Wednesday, June 12, 2019

[Book] The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King

Book cover
Subtitled, The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, this is a biography of a man that most Americans over 30 grew up watching as children on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which is a show that ran on US public television stations (PBS) for 31 years (1968-2001).

I cannot review this book without noting that Fred Rogers means a lot to me, as I watched his show regularly for many years.  Because of this, I find his life interesting... possibly more than most.  Then again, David Bowie means a lot to me too, and I didn't review that book well at all.

The narrative line of this book is solid.  There is very little jumping around in time, and there are few narrative conflicts (and those that happen, are explained as conflicts in a straight forward manner).  There were some chapters dedicated to explaining the times he was in, people he worked with, and the beginnings of the Television Industry, in which he was an early entrant.  Some of these chapters didn't make sense to me until I saw how that background became important in the following chapters.

There was one chapter that was filled with religious references, and comparing Fred Rogers to revered religious figures.  That was awkward for me to read, and I think I would have gotten the same thing out of the book, had I skipped the rest of that chapter once I felt awkward.  Overall, after the first quarter of the book, I found myself crying pretty regularly.

In any case, if you grew up watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, or you have a friend who won't shut up about him, or even if you saw the 2018 documentary and want to know more, I highly recommend this book (it covers so much more than the documentary).  Like any biography, it probably won't be interesting if you don't know who this is.


The Good Neighbor
Biography
Abrams Press
Released: 4 September 2018
Hardcover, 416 pages

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