Tags: oreilly | bold | book | fox

O'Reilly Boldly Reveals Inner Self in New Book

Friday, 03 Oct 2008 10:33 AM

By Phil Brennan

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“A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity” by Bill O’Reilly, Broadway Books, $26; 256 pages.

Bill O’Reilly wastes no time in telling you from the first pages that he was and continues to be a bold, fresh piece of humanity — the description that Sister Mary Lurana pinned on him when he was a third-grader at St. Brigid School in Westbury Long Island, hard by Levittown, the sprawling post WW II Nassau County subdivision where he grew up.

Early on, he disabuses the notion many hold that he has a gigantic ego when he explains that the real motivating force in his life is a powerful sense of self-reliance rather than self-importance.

He is Bill O'Reilly, warts and all. Take him or leave him.

[Editor’s Note: Get Bill O’Reilly’s book. Go here now.]

In discussing his father’s dismal post WW II career — he was a naval officer who held a low-level job he hated at an oil company after the war — O’Reilly blames his dad’s workaday misery on his weakness, a trait born of the fear of joblessness bred during the Depression years.

Noting that some of his father’s bosses at Caltex recognized his weakness and treated him badly, O’Reilly writes, “Eventually, the frustration he felt affected his health. Still, he took no action. Year after year passed, without advancement. Tragically, he depended on a corporate giant that could not have cared less about him. Finally, after 35 years, Caltex gave him a cheap watch and a small pension, See ya.”

Observing his father's helplessness, O'Reilly determined that he would never allow himself to be dependent on anybody but himself.

"After watching that situation, up close and personal, no way was I ever going to rely on any company, government or person. I was your standard-issue dopey kid, but I absorbed one thing: I'm going to make money and forge a career on my own terms. No fear. I would continue being a bold, fresh piece of humanity and blank anyone who didn't like it.”

He has stood by that youthful decision to stand on his own two feet, and he never has deviated from the belief that he is the master of his own destiny. It explains what and who he is and how he got there.

[Editor’s Note: Read the interview, "Bill O’Reilly: McCain Must ‘Feel the Pain’" Go here now.]

This determination showed up time and again, leading him from making money as a pre-teenager shoveling snow to running a house-painting business, employing scores of his friends while barely in his teens, to creating the blockbuster top-rated Fox television show “The O'Reilly Factor.”

His towering height — he's just a few inches shorter than the Eiffel Tower — makes him seem intimidating when confronting his targets, whom he calls “pinheads,” or worse, nowadays.

During a White House tour with President Bush, the president's handlers made the mistake of allowing the two men to walk side by side. It didn't help Bush’s image by making him look like a Lilliputian next to O'Reilly's Gulliver.

The author devotes a substantial part of the book to his growing-up years in Levittown, a lower-middle-class subdivision teeming with World War II veterans and their children, as a student at St. Brigid and later at Canisius High, and in recalling his childhood friends and classmates, many of whom he remains close to to this day.

Unlike many highly successful people who brag about being raised Catholic and abandoning that faith as adults as if it were some kind of a virtue, he makes no bones about his Catholic faith and his lifelong allegiance to it.

“In helping me to determine right from wrong, good from evil, and trying to correct injustice my Catholic faith is invaluable,” he writes. “In public, on TV and radio I usually keep my religion to myself, because I have a secular job: I'm a journalist not an evangelist. But if somebody brings up the subject, I tell him or her what I just told you.

"Religion has been a very positive thing in my life, without it I would never have been motivated to expose bad guys and celebrate heroism. Many media people are self-interested and cautious. But I see my job is much more than a big paycheck and a good table at the bistro du jour. I am on a mission, and it all started from the first grade.”

As a youngster, Bill O'Reilly was a self-described hooligan who spent a lot of time challenging the established order of things. He hasn't changed much. He remains pugnacious, continues to suffer fools with barely concealed contempt and continues on his mission.

He is proud of what he calls his working-class roots, describes himself simply as a Levittown guy, cherishes his memories of his fellow thugs as he calls them, and displays a deep nostalgia for his childhood days.

It's clear that in his mind he is still cutting up at St. Bridget's and creating great mischief surrounded by his childhood friends. It's almost as if he expects one of them to show up at his front door and ask if he can come out to play.

O'Reilly's father, a very key figure in his life, is recalled with great tenderness and sorrow, his mother as devout and loving and all those nuns at St. Bridget's as important building blocks of his life.

Here, O'Reilly is unmasked, and it is O'Reilly who does the unmasking. It's a great, instructive and moving read. Here’s the O'Reilly few of us know, “a bold fresh piece of humanity,” and not a bad guy at all.

[Editor’s Note: Get Bill O’Reilly’s book. Go here now.]

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