Climbing the Mountain: My Search for Meaning

Kirk Douglas, Author Simon & Schuster $23.5 (240p) ISBN 978-0-684-84415-2
After his near-fatal helicopter crash in 1991, legendary actor Douglas was driven to examine why he, an elderly man, had survived an accident that killed a couple of younger men. This led him back to his Jewish roots, which in turn led him to question his own identity: Was he Kirk Douglas, world-famous movie star, or Issur Danielovitch, the scrappy Jewish kid from Amsterdam, New York? The result is the actor's sixth book (after an autobiography, The Ragman's Son, and four novels), which aspires to be a family history, a spiritual quest and a name-dropping celebrity memoir all at once. Folksy interpretations of the Torah are intermixed with a sort of running apology to his sons for not being a better father, along with brief stories of Douglas's film career and his famous friends. One poignant yet amusing chapter features Douglas weeding out his address book (Brando is dropped, Anthony Quinn stays), while another relates the aging star's frustration at having to audition for a part he didn't get (in Wrestling Ernest Hemingway) and his badly disguised pleasure when the movie flopped. Much of the book is about the actor's amazement at turning 80, and his frustration with his failing physical powers, especially with his stroke last year. Though the various strands of the book never quite come together, its awkwardness is in fact its greatest charm. There's little trace of a ghostwriter here; by turns feisty, sentimental, grouchy, funny, boastful and touchingly vulnerable, the voice throughout is unmistakably that of Kirk Douglas. Photos. 100,000 first printing. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-7432-1438-4
Hardcover - 342 pages - 978-0-7838-8359-5
Hardcover - 269 pages - 978-0-684-84702-3
Hardcover - 480 pages - 978-1-56865-566-6
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-684-86584-3
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