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The Third Six-Pack
Nominations for the Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma Book for 2006

Will Rogers: a Biography
by Ben Yagoda
University of Oklahoma Press

2000
(Original copyright 1993, Knopf)
pp. 409
paperback
ISBN 0806132388
$22.95

"America surprised itself when Will Rogers died, surprised itself by the size and force of its grief."

“"The Cherokee Kid” was Oklahoma's favorite son and a citizen of the world. From the early 1920s until his untimely death in 1935, Will was the most popular man in the United States. His newspaper column was read daily by 40 million people. He was America's biggest radio entertainer, lecturer, movie star, and homespun sage. "For there to be another Will Rogers today," Yagoda writes, “"he (or she) would have to combine the separate attributes of Johnny Carson, Mark Russell, Roy Rogers, Clark Clifford, Walter Cronkite, Bill Cosby, Bob Hope, Russell Baker, H. Ross Perot, and James Reston. It just can't happen."

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Reviews

"Rogers embodied old-time values, yet he 'opportunistically' embraced the new mass-culture media. Apostle of decency, he headlined in the 'all-but-pornographic' Ziegfeld Follies. Yagoda… has written the fullest biography of this American icon, a resonant portrait imbued with Rogers's irreverent spirit, yet attuned to both the strengths and limitations of his commonsense, crackerbarrel world view."
Publishers Weekly

"Someone has finally written a good biography of Will Rogers… It's a delight to be reminded that political humor without meanness of spirit is not only possible, but indeed is a great American tradition. Politicians and all who labor with them will relish Ben Yagoda's Will Rogers, but so will those who enjoy show biz tidbits and vaudeville history."
New York Times Book Review

"Yagoda offers an utterly thorough, brilliant taking-apart of the unique Rogers persona… So immediate you can scratch a match on his boot sole."
Kirkus Reviews

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About the Author

Ben Yagoda is Associate Professor of English and Journalism at the University of Delaware. He is the coeditor of The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism and is the author of About Town: the New Yorker and the World It Made and The Sound and the Page: Style and Voice in Writing. Visit Professor Yagoda's homepage.

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