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New York Times Review

Review in the New York Times

“An unvarnished account of a turbulent life. Grittier than anything we’ve read about Bourdain before. Leerhsen is not here, though, to discredit or dismiss his subject. His admiration for Bourdain is nearly always apparent. It’s hard to say if Bourdain would have liked this book. Either way, I suspect he would have admired the author’s guts.”
— Dwight Garner, The New York Times

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Economist review

Charles Leerhsen in the Economist

In his “gritty, well-researched new biography, Mr. Leerhsen tries to explain why a man with legions of adoring fans and the best job in the world would end his life and why, years later, so many people still care about him: ‘authenticity, in the sense of being the real thing and not a pretender, was a lifelong preoccupation’ for Bourdain. The pretense involved in the brand-building may ultimately have been intolerable.”


New York Times Online

“The book is filled with fresh, intimate details, including raw, anguished texts from Bourdain’s final exchanges with [his lover] Asia Argento and Ottavia, his wife of 11 years.”

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Shelf Awareness review

Down and Out Anthony Bourdain

“Leerhsen seems to channel his subject’s exuberant spirit, spiking his pages with Bourdainian swagger and a drizzle of lawlessness… As funny as Leerhsen is (one restaurant that Bourdain worked at in the 1980s ‘closed so abruptly that it’s a wonder Liza Minnelli and Halston weren’t trapped inside’), he’s equally adept at chronicling the dark side of his subject’s story.”

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Boston Globe story

Boston Globe Leerhsen story

“This isn’t an official Bourdain product or a hagiography. And it’s not some pointlessly sleazy book, either. This one is thoroughly researched and painstakingly detailed. ‘It’s not a matter of solving the mystery of his suicide or solving the mystery of who he was,’ Leerhsen told me. ‘I just hope I present a detailed picture of Bourdain from birth to death. This is for people who are curious about him in particular and curious about the human condition.'”

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AP story

Associated Press

“The impressionistic portrait that emerges is of a complex man who combined swagger and spiky cool with deep insecurity, neediness and image-consciousness. ‘How could the guy who had the best job in the world, who seemed so cool and was so smart, in some ways so sophisticated — how could he do this?’ said Leerhsen. He said his account of Bourdain, flaws and all, serves as a corrective to many profiles that are fawning. ‘I don’t get the people who say, Don’t tell me. I want to remember him a certain way,’ he said. ‘I was curious. If you’re not curious like I was, then God bless you, you know?'”

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Frommer’s review

Leerhsen Frommers

Author Charles Leerhsen is a stylish and light writer… The book lays out a slow collapse: As Bourdain’s success intensified, so did his removal from well-regulated emotions and from people who might have helped. At a certain point, as Leerhsen explains, the traveler with a gift for finding life-affirming joys of the road began to see an abyss in them instead. He couldn’t leave his obsessions at home. Turning the final page (and reading the excellent explanatory endnotes that explain how the best scoops were attained), I finally felt like I got the answers I needed from Down and Out in Paradise.”

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Charles Leerhsen on the Today Show

Today Show

Charles Leerhsen talks about Down And Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain on The Today Show, September 28, 2022.

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Book Launch: Down and Out in Paradise – The Life of Anthony Bourdain by Charles Leerhsen

Down and Out Anthony Bourdain

Tuesday Oct 11, 2022
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

POWERHOUSE @ the Archway
28 Adams Street (corner of Water Street)
Brooklyn , NY 11201

More information here…

This event will be IN-PERSON – masks recommended. RSVP here!