A candid, surprising, and unauthorized biography of the celebrity chef and TV star Anthony Bourdain, based on extensive interviews with those who knew him intimately, as well as exclusive access to his personal files.
Anthony Bourdain’s death by suicide in June 2018 shocked people around the world. Bourdain seemed to have it all: an irresistible personality, a dream job, a beautiful family, and international fame. “If I’m not happy, it’s a failure of imagination,” he once said. The reality, though, was more complicated.
Bourdain became a celebrity at age forty-four with his bestselling book Kitchen Confidential. He parlayed that success into a series of hit television shows, including the Food Channel’s Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and CNN’s Parts Unknown. But his charisma belied a troubled spirit. Drug and alcohol addiction and an obsession with perfection and personal integrity ruined two marriages and turned him into a boss from hell, even as millions became increasingly intrigued by the ever-curious and genuinely empathetic traveler they saw on TV. Bourdain was already running out of steam, physically and emotionally, when he fell hard for an Italian actress who could be even colder to him than he sometimes was to others, and who effectively drove a wedge between him and his young daughter.
Down and Out in Paradise tells the true and full Bourdain story for the first time, relating the highs and lows and surprising twists of an extraordinary life. Charles Leerhsen shows how Bourdain’s never-before-reported childhood traumas fueled both his creativity and the insecurities that would lead him to a place of despair. This is the frank, perceptive, and intimate biography that Bourdain fans have been waiting for.
“Since Anthony Bourdain’s death in 2018, there have been a handful of books by and about him. . . . But there has yet to be a true biography of the late chef. The first one, carefully researched but ‘definitely unauthorized,’ [comes] from Leerhsen. . . . Based on interviews with those who knew Bourdain best, Leerhsen will contextualize Bourdain’s on-screen charisma and off-screen despair by revealing childhood traumas that shaped the man who was revered by some, feared by others and loved by all.”