Bill O'Reilly Writes About His Formative Years

O'Reilly writes about his formative years in book, now out in paperback.

ByABC News via logo
September 22, 2008, 2:13 PM

— -- Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's book about his formative years and how they shaped the man he has become is out in a new paperback edition.

The book's title, "A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity," comes from a phrase a no-nonsense nun used to describe O'Reilly, then a smart aleck third-grader.

Read an excerpt below.

Introduction: Reading This Book Will Dramatically Improve Your Life!

Got your attention, didn't I? Hopefully, that hyped- up statement will prove to be true, although I fully realize there will be skeptics. After all, I've had four consecutive number one nonfiction best sellers, so what is there left to say? I mean, come on, everybody knows O'Reilly is a champion bloviator, but is another book really necessary? I think so.

You see, I've never really explained how I got to be that showy bloviator; I have not defined exactly how my opinions, which so rankle more than a few sensitive souls, were formed. So that's what this book is all about: defining the experiences that have shaped my thinking, propelling me into becoming one of the most controversial human beings in the world. Also, I think you'll find the following pages interesting on a number of other levels besides my life experience. This book is full of stories and references that, perhaps,were important in your life as well. By design, much of the story is about me but not all about me. Thank God.

We can't begin at the real beginning, September 10, 1949, because not much washappening in my world at that time. I was just a normal baby, nothing unusual. No strange-looking eyes like those Village of the Damned kids. Wow, were they spooky or what? To this day, I remember those urchins scaring the Milk Duds out of me in a dark Long Island movie theater.

No, my point of view really began taking shape at age four, when, in a New York neighborhood teeming with children, playtime became an intense experience. A few years later, my intellectual development (such as it was) started to accelerate at a Catholic grammar school that was simply unforgettable. And it is at that school where this story begins.

The year was 1957, the month September, and I had just turned eight years old. Dwight Eisenhower was President, but in my life it was the diminutive, intense Sister Mary Lurana who ruled, at least in the third-grade class where I was held captive. For reasons you will soon understand, my parents had remanded me to the penal institution of St. Brigid's School in Westbury, New York, a cruel and unusual punishment if there ever was one.

Already, I had barely survived my first two years at St. Brigid's because I was, well, a little nitwit. Not satisfied with memorizing The Baltimore Catechism's fine prose, which featured passages like, "God made me to show His goodness and to make me happy with Him in heaven," I was constantly annoying my classmates and, of course, the no-nonsense Sister Lurana. With sixty overactive students in her class, she was understandably short on patience. For survival, she had also become quick on the draw.

Then it happened. One day I blurted out some dumb remark and Sister Lurana was on me like a panther. Her black habit blocked out all distractions as she leaned down, looked me in the eye, and uttered words I have never forgotten: "William, you are a bold, fresh pieceof humanity."

And she was dead-on.

The following pages will prove that the sister's perspicacious remark remains relevant about fifty years after the fact. But this account is not a traditional memoir in the sense that I mean to tell you my life story. I don't want to do that, because I happen to thinkI'm a pretty boring guy. So a recitation of my existence wouldn't do anyone much good. Instead, I will attempt to define why I believe what I believe by telling you how those convictions grew directly out of my life experience. This tactic is designed to keep you, the reader, entertained and amused, as you and I probably have much in common, at least in the upbringing department.

Once out of childhood, the adult bold, fresh piece of humanity got around, visiting more than seventy countries, observing four wars up close and personal, meeting thousands of people, and having millions of laughs. So we'll take a look at some of that stuff in relation to important issues like war, peace, prosperity, and your daily life. Since millions of you listen to my bloviations on TV and radio, this book might provide some clarity, bonding (hate that word), and even some sympathy (although I don't seek it). Also, the following pages just might tee some people off even further. Either way, we'll have some fun.

If you know my work, you might have figured out that I am not a philosopher or a dreamer. I do not live in a theoretical world or gain insights by attempting to read the thoughts of others. Instead, in line with the exhortations of Teddy Roosevelt, I embrace a strenuous life. My attitudes about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have been formed by a multitude of unique occurrences that happened directly to me. Some of those events I will share with you, hoping that the sheer ego of the exercise will evaporate as you begin to understand how a doltish, working-class kid from Levittown, Long Island, New York, has "evolved" into perhaps the most controversial journalist and commentator in the United States of America.

I believe Sister Mary Lurana (who, by the way, is still alive and once sent me a very kind letter) is proud of me. Although, in truth, the anguish I put her through cannot ever be fully exorcised, even by a William Peter Blatty character. But there is no doubt that the way I think today has its roots in my traditional childhood home and in the strict Catholic schools I attended. Therefore, we'll take an incisive look at those influences as well as other significant events in the life of O'Reilly, all with an eye toward convincing you that the point of view I bring to the world is worthy, and might even help you in your life.

For starters, it really did all begin in the mid-1950s, when America's population was half of what it is today. Hope as well as the challenge of swift change was in the air. The USA had survived the Great Depression, World War II, and the Korean War. Despite saber rattling by the Soviet Union, things were looking up and everyday life was fairly simple, at least compared to today. You worked, obeyed the law, cared for your family, looked out for your neighbors, and respected your country. At least, that was the creed of the huge working class, which did most of the country's heavy lifting.

That was the background of my family. My father, William O'Reilly Sr., held a decent job, bought a small house, and sired two kids. My mother, Ann O'Reilly, was an energetic stay-at-home mom because, had she not been, one of her kids would be in the penitentiary right now.

Yes, that would be me. My younger sister, Janet, has always been a solid citizen, not at all fresh or bold. The nuns loved her. So that's the jumping-off point for this book, the white ethnic, basically blue-collar suburbs of America in a conventional time when baby boomers were popping out all over the place. The journey begins at the dinner table, where chewy meat loaf and fish sticks reigned, and in a neighborhood full of kids playing in the streets because our yards were too small.

Oh, and one more thing: Hey, Sister, I can't thank you enough for the title.

Excerpted from A BOLD FRESH PIECE OF HUMANITY by Bill O'Reilly. Copyright © 2008 by Bill O'Reilly. Reprinted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of The Doubleday Publishing Group of Random House, Inc.