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American Rhapsody [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Joe Eszterhas
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 2000 Thorndike Americana
The setting . . .
Washington, Hollywood, and the landscape of the American Republic.

The writer . . .
Joe Eszterhas, ex-Rolling Stone reporter, National Book Award nominee for Charlie Simpson's Apocalypse, and screenwriter of such blockbusters as Basic Instinct and Jagged Edge.

The stars . . .
Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Al Gore, John McCain, Ken Starr, and Monica Lewinsky.

The supporting players . . .
Warren Beatty, James Carville, Sharon Stone, Larry Flynt, Vernon Jordan, Linda Tripp, Matt Drudge, and Bob Packwood (with cameos by Richard Nixon and Farrah Fawcett, Eleanor Roosevelt and David Geffen, Robert Evans and Richard Gere).

The story . . .
The most basic, and basest, in many years -- an up-close and personal look at the people who run our world. A tale filled with humor, tragedy and romance; suspense, absurdity and high drama; and, of course, lots and lots of sex.

In American Rhapsody, Eszterhas combines comprehensive research with insight, honesty, and astute observation to reveal ultimate truths. This is a book that flouts virtually every rule, yet joins a rich journalistic tradition distinguished by such writers as Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe.

A brilliant, unnerving, hugely entertaining look at our political culture, our heroes and villains, American Rhapsody will delight some and outrage others, but it will not be ignored.  What Joe Eszterhas has produced is a penetrating and devastating panorama of all of us, a fun-house mirror held up to our own morals, hypocrisies and desires.
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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From Amazon

American Rhapsody is a gleeful act of outrage, simultaneously an assault on the Clintons and a bridge-burning, tell-all Hollywood memoir in the wicked spirit of You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again. Joe Eszterhas's narrative is a torrent of consciousness with no consistent sense of direction, but it all erupts from a plausible organising principle best articulated in the chapter "Bubba in Pig Heaven": Hollywood is where Clinton really belongs. The author claims Bill watches Blazing Saddles six times a year, and says that Gennifer Flowers got him blazing by enacting a Sharon-Stone-like crotch-shot scene years before Basic Instinct.

The Lewinsky saga really should be ho-hum by now, but American Rhapsody's Evel-Knievel-like leaps of free association and mad brio breathe life into it. You've never been properly introduced to Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg until you've read "The Ratwoman and the Bag Lady of Sleaze", its uproarious take on the pair. American Rhapsody gives dozens of stars time in the sweaty spotlight: Matt "the Scavenger" Drudge, heroic Larry Flynt (whose threat to report Republican scandals Eszterhas credits with quashing impeachment)--almost every big political scandal victim in memory. And there are lots of Hollywood types behaving badly: Bob Dylan, Warren Beatty, Ronald Reagan, Farrah Fawcett, Sharon Stone, Robert Evans, Sly Stallone (who wanted to portray Jesus onscreen), and even Joe Eszterhas. The fantasy chapters, printed in boldface, are sometimes funny (e.g., "Kenneth W. Starr Confesses"), but mostly they're both over the top and below the belt (e.g., "Willard Comes Clean", the confessions of the president's penis). What holds your interest is the main narrative, a heady mix of showbiz gossip, personal essay, and Lester-Bangs-style prose mania. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

A loud belch commands attention. So will this hyped, bombastic take on the Clinton presidency from Eszterhas, screenwriter of Showgirls, Flashdance, Basic Instinct and other scarlet highlights in film history. Eszterhas knows how to write. His prose sizzles and spits across these hot pages to the hip rhythms of the gonzo journalism pioneered by Rolling Stone, where Eszterhas made his name some 30 years back. Much of the book is outrageously funny, particularly to readers with a healthy inner snickering teen. It's also flagrantly self-righteous, a finger-wagging indictment of how the hopes of the 1960s-embodied, to Eszterhas, in Clinton, the "first rock and roll American president," "one of us"-went astray as the mind and heart of the chief executive were waylaid by the demanding presidential penis, which, according to Eszterhas (by way of Gennifer Flowers), the commander in chief refers to as "Willard." That bit of info, plus many others equally titillating but nearly as trivial, testifies to the prodigious research that apparently went into this volume ("apparently" because it lacks bibliography and footnotes; it also features explicitly fictional chapters from the viewpoints of assorted principals, including one voiced by Willard). As Eszterhas casts the past 50 American years as a battle between forces dark (Nixon, Reagan, Packwood-i.e., Republicans) and light (the counterculture, James Carville, Larry Flynt), he makes minor news: who knew that Clinton and Monica engaged in oral-anal contact? that Nixon also had a young assistant named Monica? that the same man shot both Vernon Jordan and Larry Flynt? He also sharpens some significant points and sledgehammers them home-points about the confluence of Hollywood (on which this book is also memoir/commentary) and Washington; about how, like a Don Juan with syphilis, the '60s carried in their very excess the seed of self-destruction; about how individuals can shape history (e.g., the role of Larry Flynt in saving Clinton from conviction by the Senate in his impeachment trial, and so the nation from what Eszterhas sees as a potential coup d'etat). But gonzo guy that he is, along the way Eszterhas not only names but calls them, as he thrashes a host of celebrities, from Sharon Stone to Bob Dole and Linda Tripp. It's as if every drop of bile and brain fluid sloshing through Eszterhas has dripped into this book-a manic, mouthy, self-indulgent, impossible to ignore lament for America. 200,000 first printing; first serial to Talk. (Aug. 18)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars MUCH more than smutty tell-all Feb. 1 2002
What a memorable and highly rewarding read. This book is much more than the sum of it's salacious and often repugnant contents; it's also a lecture on morality and a history lesson as well. I don't see how someone who reads this book can be derisive regarding the interlacing of fiction or the sheer amount of sordid detail. Given Eszerhas' talent for script writing and keen interest for the underbelly of the American society, how his book is put together should be no surprise. It's certainly not a novel or a bucket of heresay poo.
I am one who is generally both revolted and amused by the tabloids, and shows like Entertainment Television. But I could not put this book down. The book is informative and revealing, and I found myself lauging out loud and cringing, often while reading the same paragraph. I particularly enjoyed the moments where Eszterhas reflects on his own life; it's probably the most engaging aspect of the book. Expecting to find a smutty and over the top tell-all, I found something rich in intelligent, values-based writing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thank God for Joe Eszterhas! Aug. 18 2001
By A Customer
In the age of hypocrisy, defamation of character, finger-pointing, lying, manipulating, dirty tricks, and political warfare known as The Clinton Era, here is a book that tells it all. But guess what, no one can call Joe Eszterhas a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. He's as far to the left as they come, and this book details exactly why those from the left should despise Bill Clinton and everything he stood for. There's a good reason why Richard Nixon's shadow pops up throughout this narrative. Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon are so similar that it's scary. This book looks at the hope the Flower Children had in Bill Clinton when he was elected President, and then goes on to explain why he was the antithesis of what people like Eszterhas had hoped for in him. Bill Clinton's Presidency, Eszterhas argues, wasn't about any great cause other than Bill Clinton. But Eszterhas doesn't just go after Bill Clinton. Hillary, Al, W., Dole, and others all get the same treatment here. Eszterhas hates hypocrisy and here he goes after it. Unfortunately for America, there is a lot to go after.
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4.0 out of 5 stars �Almost Brilliant� Aug. 12 2001
Joe Eszterhas tries to do at least three things with AMERICAN RHAPSODY. The first, which he does best, is make the point as salaciously as possible that the behavior of Bill Clinton, especially (but not exclusively) with Monica Lewinski resulted in the election of George W. Bush. While this book is not about policy, the premise Eszterhas starts with is, "if Clinton was a great policy president, his behavior produced a successor who is in the process of more than reversing Clinton's achievements." Eszterhas never spells it out this way - that would be far too blunt. Instead, he subtly makes his point amidst prurience that is anything but subtle. In this respect, the book is nearly brilliant. Was Monica scandal about sex, lies and debauchery? Here's a version that's even more sleazy than the STAR REPORT. It still wasn't about those things. Were the Republicans scum? Here the Republicans were even scummier than the Democrats, who are portrayed by Eszterhas as pretty scummy. This is still beside the point. The point, I think Eszterhas was trying to make, was that the whole thing reversed all of what Clinton worked for. (Don't believe anyone who claims that this book is pro-Clinton. Eszterhas offers passing acceptance of Clinton's policy record and intentions as unimpeachable is meant as a, "So what if it is?" He's trying to make the point that even if you support Clinton's policies, the sex scandals were unforgivable - all the more so).
If Eszterhas hits a high mark with his larger point, AMERICAN RHAPSODY's own excess keep it from greatness. Its excesses cannot be found in the book's dirty language, rumor-mongering and other trashy aspects. Eszterhas uses those things with more artistic merit here than he does in his movies. But Eszterhas needs an editor.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An outraged wail over a breach of faith Aug. 11 2001
Author/screenwriter Joe Eszterhas is a child of the 60's and 70's reared, by his own admission, on a steady diet of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Curiously, his first political hero was Senator/Presidential Candidate Goldwater. Why? Because Barry told it like it was. But LBJ won and Viet Nam escalated, followed by Nixon and Watergate. The lies were endless, and Joe was disgusted. Then, in 1992, along came William Jefferson Clinton, America's first President of the rock 'n' roll generation. Eszterhas was ecstatic. Bill won't lie because "he's one of us".
AMERICAN RHAPSODY is a powerful, bawdy, brilliant, full-frontal excoriation of Bill Clinton's almost-personal betrayal of the author's hopes and expectations. Because Bubba lied to America - about sex, his preoccupation with it, and his tawdry affair with the First Bimbo, Monica Lewinsky. Joe claims the bulk of the narrative is based on well-researched facts, though there's no bibliography of primary source material - a key omission, perhaps. Several of the chapters, presented in bold type, are admittedly fictitious monologues ascribed to several key players in this red, white and blue soap opera.
As Eszterhas explores Bubba's promiscuity specifically, and that of Washington and Hollywood in general, the lead roles are reserved for Bill, "Willard", and Monica. The supporting cast is otherwise extensive: Hillary, Bob Dole, John McCain, James Carville, Arianna Huffington (the "Sorceress"), Matt Drudge, Linda Tripp (the "Ratwoman"), Ken Starr, Bob Packwood, Sharon Stone, Warren Beatty, Larry Flynt, and Vernon Jordan, plus cameos by Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, and a bevy of others.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Gonzo Journalism disguised as Literature
For all the hype surrounding the celebrity revelations in "American Rhapsody", its biggest shock is the excellence of its writing. Read more
Published on July 27 2001 by Erin O'Brien
1.0 out of 5 stars Blah Blah Blah
This book just rambles on and on and never seems to end. I don't think I have ever been so disappointed in a book. Since I started to read it, I feel like I have to finish it. Read more
Published on May 21 2001 by Tony Stonebraker
4.0 out of 5 stars Witty
This book is screamingly funny. Dont go into politics whilst Joe is still alive
Published on April 1 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars American Sleazefest
By Dan Moreland
This book purports to rip the lid off the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and pull no punches. Read more
Published on March 23 2001 by Dan Moreland
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!!
Esterhas's Rhapsody is the Bonfire of the Vanities of the New Millenium! His pulse on Hollywood and Washington D.C. is simply astonishing! Read more
Published on March 6 2001 by John A. Testa
2.0 out of 5 stars Sordid Story from the Screenwriter of Sleaze
The first novel from the screenwriter of "Basic Instinct" and "Showgirls" is this lewd, lurid recounting of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2001 by David Montgomery
5.0 out of 5 stars Where has this author been hiding??
Incredibly funny...but a dagger thru "President" Clintons heart...and his "willard"!! ! Haven't read a book as cynically funny since Catch-22. Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rat Pack Revisited
The juxtaposition of a reading of this work of fiction? and a watching of The rat Pack on TCM was so-o-o-o unreal. Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2001 by M J Cameron
2.0 out of 5 stars A Wade Through Eszterhas' Pretension
Eszterhas may have had a point to make in writing this book unfortunateley one has to wade through page after page of his own self inflated, name dropping, ultra left wing,... Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2001 by john montgomery
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