Thursday, March 26, 2015
Although Simon and Schuster is promoting this book as "the untold story of Bob Hope," that is hardly the case. Hope's career achievements, USO tours, Viet Nam controversy, and voracious lust for ladies other than his wife has been well-documented elsewhere. Zoglin's book has nothing new to say, although in general Zoglin says what he has to say well, a more-than-credible job of rehashing old stories. Zoglin makes the case that Hope was, as the publisher puts it, "the most important entertainer of the 20th century," pointing out that Hope virtually invented stand-up comedy and was a show business forerunner in other ways as well. Zoglin often disagrees with previous biographers' assessments of Hope's movies -- a stab at writing something new, perhaps -- but he doesn't argue that the comic's latter-day film projects were simply abysmal. Although Zoglin is supposedly putting forth a more positive spin on Hope's life and career, he doesn't shy away from the negative aspects of Hope's personality. All in all, this is by no means a bad book, but if you've read previous bios you'll just find it over-familiar.
Verdict: Not hopeless, but it's been done before. **1/2.