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Funny Letters from Famous People


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About the Author

Charles Osgood has been anchor of CBS News Sunday Morning since 1994. He also anchors and writes The Osgood File, his daily news commentary broadcast on the CBS Radio Network.
Inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 2000 and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1990, he has received some of the highest accolades in broadcast journalism, including three Emmy Awards.
The author of five other books, including The Osgood Files and See You on the Radio, Osgood lives with his wife in New York City.


This lightweight yet un-fluffy collection of humorous letters is divided into sections from politicians, writers and show business figures, organized chronologically. Highlights include Fred Allen's 1932 "encounter" with a barrel of bricks, the bon mots of Robert Benchley about water in the streets of Venice and Dorothy Parker's telegram about a friend's long-awaited baby: "Good work Mary. We all knew you had it in you." Groucho Marx's wit is sublime and sometimes bawdy, but who would have expected double entendres in the correspondence of George Washington? Also from the 18th century is Joseph Addison's humorous love letter retelling his various incarnations, while the 19th's Charles Lamb notes the perils of being carried home drunk from an epic party. Drinking figures less humorously in letters from Hemingway and Faulkner. Some of the letters, indeed, such as those from an aging and convicted Oscar Wilde and an ailing but resilient Frederic Chopin are by men trying to laugh in order to avoid weeping, while Andy Rooney's signature curmudgeonliness plays poorly in print. In the end, this male-heavy book reveals less humor and more pain than the letter writers intended, which may be something of which old school CBS anchor Osgood is aware. (On sale Apr. 8) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin or Groucho Marx, this book will make you laugh out loud."
--News & Record (Greensboro, NC)

"[A] charming little book . . . witty, engaged, and educated."
--The Salt Lake Tribune

Osgood, an award-winning journalist and anchor of CBS News Sunday Morning, offers a collection of funny letters written by politicians, authors, and "denizens of the fine arts and show business." As a journalist, Osgood shows good judgment in his selection of material, but as an editor, he may not have dug deeply enough into his source material. His lead-ins and connecting anecdotes occasionally seem forced, and sometimes they're slight. In a short section of FDR's correspondence, a missive to Mrs. Roosevelt complaining about the White House food would have had much more impact had Osgood explained that FDR and the White House cook were constantly at loggerheads over cuisine. That said, this slim volume contains much light, entertaining reading. Evidently, Osgood did not aim to provide thoroughly organized fare but simply a good time. Larger public libraries may find this a useful purchase for their leisure nonfiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/02.]-Audrey Snowden, student, GSLIS, Simmons Coll., Boston Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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