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This Pulitzer Prize-winner is "the saddest, funniest, most tragical yet comical picture of coming of age in the U.S.A. in the Depresson years and World War II that has ever been written."—Harrison Salisbury. This Pulitzer Prize-winner is "the saddest, funniest, most tragical yet comical picture of coming of age in the U.S.A. in the Depresson years and World War II that has ever been written."—Harrison Salisbury.


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This Pulitzer Prize-winner is "the saddest, funniest, most tragical yet comical picture of coming of age in the U.S.A. in the Depresson years and World War II that has ever been written."—Harrison Salisbury. This Pulitzer Prize-winner is "the saddest, funniest, most tragical yet comical picture of coming of age in the U.S.A. in the Depresson years and World War II that has ever been written."—Harrison Salisbury.

30 review for Growing Up

  1. 5 out of 5

    Florence

    I found a paperback edition of this book, yellow with age. A note from my mother, age 97 and suffering from dementia fell out from between the pages. She said it was full of charm and humor and recommended it. She was right. Russell Baker had a hardscrabble childhood. His father's people were Virginians; rural people. Education was not a family tradition, though Russell's mother always insisted that he "make something of himself." This man was a great storyteller. He makes ordinary life events s I found a paperback edition of this book, yellow with age. A note from my mother, age 97 and suffering from dementia fell out from between the pages. She said it was full of charm and humor and recommended it. She was right. Russell Baker had a hardscrabble childhood. His father's people were Virginians; rural people. Education was not a family tradition, though Russell's mother always insisted that he "make something of himself." This man was a great storyteller. He makes ordinary life events seem so intriguing that you can hardly wait to turn the page and see what happens. Yes, he was charming and funny and self-effacing. I'm sorry that I missed his New York Times columns but I'm glad that I discovered this book, even at a late date.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Moonkiszt

    This reminded me of books my mom would read to my dad either on drives or quiet nights at home when everyone was settling in at home that hour or so before we all took ourselves to our beds. Full of family foibles and characters, I grew so homesick for my parents - who tried so hard and were thanked so little. This may be exactly what Russell Baker was trying for - to invoke in his readers that which he felt, that maybe. . .just maybe. . . he should have thanked his mama a little bit more. . . . This reminded me of books my mom would read to my dad either on drives or quiet nights at home when everyone was settling in at home that hour or so before we all took ourselves to our beds. Full of family foibles and characters, I grew so homesick for my parents - who tried so hard and were thanked so little. This may be exactly what Russell Baker was trying for - to invoke in his readers that which he felt, that maybe. . .just maybe. . . he should have thanked his mama a little bit more. . . . The writing is clear, with an easy view between those words to his life's career. It was mild and kept me interested because I'm old and like thinking of the past. I'm not sure this would be interesting enough to someone who wasn't like me (old, thinking of the past) or related to him or the environs in which he was raised. He is more of my parents' generation, and I'm not sure I even remember anything he wrote while alive or news providers for which he worked - we were a family that TV'd our news, and by the end of my father's life he was not a newpaper reader. Anyway - a good book for a reader of a certain age.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I read this book in the 10th grade for a school project and fell in love. Funny, warm, witty--an absolute joy to read. Russel Baker is best known for writing a column in the NY Times called Poor Russel's Almanac, and Growing Up is a memoir about his own childhood growing up in 1930's America. He is a real-life Charlie Brown, who looks back upon his own bumblings and foibles with humor and grace. It is one of my father's favorite books as well, and I feel that pretty much anyone with half a heart I read this book in the 10th grade for a school project and fell in love. Funny, warm, witty--an absolute joy to read. Russel Baker is best known for writing a column in the NY Times called Poor Russel's Almanac, and Growing Up is a memoir about his own childhood growing up in 1930's America. He is a real-life Charlie Brown, who looks back upon his own bumblings and foibles with humor and grace. It is one of my father's favorite books as well, and I feel that pretty much anyone with half a heart will have a good laugh and be touched by his writing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Caren

    For the solar eclipse last month, my family traveled to the friendly little town of Benton, KY, which was in the path of totality. I love to visit the public library wherever I may be, so that was our first stop. I was drawn like a magnet to a few shelves set aside for an ongoing book sale. Hardbacks were a quarter, paperbacks just a dime. Well, you can't beat those prices! One of my treasures was the autobiography "Growing Up" by Russell Baker, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983. I know For the solar eclipse last month, my family traveled to the friendly little town of Benton, KY, which was in the path of totality. I love to visit the public library wherever I may be, so that was our first stop. I was drawn like a magnet to a few shelves set aside for an ongoing book sale. Hardbacks were a quarter, paperbacks just a dime. Well, you can't beat those prices! One of my treasures was the autobiography "Growing Up" by Russell Baker, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983. I know I read it all those years ago, but it was so long ago, my only memory was of an engaging read. So, I read it again----and that is something I seldom do. (I have so very many books to read, I don't usually re-read, no matter how much I may have liked a book.) My memory had not been wrong---the book was just as delightful as I recalled. Mr. Baker (who is apparently still alive, now 92 years old) was born in 1925, just a year before my mother. These were children who grew up during the Depression and those experiences colored the rest of their lives. Mr. Baker's father died in a diabetic coma (before insulin treatments had been developed) when Russell was five years old. He included his very early memories of his father and his father's people, but the book really centers on his mother. The book opens and closes with her as an elderly woman with dementia. In between those bookends, his life is unfolded for us in vivid vignettes about all of his colorful family members. The family is affectionately but sharply drawn, so the reader almost feels as though she is sitting around the table with them as they have a meal or play cards. After his father died, his mother took her two oldest children, Russell and his younger sister, Doris, to live with one of her brothers. (She left the baby, who was 10 months old, with one of her husband's brothers and his wife who had not been able to have children. She made that decision at a time of enormous stress and perhaps later regretted it. This meant that Russell's littlest sister, Audrey, was never again really a part of their lives. They visited with her a time or two, but she lived in another state and her life was quite different from their own.) As the years of the Depression ground on, more and more of his mother's family came to live in the house of her sheltering brother. While Russell didn't have a father to raise him, he was surrounded by loving and quirky family members who all pitched in. I am impressed at how much Mr. Baker remembered fifty years later. These impressions ran deep. Perhaps one of the parts of the story that brings home the tragedy of the Depression is the account of his mother's budding romance with Oluf, a Danish immigrant, mostly carried on through letters. Oluf's letters, as he traveled about looking for work, started out optimistic, but you can read how hope died, bit by bit, until he asked Russell's mother to stop writing to him, as there was no chance they could ever afford to be together. She did eventually remarry, when she was about forty. Russell was an adolescent by then and was initially resentful of his step father because Russell had been so favored by his mother until then. His mother had high ambitions for her only son, which meant she was always pushing him to be more, to "have some gumption". (I felt a little sad at how Doris, the child who actually did have spunk, was apparently discounted because she was a girl. When Russell didn't sell all of the newspapers left from his route, his sister went back out to the street corner with him and marched right up to cars, knocking on car windows with her tiny fist, selling all of the papers left. Her strong personality reached right out of the pages and over the years.) Russell's mother had been a teacher in Virginia (before marriage and children), but after her husband's death, they had moved to New Jersey, which wouldn't accept her credentials. She eventually found work in a five-and-dime store, 12 hours a day, $18 a week. The book includes Mr. Baker's memories of his unexpected chance to attend Johns Hopkins University on scholarship, of his military career as a pilot for the navy, of how he finally achieved his goal of being a newspaper columnist, and of the courtship of his eventual wife, Mimi. The best stories for me though were those of his youth, gathered around the kitchen table with the warmth of his family, seeing the hard times through together. This is a lovely book. I feel a bit of serendipity to have found my roundabout way back to an old friend.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elle

    If you are going to write an autobiography, it helps to live through an interesting time. Russell Baker did. He was born in 1925. He was a kid during the Great Depression. He was a young man during World War II. I cannot think of a sweeter set-up for a life full of stories. Yet nothing interesting ever happened to him! With the exception of a few mild characters he met along the way, his formative years were not remarkable. After reading Growing Up, I can see why. Baker took no interest in the wo If you are going to write an autobiography, it helps to live through an interesting time. Russell Baker did. He was born in 1925. He was a kid during the Great Depression. He was a young man during World War II. I cannot think of a sweeter set-up for a life full of stories. Yet nothing interesting ever happened to him! With the exception of a few mild characters he met along the way, his formative years were not remarkable. After reading Growing Up, I can see why. Baker took no interest in the world around him. He had no ambition. He didn't think Europe entering into war was big news. He is almost proud of his complete ignorance of Leon Trotsky, a man who shaped the time he was living in. He had no interest and no plans for the future. About halfway through reading this book, I read the back cover and was shocked to learn it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1982. Perhaps I am skewed by the current crop of memoirs. Today no one will publish you, it seems, unless you have lived an outlandish life. Despite the maelstrom Russell Baker was born into, he led a mundane existence. What I view as Growing Up's weakness, critics must view as its strength. Russell Baker is an everyman. His success lies in his analysis of people that we've all met and situations that we've all been through.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Edward Huang

    The memoir, Growing Up written by an outstanding author named Russel Baker, takes the readers to a nostalgic journey of his life as a curious young boy living in the rural Virginia to a determined writer. The memoir starts from a scene of his eighty years old mother (lying down in the hospital bed); despite being an energetic women in the early days and being a strong advocate of feminism, she has grown old and become senile. By looking at his senile mother, Russel recognizes human infirmity and The memoir, Growing Up written by an outstanding author named Russel Baker, takes the readers to a nostalgic journey of his life as a curious young boy living in the rural Virginia to a determined writer. The memoir starts from a scene of his eighty years old mother (lying down in the hospital bed); despite being an energetic women in the early days and being a strong advocate of feminism, she has grown old and become senile. By looking at his senile mother, Russel recognizes human infirmity and aging over time, ending up thinking about his past childhood and his overall happy memories with his mother. Gazing upon his mother, Russel thinks about his parents and children of his own, wondering about his mother’s life and the harsh but blissful childhood filled with passion, hope, and joy. In this memoir, there are two main overarching themes. One of the themes that are indirectly addressed throughout the examination of Russel’s life is the notion of an ideal women. According to Russel’s mother, men are very uncivilized and are brutes, therefore need women’s guidance for their future success in terms of the prosperity of their career. His mother, Lucy defines an ideal women’s job as to guide their husbands and live virtuous lives by doing their necessities. Russel’s inexperience with women leads him to believe in the fact that an ideal wife and a girl friend (partner) are there for separate purposes. Another theme that is indirectly addressed in his memoir is the idea of success. Half of his life takes place in the era of Great Depression in America where many lose their jobs and are unemployed. Throughout Russel’s childhood, his mother pushes him to make something out of himself, believing hard work will result in success. She wants her son, unlike his father, to have a stable job, earn a living, and be able to sustain a family. Russel’s life is not always filled with blissful memories. He remembers when he ended up bursting in tears after hearing about his father’s death. There was also a time when Russel was struggling and was deeply depressed; not able to withstand the fact that his mother was going to get married with another man due to his unworldliness. There were times when he felt sympathy towards his mother, who sacrificed her allowances to buy Russel a beautifully striped green suit. When World War II breaks out, Russel joins the naval pilot force and finds himself a girlfriend called Mimi. Frankly, Mimi is not an ideal girl in which Lucy has been expecting. Lucy, afraid of the fact that Mimi may not devote her life in supporting Russel and because she believed Mimi would not be the best match for his beloved son, she ends up rebuking Mimi. In order to stay loyal to her mother, Russel breaks up with Mimi. Russel, having his heart broken from their breakup, unintentionally teaches his mother a lesson on the importance of happiness in a person’s life. Russel’s life may not be the most privileged and blissful, yet his mother tries her best to provide him with great memories of childhood and tries to give him the best education possible with the money right out of her pocket. From his mother and his step father’s support, Russel gets accepted to the John Hopkins University where his momentum of becoming a writer flourishes and develops. He gets a job in the Baltimore Sun as a police writer after graduating. If I was a critic, and was to give points on this memoir, I would score it, 5/5. The main reason is because the author does not start the book in chronological order (from his childhood to his adulthood) like most of the memoirs in the bookshelves, but instead utilizes some rich forms of writing such as flashbacks (literary device) in order to make the memoir more sophisticated and amusing to read. The book is highly recommended to those whom are interested in reading about a person’s life. People who are struggling with their lives and wants to know that they aren’t the only ones having a hard time, because the book not only contains blissful memories of Russel Baker, but some dark instincts of human practicality. The book is also highly recommended to those who would like to learn new ideas and ways of succeeding; starting from the bottom with nothing, and ending at the top, succeeding. This richly written memoir not only teaches about life, but the ways on how to act appropriately, and to appreciate your parents. Be thankful of what I possess and be thankful for what my parents have sacrificed.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Growing Up by Russell Baker As with many of the books in my “want to read” list I’ve already read this book and because I liked it so much I wanted to be sure to say so in a review. I remember Russell Baker from Masterpiece Theater. I always liked his low key manner and humor. So when I saw this Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir I wanted to read it. Baker’s mother was a major figure in his life and this story. She was a strong woman and would not accept laziness or failure which was a good thing for Growing Up by Russell Baker As with many of the books in my “want to read” list I’ve already read this book and because I liked it so much I wanted to be sure to say so in a review. I remember Russell Baker from Masterpiece Theater. I always liked his low key manner and humor. So when I saw this Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir I wanted to read it. Baker’s mother was a major figure in his life and this story. She was a strong woman and would not accept laziness or failure which was a good thing for Russell. His father died when he was 5 years old, his family was desperately poor, and it was the time of the Great Depression. Much happened in his life between then and now. His humor came through often in this book. What comes to my mind is the time in the air force when he had difficulty learning to fly a plane. He had only one more chance to demonstrate his ability or flunk out. Who would have guessed, including him, that the after-effects of the previous night’s drinking would be the key to his success?! This book is his personal story but in many ways also that of many people of his generation. It’s an American story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Patsy

    I enjoyed all of what I read in this book, but unfortunately, it began moving slower than I needed it to! I didn't finish it even though I read it many years ago in college for a class. I like his humor and honesty, though. I enjoyed all of what I read in this book, but unfortunately, it began moving slower than I needed it to! I didn't finish it even though I read it many years ago in college for a class. I like his humor and honesty, though.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael Alan Grapin

    This is an autobiography by Russell Baker that actually begins before he was born. In truth it's as much a biography of his mother as it is about him growing up during the depression, attending college against all odds, becoming a pilot while the second world war comes to a conclusion, becoming a newspaper man, meeting the love of his life against his mother's approval and so on...life is a poignant struggle made all the more extraordinary by just how ordinary it was. I found it thoroughly engag This is an autobiography by Russell Baker that actually begins before he was born. In truth it's as much a biography of his mother as it is about him growing up during the depression, attending college against all odds, becoming a pilot while the second world war comes to a conclusion, becoming a newspaper man, meeting the love of his life against his mother's approval and so on...life is a poignant struggle made all the more extraordinary by just how ordinary it was. I found it thoroughly engaging!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    This is one of the best memoirs I have ever read - a true American experience lived by Mr. Baker as well as my parents.

  11. 4 out of 5

    J.S. Dunn

    Fabulous, witty, droll, pitch-perfect. A timeless memoir.

  12. 4 out of 5

    amy

    A wonderfully heartwarming personal history. I strongly identified with Russ for a variety of soci-economic reasons, and the book became a welcomed friend that I will miss now that it is finished.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Russell Baker begins his memoir with a child's eye-view of a blissful life in the rural mountains (?) of Virginia with his mother, father, an abundance of Baker uncles and a much-loved grandmother . In later childhood and in adolescence he experienced the Great Depression in Newark NJ and Baltimore, mostly while living amongst some equally interesting maternal uncles. He speaks of the three strong women who influenced him - strength being not always an entirely positive attribute... I was expecti Russell Baker begins his memoir with a child's eye-view of a blissful life in the rural mountains (?) of Virginia with his mother, father, an abundance of Baker uncles and a much-loved grandmother . In later childhood and in adolescence he experienced the Great Depression in Newark NJ and Baltimore, mostly while living amongst some equally interesting maternal uncles. He speaks of the three strong women who influenced him - strength being not always an entirely positive attribute... I was expecting a lot of humour and there is some (for instance in his portraits of his uncles and in his relation of his own unsuccessful attempts at seduction) but also a good deal that is sad and moving, though unsentimental and clear-eyed. Episodes I read with particular relish included the author's flight-training during WWII and the story of his relationship with the "dangerous and unsuitable" Mimi. I suppose it's unnecessary to point out Russell Baker's way with words but here's a sample: "[his ebullient friend George] had a voice like a load of gravel being dumped on the nerve ends."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    I first came across an excerpt from this memoir in a seventh grade literature book. Turns out, that excerpt happens to be one of the most lively sections of the memoir. Baker's book made its way onto my independent reading list for 9-10th grade students, so I found it at a sale and picked it up to read myself. It's an "okay" biography and Baker is a pleasant companion, but I wonder how much today's high school students will identify with this boy-to-man equivalent of Wonder Bread. He's certainly I first came across an excerpt from this memoir in a seventh grade literature book. Turns out, that excerpt happens to be one of the most lively sections of the memoir. Baker's book made its way onto my independent reading list for 9-10th grade students, so I found it at a sale and picked it up to read myself. It's an "okay" biography and Baker is a pleasant companion, but I wonder how much today's high school students will identify with this boy-to-man equivalent of Wonder Bread. He's certainly self-effacing; he willingly admits that he arrived at Johns Hopkins without a clue who Trotsky and Stalin were and he was clueless as to why Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. My students have read The Glass Castle and Angela's Ashes, memoirs that they find easier to stick with and relate to. Afterall, I think Russell spends three chapters trying to lose his virginity. If you're in a certain age bracket and actually recall Baker and his writing, you may have a stronger connection than I did to this memoir.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Virginia Hume

    A great biography about an American childhood. I am trying to avoiding writing the words, "hearkens back to a more innocent time," but I've not had enough coffee today to come up with something better. Baker's book Good Times, about his days as a reporter, is also wonderful. A great biography about an American childhood. I am trying to avoiding writing the words, "hearkens back to a more innocent time," but I've not had enough coffee today to come up with something better. Baker's book Good Times, about his days as a reporter, is also wonderful.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Glaser

    Baker is a great storyteller. His journalistic talents shine through as he narrates about his own impoverished upbringing. You feel for him and as a mother you really appreciate what your own parents have gone through to raise you. I can’t imagine having to go through some of the things he has, but he had me crying one minute and laughing the next. Book Pairing: Growing Up by Russell Baker Baker, Russell. Growing Up. New York : Congdon & Weed : Distributed by St. Martin's Press, ©1982. In order to Baker is a great storyteller. His journalistic talents shine through as he narrates about his own impoverished upbringing. You feel for him and as a mother you really appreciate what your own parents have gone through to raise you. I can’t imagine having to go through some of the things he has, but he had me crying one minute and laughing the next. Book Pairing: Growing Up by Russell Baker Baker, Russell. Growing Up. New York : Congdon & Weed : Distributed by St. Martin's Press, ©1982. In order to clearly demonstrate knowledge of domestic events during the Great Depression and understand the effects that World War II had on the home front, teachers and students could go beyond a history book and supplement with first-hand accounts and primary sources. In pairing with Of Mice and Men, students could write a faux-memoir from the point of view of George. Comparing George’s plight for the American Dream to Russell’s plight to successfully make a name for himself would make for a creative authentic assessment. If an avid reader and history student wanted to learn more about life during the Great Depression or the years leading up to and during World War II from a boy his or her age, then the history teacher could refer him/her to this memoir. I would put this nonfiction memoir in the hands of a VA and US History teacher. This book is inspiring, compelling, and witty. Although it’s not packed with gripping twists and turns, it does tells about a young man’s coming of age in very difficult times during American history, from the Great Depression to World War II. While Of Mice and Men told about the hardships of the working man’s struggle for the American Dream, Growing Up focuses on what it was like to grow up in the backwoods of Virginia and witness first hand the labors of life in the 1930s and trying to become a man and have his own dreams as America begins its plight into World War II. Teenagers could learn a lot about what it was like during this time period and compare Russell’s harsh upbringing (loss of his father, his relationship with his mother and the struggles to support a family, etc.) to their own. Because the book is autobiographical, it would also be of interest to students who like to journal or keep a diary. His writing is entertaining and reveling, so young writers or aspiring journalists might be able to take away something as well. Accuracy: This is a nonfiction memoir that is as much a narrative as it is a historical slice of American life. The author is a well-known journalist, and he describes his plights while growing up with sincere details, not for sympathy but for posterity. It not only somehow idealizes a turbulent time period, but it also seeks to educate future generations. Authority: Russell Baker is an award winning journalist and published author. He was awarded two Pulitzer Prizes, one of which is for this book. In this novel, he wrote first-hand about day-to-day events he experienced. Relevance to Curriculum: It could be used as a supplement to the history text as it goes into detail about life during the 1930s and 40s. With the easy reading level, students who are struggling in American History could do research on an American living during the Great Depression who goes on to do great things. Appropriateness: According to Scholastic, the reading grade level equivalent is an 8.6 and the interest level is 9-12. Written as a memoir, students would be reading about a man his/her own age growing up but just in just a different time. A collection that needed more nonfiction or biographies would need a book like this. Students who have an interest in journalism or writing could use this book. As students prepare for career research, this would be a good addition. Scope: This book goes beyond what a student would learn about this time period in a history book. Not only will students be learning about a young man’s struggle to help his family survive during rough times, but they will also be learning about relationships, family, and the value of life. Value to Collection: Not only could it serve the needs of helping students make connection between prose and history, but it could also be a supplemental read for staff members. The reading level could appeal to reluctant or challenged readers. Baker grew up in very meager surroundings, so this could appeal to disadvantaged students. Baker could be seen as a positive role model for how far hard work can get someone in life. Literary Merit: In 1983, Baker won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel and made the YALSA list for Outstanding Books for the College-Bound- Biography. VUS.10 The student will demonstrate knowledge of key domestic events of the 1920s and 1930s by c) Explaining the causes of the Great Depression and its impact on the American people; VUS.12 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the effects of World War II on the home front by a) Explaining how the United States mobilized its economic, human, and military resources; b) Describing the contributions of women and minorities to the war effort; or ENGL 1.4 The student will read, comprehend, and analyze relationships among American literature, history, and culture. ENGL 11.5 The student will read and analyze a variety of nonfiction texts. a) Use information from texts to clarify understanding of concepts. c) Generalize ideas from selections to make predictions about other texts. Library Journal. 9/15/2001, Vol. 126 Issue 15, p140. 1p. 2 Color Photographs. Call Number: PS3552.A4343Z466 1982 ISBN(s): 0865530548 0312922671 (St. Martin's) Cost: $16.00

  17. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Awesome, enjoyable read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joao Carvalho

    Growing becomes a bit slow pasted and boring. and it made it harder to read. Of course, I am not a big fan of nonfiction books so reading this didn't make me really excited for the story. Russel explains every detail of his life but sometimes nothing really interesting happens. so its bad in that way. The book tells a great story about a kid that grew up in the middle of depression in us. IT shows the challenges he had to overcome and he became a journalist. The humor is great but in the middle o Growing becomes a bit slow pasted and boring. and it made it harder to read. Of course, I am not a big fan of nonfiction books so reading this didn't make me really excited for the story. Russel explains every detail of his life but sometimes nothing really interesting happens. so its bad in that way. The book tells a great story about a kid that grew up in the middle of depression in us. IT shows the challenges he had to overcome and he became a journalist. The humor is great but in the middle of the story, and the end is pretty self-explanatory. His biography is a great way to understand how most people lived in the middle of the depression and how things were different from back then to now but there's sometimes he over details some moments. I would recommend this book to people that are interested in us depression and how it changed some people.,but I would not recommend for people that like interesting stories or people that like fast pace story.

  19. 5 out of 5

    KOMET

    Russell Baker had a well-deserved reputation as a journalist, and this memoir reflects that. It reads as a vital, engaging, at turns funny and poignant story of Baker's life from his earliest years spent with his paternal grandmother and relations in a backwoods Virginia community in the late 1920s that remained rooted in the 19th century, to New Jersey, Baltimore (where Baker graduated from high school at 17), his naval service in World War II as an aviation cadet and pilot, his student life at Russell Baker had a well-deserved reputation as a journalist, and this memoir reflects that. It reads as a vital, engaging, at turns funny and poignant story of Baker's life from his earliest years spent with his paternal grandmother and relations in a backwoods Virginia community in the late 1920s that remained rooted in the 19th century, to New Jersey, Baltimore (where Baker graduated from high school at 17), his naval service in World War II as an aviation cadet and pilot, his student life at Johns Hopkins University postwar, his subsequent career as a journalist, and marriage. I soo loved reading this memoir with its rich, varied cast of characters from Baker's family, friends, and relatives. It was so good that I felt like I was a guest at Russell Baker's table as he regaled me with the story of his life. This is a memoir that should serve as a blueprint for anyone interested in telling his/her life story.

  20. 5 out of 5

    J.P.

    All the ingredients are here for a lively, interesting read. A child growing up during the depression, a family trying to make ends meet. A real page turner, right? Well…. It’s not often someone writes an autobiography that virtually stops at the age of 18. Besides books, Russell growing up had no particular interests. So this reads kind of like an episode of Seinfeld. I won’t say it’s about nothing, but if you expect big cosmic revelations you’re going to be disappointed. As can happen with a boo All the ingredients are here for a lively, interesting read. A child growing up during the depression, a family trying to make ends meet. A real page turner, right? Well…. It’s not often someone writes an autobiography that virtually stops at the age of 18. Besides books, Russell growing up had no particular interests. So this reads kind of like an episode of Seinfeld. I won’t say it’s about nothing, but if you expect big cosmic revelations you’re going to be disappointed. As can happen with a book written by a reporter, it reads like a slow news day in summer. Not a whole lot happens. Family members drop in and leave. The family moves. There’s no sense of setting. It didn’t feel as though a terrible economic crisis was at hand. Not a bad effort by any means, but this left me mentally scratching my head as to why it won a Pulitzer.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kyla

    What I loved most about this book was the honest, humorous tone with which Baker is able to convey his childhood and adolescent memories and dialogues. His descriptions of his changing opinions on authority figures are brilliant. It's a coming-of-age memoir, as Baker grows up from child in the Great Depression to a young adult during the war and finally finds love. His relationship with his mother forms the parameters of his character development. The novel is an extremely pleasant and fun read. What I loved most about this book was the honest, humorous tone with which Baker is able to convey his childhood and adolescent memories and dialogues. His descriptions of his changing opinions on authority figures are brilliant. It's a coming-of-age memoir, as Baker grows up from child in the Great Depression to a young adult during the war and finally finds love. His relationship with his mother forms the parameters of his character development. The novel is an extremely pleasant and fun read. I'll never forget some of his depictions, especially of death, his mother's lost love during hard times (Olaf) and the late night conversations with of family members (Uncle Harold's preference of storytelling to truth) -- always reminding us that in times of strife, chatting and storytelling are free.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bhairavi Krishnan

    Loved the book! I will definitely read it again. I have already earmarked all my favorite passages. This book talks about a time when life was simpler. Russell grows up in 1920s/30s America. He grows up when America is going through the great depression and World War 2. Tough times to grow up in, but the people in his life prod along with unbeatable optimism and hope for the future. This book is funny/witty/poignant/memorable/sad/happy all at the same time. My favorite passage in the book is Rus Loved the book! I will definitely read it again. I have already earmarked all my favorite passages. This book talks about a time when life was simpler. Russell grows up in 1920s/30s America. He grows up when America is going through the great depression and World War 2. Tough times to grow up in, but the people in his life prod along with unbeatable optimism and hope for the future. This book is funny/witty/poignant/memorable/sad/happy all at the same time. My favorite passage in the book is Russell's fascination on first encountering an indoor toilet. He gazes in wonder at the miracle of plumbing and he dares to push the lever and savor the supreme moment when thundering waters empties into the bowl and vanishes with a mighty gurgle!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Huong

    Good book that gives another view/experience of the Great Depression and World War II that involves one of moving around with his mom and she tries to establish herself after his father's death. It is a less harsher view of the time period, though still describing issues/problems that occurred during it. A lesson on the author's writing style would be interesting to do. Baker writes in a personal, yet relatable manner. Students can also write about "expectations" that their parents have for them Good book that gives another view/experience of the Great Depression and World War II that involves one of moving around with his mom and she tries to establish herself after his father's death. It is a less harsher view of the time period, though still describing issues/problems that occurred during it. A lesson on the author's writing style would be interesting to do. Baker writes in a personal, yet relatable manner. Students can also write about "expectations" that their parents have for them and how they deal with it, or the lack thereof of expectations which influences how they live their life.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mshelton50

    A lovely book. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this wonderful memoir, from the clashes between Russell Baker's strong-willed mother and grandmother, to the love that sustained him during the depths of the Depression. Having lived on the Northern Neck of Virginia (where Baker's mother was born and grew up), the upper Shenandoah Valley (where Baker was born and spent his earliest years), and northern New Jersey (where Baker lived from about age 5 to age 14), the book resonated with me. The hero A lovely book. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this wonderful memoir, from the clashes between Russell Baker's strong-willed mother and grandmother, to the love that sustained him during the depths of the Depression. Having lived on the Northern Neck of Virginia (where Baker's mother was born and grew up), the upper Shenandoah Valley (where Baker was born and spent his earliest years), and northern New Jersey (where Baker lived from about age 5 to age 14), the book resonated with me. The hero of the work has to be his mother, a very determined woman, who urged her son to "make something of himself." It was largely due to her love and care that he did.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    Seinfeld was the television show about nothing. This was the book about nothing. With age I have found that I get drowsy reading before bed. This book put me to sleep any old time of day.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This one had sat on the shelf for over a year before I reached for it. Given that much of the memoir is set during the Depression, I figured it would be a timely read. Baker evokes pre-WWII America with unsentimental dignity. On the atomic bomb tests: "We didn't know about the test, of course. Doors were closing forever on our past, but we could not hear them slam. Soon the world we had known and the values we had lived by in that world would become so obsolete that we would seem to Americans of This one had sat on the shelf for over a year before I reached for it. Given that much of the memoir is set during the Depression, I figured it would be a timely read. Baker evokes pre-WWII America with unsentimental dignity. On the atomic bomb tests: "We didn't know about the test, of course. Doors were closing forever on our past, but we could not hear them slam. Soon the world we had known and the values we had lived by in that world would become so obsolete that we would seem to Americans of the new age as quaint as travelers from an antique land." (228)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Memoirs are great leisure reading because, unlike murder mysteries, I don't need to race to the end to find out what happened. There aren't facts that I need to remember. I enjoyed this memoir. Most of the people were good-hearted. Russell Baker's experience growing up in the Depression was actually fairly positive. He said one thing people could afford was talk, and the family sat around the kitchen table and talked and talked and talked. Every home had a dictionary, because words were importan Memoirs are great leisure reading because, unlike murder mysteries, I don't need to race to the end to find out what happened. There aren't facts that I need to remember. I enjoyed this memoir. Most of the people were good-hearted. Russell Baker's experience growing up in the Depression was actually fairly positive. He said one thing people could afford was talk, and the family sat around the kitchen table and talked and talked and talked. Every home had a dictionary, because words were important.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leah Rachel von Essen

    Very good. I thought it might be unsufferable because it was a summer reading book. I don't know why I always doubt them, because I usually end up loving them. Baker's story is remarkably well told, and the memoir is extremely well written. It shone a spotlight into Baker's heart, and even more amazingly, into the hearts of the people around him. Baker has gained great insight into his childhood from growing up, and it shows in his prose. Very good. I thought it might be unsufferable because it was a summer reading book. I don't know why I always doubt them, because I usually end up loving them. Baker's story is remarkably well told, and the memoir is extremely well written. It shone a spotlight into Baker's heart, and even more amazingly, into the hearts of the people around him. Baker has gained great insight into his childhood from growing up, and it shows in his prose.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    Russell Baker is a good story teller. Many of his family stories reminded me of my own stories; multiple family members living under the same roof, financial struggles, memory loss of aging parents/friends. The differences between Russell and his mother, Lucy, reminded of differences between my own mother and me. Mom liked to remind me of my extended education vs. her 10th grade/GED when we were playing Scrabble.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    A good-humored, wise man wrote this book about the first part of his life. It was not easy (his life, that is). This is a heartwarming , book, absolutely without rancor and full of love for many people who helped the author through some fairly hard knocks. Not about world-shaking events. It probably helps a reader of this book to be familiar with Baker's columns in the NY Times. I've read two bound volumes of them, treasured. Recommend especially for aspiring journalists and writers. A good-humored, wise man wrote this book about the first part of his life. It was not easy (his life, that is). This is a heartwarming , book, absolutely without rancor and full of love for many people who helped the author through some fairly hard knocks. Not about world-shaking events. It probably helps a reader of this book to be familiar with Baker's columns in the NY Times. I've read two bound volumes of them, treasured. Recommend especially for aspiring journalists and writers.

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