cover image And Nothing but the Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert

And Nothing but the Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert

Lisa Rogak. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-61610-6

Rogak (who’s written bios of Shel Silverstein and Stephen King, among many others), traces the trajectory of political satirist Stephen Colbert. She takes her task seriously, having pored through the archives of the Medical University of South Carolina, where Colbert’s father was the vice president for academic affairs. Colbert had an “idyllic childhood,” growing up in a large, close-knit family, but in 1974, when he was 10, his father and two of his older brothers were killed in a plane crash: “Losing a role model so young, his father’s godlike image was ‘trapped in amber.’ ” After attending Northwestern as a theater major, he toured with Second City, developed sketch comedy shows for Comedy Central, and then joined The Daily Show, where he created the news correspondent character he described as “a Bill O’Reilly–like commentator, a very well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot.” When The Colbert Report was launched in 2005, the entire premise was based on that character, and enthusiastic fans will delight in Rogak’s lengthy, detailed behind-the-scenes coverage of both the show and Colbert’s controversial keynote speech at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The 40 pages of bibliographic notes indicate her extensive research for this engaging, entertaining biography, which succeeds in capturing Colbert’s anarchic, iconoclastic spirit. (Oct.)