Old School: Life in the Sane Lane

Old School: Life in the Sane Lane

by Bill O'Reilly, Bruce Feirstein


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From blockbuster bestselling author and trailblazing TV journalist Bill O'Reilly and Bruce Feirstein, Old School is now in session....

You have probably heard the term Old School, but what you might not know is that there is a concentrated effort to tear that school down.

It’s a values thing. The anti–Old School forces believe the traditional way of looking at life is oppressive. Not inclusive. The Old School way may harbor microaggressions. Therefore, Old School philosophy must be diminished.

Those crusading against Old School now have a name: Snowflakes. You may have seen them on cable TV whining about social injustice and income inequality. You may have heard them cheering Bernie Sanders as he suggested the government pay for almost everything. The Snowflake movement is proud and loud, and they don’t like Old School grads.

So where are you in all this?

Did you get up this morning knowing there are mountains to climb —and deciding how you are going to climb them? Do you show up on time? Do you still bend over to pick up a penny? If so, you’re Old School.

Or did you wake up whining about safe spaces and trigger warnings? Do you feel marginalized by your college’s mascot? Do you look for something to get outraged about, every single day, so you can fire off a tweet defending your exquisitely precious sensibilities? Then you’re a Snowflake.

This book will explain the looming confrontation so even the ladies on The View can understand it.

Time to take a stand. Old School or Snowflake. Which will it be?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250135797
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/28/2017
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 490,074
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Bill O’Reilly is the anchor of The O’Reilly Factor, the highest-rated cable news show in the country. He is the author of many number-one bestselling books, including A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity, Culture Warrior, and the hugely successful Killing series.

Bruce Feirstein is a screenwriter of the James Bond films GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and The World Is Not Enough and the New York Times bestselling author of Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche. He has written for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and has been a contributing editor at Vanity Fair since 1994.

Read an Excerpt

Old School

Life in the Sane Lane

By Bill Oreilly

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2017 Bill O'Reilly
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-13580-3



Take Your Seat

My father, Bill O'Reilly Sr., bought his pants through the mail. Toward the end of his life, retired and always looking to save a few bucks, he'd order polyester trousers from a catalog. I think the price was $29.95.

$32.50 in today's dollars.

Problem was the pants were always too short, as my dad was six foot three. But he didn't care. Children of the Great Depression, Old School people who survived economic Armageddon, had strict priorities: if you could save a dollar, you saved a dollar.

One day, I blew in to visit my folks from somewhere and encountered my father wearing mustard-colored pants held up by red suspenders. After the initial greeting, this back-and-forth took place: "Dad, your pants are too short."

"Who are you, Oleg Cassini now?"

"And what color is that?"

"They're yellow. Do you have astigmatism?"

"Come on, Dad, this is not a good presentation. You don't leave the house wearing those things, do you?"

My father paused, giving me a look. He knew I was jazzing him, but his sense of humor overrode any offense.

"Don't remember you checking out my wardrobe when I was paying for your college."

"Yeah, but you didn't look like one of the Village People back then."

My father actually laughed and walked into the kitchen. He wore those pants for years.

We are all products of our upbringing, and it used to be that Old School philosophy, which we'll define throughout this book, ruled, at least in working-class homes throughout the country.

No longer.

Now there is an ongoing battle between traditional Americans and those who want a kinder, gentler landscape full of "conversations" and group hugs, folks who believe that life must be fair and that, if it is not, there has to be a "safe space" available where they can cry things out.

I cringe when I see this kind of stuff and immediately time-travel back to my Levittown, New York, neighborhood in the 1960s, where my pal Clement would have definitely said, "Hey, I've got your safe space right here!" A physical flourish would have accompanied Clem's remark.

The bedrock truth is that life is hard, especially if you have to compete for prosperity. Rather than major in whining, Old School folks tough it out, developing skills to overcome the inevitable obstacles every human being faces.

We all know Snowflakes: the people who blame everyone else for their failures, who look to others to solve their problems, who are sooooo sensitive to every slight.

Boring. And stupid. Don't be that person. Absorb the lessons we are about to impart.

When I looked around for someone with whom to write this book, my friend Bruce Feirstein emerged as the perfect choice. Biggest advantage: he is not like me.

Diplomatic and somewhat cerebral, Feirstein had huge early career success with a book called Real Men Don't Eat Quiche, which was actually a humorous warning about Snowflake culture long before it existed. Then Bruce went on to write Hollywood scripts along with articles for the Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair, among others. He lives in Los Angeles, so he's enmeshed in Snowflake culture; it affects him every day.

While I embrace an East Coast swagger, Feirstein does not immediately alienate half the universe as I have a tendency to do, but we are both Old School guys, as you will soon see. However, we take different buses to the school, which makes things interesting.

I will concede that America will never go back to the Old School curriculum that many Baby Boomers experienced. Not gonna happen with so many lawyers running wild.

Here's what I'm talking about.

If I'd worn a bicycle helmet when I was a kid, I would have been mocked beyond belief, and the helmet would immediately have been taken off my head and placed somewhere far away. Maybe Rhode Island.

If my mom had defended me after a kid-on-kid altercation, I could never have left the house again.

If my dad had yelled at the Little League coach, air might have left the tires of our family car.

If I'd borrowed money from another kid to buy a Three Musketeers and didn't pay it back, no one would have played with me.

If a kid kicked someone in a fight, he was blacklisted. Only fists, and no hitting when someone was down.

If a girl cursed, silence ensued. For a long time. And boys never bothered girls because of the "Brother and His Large Friends" rule.

When Feirstein and I were growing up, Mom and Dad were not told everything. In fact, they were told nothing unless the police or fire department arrived at the house.

Most parents seemed to like it that way.

And then there was prevailing wisdom.

Anybody who sold drugs in the neighborhood was scum, the lowest. Irredeemable.

Kids who were different were generally okay, unless they flaunted the situation. There was some bullying, but my crew didn't like it, and sometimes confronted it.

However, there was a kid nicknamed Eggy who got hammered. One day, his father told my father about it. Later, I was called into the living room — never a good thing.

"Why are you bothering Eddie? You're calling him 'Eggy.' Why?"

"He's a dope."

"And you're a genius?"

I could see this wasn't heading in a good direction.

"Uh, we don't like him."


"I don't know."

"And you're calling him a dope? No more. Don't bother the kid anymore. Got it? And tell your dim pals to knock it off, too."


So, we knocked it off. My Old School father was not to be trifled with.

"How mad was he?" one of my moronic friends asked.

"One step away from pain," I answered.

So "Eddie" replaced "Eggy" in a classic case of Old School justice.

It is not Old School to live in the past, but remembering how things were as opposed to how things are now is a required course.

So, let's get started.


Introducing the Old School Curriculum

For Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation, the changes in America over the past seventy years have been staggering.

Just imagine Gen. George Patton on Snapchat. Or how about James Dean pulling a Bruce Jenner? The world is evolving. And soon there will be a final showdown. The two teams: Old School versus Snowflakes.

Which team are you on?

Are You Old School, or Are You a Snowflake?

A Pop Quiz

If you're unsure of exactly where you stand in the Old School curriculum, the following questions may help clarify things:

1) Do you still have a landline telephone?

a) Yes. b) No. c) What's a landline?

2) Do you still balance your checking account every month?

a) Yes. b) No. c) I don't know because my parents are still paying for everything.

3) If someone wishes you "Merry Christmas," what's your immediate response?

a) Return the greeting, adding "And a Happy New Year." b) Call the ACLU or Human Resources to launch a formal complaint that it's an exclusionary and divisive microaggression that can only be remedied with either the greeter being fired or a multimilliondollar legal settlement for your pain and suffering.

4) Which best reflects your view on dealing with terrorists?

a) "There is only one 'retirement plan' for terrorists" (U.S. secretary of defense and former U.S. Marine general James "Mad Dog" Mattis). b) "Our most effective response to terror and to hatred is compassion, it's unity, and it's love" (former U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch).

5) If you happen upon a raging warehouse fire late at night, do you: a) Hope the firefighters are safe and express concern for the people who work there during the day. b) Get out of your car and take a selfie with the fire in the background?

If you are Old School, the answers should be obvious. Otherwise, read on.

* * *

Old School is now in session. The lesson plan is really quite easy.

Did you get up this morning knowing there are mountains to climb, and deciding that somehow you are going to climb them?

Or did you wake up whining about safe spaces and trigger warnings ("Caution: The following may be offensive")? Are you one of those millions of people who actively look for something to get outraged about, every single day, so you can fire off a tweet defending your exquisitely precious sensibilities?

In essence, Snowflakes are folks who go where the prevailing winds take them, often melting down when things get hot.

There is no middle ground here. You have to choose. This book will be your guide — are you Old School or will you melt in August?

Some hints.

That cashier at Home Depot putting herself through college ringing up Sheetrock? Old School.

Kanye West forever mouthing off, portraying himself as a victim? Snowflake.

To be honest, the authors of this book are Old School guys who met at Boston University in 1974. Then, like now, college campuses were in an uproar. It was the era of Richard Nixon, the Watergate break-in, the women's movement, and the war in Vietnam. Faith in America and the U.S. government was not exactly at an all-time high. And on college campuses across America, Students for a Democratic Society staged sit-ins and protests, demanding an end to the war, an end to the draft, and an end to military recruiters and the ROTC. It was a time of social transition that still reverberates today.

At the time, the authors of this book regularly traded jibes over these issues in Boston University's newspaper, Daily Free Press. And while we may not always agree on things, we shared something that became the basis for a lifetime friendship: both of us were working-class guys without money or social connections. By working hard and persevering, we eventually succeeded in the marketplace, shocking many who knew us. One of the reasons we succeeded — something neither of us knew at the time — was that we were ferociously hard workers. We painted houses in the summer to pay for school. Unlike Bernie Sanders, we didn't expect anybody else to pay for our higher education. That's the difference between the Snowflake view of the world, and Old School.

There is not one single definition, or one single thing that makes someone Old School. But as classic Old School guy Rod Serling might have said, there are lots of signposts along the way. And here's one vivid example, from crime novelist Robert Parker's fictional private detective Spenser, a Hall of Fame Old School guy who lived by a pithy code of honor: Do what you say you will do.

Tell somebody you'll call them. Call. Tell folks you'll show up. Be there. Even if you don't feel like it. Old School people realize it's not all about them. They also know that, in real life, everybody doesn't get a trophy. Or deserve one.

To put it another way: say what you mean, and don't be a politically correct Snowflake. Don't call it "homegrown extremism" when it's Islamic jihad. And while we all want to breathe clean air and protect the environment — going back to Teddy Roosevelt, the Old School president who created the National Park System — don't hector us about climate change while you fly around in private jets and have multiple houses with a carbon footprint the size of Kazakhstan.

So, if you're getting the impression that this book is going to lay down some rules about how to be Old School instead of a politically correct Snowflake, uh, that would be correct. Al Gore is not going to like it. Rosie O'Donnell will be disgusted. And don't even think about showing it to anyone at MSNBC.

On the other hand, Jack Nicholson might get a kick out of this book. He knows we need Old School people on that wall!

A final note about the curriculum: We hope this book will entertain you, and even define some aspects of life for you. And don't laugh that off. In order to really succeed in life, you have to have a personal philosophy. We hope this book points you in the right direction.


Old School Is in Session

There's probably no better display of Old School attitude than John Wayne's performance in the classic 1976 film The Shootist. It was Wayne's last film, and costarred Lauren Bacall, James Stewart, and Ron Howard.

The movie begins on January 22, 1901, when the legendary Wild West gunslinger J. B. Books, arrives in Carson City, Nevada, on the verge of dying from cancer. Books finds himself in a precarious situation: will he die from the disease, or will he be murdered?

Incredibly, in real life, John Wayne was actually dying from cancer as he filmed The Shootist. In fact, the disease would kill him three years later.

Back to the movie. Over the course of the next eight days, J. B. Books has to come to terms with his past, the present, and the choices he's made during his lifetime. He has to figure out how to die with dignity, and also how to pass along some of the lessons he's learned: about right and wrong, and how to make your own way in the world with a code of honor, and ethics.

The town doctor (played by Stewart) can do nothing but medicate Books with laudanum. The Carson City marshal (played by Harry Morgan), wants the gunslinger out of town, and relents only when he finds out that Books is dying. He sends J.B. to a boardinghouse run by a widow (Lauren Bacall), where he meets, and influences, her twenty-year-old son, Gillom, played by Ron Howard. In one scene, J.B. speaks to Gillom, imparting his core philosophy:

"I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."

In many ways, The Shootist is a perfect reflection of the way Wayne lived his life and the things he stood for. In fact, during the making of the film, the actor refused to do a scene that had been rewritten to have him shoot someone in the back. As he put it to the director, Don Siegel, "Mister, I've made over two hundred fifty pictures and have never shot a guy in the back. Change it."

John Wayne was not perfect. And viewed through the lens of 2017, he was very much a man of his time, with his views on Manifest Destiny (America's right to conquer the West) and stopping communism in Vietnam. But he loved America, and stood up for what he believed in — democracy over totalitarianism, the individual over the state, and robust self-reliance: nobody owes you anything. John Wayne knew that you make your own opportunities and create your own success — and he acted accordingly.

* * *

Another Old School guy is Billy Joel — but in a totally different way from John Wayne. Socially liberal, the diminutive Joel has sold more than 150 million records, earning himself a place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

What makes Billy Joel Old School?

Hard knocks, that's what.

Joel was raised in the working-class Hicksville section of Levittown, Long Island, not far from the Westbury section, where Bill O'Reilly grew up. They've known each other since they were young teenagers, when neither seemed likely to amount to anything in life, other than being known as a troublemaker.

Joel's father left his family when Billy was ten. His single mother raised him and his sister, and forced the rebellious Billy to take piano lessons at an early age. By the time he was in high school, where he was known as something of a hoodlum, he was already playing piano in clubs on Long Island. He failed his final exams to graduate because he'd been out late playing a gig the night before.

Given his immense talent and the songs we've come to know and love, it might seem that Billy Joel was a natural to succeed, sooner or later, one way or another. But nothing could be further from the truth. He couldn't get a record deal; none of the big labels was interested in his music. He went to work as a fisherman to support himself, and even took up boxing — at first, to defend himself against the neighborhood tough guys, and later, to earn money, winning twenty-two fights on the Golden Gloves circuit, before quitting when his nose was broken during his twenty-fourth fight.

You may know the rest of the story — from his early success, to the management problems that left him nearly penniless, to the marriages, the divorces, the bouts with drugs and alcohol, and the ever-present battles against the snooty critics who dismissed his talent as middle-brow. Yet, in the face of all this — all the troubles, all the impediments, all the naysayers — he succeeded. He pulled himself together, cleaned himself up, and became a loving father, an international icon, a man who supports charities, veterans, and who has never forgotten where he came from, or his old friends — including O'Reilly, even to the point of making fun of his own foibles and ego with songs like "Big Shot" ("You had to be a big shot, didn't you? So much fun to be around").

It doesn't get much more Old School than that. Billy Joel believed in himself. He worked tirelessly to succeed. He never blamed his problems on anybody but himself. And no matter where he was performing, no matter how small or big the venue, he always worked hard to please his audience. And that's the real mark of Old School: Joel never pretended to be anything he wasn't, and never, ever, gave up — even when, truly, it would have been the easy thing to do.

* * *

This brings us to yet another singer who overcame almost impossible odds: the unstoppable, indomitable Tina Turner, a woman whose life story is as miraculous as her talent.


Excerpted from Old School by Bill Oreilly. Copyright © 2017 Bill O'Reilly. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Greetings from 1973 ix

1 Preschool: Take Your Seat 1

2 Introducing the Old School Curriculum 6

3 Old School Is in Session 11

4 Snowdrift 21

5 Growing Up Old School 29

6 Social 38

7 Going to Old School 50

8 Working It Out 68

9 The Old School Blues 87

10 Tech It Out 99

11 School Politics 117

12 Are You a Snowflake? 130

13 Are You Old School? 136

14 Old School Musings 141

15 The Old School Election 155

16 Facing Facts 167

17 Class Dismissed 172

The Snowflake Glossary 175

Illustration Credits 179

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Old School: Life in the Sane Lane 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't remember when I laughed so hard over charts and comparisons in a book! There are times I despair over these "snowflakes" ever growing up and becoming responsible adults. This book points out why they will become an endangered species in the event of a major catastrope (depression, worldwide etc.). Reading this book made me look at how young people have been not prepared for indivuality and skills they will need to succeed in their future lives.
JTUnlimited More than 1 year ago
Amazing Book. Got a great deal on it to I recommend it to people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the simple straight forward no nonsense way of old school life. Timeless principles to live by.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great laugh out loud and good definitions of snowflakes
B-loNY More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A straightforward good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A straightforward good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We have been invaded by the snowflake movement. Snowflakes are everywhere. Incase you haven't noticed. Read this for more insight on real problems we face with these real losers. Now we need a book to tell us the best way to defeat these missguilded me me me movement. Snowflakes are everywhere, but their lack of substance will not hold up to truth & love that is needed to have a real life. Read this book to understand a little more of these problems we face.
Jeanetteast More than 1 year ago
I laughed as I read this book, the way I grew up & others around me. I have all Bill's book in hardcover & Cd's. I get the Cd's so I can listen to them & this is one of favorites because; this was the way it was & I was happy to read it wasn't just my folks or area where I grew up. I'll close w/this, RESPECT! This seems a thing of the past w/the generation today. Thank you Bill if the "Snowflakes read this they'd call it abuse but we know better!
common_centsBA More than 1 year ago
Love the book. Brought back memories forgotten. Back in the day (born in '41) we were raised to basically fend for ourselves. A Catholic education was the best at the time (for the poor) as we were the nuns life. They taught us well! Compared to the children of today we were fearless.
PeterHeimsoth More than 1 year ago
To "BooksCatsEtc." and the snowflakes crying," hypocrite," what racial slurs and other insults can you quote from the book? I'll wait.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good fast read, however way too short for the price!
KatsKathi More than 1 year ago
This O'Reilly Old School book (the audio version) gave me countless laughs out loud. I do hope O'Reilly and Feirstein follow up with another book. I did not want this book to end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
May be offensive to snowflakes. There are many redeeming qualities that are "old school". I enjoyed the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy and interesting read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book enabled me to assemble my beliefs logically with enough humor to keep me reading. I too have felt like a stranger on an alien planet in Portland Oregon
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like the book, and One of the best fictional book,The Perfect Author read it on https://www.theperfectauthor.in and give your feedback. really worth to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book really related
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a quick read. I liked the back and forth writing by Bill O'Reilly and Bruce Feistein. I highly recommend the book. It will make you examine your life and decisions. I also loved the history included in the book. The authors share stories of presidents, athletes, Hollywood stars, and their own families. Great stuff! The humor makes the reading riveting and moves the book along. The book also gives little fun quizzes to help you decide if you are "Old School" or a "Snowflake." Also, the authors are different and alike in their professional lives, families, politics, and life styles. Excellent book. This book deserves an A++++++
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seeing the truth and laughing at it! Great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This made me laugh so hard as if people are simply one (old school) or the other(snow flake). People like these issues are much more complex. This book is devisive and written by a man who obviously fears death and change and the way he deals with it is to deride the other.