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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shoiwbiz
This is a showbiz book and all the better for that. As such it does not pretend to present warts and all.

It is however a fascinating picture of life at the top to be taken with the customary very small gain of salt. The insights are truly amazing and believable

Michael Stevens
Published on 30 Dec 2008 by Michael stevens

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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting - but flawed
This is a very interesting book, but rather flawed.

From the book front cover you may believe it is Richard Attenborough's life story, but look closely at the bottom of the front cover, and in small writing it says "and Diana Hawkins"

From that I assumed she had ghost written the book, as often happens with these life stories of the famous. But in...
Published on 22 Nov 2008 by Alan D. Carpenter


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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting - but flawed, 22 Nov 2008
By 
Alan D. Carpenter "AlanC" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a very interesting book, but rather flawed.

From the book front cover you may believe it is Richard Attenborough's life story, but look closely at the bottom of the front cover, and in small writing it says "and Diana Hawkins"

From that I assumed she had ghost written the book, as often happens with these life stories of the famous. But in fact it is both their life stories running side by side.

Diana Hawkins worked with Richard as publicity manager on many of his films such as Ghandi, Chorus Line and so on, so they shared many areas of their life.

I believe the book is flawed for two reasons:

Firstly, the text alternates between Richard and Diana. Text for Richard begins "RA" and he writes for a page or two, then we get "DH" and Diana writes for a page or two.

This itself is a bit disconcerting, just as you are getting used to what Richard is saying we switch to Diana, then back again.

This is not too bad when they are discussing the same topic, such as the making of Ghandi, or the publicity tour for Chorus Line, but can become annoying when they are discussing different phases of their lives.

The second "flaw" is that the book follow no logical sequence.

It starts with a detailed look at how Ghandi was made, but then Richard starts talking about his early life, and Diana starts talking about her early life (at which point one asks "do I care").

We then go back to Ghandi, then we get Richard talking about his life in the war and his early career, and Diana talking about her marital problems, then we go on to Chorus line, and so it goes on.

So it is bad enough we are jumping back and forth between Richard talking, then Diana talking, but we are also jumping back and forth between the background to making a particular film, and then some aspect of their personal lives.

At times I almost feel as though Richard wrote his sections in two page chunks, and Diana wrote her sections in two page chunks, then they threw all the pages up in the air and put them together in random order.

There is a good book in here waiting to get out (maybe two), and the behind the scenes stories about the making of his most famous films is fascinating, but I am afraid trying to tell two life stories side by side in same book just does not work for me.

A book by Richard and Diana JUST about making the films would have been good, or a book JUST about Richard's life would have been good, but a book combining everything is too much.

Having said all that, Richard comes across as an wonderful person (as do his parents and family) and it certainly made me feel very guilty when I saw how much work Richard and his family have done to ease the suffering in the world.

Sum up: Amazing man, flawed book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shoiwbiz, 30 Dec 2008
By 
Michael stevens (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a showbiz book and all the better for that. As such it does not pretend to present warts and all.

It is however a fascinating picture of life at the top to be taken with the customary very small gain of salt. The insights are truly amazing and believable

Michael Stevens
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oddest autobiography, 21 April 2010
By 
L. Bland - See all my reviews
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There are some very interesting stories about the struggles of film making hidden away in the most bizarre structure for an autobiography I've ever come across. The timeline jumps about erratically, and much of the book is written from the perspective of RA' s publicist / co-producer. What do I care about DH's marriage problems 30 odd years ago, particularly when they are interrupting a story about getting Gandhi made? What we get here is effectively half a book from RA - and the sense that we are missing out on many aspects of a very interesting life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entirely up to you, darling., 18 May 2011
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This book, by two exceptionally great writers, was indeed a wonderful read. It is 'humanity' by whatever way anyone wishes to define it, that is the real story here. Although the business of film is the common denominator throughout, it is the quality of the writers, first as human beings, then as professionals, which comes through. If ever an affirmation for 'British' as a Brand were needed, then
this book is certainly it! Read and enjoy
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entirely up to You ,Darling, 4 July 2009
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Very good book interesting construction every page flowns with a wealth of detail and informs the reader at every stage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but a little lop-sided, 2 Aug 2013
This book seems to have received a lot of flak mainly because of its structure. Firstly, Diana Hawkins (DH - Attenborough's PA for years) and Richard Attenborough (RA) have alternating chapters, each denoted with the author's initials. This turn-taking seems to bother some people, though it didn't worry me. Secondly, the chapters do not deal chronologically with events, but with what RA feels like writing about at any given time (DH, though theoretically the co-author, only has a voice insofar as she responds to what RA has already written. She never initiates anything). Personally I didn't find either of these features problematic, except that, occasionally, I forgot which of the two was doing the writing. This problem (if you could call it that) became steadily more acute as time passed, because DH seemed to adopt the style and tone of RA as the book progressed, so that I found it hard to distinguish one from the other, even without the issue of remembering who's turn it was. However, this was a very minor issue for me. Furthermore, I found the chronological dodging about to be a benefit rather than a problem; it makes a refreshing change to visit different episodes of a person's life at different times.
My only criticism was that there was too much of an emphasis on the genesis, making and reception of "Gandhi" and not enough information about RA's many other great films - there are only tantalising snippets about, inter alia, "Séance on a Wet Afternoon" and "A Bridge Too far" (to mention but two which, in my opinion, were better than "Gandhi"), though the making of "Cry Freedom" gets a good airing and reveals much about the making of that particular film that I found astonishing and, occasionally, quite horrifying.
I've given it 4 rather than 5 stars because of this perceived imbalance, which you may not regard as a problem, but as far as the rest of it goes, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was not at all perturbed by its rather unusual structure. Well worth a look.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biography, 11 July 2012
Well written, informative and entertaining. The format of two writers worked well and gave different perspectives of certain events. It gave a great insight into Richard Atenboroughs' talents and wonderful character.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A true appreciation of Attenborough remains to be written., 5 Sep 2014
By 
Adrian Drew (UK) - See all my reviews
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There is a great book to be written about this truly wonderful man who knew more about cinema and theatre than most people ever will. This unfortunately is not that book. It has none of the wit, wisdom, rich humour and dynamism of the man himself. Perhaps now - following his sad but inevitable death - it may be written. In the interim this will provide many with some limited insights into his genius but not his generosity of spirit and profound humanity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Man of Talent, 9 Mar 2014
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very good read about an interesting personality of the film world on both sides of the camera. A true artist
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These are the times!, 12 Feb 2014
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I've had a wonderful week immersed in this excellent book, which I found almost impossible to put down until I'd finished it!
Richard, in tandem with his long-time collaborator Diana Hawkins, takes us on a breezy & illuminating journey through his lengthy & illustrious career as actor, director, producer & motivator.

I loved how the style jumped around between certain eras around the central timeline; the memory of one thing sparking another, & how his unflagging years of persistence in taking Ghandi to the big screen finally came to fruition - re-launching his career into the next era.

The book is filled with many personal insights & highlights, as well as the expected memoirs on his life & the film industry as a whole (& gives a sobering account of the challenges of simply getting a film off the ground from scratch & finding a backer in the cynical world of Hollywood). The lengthy process of bringing Ghandi to the screen, despite years & years of setbacks, is a fascinating document of one man's determination to never give up.

He meets many inspiring & powerful people along the way, & never gives up when all hope sometimes appears to be lost in the pursuit of his dreams.

I've read a good many autobiographies, but this is definitely one of the most enjoyable I've come across.
The writing styles of the two authors compliment each other perfectly, & you can see why Richard & Diana's personal & professional relationship endured for so many happy & successful decades.

There's personal tragedy too at the loss of his beloved daughter & granddaughter in the Thailand tsunami of 2004, & his surprising personal friendship with Princess Diana is also revealed too.

The accompanying photos throughout the book are excellent as well.
I feel so privileged that Richard has documented his life in this way, & allowed me a fascinating window into his life, work & personal world. These are the times!
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