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Going My Own Way [Hardcover]

Gary Crosby , Ross Firestone

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Description of a Dysfunctional Family 21 Jan 2011
By Mountain Mike - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I never knew much about Gary Crosby. I remember when I was in Junior High and High School, there was a wonderful TV show called "Adam-12" on the air on NBC. I clearly remember seeing Gary Crosby in a number of episodes. My folks had mentioned that Gary and his ultra-famous father Bing didn't get along very well. (Everybody at that time knew who Bing Crosby was, doubt that can be said of the iPOD/texting generation today!) I never really knew more about it than that. Recently, I've been watching all the Adam-12 episodes available on DVD and of course have seen Gary Crosby.
On a whim I came across Gary's book from 1984. I bought it for 4 cents and for $4 more, it was mailed to me.
I find it hard to put the book down. I am a mental health professional and anyone who has been a psychiatrist, counselor, or therapist will immediately recognize this story as that of a highly dysfunctional family struggling with many serious issues including alcoholism--and not primarily a story about a kid who was a "whiner".
I found Gary's self-awareness (by the time of writing the book) to be heartening. I echo what some other reviewers have written here. Gary's love for his dad, as reluctant as it was, still comes through and it seems Gary was aware of it too (despite all the dysfunction.) At times it was painful to read about the stereotyped behavior he developed in order to cope with his fears, pain, and emotions. I agree, also, that it must have been rather therapeutic to review his life and focus on the relationships he had with his parents and siblings (and with others in his life.)
Most of us really have no truck with celebrities or with the wealthy. Perhaps reading Gary Crosby's story wouldn't even be a tiny blip on most people's "interest" radar scope. However, if you want to read one man's experience of a dysfunctional family, and how destructive alcoholism can be to all people touched by it, even the super wealthy and famous, then you might find his story interesting. The next time you see an old episode of "Adam-12" with Gary Crosby in it, give his story some thought. Thanks for taking the time to read my opinion!
49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a Great Read 21 Dec 2006
By Thomas H. Cole - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read this book when it first came out and I thought it was fascinating. I enjoyed Crosby's description of Louis Armstrong's tour among many other things. Crosby talks about how out of control he was on alcohol and the famous people he would run with when he was drinking. Lots of things happen in this book. If you like biography, this is a great choice.

By the way...

I'm surprised that someone would write a scathing review without even having finished the book. Bing was awful to the Crosby boys. He refused to let Gary and his brothers enjoy life. Just one example is how he imprisoned them each summer on a working ranch where they had to do miserable labor which they hated. Too bad he couldn't have thought of what they wanted to do. Two of the brothers committed suicide and while it's impossible to lay this at Bing's doorstep, a better, kinder upbringing certainly couldn't have hurt.
67 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sad but entertaining 15 Jun 2006
By Robin E. Ely - Published on
I read this book over 20 years ago when I saw Gary on the Phil Donahue show talking about his upbringing. I just recently purchased a copy. The writing style of the book is highly reminiscent of the character Holden Caulfield in "The Catcher in the Rye", and just like that novel, there are laugh out loud parts in Gary's autobiography. I am disturbed that people who read the book would critisize his motives for writing it. Gary wrote it after Bing had died and without a doubt the writing of it was therapy. Clearly, Gary loved his dad. Most of us from that era who were abused by our parents still loved them. If Gary needed the money from book sales, so what? He did not receive an inheritance from his dad and his trust from his mother was modest. One reviewer said to read Bing's book if you want to know about Bing. That would only be one side of him. Read Gary's book if you want to know about Bing's family life and relationship with his 4 boys. I think "tell all" books are just fine after the person in question has died.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Hair-Raising" 15 Dec 2010
By Terrance Richard - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
During this time of year people are inundated with Christmas specials on television. This was really the norm during the 1960's when Bing Crosby would host Holiday shows featuring his family perpetuating the image of a loving and attentive father to his sons. That image was destroyed when one of his children, Gary Crosby, wrote a tell-all book about his famous dad entitled "Going My Own Way". Released only six years after Christina Crawford's jaw-dropping memoir "Mommie Dearest" which dramatized her life with screen legend Joan Crawford, "Going My Own Way" was obviously written in response to the tremendous success of Crawford's book. Still, "Going My Own Way" is a story everyone should read.

In his revealing memoir Gary writes how his father continuously abused him emotionally and physically for years. He could never live up to his father's high expectations, and when Bing felt he couldn't control Gary the way he wanted to, whippings, usually with belts, ensued. This continued until Gary was 18 years old when he finally had had enough. One night, for some minor infringement of the rules, Bing grabbed a walking cane and told Gary to position himself for the upcoming beating which consisited of Gary croached over the arm of a sofa, with Bing hitting him. After about a dozen or so blows Gary turned around, grabbed the cane from his dad, broke it over his knee, and told Bing, "If you ever hit me again I'll kill you!".

Not only does Gary detail the abuse he suffered, but reveals Bing was not the dedicated family and religous man his image projected. Gary talks about Bing's womanizing, his drinking, and other hobbies he liked to indulge in. Gary also states that his own life-long battle with alcohol and drugs stemmed from the child abuse he endured.

A book all should read, if you have ever been abused as a child, like I have, "Going My Own Way" is a must-read. For me this book had more of an influence on my life than "Mommie Dearest" because I thought only young, innocent girls got abused at the hands of a parent. Upon reading Gary's horror story I realized abuse can happen to boys and that there are life-long consequences for the victim if they don't pursue help early on in adulthood. I am very proud Gary Crosby had the courage and the guts to write such a memoir.

Unfortunately, Gary died in 1995 from cancer, but his stance on child abuse issues will always live on due to his book.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Daddy Dearest 10 Feb 2010
By Pat Powell - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The advent of Christina Crawford's "Mommie Dearest", spawned an entire genre of celebrity books. These are - as "Sophia" from the "Golden Girls" put it, the "Bitter child of celebrity" tales. I read this book for the first time when I was 13 years old. In reading it again, after becoming a parent myself, I can now more clearly see just how badly our children want our love and approval. Bing Crosby never approved of his oldest son Gary, named for his good friend Gary Coooper. Bing, and his first wife "Dixie", seem to believe that children are our natural enemies, and you have to "break" them, as you would an unruly mule. Here are some examples of their parenting techniques:
-- The "boys" and there were four, had to use the right utensils during dinner in the formal dining room. The right fork, correct spoon, fold the napkin properly- before they even started going to Kindergarten. If Dixie Crosby noticed they were making mistakes, she whacked the offender's knuckles with the back of her butter knife- which was heavy silver.
--The boys had to eat every bite of food, whether they liked the food in question or not. One of the brothers simply HATED eggs- as people do. One morning, he just couldn't face them, so he got the bright idea of hiding them under the hall carpet. His mother noticed the bulge under the rug, discovered the uneaten eggs, and made her son choke down every bite- as Gary put it "Dirt, hairs, and all."
-- Gary, eldest son, was, like his father Bing, prone to putting on weight. His father made him hop on the scale, every Wednesday. If the number was steady- great! Gary, at the age of nine or ten, would use his allowance to buy the strongest laxatives he could find, and his father made him run ALONGSIDE the Limo on the way to school in the morning. Sometimes, it worked, sometimes not. If "not", he got a "whipping". A whipping from Bing Crosby meant bending over a chair, with bare legs and bottom facing him, whereupon he would flail away with his walking stick. The whipping ended after Bing drew the first "beads of blood."
--Dixie, the mother, was worse, in my opinion. If the boy she was targeting finished his assigned homework early, like a page of Math problems, she'd say, "Done already? Well, it's too soon. Read the next fifty pages (in a MATH BOOK?) , and write down for me what they're all about. Why are you looking at me that way? What, you don't like it!!!??? Go outside and get a switch!" The switch had to be green, and somewhat "springy". Employing the same method as her beloved husband, the boy would bend over, while she used BOTH hands, "Whipping" the switch up and down his legs and rear, as fast as her arms would go. And, God help the poor child if he dared to move during his beating: "I TOLD YOU TO STAND STILL- NOW you're REALLY gonna get it!!" She was usually in a drunken stupor, and wouldn't remember any of it the next day. Gary said, "As soon as I stopped 'flinching' after a few days from the beating, she'd scare me again by exploding even worse.."
I give these stories, practically word for word, because I have no sleek adjectives, no clever puns, or just honest, straight prose at my disposal, that could convey to you, or myself, the full horror of these stories.Dixie and Bing Crsoby had four sons together: Gary, Phillip and Dennis (twins), and Lindsay. If you really want to know the effects of their parenting, please consider this:
-- Dennis, nick-named "ugly" and "loser" by his famous Dad, killed himself a few years after denying much of the content of his brother Gary's book.
--Lindsay, the baby boy, and the most sensitive, attempted suicide many times, before finally succumbing to a final attempt in the early 1990's.
--Gary, had such anger and anguish in his soul that even counseling and writing this book was not therapeutic enough for him; after a series of heart attacks in the 1980's, his doctor told him that he had so much violence and malice in his heart, it was literally "exploding" due to the pressure, warning Gary that he HAD to get rid of the anger towards his father, or it would utterly consume (or kill) him- which it did, a few years ago..
-- Of the four from Bing and Dixie, only Phillip Crosby managed to live to the age of sixty-five- if you want to call what he did "living", that is. He resided in a trailer that a reporter described as a "roach infested, termite-ridden, urine soaked "flop-house". "Sixty-five' was an important number to Bing Crosby, it would seem, since attaining this age was the only way the "boys" could get their hands on their inheritance, yet another cruel proviso of the crooner's will- I guess he thought that his children would be too immature to handle their finances at the tender ages of forty or fifty. Phillip Crosby only got to enjoy his money and new found security for five years, before passing away in in 2004, at age sixty nine. Like his brother Gary, and his famous father before him, he suffered a massive heart attack.
There are dozens of horror stories in this boook. I never thought people living in 25+ room mansions in Beverly Hills would be this bitter and tortured. Dixie, a former country singer and actress, drank herself into oblivion, dying of uterine cancer in her forties. Bing went on to marry a nineteen year old woman named Kathryn, and having three more children: two more sons, Harry and Nathaniel, and a daughter, Mary Frances, all of whom are alive, and all of whom have described Bing Crosby as nothing less than a caring, nurturing parent. (Some of us remember his daughter, Mary Frances Crosby, as "Kristen"- the sultry vixen who infamously shot J.R. Ewing on T.V.'s "Dallas")BOTH camps could very well be right in their estimation of Bing- after all, people change, and some people have "split personalty" parenting- being a totally different guardian at different times...
One image stands out in my mind's eye: Gary would ride along with his father sometimes, for out-of-town commitments, or singing projects they did together. Some of these car trips took 4-5 hours, at times, and what strikes me is that Gary writes that he and his father did not exchange one single word the entire time. It was dead silent- with Bing ocassionally breaking into one of his "peppy" songs. When they got out of the car, he says, Bing became "Bing!", in the presence of other people, of course- a model father, calling Gary "pal" and "Buddy- unless Gary said something "stupid", and his father would whisper, "Uh- uh, Dummy. Wrong answer. Back in your trunk." with Gary assuming he meant they had a "ventriloquist-wooden dummy" working relationship.... During the return trip, his father would tell him it was time to get back to reality -to wit:"In the car lard a--. Move." And then, total silence all the way home. I personally think that Bing got himself in so deep as the firm, disciplinarian, he COULDN'T get out; that he had no idea how to now treat his boys like mature, human beings, therefore, he chose silence.
Shortly before Bing's 1977 death, he admitted to his friend, actress Nanette Fabray, that he was probably too hard on his boys, and he was sure that, at various times, they actually hated him! Ms. Fabray explained to Gary that Bing confided in her that he really DID love his sons, and he acted in that manner because he didn't want a bunch of second generation "soiled brats". Gary begins the book by writing, "A few years after my Father died, I found out he really did love me..." and maybe he did. I don't know- but, at least Gary thought so..
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