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Paul Newman: A Life


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About the Author

SHAWN LEVY is the author of six previous books, including the New York Timesbestsellers Rat Pack Confidential and Paul Newman: A Life. He served as film critic of The Oregonian from 1997 to 2012 and is a former senior editor ofAmerican Film and a former associate editor of Box Office. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, The Independent, Film Comment, Movieline, and Sight and Sound, among many other publications. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

From the Hardcover edition.


Veteran film critic Levy (Rat Pack Confidential; The Last Playboy: The High Life of Porfirio Rubirosa) presents the most illuminating biography of Paul Newman to date. Levy covers Newman's 50-year career, but it is his personal life that may prove most revelatory: according to the author, Newman was a functioning alcoholic, had a long affair that nearly ruined his marriage, and was estranged from his only son, Scott-who died of an overdose. Nevertheless, Newman's marriage endured and he parlayed his celebrity into a long career as an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Verdict: A fitting-albeit dry-homage to a life fully lived. This respectful yet revelatory biography of a movie legend is highly recommended for fans of the actor and anyone who loves a thorough celebrity bio.-Rosellen Brewer, Sno-Isle Libs., Marysville, WA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Film critic and biographer Levy (Rat Pack Confidential) embarks on a respectful, thoroughgoing survey of Newman's long life (1925-2008) and massive film career without lingering on emotional and psychological factors. A kind of accidental hero, Newman recognized that his blue-eyed good looks would open doors for him, but by sheer determination and work ethic he muscled his way to the Olympian heights of America's finest actors. Born to middle-class Jewish parents in Shaker Heights, Ohio, he eventually enlisted in the navy then attended Kenyon College on the GI Bill; his early first marriage and dabbling in theater seemed to be a way to avoid having to return home and take over his father's sporting-goods store. He enrolled in Yale's drama department, then in 1952 gave himself a year in New York to prove himself: he hustled small, paying parts and gradually became a part of the Actors Studio, where he claimed to have learned everything he knew about acting. From then on, using his connections shrewdly, he moved from success on Broadway (Picnic, where he met Joanne Woodward, whom he married in 1958) to TV (Our Town) and Hollywood (Somebody Up There Likes Me). From there, the professional accolades began piling up, while Levy also chronicles Newman's stunning success as a race-car driver, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Levy doesn't shy from discussing Newman's shortcomings as a father and husband, yet he leaves a glowing assessment of this legend's career. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Praise for Paul Newman

"Shawn Levy's absorbing, affectionate portrait manages to bring [Newman] back to us.... PAUL NEWMAN: A LIFE leaves readers with a suprisingly cheering message. If the rest of us can't aspire to having Newman's life, we can at least take inspiration from the way he lived his. We can play the cards we're dealt-with guts, grace and generosity."
--The Washington Post

"Eloquent and perceptive....Levy's meticulously researched biography is as revealing a portrait as one could hope for....By the time Levy details Newman's last recorded words, you may find yourself blotting the ink on the final page."
--Christian Science Monitor

"[A] sweeping tribute to Newman....Levy offers reportage as impresive as his critical analysis. PAUL NEWMAN: A LIFE is a layered and absorbing portrait."

"A graceful tribute to a one-of-a-kind man."
--Seattle Times

"A rich, serious, yet thoroughly readable biography of a major American movie icon....Fascinating."
--Portland Oregonian

"[A] very readable accounting of Newman's life. Levy reveals the chinks...while still deeply appreciating the man."
--People (featured review, 3 1/2 stars)

"[R]ichly researched....Shawn Levy, a film critic at Portland's Oregonian, has done his homework....Being able to bask in Newman's Own insights is enough to bring this one-of-a-kind star back to life, however briefly. And to miss him terribly again when the final page is turned."
--USA Today

"An illuminating look at one of the true greats, full of humor and intelligent analysis-highly recommended."
--Kirkus, starred review

"Levy's unique representation...will leave readers feeling that they have somehow slipped through the security gate and gotten to know a movie star who was famously guarded about his private life."

"Respectful, thoroughgoing....Levy doesn't' shy from discussing Newman's shortcomings as a father and husband, yet he leaves a glowing assessment of this legend's career."
--Publishers Weekly

Praise for Shawn Levy

The Last Playboy
"[Levy is] a bulldog researcher, and many of his judgments are astute...an entertaining, informative book."
--Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post

Ready, Steady, Go!
"Nimble and exciting . . . Levy's writing is more smashing than an Austin Powers movie."
--Entertainment Weekly

Rat Pack Confidential
"An excellent book, not only in its depictions of the Pack's carryings-on but in its portrayal of the dark turns each life took."
--Boston Sunday Globe

From the Hardcover edition.

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