In most autobiographies, the writer understandably positions himself as the star of his own life story. Not Roger Ebert. In Life Itself: A Memoir, he is content to be the chronicler, the one who simply bears witness as events unfold. Whether he is waxing nostalgic for Steak ‘n Shake, telling of an afternoon with John Wayne, or sharing his battle with alcoholism, Ebert invites us to experience the milestones along with him. From his days in the newsroom with Mike Royko and Studs Terkel to his poignant friendship with Gene Siskel, he showcases the gifts of others. Though cancer has since robbed Ebert of the ability to speak, narrator Edward Herrmann lends him a powerful yet sensitive voice in one of the best recordings of 2011.