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The Rulebreaker

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3.5 stars! This was such a captivating read. Before picking up THE RULEBREAKER, I wasn't too familiar with Barbara Walters and her life beyond her TV presence, and Susan Page provides an absorbing, comprehensive, and well-written account of Barbara Walters and her career as an acclaimed journalist. She entered the field during a time when it was overwhelmingly male-dominated, and misogyny was rampant. Still, she never gave up, and her drive for success and undeniable talent soon propelled her career to new heights. Walters undoubtedly established her place as a powerful storyteller who flourished in the spotlight for decades, making—and breaking—many rules in the process. I thought THE RULEBREAKER was so fascinating and informative, and appreciated how detailed Page was in telling this story! She doesn't shy away from depicting both the dazzling highs and difficult lows of Walters' life, giving readers a complete picture of who Walters was, both on- and off-screen. I would recommend, especially for fans of in-depth biographies! Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the ARC.

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Rulebreaker-The Life and Times of Barbara Walters by Susan Page--This upcoming biography (April 23) covers the life and career of legendary journalist Barbara Walters from her complicated childhood through her groundbreaking career. I knew very little of Walters outside of her tv presence and this bio was very informative. Great for someone who is a news junkie or enjoys learning about women in television. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance digital copy.

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A Well-Researched and Well-Written Biography of A Remarkable Broadcast Journalist

Barbara Walters is widely recognized as one of the most accomplished female broadcasters of all time. She had a unique talent for conducting and producing the most significant television interviews of her era. Throughout her career, she interviewed more presidents, movie stars, and criminal masterminds than any other journalist in history. At an age where retirement would be a natural option, she pioneered a new kind of talk show called The View, which showcased powerful female perspectives. Author Susan Page conducted 150 interviews with colleagues and friends in an attempt to discover the driving force behind Barbara Walters's success.

THE RULEBREAKER is a biography that provides an in-depth account of Barbara Walters' life. The author, Page, has done a commendable job in researching and presenting her findings in a well-written manner. However, she portrays Walters in a negative light by dwelling on her failures, fears, resentments, and aggressions.

Page also sheds light on Walters' strained family relationships and failed marriages, and quotes several colleagues who held unfavorable opinions of her. Even the cover photo seems to lack the respect that Walters deserves. It makes me wonder how Walters herself would have felt about this book.

Reading about Walters' struggles with her family, marriages, career, and daughter was heartbreaking. However, the misogyny she endured from her male colleagues was simply horrendous; albeit it may have been typical of the time, it is still unforgivable. It took a woman with grace, strength, and fortitude to survive and thrive as Walters did.

Page asks Walters' friends and colleagues whether they thought she was happy. While no one is happy all the time, it’s clear to me that Walters found joy in her work. Her happiness is evident in the quality of everything she produced.

Thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher Simon & Schuster
Published April 23, 2023

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True story: when I was in high school and decided I wanted to be involved in broadcast journalism, I used to say, “I want to interview Barbara Walters and make HER cry.” My mother was a huge Barbara Walters fan, and now, looking back, I wonder if that was part of the reason I decided on my career path. When I saw The Rulebreaker by Susan Page available as a Read Now selection on NetGalley, I gleefully snatched it up and dived in. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for a digital copy of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

There’s so much information in this book, it’s hard to know where to start. Barbara Walters was a trailblazer in the world of television journalism. She pushed for her jobs and had relentless professional drive. She wasn’t the first, but she was the one that made headlines for her successes so that the few women who came before her were long forgotten. For any women who wonder what it was like in the workplace decades ago, you get a pretty good idea at the misogyny that enveloped the work world. Women had it easier in the broadcasting/journalism field after Barbara broke the several glass ceilings on her way to the top, something she was proud of, but was also resentful of the women who “had it easier” than her in their career paths.

I knew almost nothing about Barbara Walter’s personal life, other than she had a daughter and had spent years estranged from her but remember when her daughter did a news story with her. I knew her father was a successful nightclub owner and that she had a disabled sister. I knew that Barbara hung out with all these fascinating high-powered movers and shakers, but one of the great parts of her life was that she didn’t really share personal information publicly, which is so rare today. This book delves into her whole life, not just professionally, but personally, too.

The amount of research done, including hundreds of interviews, is well crafted into an excellent biography of one of the most influential women in the history of broadcast television. From her early days on The Today Show to 20/20 to her final years on The View, this in-depth look at Barbara Walters, her life, her work, and the impact she had on us all is not to be missed.

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

I wasn't initially sure about requesting this book, for review, but I am certainly glad I did.

Susan Page writes a fascinating factual story of a groundbreaking hero (Barbara Walters) everyone can all admire for moving forward women's rights by establishing a captivating presence in a career formerly populated exclusively by male newsmen.

Not only did she change the face of television, she also commanded a hearty paycheck for doing so (thereby also increasing the salaries of the old guard male newscasters, although she never received their recognition for doing so).

Revealing in Barbara Walters' fascinating career of interviewing the most captivating people in the world. Walters was a hero/heroine for the ages, and this book reflects that fact.

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Thank you NetGalley for the ARC. What a woman and what a life. Barber Walter's is one of my favorite people and learning more about her life was so fun. She is just the most incredible woman.

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Simon and Schuster provided an early galley for review.

By the age I became aware of network news, somewhere in my childhood in the early 70's, the name and face and voice of Barbara Walters was known to me. As far as I knew, she was always there. I never questioned a woman in a high profile position of journalism. I just took it as a fact of life. When she shifted over to the weekly 20/20 or any one of her specials through out the year, it was something I found myself watching. She was a source to be trusted and admired.

When I saw the solicitations for Page's book, I knew this was one I and my library patrons would hopefully want to read.

The book moves right from the start with short chapters on family and growing up. One quote from Barbara I found illuminating was that she valued "interesting" over "normal". That certainly makes a lot of sense given how her professional life would play out.

One thing that also jumps out right from the start is that Barbara came up in a world that is vastly different than the one of the 21st Century we now how. This was a world of sexism and deal-making - often the price of doing business and getting ahead. It is very much a world I remember from the earliest half of my life. This might very well serve as an uncomfortable eye-opening experience for younger modern readers, but we learn from the lessons of the history of others.

It also becomes obvious as to why Page chose the title that she did. Barbara very much broke the rules, often doing whatever it took to make her way to the top and to stay there. She was very cut-throat indeed. I really found I learned a lot from reading this biography.

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This was a great read for Women's History Month. Barbara Walters was a trailblazing broadcast journalist who appeared on television screens for over six decades. She was the first female co-host of a network morning show and an evening news program. She has completed famous interviews with many celebrities, world leaders, and even infamous criminals. Many female journalists have followed in her footsteps including Diane Sawyer and Oprah Winfrey.

In Rulebreaker, writer Susan Page takes us into Barbara Walters' life and shows how she shattered glass ceilings in the male-dominated field of journalism. Page explores the motivations and experiences that shaped Barbara Walters' career.

I would recommend Rulebreaker for lovers of biographies and nonfiction and anyone interested in media history and feminism.

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This was a heavy read, it bounces around slightly in each chapter (it might be about let's say 1968, but then it also becomes about 1999, and 2018). Barbara Walters had an incredible career, and a very different childhood/life growing up than anyone would really have suspected, considering how her life as an adult was. She had many milestone achievements, and honestly, she was an incredible person it seems like.

This was a great read.

Thank you NetGalley for my E-ARC!

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This was such a great read and is very well written. The author went into great detail and made it relatable to many. I really enjoyed this book!

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I remember growing up and enjoying watching certain shows with my mom. Celebrity interviews from Barbara Walters was one of them. Much like you could watch Johnny Carson and expect an enjoyable experience every time, you could count on Barbara in the same comfortable way. You just knew it was going to be good. So it was with that warm, expectant feeling that I approached this biography. I wasn't disappointed. I had been reading a handful of "so, so" books at the time and was hungry for a quality read that would grab my attention. From the first pages I knew that this read would be a good one and thought, "Finally!"

The book covered Barbara's childhood which factored so deeply into her drive for success. It thoroughly described her groundbreaking career as a woman in television journalism and the initial blowback she received from her male counterparts. It also depicted her extremely competitive nature in snagging coveted reviews, often in tandem with Diane Sawyer. I enjoyed reading about her three failed marriages, her adoption experience, and some of her controversial relationships. Barbara was crafty at carefully cultivating any information that could be released about her.

The writing style was effortless and free-flowing and a pleasure to read. The book is just shy of 500 pages, but transitions to voluminous end notes and a photo gallery at about the 80% mark. This was an excellent, comprehensive overview of this iconic newswoman's entire life. Highly recommended!

Thank you to the publisher Simon & Schuster for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

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Susan Page does it again! As the author of books about Barbara Bush and Nancy Pelosi, Page dives into the life of Barbara Walters.

Walters was a trailblazer in the news industry. One of the first women to co-anchor, she fought for every equality, every interview. Walters life was dissected from her growing up formative years with a showman, yet absent, father until her retirement and hiding from the public. Walters was a devoted daughter and sister feeling the weight of taking care of everyone. Marriages that didn't work out because they always had to take a back seat to her career. This was a fascinating bio of a famous woman I had always admired as she seemingly paved the way for other women and gave them a hand up.

I really recommend this book. If you have read your other books, you will notice it is also as comprehensive as they were and you will come away knowing much more about someone we all thought we knew.

I received this NetGalley book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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This book was a timely reminder that just because we watch someone on the screen and think we know them, we don't. We don't know their whole story, what makes them tick, what their hopes and fears are. Author Susan Page has done extensive research and over 150 interviews to create this look at one of the most successful journalists ever, male or female. As such, I found the Barbara Walters within both inspiring and, well, a depressing icon. You'll come away from this book with both admiration and sadness, most likely. Admiration at what she was able to accomplish long before women were accepted in many roles, but a sadness at not just what she had to do to gain that role but a deep sadness at what she had to sacrifice to get there.

I'm not going to detail the book as it should be read as a whole, from the dysfunctional (her word choice, not mine) childhood, with a largely absent father and unhappy, frustrated mother, to hanging out in night clubs operated by her father where people like not just Frank Sinatra and other entertainers like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were regulars but people like Al Capone. It's really not at all surprising she was meticulous preparing for and seemed to handle interviews with even the likes of Putin when you realize the people she grew up around. In fact, her family's dynamics may have colored her own fractured relationships, even with her own daughter. Her news career is well documented but I had no clue of the turmoil her promotion caused or the disdain and jealous atmosphere she worked in. Let's face it, she got those showcase interviews when others would have practically killed to have gotten them. Then, at a time many would be retiring, she created the still popular talk show "The View". She asked for and got many things others wouldn't have dared ask for. She was definitely a pioneer and role model, albeit a flawed one.

As for her profession, well, it's intriguing to see how it all came about. Lots of celebrity name dropping included, including the reaction of Harry Reasoner when told he'd be sharing an anchor desk with her. Her climb, of course, inspired many, from Oprah, who wanted to grow up to be her, to many females now well known in the media. You'll get the highs, lows, and everything in-between as you read, even to not-so-clandestine love affairs. The question "Was she really happy?" kept coming back to me, however, and I'm rather glad that while painting us this in-depth look at Walters and what made her tick that the author largely leaves that conclusion up to readers. She was a woman with secrets, that's for sure.

My thanks to #NetGalley and #SimonAndSchuster for this sneak peek at a book that gave me a much better understanding of what made Barbara Walters the woman she was, for better or worse.

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I was excited to learn more about Barbara Walters, but this fell flat for me. While the amount of research to provide the great detail in this biography was evident, I found it to be confusing and difficult to follow. For the first 25% of the book, the main content focused on her father and how he grew up. Then it jumped around to her different relationships, work experiences, then back to her father. The text felt disjointed, and I quickly lost interest. I think with some further editing, it has the potential to become a winner.

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Publishing for allowing me the opportunity to review this ARC.

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This book is just amazing. From her parent’s upbringing, her childhood and beyond you get to learn so much about one of the greatest journalists in television. Everyone knows the name Barbara Walters but I had no idea about half of the things she went through in her life. I am obsessed with this book and kept telling everyone about random facts I had just learned. It’s a book you don’t want to put down, it’s that interesting and captivating

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Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the ARC.

I liked the book, but I do not think there were any earth-shattering revelations about Barbara Walters's life or career. Most of what was related has been previously published in either magazine articles or the newspapers. I am not referring to "juicy gossip," but regular news and facts. So, nothing new for someone in my age group (75+)

However, if the intended age group of readers are young women in their teens to thirties, then, yes there are plenty of new facts regarding the difficulties Ms. Walters had in both her personal life and her career.

Even if she was -- in her own words -- a "pushy cookie," she was a role model for many young women in the arts as well as business fields. Hopefully her accomplishments will not be forgotten.

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I never knew about the background of Barbara Walters until I read this book. In this page turner, you develop a deeper understanding of what drove her career and who she was. It was a very interesting read. Thank you for the opportunity to read this one!

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Thank you Net Galley for a digital copy of this book. All comments are my own, and are not influenced by any other person or entity.

Barbara Walters life unfolds like an enchanting drama under the pen of Susan Page. Page does an excellent job weaving Walters’ childhood backstory into the persona as seen on TV, explaining Walter’s motivations, her fear of failure, and how those fears not only influenced her job performance, but also almost every relationship in her life. This book makes history come alive.

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*Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I didn't know much about Barbara Walters (besides the obvious--that she was really good at interviewing people) before reading this book, and I enjoyed learning more about how her childhood and early career shaped her decisions later in life. The book is a page-turner, as far as biographies go. There aren't so many details and events included that you get bogged down in the minutiae. However, at times this book felt very choppy, like we were hurtling from one event to the next with very little connection or reflection. Compared to this author's biography of Barbara Bush, it felt rushed. Overall, still an enjoyable read! 3.5 stars.

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“The Rulebreaker,” by Susan Page, is a biography of Barbara Walters. Walters wrote her biography “Audition” in 2008, so one might wonder what Ms. Page could add on in the nearly 15 since the publication of that book. Well, there’s more about Walters than what she, herself, documented. Ms. Page has done a lot of research - and it shows in this book. There’s a lot about Walters’s upbringing - parents, sibling, and how Walters felt like she never fit in. That Walters tried to keep most of this hidden - sometimes even lying - I found interesting as a women who always craved “the truth” from those she was interviewing. Walters was driven - and tough - and that is very obvious in this book. If you want to learn more about Walters - or have an interest in how someone worked her way to becoming a respected journalist - this may be the book for you to pick up.

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