I have read many books by the estimable Peter Ackroyd and have enjoyed both his biographies studies and fiction His history of London is superb This book really puzzles me Apart from one small insight into the mind of Hitchcock being that of a control freak through his use of practical jokes, there is nothing to entice a seasoned devotee of the Master There are several typographical errors which jar and one lazy reference to Topaz, when the author should be referring to Torn Curtain All in all a major disappointment and not a volume I can at all recommend I am sorry. Alfred Hitchcock was a strange child Fat, lonely, burning with fear and ambition, his childhood was an isolated one, scented with fish from his father s shop Afraid to leave his bedroom, he would plan great voyages, using railway timetables to plot an exact imaginary route across Europe So how did this fearful figure become the one of the most respected film directors of the twentieth century As an adult, Hitch rigorously controlled the press s portrait of himself, drawing certain carefully selected childhood anecdotes into full focus and blurring all others out In this quick witted portrait, Ackroyd reveals something a lugubriously jolly man fond of practical jokes, who smashes a once used tea cup every morning to remind himself of the frailty of life Iconic film stars make cameo appearances, just as Hitch did in his own films Grace Kelly, Carey Grant and James Stewart despair of his detached directing style, and, perhaps most famously of all, Tippi Hedren endures cuts and bruises from a real life fearsome flock of birds Alfred Hitchcock wrests the director s chair back from the master of control and discovers what lurks just out of sight, in the corner of the shot I remember some of Hitch s later films and so enjoyed reading about their genesis The author does a good job of describing Hitch s gradual progress into film direction and his progress to the US Especially interesting was his description of Hitch s directorial manner almost nothing Just let his actors do their job And there are some great quotes from famous and not so famous people too.Why not 5 stars Because towards the end of the book the author quotes, and relies on, too heavily from interviews with F Truffaut And the end is disappointing Hitch dies End of Book ends Would have liked a bit finesse Like how was the funeral Who was there And, importantly, a final chapter on his legacy It s as if the author had done his job and was eager to move on to his next project Well, he probably already was. A good solid introduction to Hitchcock, his obsessions, working methods and life in general, as one would expect its very well written too. Peter Ackroyd is a brilliant storyteller, and with the deftest of touches he explains very convincingly how this complex man worked The book is not lengthy, and not designed as an analysis of Hitchcock s dark genius but by the end you have a good understanding of the man and his films, and a desire to watch them again. Competent but rather linear and mechanical, almost as if the author isn t that interested in the subject but is determined to plough through it Covers the ground well but lacks subtlety and panache Some of the connections made between Hitchcock s films and his life are trite Was this book written by a team of writers or an author in a hurry Bought as a gift so can t review A must read for any Alfred Hitchcock fans Being an aspiring filmmaker myself I recently purchased the boxset of some of Hitchcock s best pictures and I immediately purchased this book to find out about the man himself A very eye opening read, particularly on who he treat his actors actresses If you are intrigued by how Hitchcock worked then this is a book for you, well worth the buy. Liked this book, very insightful Recommended to all fans. Brief but enjoyable slice of the genius who I regard as the man most directly responsible for modern film.