international oil industry on us all. When St. Martin’s Press offered an opportunity to read Lisa Rogak’s new biography of Rachel Maddow, I readily accepted. While I have learned something about Maddow from her show and occasional guest moments on late night shows, most of the personal information offered by Rogak was new. The details of her youth, time in high school, and college years were entirely new as was the information about her commitment to activism. I was an Air America listener back in the day, but my station never got the entire lineup so I don’t know if I ever heard her. The philosophy she brings to her work is interesting, the openness to all if they are honest. But, and I have a major “but” here, I do have a problem with this book. There are about 35 pages of footnotes after the biography of about 220 pages. BUT there are no primary sources cited. There are many quotes throughout the text but they are taken from magazine, newspaper and various radio and possibly TV interviews and articles. Rogak apparently did not interview Maddow, co-workers, family, friends or foes for this biography. For this reason, I have to take points off. (Addendum: there is no bibliography in my copy but there are many empty pages at the end so the final edition may be different from the ARC I have read in that regard.) While I found much of interest here, I also wondered whose point of view I was reading. So many articles were used to create this book that at times I really did not feel I had a true read on the accuracy of what was being said about Maddow’s motivation, etc. Everything was at least second hand. My final thoughts: the book is an interesting read and it does seem to fit the Rachel Maddow I watch on MSNBC but it reads as a celebrity bio not a true biography. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in return for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    4.5 stars. I loved reading this biography, learning about how Rachel Maddow became the famously likable and brilliant newscaster I know only from watching her cable news show on MSNBC. From page 1, Rachel's personality leaps from the page and I felt completely engaged and enthralled and this book became a page-turner. After reading this book I like and admire Maddow even more than I did before reading it. For me, this biography was an engaging page turner because Maddow is such a unique and inte 4.5 stars. I loved reading this biography, learning about how Rachel Maddow became the famously likable and brilliant newscaster I know only from watching her cable news show on MSNBC. From page 1, Rachel's personality leaps from the page and I felt completely engaged and enthralled and this book became a page-turner. After reading this book I like and admire Maddow even more than I did before reading it. For me, this biography was an engaging page turner because Maddow is such a unique and interesting person; so funny, talented and good-hearted and courageous. She attributes her guts to "arrogance," but then says that she works herself to the point of exhaustion because she is "afraid to fail." These seemingly conflicting and complicated feelings are not explained but left to the reader to ponder. On the other hand, Rachel is very clear and uncomplicated when it comes to matters of truth and justice. Since "coming out as a lesbian" to her friends as a teenager she has always had the attitude "this is me whether you like it or not" and she has never wavered from that position on anything, always fiercely independent, knowing her own mind and speaking the truth, or facts, about anything or anyone and wanting to hear truth from others, ally or opponent. This makes her a respectful listener and debate partner, particularly with opponents, some of whom she even befriends. This is also the Maddow we know who respects the intelligence of her audience and unfolds the news or, the facts, like a storyteller. She is also the person who will out a "bad person" on her show and for Maddow this is not only deserved but fun for her. For Maddow, again, everything is a matter of truth and justice. Maddow's personal and intellectual qualities and gifts plus her strict work ethic and more shine through on every page of this book and it is these qualities which became readily apparent when she was in high school and university and in every job she ever took on, from odd jobs to support herself when she was a student and an activist continuing to her current job. Maddow took her first radio job at minimum wage to make money and nothing more. She was an activist and interested in and studying public policy and saw her future in activism. As much fun as it would be to summarize all that I learned about Maddow, I will stop here and let you have the fun of reading this short, 217 page, biography about her thrilling trajectory from reporting the closing of school on snow days at her first "temporary" radio job (she even made that funny) to her current position with a cable news show of 4 million viewers. It's quite a ride and a fun and interesting one, which includes some tidbits about her personal life. I write the above with one caveat and it's a big one. If you know virtually nothing about Maddow you will enjoy this book, just as I did. If, however, you have kept up with news about her over the years through reading about her in print interviews, listening to her speeches and watching her on talk shows I would advise skipping this book. There's nothing new here for you. That's because Lisa Rogak, the author of this biography, culled all of her material for this book from these secondary sources exclusively. No first hand sources of information are included. There are no interviews with Maddow, her family, friends or anyone else from her personal or professional life, clearly because Rogak didn't have that kind of access. Plus, there is no introduction by Rogak to explain any of this or why she decided to write about Maddow in the first place. This biography is filled with quotations on every page without any footnote numbers after the quotes. The only reviews I've read have been from people who had access to pre-publication copies of this book who figured that this was an error that would be fixed prior to publication. Nope. They found, as I did, in my published book, that at the end of the book there are pages and pages of what are considered footnotes. But these aren't footnotes at all. They are a compilation of the secondary source materials from which the quotes are culled with the page numbers at the side letting the reader know on which page this source was used. Towards the end of the biography Rogak seems to run out of material and begins to repeat more and more often many of Maddow's "talking points. " These are important points but by the last chapter we've read them several times and the repetition gets exasperating particularly because by now the "writing" and the culling of information begins to feel a bit choppy, like a big jigsaw puzzle with pieces of the puzzle missing. As a reader, I sometimes wondered "how did we get from there to here? I suppose that piece of the puzzle is missing from public access, so Rogak did the best she could with the information she had. An unfortunate way to end an otherwise terrific biography. But in the end, I'll remember this book for what I learned about Maddow and my appreciation for the work that was done to bring Maddow's personality to life on the page. With primary sources included this would have been a 5 star plus read and a favorite but given Maddow's deep desire for privacy, I doubt that biography will ever be written.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    I have watched Rachel Maddow as a news anchor for cable news for as long as I can remember. I found her to be intelligent, fascinating and can really breakdown complex issues foreign to me, in bite size pieces that I can comprehend. This book was a really exciting read for me to learn more about the person I admired. This biography by Lisa Rogak was well written and told the story of Maddow, as a top anchor for MSNBC, a member of the LGBTQ community, and as the well loved icon by millions of pro I have watched Rachel Maddow as a news anchor for cable news for as long as I can remember. I found her to be intelligent, fascinating and can really breakdown complex issues foreign to me, in bite size pieces that I can comprehend. This book was a really exciting read for me to learn more about the person I admired. This biography by Lisa Rogak was well written and told the story of Maddow, as a top anchor for MSNBC, a member of the LGBTQ community, and as the well loved icon by millions of progressives. I thought that the writing was superb, well researched and very thorough. It is an amazing biography that was presented very well and told a wonderful story of what made her who she is today. I highly recommend this biography to learn more about Rachel Maddow’s life!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Maddow has impressed me with her cogent and reasoned narratives in explaining news stories. Earlier this year I read her book Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russian, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth in which she explains the gas and oil industry's influence and power and how Putin's goal of becoming a gas and oil supplier to Europe and the world has impacted current American politics. I count it as one of the best books I read this year. I was late to discovering Rac Maddow has impressed me with her cogent and reasoned narratives in explaining news stories. Earlier this year I read her book Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russian, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth in which she explains the gas and oil industry's influence and power and how Putin's goal of becoming a gas and oil supplier to Europe and the world has impacted current American politics. I count it as one of the best books I read this year. I was late to discovering Rachel Maddow in spite of her popularity as I don't care for most cable and network news shows featuring a personality. I prefer print media sources. In 2015, I followed the Michigan online newspaper Bridge stories on the Flint, Michigan lead water crisis. Maddow turned this local story into national news. She publicized the decisions by Flint's emergency managers which bought about the contamination and hosted a live Town Hall meeting in Flint. Maddow caught my attention at this time. When St. Martin's Press offered me a chance to read Rachel Maddow: A Biography by Lisa Rogak I was very pleased. I knew I had a lot to learn about Maddow. I was disappointed when Rogak's coverage of Maddow's involvement was a few sentences. I hoped for more insight, especially since this showed Maddow's activist side as well as her penchant for finding buried news. I did learn about Maddow as a person, her early activism, her work habits, and her overall career. It was no surprise to learn that Maddow's deep intelligence and perfectionist drive was manifest from childhood. The portrayal leans heavy on the personal. I had no idea of Maddow's struggle with depression or even of her earlier activism in AIDS and LBGT organizations. I knew she was lesbian and have noted her handsome, no-frills style. Maddow's wardrobe choices take up too much space, her preference for hoodies and sneakers mentioned several times. I appreciate that Maddow found the love of her life. I preferred the sections which described her ability to put personal politics aside and her reasoned interactions with people whose political views were vastly divergent from her own. I wish the author had been able to include a section on Blowout. I loved the quote about Maddow's dislike of cable news hosts as 'brands' and her comment on how some even profess opinions just for attention and to draw viewers. Maddow sees her role as offering "a useful analysis" to help viewers "come to their own conclusions." I love that! That is my ideal. The biography has reinforced my estimation of Maddow. I was given an Advanced Reading Copy by the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Donald Powell

    A simple biography to give some color to one of America's favorite news anchors. It did not mention her book "Blowout" but was a good memorialization of the subject to date. A very quick read but very interesting and enlightening. It is nice to see a person of fame portrayed as real rather than perfect, though intellectually Rachel Maddow may be as close to perfect as anyone can be. A simple biography to give some color to one of America's favorite news anchors. It did not mention her book "Blowout" but was a good memorialization of the subject to date. A very quick read but very interesting and enlightening. It is nice to see a person of fame portrayed as real rather than perfect, though intellectually Rachel Maddow may be as close to perfect as anyone can be.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    As a huge fan of Rachel for years even I took away many great new insights into her illustrious career and personal life. I've read Rachel's recent work The Blowout and it was fab but her personal life and road to success wasn't paved with flakes of gold. In fact when she speaks politics I was often glued to the tv because she offered insight like no one else and often it was something unique and never heard before facts that coupled with her live on air persona just worked magic to her viewers. I As a huge fan of Rachel for years even I took away many great new insights into her illustrious career and personal life. I've read Rachel's recent work The Blowout and it was fab but her personal life and road to success wasn't paved with flakes of gold. In fact when she speaks politics I was often glued to the tv because she offered insight like no one else and often it was something unique and never heard before facts that coupled with her live on air persona just worked magic to her viewers. I honestly never knew about her life in terms of Susan and while I had no idea her sexual orientation it didn't matter to me. I loved the fact the author notes her sense of activism and her need to be 'perfect' in terms of knowing it all before going on air. In fact so much so that others have told her to cool it. That's the ideal definition of who she is as a person because it shows across the screen. She's someone who takes delight in her work and wants to help others and for this empath I admire those traits especially the 'under dog' stories. The whole notion that she's not given as much credit as she deserves for taking the top spot is something that's not as well known. It's a rough biz these days in relations to telling the truth and not fake news and gathering facts doing the 'journalistic' work that's required and not simply rushing it out to be first in the instant gratification of news these days and I admire that immensely. While she doesn't view herself as a journalist she is admired and loved by many and that's something that will not change. A great new read that I highly recommend.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    Even though it’s been awhile since I have seen Rachel Maddow’s show I feel like I knew most of the information that was in this book already. As a casual fan I don’t feel like this offered a lot of insight into the subject. I think the book suffers from lack of direct access to Maddow herself, having to rely entirely on easily accessible public information. Netgalley provided me with an arc in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shomeret

    I admit that I decided to read this book because I lost access to cable and missed Maddow's show. While I was reading this book, I realized that I could stream it. I am very glad that I read this biography. For me, this was a surprising book. I knew very little about Rachel Maddow's life. I had no knowledge of her radio career, for example. Her cyclical depression and the way she sees herself humanized Maddow for me. Though I still admire her very much. I admit that I decided to read this book because I lost access to cable and missed Maddow's show. While I was reading this book, I realized that I could stream it. I am very glad that I read this biography. For me, this was a surprising book. I knew very little about Rachel Maddow's life. I had no knowledge of her radio career, for example. Her cyclical depression and the way she sees herself humanized Maddow for me. Though I still admire her very much.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Suanne Laqueur

    Damn. I knew she was smart but JESUS. Scary smart woman. SCARY.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a free ebook in exchange for a fair review. I like Rachel Maddow. I'm impressed with her quick intellect. There's an interesting juxtaposition of brilliance and craziness in the conspiracy theories she weaves on her show.. I was happy therefore to learn more about Rachel Maddow. This book provided me with a thorough biography of Rachel Maddow. Her life was exactly as I thought it would be. This book is an extremely positive portrayal and the Rachel in this Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a free ebook in exchange for a fair review. I like Rachel Maddow. I'm impressed with her quick intellect. There's an interesting juxtaposition of brilliance and craziness in the conspiracy theories she weaves on her show.. I was happy therefore to learn more about Rachel Maddow. This book provided me with a thorough biography of Rachel Maddow. Her life was exactly as I thought it would be. This book is an extremely positive portrayal and the Rachel in this book is exactly the Rachel I imagined. This book is written like an extended Wikipedia article. There are no deep insights or revelations. It seems to have been culled from magazine and newspaper articles and interviews. I eventually grew a little bored. That's surprising because Rachel Maddow is anything but boring. I'm glad that the author didn't engage in gossip or tabloid stuff but I do think the book coul have had more zing. Rachel certainly does.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    I was interested in reading the Rachel Maddow book by Lisa Rogak because Rachel grew up about 20 minutes from where I grew up (I am 7 years older than Rachel.) It was interesting to hear about her early years and her time on Air America. I used to listen to that radio station and had no idea she was one of the radio hosts. There were several quotes from Rachel, which showed her senses of humor. In watching her on her show, I’ve always felt she had a great sense of humor, and the book does prove I was interested in reading the Rachel Maddow book by Lisa Rogak because Rachel grew up about 20 minutes from where I grew up (I am 7 years older than Rachel.) It was interesting to hear about her early years and her time on Air America. I used to listen to that radio station and had no idea she was one of the radio hosts. There were several quotes from Rachel, which showed her senses of humor. In watching her on her show, I’ve always felt she had a great sense of humor, and the book does prove that. She appears to be super down to earth and approachable. She is a hard worker, has a passion for social issues, and doesn’t take no for an answer. As Rachel states in the book, she has found what she loves to do and is good at doing it. Overall, a pretty good book to get to know how Rachel got to be where she is today. #NetGalley

  17. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    Rachel Maddow - Named as one of "The 75 Best People in the World” by Esquire Magazine. In 2010 she made Forbes’s “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” list. No wonder Lisa Rogak wanted to write Rachel's biography. She is admired by many!! I am an admirer too!! In this book we learn Rachel's strong points and some of her weaknesses. Strong Points Loves her job. You can tell by the news she chooses to report and her complete mastery of the subject. Asks the hard hitting questions. Does not judge or embarras Rachel Maddow - Named as one of "The 75 Best People in the World” by Esquire Magazine. In 2010 she made Forbes’s “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” list. No wonder Lisa Rogak wanted to write Rachel's biography. She is admired by many!! I am an admirer too!! In this book we learn Rachel's strong points and some of her weaknesses. Strong Points Loves her job. You can tell by the news she chooses to report and her complete mastery of the subject. Asks the hard hitting questions. Does not judge or embarrass people who do not agree with her views. Weakness She is a procrastinator. (So am I; I hoped Rachel was better than me in this area). I enjoyed listening to this book ably read by Kirsten Potter. Hope if you choose to listen, you do too. 4 stars

  18. 4 out of 5

    Randall Russell

    OK, so I have 2 confessions to make about this review. The 1st is that I am somewhat of a Rachel Maddow fanboy. I don't watch her show every night, but I do tune in fairly frequently, and I do find her to perspective to be quite interesting (if sometimes a little down in the weeds in terms of detail). Perhaps its her nerdiness that appeals to me so much. The 2nd confession is that I got this book as an advanced reading copy from the publisher, St. Martin's Press. Despite those two factors, I'll OK, so I have 2 confessions to make about this review. The 1st is that I am somewhat of a Rachel Maddow fanboy. I don't watch her show every night, but I do tune in fairly frequently, and I do find her to perspective to be quite interesting (if sometimes a little down in the weeds in terms of detail). Perhaps its her nerdiness that appeals to me so much. The 2nd confession is that I got this book as an advanced reading copy from the publisher, St. Martin's Press. Despite those two factors, I'll try and keep my review as objective as I can. I enjoyed learning more about Rachel's life, although the book is quite short (218 pages of text in this paperback). I also felt like at a number of points I would have liked more detail. For example, the author mentions a couple of times that Rachel suffers from cyclical depression, but doesn't really delve into much detail about how she deals with it, other than to say she doesn't take medication, and she just sort of rides out her spells of depression. From looking at the notes at the back of the book, which are all from secondary sources, I strongly suspect that the author never interviewed Rachel directly. And I also don't think that the author directly interviewed anyone that was close to Rachel - like friends, family, the staff at her TV show, etc. The book feels like that, as it doesn't offer much insight into the motivations of why Rachel does what she does, or why she is the way that she is. I'm sure some of this is because Rachel probably wants to keep her private life private. I also think it's a little problematic to write a biography of someone who is still alive, relatively young (46), and arguably at the height of her career. So, while I enjoyed learning more about Rachel Maddow and her career, this book felt pretty light and fluffy, and definitely left me feeling like I wanted more - more detail, more insight, and more perspective.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marian

    Lisa Rogak’s biography of Rachel Maddow takes you from birth to present day and gives you quite a glimpse into what makes Maddow tick. And it’s a lot. So, what makes Rachel Maddow tick? If I had to condense it into one sentence, I’d say that Maddow wants people to have an opinion about the world they live in. No matter their politics, people are brought together around issues, and Maddow wants to engage us, stimulate us, and make us care. It is clear that apathy has no place in Maddow’s world. A Lisa Rogak’s biography of Rachel Maddow takes you from birth to present day and gives you quite a glimpse into what makes Maddow tick. And it’s a lot. So, what makes Rachel Maddow tick? If I had to condense it into one sentence, I’d say that Maddow wants people to have an opinion about the world they live in. No matter their politics, people are brought together around issues, and Maddow wants to engage us, stimulate us, and make us care. It is clear that apathy has no place in Maddow’s world. A pundit who blends journalism with opinion, Maddow refuses to be a cookie-cutter liberal put into a well-defined box. Describing herself as an “equal opportunity critic” and refusing to be typecast, Maddow’s penchant for hard work, straightforwardness, and the ability to “do the most good in the most efficient way possible” is evident in Rogak’s book. And while Maddow’s MSNBC show gives her that spotlight to say what she wants to say (since she considers herself first and foremost a storyteller), she’s earned that spotlight – putting in countless hours each day preparing for her nightly show. Rachel Maddow: A Biography is a quick and informative read giving us insight into a woman whose view of herself as an outsider early on challenged her to do what she’s doing best.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Sample

    When a biographer relies only on previously published or television interviews of their subject, the subsequent book is weak. A good biography needs to include interviews of family, friends, and coworkers of the subject. Unfortunately, Rogak uses only the former. As a result, the book is a dry telling of Rachel Maddow's life. I have been a long time fan of Maddow, and I didn't learn anything new about what makes her the person I see on television every night. Also, I find the cover picture to be When a biographer relies only on previously published or television interviews of their subject, the subsequent book is weak. A good biography needs to include interviews of family, friends, and coworkers of the subject. Unfortunately, Rogak uses only the former. As a result, the book is a dry telling of Rachel Maddow's life. I have been a long time fan of Maddow, and I didn't learn anything new about what makes her the person I see on television every night. Also, I find the cover picture to be unflattering. #NetGalley

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dorie

    Although Rachel Maddow is most recognizable as a host on MSNBC., her volunteer work for AIDS/HIV began in High School, was her first experience with progressive politics. Working as a DJ at a tiny local Massachusetts radio station during her college years ,and while finishing her Ph.D at Oxford, gave her experience and a small income. It was 9/11 that inspired her to return to radio, where her ability to explain , and discern news, politics and current affairs with her own unique take, caught th Although Rachel Maddow is most recognizable as a host on MSNBC., her volunteer work for AIDS/HIV began in High School, was her first experience with progressive politics. Working as a DJ at a tiny local Massachusetts radio station during her college years ,and while finishing her Ph.D at Oxford, gave her experience and a small income. It was 9/11 that inspired her to return to radio, where her ability to explain , and discern news, politics and current affairs with her own unique take, caught the attention of MSNBC. Rachel is one of the most popular hosts, known for her exhaustive research on her stories, and her ability to connect with and explain current events and politics in simple terms, with her own unique take. She is the first publicly open gay news host in prime time, as well as one of the most humble and revered in the field. She consistently draws more viewers than any other in her time slot. Lisa Rogak, the books author, is also known for her thorough and extensive research on her subjects. Her ability to capture the character and essence of her subjects and bring them to life on paper, is apparent in this biography. Compelling and thoughtful, this is a well written and organized novel that will give you many details about Rachel, her life and her chosen career. I learned much about Rachel I did not know. Although I regularly watch her show, Rachel does not talk about her personal life or past much. This helped me to get a better understanding of what influenced and inspired her to became the articulate woman and intelligent media icon she is today. Recommended. Any book by Rogak is an interesting and insightful read. R

  22. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    NOTES: I *adore* Maddow - she's funny, she's smart, and she has a way of distilling complicated information in a way that anyone can understand. She truly is a leader in her field. I also was given an arc of this title by St. Martin's Press. So. Carrying on. I came into this biography with high hopes, particularly not being aware of much of her back history - the activism, the bouts of depression...so I was not only eager to learn about her past, but was hoping that there would be some recent inp NOTES: I *adore* Maddow - she's funny, she's smart, and she has a way of distilling complicated information in a way that anyone can understand. She truly is a leader in her field. I also was given an arc of this title by St. Martin's Press. So. Carrying on. I came into this biography with high hopes, particularly not being aware of much of her back history - the activism, the bouts of depression...so I was not only eager to learn about her past, but was hoping that there would be some recent input from her. Unfortunately, that was not the case here. While the book was interesting, it is literally nothing but quotes from other sources, tied together by the author. There is nothing here that wasn't published previously - and I found that greatly disappointing. When I read a biography, I go into it hoping to learn something new, particularly about one of the top nightly pundits in a world that has gone insane. I do get that Rachel wants her privacy, and has every right to it - which makes me wonder if something like this book should have been saved until she was willing to at least release a statement. For those who have been following Maddow for a while, there will more than likely be nothing new here for them - and that in and of itself goes against everything Maddow stands for with her giant of a show. Was it interesting? Yes. Did I learn a few new things? Yes. Did I feel like it could/should have been so much more than what it is? Also yes.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review. It's tough to write a definitive biography of a relatively young (compared to me!!) public figure. But I learned much about Maddow, her views on activism, on journalism, about working bipartisanly, about her philosophy of storytelling. And her partner's art. Maddow began her life as an activist...and her pragmatic world view started early: "Activism is math in a way. It's figuring out what's on both sides of the equal sign, an I received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review. It's tough to write a definitive biography of a relatively young (compared to me!!) public figure. But I learned much about Maddow, her views on activism, on journalism, about working bipartisanly, about her philosophy of storytelling. And her partner's art. Maddow began her life as an activist...and her pragmatic world view started early: "Activism is math in a way. It's figuring out what's on both sides of the equal sign, and then making it come to zero....You need to cultivate trust among people who do not have the same aims as you, but who do not differ from you." Her work in journalism was not her first love, but she has brought those tools of activism with her to her television show...a strong sense of respect for all, including those with whom she differs...she called Pat Buchanan 'Uncle Pat,' for crying out loud. But what she has developed to go with this deep respect for others, is a true sense of telling the story of the news, of the data. Reading about how she and her producers decide what stories to cover on air is fascinating...to do that every day would put me in the hospital from exhaustion. She *seems* to thrive on it. The book's weaknesses are to be expected -- Maddow is young, and has years to continue growing and evolving. This is a quick snapshot in her middle years, I hope. And with all sources second hand, there is a second-hand feeling to the book. Great for Maddow junkies like me who are fascinated by what she accomplishes night after night. And some thoughtful ideas about storytelling and activism I'll add to my own work advocating for schools.

  24. 4 out of 5

    James

    Shortly after starting on MSNBC, The Rachel Maddow Show ratings outpaced other news programs on CNN and other networks. In addition to astonishingly high audience numbers so quickly, recognition poured in from such media outlets as Politico, Washington Post, and Out magazine. In 2010, Forbes included her on the World's 100 Most Powerful Women list. "I think helping people understand what is going on in the world and what is going on in your country is a noble thing to do," she said. "[And] I thin Shortly after starting on MSNBC, The Rachel Maddow Show ratings outpaced other news programs on CNN and other networks. In addition to astonishingly high audience numbers so quickly, recognition poured in from such media outlets as Politico, Washington Post, and Out magazine. In 2010, Forbes included her on the World's 100 Most Powerful Women list. "I think helping people understand what is going on in the world and what is going on in your country is a noble thing to do," she said. "[And] I think I have found something I am good at," Rachel Maddow says. I followed Rachel Maddow from New America radio to MSNBC and admired her latest book Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth. I'm glad this biography answers my questions about her early years, college years at Stanford and Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford, daily routine in the studio and outside and much, much more. As well as Rachel Maddow: A Biography, Lisa Rogak wrote Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart, and Nothing But the Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert. In Rachel Maddow: A Biography, the author overlooked Maddow's use of the transitive verb to grok. In the novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), Robert A. Heinlein forged grok in a Martian language to mean to drink, to drink in all available aspects of reality, and to become one with the observed. So Rachel might observe, "While fishing, I grokked the connection of the people and payments in their plotting."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Fans of The Rachel Maddow Show will find a lot to be interested in with this book. Rogak takes readers through Rachel's life so they can see the path she has taken to achieve the status of being one of the most watched anchor in cable news. She started by growing up in a conservative California town before becoming a Rhodes scholar. She always had an interest in activism, but needed to find a way to be able to do that while also making enough money to pay the bills. That is how she started her ca Fans of The Rachel Maddow Show will find a lot to be interested in with this book. Rogak takes readers through Rachel's life so they can see the path she has taken to achieve the status of being one of the most watched anchor in cable news. She started by growing up in a conservative California town before becoming a Rhodes scholar. She always had an interest in activism, but needed to find a way to be able to do that while also making enough money to pay the bills. That is how she started her career by landing a job as a news girl at a local radio station in Massachusetts. From their it was a pretty steady rise as she developed positions at Air America radio and on MSNBC. Along the way she made friends and supports because of her friendly personality. This is definitely a must-read for fans of Rachel. It provides a lot of insight into her background and how she became who she is.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Linda Bond

    Rachel Maddow is known to a good chunk of people in the U.S. (and around the world) as a TV news commentator with a flair, a nose-for-news (sometimes before it happens), and a steadfast desire to see the Truth come out. She’s well-educated yet down-to-earth in her style and has surely earned her place as the most popular anchor in cable news. If you’re not familiar with Rachel, read this book and you will soon wonder why you’ve not been listening for her progressive view of current events. If yo Rachel Maddow is known to a good chunk of people in the U.S. (and around the world) as a TV news commentator with a flair, a nose-for-news (sometimes before it happens), and a steadfast desire to see the Truth come out. She’s well-educated yet down-to-earth in her style and has surely earned her place as the most popular anchor in cable news. If you’re not familiar with Rachel, read this book and you will soon wonder why you’ve not been listening for her progressive view of current events. If you are familiar with Rachel, read this book and you’ll soon know why you watch and listen to her show. She’s thorough in her research, seeks to take apart complicated issues so that everyone can understand the details, and above-all, is uncompromising in her dedication to the Truth. I love the Truth. I love this woman. And I love this book! I met this book at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane, WA

  27. 5 out of 5

    R

    I always respected Rachel Maddow as a host, commentator, and storyteller, but after reading this book- especially Maddow’s overall approach to life and the demands she places upon herself with her show- I have even more respect for her as a person. The author showcased the many facets of Rachel Maddow, not only the commentator and activist, but also the funny and quirky side. This was a very informative and interesting biography.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susie

    I am a regular viewer of the Rachel Maddow Show so this book was of great interest to me. The information helped me to understand her approach to he show. The only reason I didn’t give it five stars was because it sort of got bogged down in the middle.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne Hayes

    Good general biography on Rachel. Quick read

  30. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    Although Rachel Maddow is a fairly private person, I believe this short and well written biography was authorized.

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