Reviews

Praise for Dearie

A biography perfectly suited to its subject~as lively, fascinating, and singular as Julia Child herself.

Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

, on Dearie

A comprehensive and compelling biography…that also functions effectively as a history of 20th-century American culture on topics ranging from the evolution of the O.S.S. to the quirks of public television.

The Christian Science Monitor

, on Dearie

[A] mammoth, inspiring biography.

The Washington Times

, on Dearie

By far the most substantial new book on Child…A lively, affectionately detailed portrait.

The Wall Street Journal

, on Dearie

“Bob Spitz’s ‘Dearie’ has quickly become a blockbuster of its own.

“It’s a good read, and an astonishing one. Who could have imagined that this big-boned, middle-aged, late bloomer of a woman (she stood 6-foot-3) would have grabbed the culinary world by the taste buds?”


“In his new Knopf book, ‘Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child,’ Spitz makes a strong case for his subject as one of the towering cultural figures of the second half of the 20th century. …

“Spitz spent several weeks in 1992 traveling with Child in Sicily for a series of magazine articles. He was immediately taken with the idea of a full-scale biography, but that project was put on hold for the massive Beatles book.

“It wasn’t until after Child died in 2004 that Spitz plunged deep into her ‘remarkable life.’ The warm and affectionate tone of the biography — which establishes a direct connection with the reader — took the writer a long time to develop.”


“Now, those with a hunger for all things Julia have a substantial new biography by Bob Spitz to sink their teeth into. ‘Dearie’ clocks in at 500-plus pages, a length befitting the 6-foot-3 outsize personality that threatens to burst from between the covers. …  By the end of his book, anyone with a heart, and a stomach, probably will have a crush on her, too.”


This thick, fat, almost sinfully good read should definitely be put high up on the gift list for the food lover in your life. Julia would love you for this.


“Spitz gives us plenty of the wacky one-liners that endeared Child to her television audience, and a warm, nuanced portrait. But his bigger achievement is in setting her career against the most significant movements of the 20th century, from McCarthyism to the sexual revolution to the greening of America. He reveals how she helped redefine domesticity in the media age, transforming the way we cook, eat and think about food.”


“In the acknowledgments to this enthusiastic, heroically researched biography, of Julia Child, Bob Spitz explains that he got to know his subject during a jaunt around Sicily lasting several weeks, and found her ‘exactly like her TV persona: warm, funny, outgoing, whip-smart, incorrigible and, most of all, real’ . . . Mr. Spitz goes beyond mere history and provides a full, human portrait of Julia . . . Mr. Spitz offers the reader a portrait of an epicure, and of a life profoundly full, blessed and well lived.”


“[Dearie is] a rollicking joyride through her improbable journey from a childhood of privilege in Pasadena, Calif., to becoming the world’s most famous cook. Spitz, author of The New York Times best-seller ‘The Beatles: The Biography,’ as well as the food-focused ‘The Saucier’s Apprentice,’ about European cooking schools, gets to the core of how Child’s love of fun was a lifelong motivator. She could be dogged when it came to perfecting recipes, publishing books or producing television shows, but none of it would be worth doing if there wasn’t fun to be had.

“The title comes from the way Child would address old friends and strangers alike, and that’s just one of the many eccentricities that Spitz captures, down to vivid descriptions of mannerisms and vocal inflections that made Child impossible to forget.”


Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz takes readers beyond the image of this tall, eccentric woman with a funny voice and establishes her as one of the most distinctive cultural individuals of the 20th century.

“This in-depth, intimate tale is full of fresh information about Child from her childhood up until her death. Spitz gleaned an amazing amount of material from her private papers, scrapbooks, letters, keepsakes and notes, family, friends and colleagues.”


“August 15, 2012 marks her 100th birth anniversary as well as the launch of a wonderful, comprehensive new biography: ‘Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child’. In its early chapters, author Bob Spitz introduces us to a Julia who was such a bad cook that her family worried she might burn water, who was yet to meet Paul Child and who found herself in the company of the “Kandy kids” as a ‘keeper of secrets’ for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Ceylon during World War II. … For a biographer, Julia presents a challenge – courageous and irrepressible, here was a woman who reimagined herself in middle age and seemed to thrive under the weight of her staggering celebrity. For Bob’s readers, Julia’s extraordinary story is as appealing as the delicious food she served up to a nation.”


“[E]ndearing anecdotes abound in the new biography ‘Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child,’ by Bob Spitz, an unabashed celebration of the mistress of haute cuisine published on the centennial of her birth. What it lacks in critical edge, the book makes up for in detail and context, arguing that Child was far more than the original celebrity chef. At a time when women were negotiating a new place in society, she appeared – kooky, but confident, and determined to recast the most underappreciated of female tasks as the most respected of sciences.”


“…juicy, masterfully written”


“A foolproof recipe for entertainment. Readers get tasty morsels on every page…A deliciously satisfying read. As Child would say: ‘Bon Appètit!”

Associated Press

, on Dearie

“the most engaging celebrity biography we’ve read in years…Spitz is a fantastic writer.”


Dearie, published to coincide with what would have been Child’s 100th birthday on Aug. 15, is a detailed, nuanced biography of television’s beloved ‘French Chef.’ Spitz makes good use of Child’s diaries, letters and other papers to present the private woman as well as the public, culinary icon.”


“Julia encouraged Bob to write her story. Unhappy with an earlier biography, Appetite for Life, written in 1997 by Noël Riley Fitch, Julia felt that she appeared lifeless and “already dead.” Gauging by the multitudinous events slated for the 100th birthday celebration of Julia this week, this month, and in the coming months – including an all-day seminar at Radcliffe, the re-opening of Julia’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian, and thousands of restaurants dishing up Julia’s favorite recipes — Julia has never been more alive in the hearts and minds of those who grew up with her and ate and drank her dreams. Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child is then, a much-appreciated, well-timed gift to us all.”


“Spitz and Child intended to collaborate on her biography, a decision made as they toured Sicily together in 1992, when Spitz interviewed Child for several magazines and developed “a crush” on the outspoken and down-to-earth celebrity. Unfortunately, Child passed away while Spitz was completing another biography (The Beatles), but he continued the project with her blessing, through letters and diaries belonging to Julia and Paul Child as well as her closest friends Simone “Simca” Beck and Avis DeVoto, along with interviews with surviving friends, family and colleagues. Dearie may not be the only biography of Julia Child on bookstore shelves, but Spitz’s joyous and definitive rendering of an American icon will inspire readers in the kitchen and beyond.”

Jaclyn Fullwood of Infinite Reads, in Shelf Awareness

(full review » ) , on Dearie

“A rollicking biography that captures the vision, pluck and contagious exuberance that were the essence of Julia Child.”

People

, on Dearie

“Drawing deeply on Child’s diaries and letters, Dearie exhaustively chronicles her life…”


“Spitz reminds us that Child had always possessed a tremendous amount of excess energy with no outlet for expressing it. With the publication of her cookbook and the subsequent television shows, she discovered the place where she could use her cooking skills, her force of personality, and her abundant charm. Released to coincide with Child’s centenary, Spitz’s delightful biography succeeds in being as big as its subject.”


“…a revelation.”


“Published to coincide with what would have been her 100th birthday, this biography of the iconic Julia Child (1912–2004) does full justice to its complex subject.

Spitz (The Saucier’s Apprentice: One Long Strange Trip through the Great Cooking Schools of Europe, 2008, etc.) describes the ‘irrepressible reality’ of Child, who became a TV superstar, effectively launching ‘public television into the spotlight, big-time.’ In his view, the 1961 publication of her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, came at just the right time. Americans were tired of the preceding ‘era of dreary button-down conformity,’ and they were ready for a gastronomic revolution. Frustrated housewives reading Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking The Feminine Mystique welcomed the larger-than-life personality and showmanship of this tall, outspoken woman as she demonstrated the intricacies of French recipes with what appeared to be blithe disregard when things went wrong. Child reveled in her celebrity status, but this was only one aspect of her complex personality. Like most women of her generation born in traditional upper-middle-class homes, she was not expected to have an independent career. A wartime stint in the OSS was liberating. Not only did she hold a highly responsible job, but she met and married career diplomat Paul Child, moving with him to France. Popular accounts of her life, including the book and film Julie and Julia, describe her enchantment with French haute cuisine and her determination to master the skills of a top chef. Spitz captures another side of her complex personality: her fierce diligence in mastering the science as well as the art of cooking through detailed experimentation and her concern to translate the preparation of complex French recipes for readers in America—an attention to detail that carried over to her TV programs.

An engrossing biography of a woman worthy of iconic status.”

Kirkus Reviews

, on Dearie

Praise for The Saucier’s Apprentice

“This author was born to write about all things gastronomic … This rapturously written book about food and life … was a delightful surprise.”

Reader’s Digest

, on The Saucier’s Apprentice

“An inspiring tale of picking up the pieces…with a spatula.

“After completing The Beatles (2005), a 900-page book that cost him eight years and an untold amount of money, Spitz found his life meandering off the rails. He was ‘bumping around like a stray dog, just reading, cooking for friends, and taking long walks on the beach—that is, doing nothing.’ His 14-year marriage had ended, and a new relationship was foundering. The only place he found solace was in the kitchen; cooking had been a fulfilling, comforting activity for him since childhood. If his kitchen at home made him feel a little better, Spitz reasoned, then a kitchen on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean would make him feel a lot better. Off to Europe he went, beginning a food-filled journey that took him from Nice and the French towns of Agen and Théoule to various Tuscan villages and south to the mountaintop aerie of Sant’Agata. Back home, thanks to his therapeutic culinary lessons, he was calmer, wiser and stuffed. Appealingly, Spitz spends as much time discussing people as cuisine. When he does write about the food, however, he’s eloquent, and the inclusion of recipes throughout the book serves as a Greek—or rather, a French or Italian—chorus.

“Not quite at the level of Michael Ruhlman’s superb The Making of a Chef (1997), but the current adoration of foodie culture practically guarantees a large, appreciative audience for this warmhearted memoir/travelogue.”

Kirkus Review

, on The Saucier’s Apprentice

Praise for The Beatles

“Imagine John Adams with music and marijuana. The Beatles is written for the reader who seeks deep, time-consuming immersion in the past and can look beyond traditionally lofty subjects to find it. Like Mark Stevens’s and Annalyn Swan’s recent biography of Willem de Kooning, it means to meld the forces of personality, culture and art into a broad and emblematic story. …

“With sweep already built into its story and the cumulative effects of the author’s levelheaded, anecdotal approach, the book emerges as a consolidating and newly illuminating work. For the right reader, that combination is irresistible.”

Janet Maslin, New York Times

, on The Beatles

“Juicy, detailed, well-written, and authoritative…What makes Spitz’s book a standout is his attention to visual detail…He has a knack for description and for cliffhangers.  Every chapter of The Beatles promises more misery for the lads, more pleasure, more surprise.”

David Kirby, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

, on The Beatles

“Riveting…startlingly well-reported and constantly engaging.”

Carlo Wolfe, Boston Globe

, on The Beatles

“Beatlemaniacs will swoon.”

People

, on The Beatles

“Masterly…A deep, serious, and accomplished account worthy of the most important band in the world…A book that, although exceptionally lengthy, is actually the perfect size…Spitz expertly captures the sense of time and place to frame his story.”

Tom Sykes, New York Post

, on The Beatles

“Irresistible…It powerfully evokes both the excitement and the price of such a sudden rise…A captivating picture that hasn’t been seen before.”

Janet Maslin, New York Times

, on The Beatles

“A compulsively readable history that brings the same exhaustive level of scholarship to the Fab Four that Robert Caro brought for Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson.”

David Bauder, Associated Press

, on The Beatles

“Ten Pages in we were hooked.  Bob Spitz’s beautifully written chronicle breathes new life into the familiar story … The author’s passion for his subject, and for every nuance of every scene, electrifies even the most familiar moments in the legend.”

Jane and Michael Stern, New York Times Book Review

, on The Beatles

Praise for Shoot Out the Lights

“Mr. Spitz, who has written books on the first Woodstock Festival and on Bob Dylan, recounts the Knicks’ great season from various points of view, collective and individual. … [Shoot Out the Lights] is rescued by the memories he recalls and by the fresh details he unearths.”

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times Book Review

, on Shoot Out the Lights

Praise for Dylan

“The great strength of this biography, apart from the massiveness of Spitz’ research, is its respect for Dylan’s talent, and an understanding of his social and musical talent.”

London Sunday Telegraph

, on Dylan

“Bob Spitz takes his place among the most able chroniclers of the may myths, poses and postures of the middle-class Jewish boy from Minnesota and his dogged and at times ruthless pursuit of superstardom.”

Boston Herald

, on Dylan

“What one can get from this book is a sense of the terrific momentum of Dylan’s life and work in the early and mid-‘60s; the period when Dylan made his mark and made a world: no other book captures it so well, understands so well that this is the period that matters.”

Greil Marcus, Washington Post Book World

, on Dylan

Praise for Barefoot in Babylon

“Mr. Spitz has written a vast, toke-by-toke account … it makes for some outta-sight reading, man.”

New York Times Book Review

, on Barefoot in Babylon

“An important, impressive work … non-fiction that reads like an adventure.”

Timothy White, Author of Catch A Fire

, on Barefoot in Babylon

“A tough and well-documented book. This valuable contribution to contemporary history is provoking, exciting, and full of the kind of truth that is so sorely needed about an event which has become a part of American folklore.”

Tim O’Brien, author of Going After Cacciato and The Things They Carried

, on Barefoot in Babylon