Thursday, September 14, 2017

Eight is Enough - Nonfiction Review

Eight is Enough: A Father's Memoir of Life with His Extra Large Family by Tom Braden

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  Tom Braden had a colorful career: He parachuted into Nazi-occupied France, directed the CIA’s covert operations program during the early years of the Cold War, ran for public office, owned a newspaper, served as executive secretary for the Museum of Modern Art, and cohosted the CNN show Crossfire. He counted among his friends David Brinkley, Robert Frost, Kirk Douglas, and Nelson Rockefeller. But Braden considered fatherhood both his most important job and his biggest adventure. No wonder; he and his wife, Joan, a State Department official and Washington society hostess, raised eight children during one of the most tumultuous periods in American history.
In this diverting family memoir, Braden shares a treasure trove of amusing anecdotes—from the time his youngest daughter’s pet sheep interrupted a dinner party with a Supreme Court justice to the telegram US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sent after the birth of the Bradens’ eighth child: “Congratulations. I surrender.” (The Kennedys had seven children at the time). With wit and wisdom, Braden also addresses some of the most serious issues, including drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex, faced by parents in an era of deep distrust between generations.

When ABC proposed adapting Eight Is Enough for television, Braden found the idea so preposterous he sold the rights for one dollar. The award-winning series starring Dick Van Patten and Betty Buckley ran for five seasons and launched the Hollywood careers of many young actors, including Willie Aames and Ralph Macchio. A celebration of the joys and tribulations of fatherhood, Eight Is Enough speaks with warmth, humor, and compassion to parents and children everywhere.

Genre: Nonfiction - Memoir

Why I Picked This Book:  While I've never watched the show (my husband is still shaking his head in horror over THAT revelation) I thought this sounded really interesting.

My Impression:  This memoir is really more of a collection of essays over the course of a number of years.  This style really works for Braden's writing style and makes it possible to keep track of which kid is which.  Eight may be enough but it's also a LOT to keep track of!  Most of the stories revolve around the challenges of managing a household of eight children which led for some pretty entertaining moments.  Braden adds a lot of humor to the situation.  It's clear he loves his wife and his family but at the same time I have a feeling he spent a lot of time either tuning out the chaos or with very strained patience and rueful humor.

I think my favorite story was the one about the Braden children vs. the Kennedy children but they were all enjoyable.  This wasn't a book I flew through but one I tended to pick up and read an essay from as needed.  This is perfect travel reading, sick bed reading, or to read during the commercial breaks as you obsessively watch hurricane coverage on The Weather Channel.  I hadn't watched the show when I started reading it but I'm off to find some episodes now!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would!  I really enjoyed his writing style and his sense of humor.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Yes!  If you're looking for an entertaining memoir that allows you to dip into here and there this is perfect!


  1. This does sound interesting. I'm glad you enjoyed this. I do like to read a memoir every now and then.

  2. You've never watched the show?!?! Oh, you have to rectify that, I think you'd like it. Good book review, I didn't know about the book, only the show.

    Thank you very much for your kind words on my blog. We are fortunate and survived hurricane Irma just fine. My family is well and I couldn't ask for more. I feel awful for the folks in south's devastating. But I wanted to thank you for keeping us in your thoughts.

  3. I loved this show! It was wonderful. I'll have to check this one out.

  4. I loved this show when it was first aired. Probably because I had seven siblings and could relate. I wonder if it's available to stream?

  5. I was invited to read this book, too. I haven't gotten to it yet. I hope I will enjoy it because I think I was a teen during this time (I don't know the exact years for this book). Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

  6. I am shaking my head along with your husband. I spent many hours watching this show and have always been curious about this book. I am very tempted by it now that I know you enjoyed the writing style. Great review!

  7. I enjoyed the show but boy does it sound different from the book, lol. A surprise, right? The book does sound good though.

  8. I remember that show vaguely, and I also remember Braden on Crossfire a LONG time ago! Had no idea his family was the inspiration for Eight is Enough. How interesting!

  9. I'm with your husband. You've never seen Eight Is Enough?! I grew up on that show. This sounds like such an interesting book. I hadn't known any of this. Or that it was based on someone's actual life.

  10. I loved that series and had no idea it was based on a book/real family. I'm going to have to pick this one up!

  11. I never knew the show was based upon a memoir. How interesting! I used to like watching that show.