...the Gelbs have produced a monumental tome, probably impossible to follow and to that extent definitive. It stands as both a monument to O’Neill and as a testament to their labors. But the great length should by no means discourage those who enjoy literary biographies.
...the best and worst you can say of the Gelbs’ book — stolid, overlong, but wielding a peculiar power — is that they have written about O’Neill O’Neill-ishly ... The skipping around in time, as well as the weaving back and forth between real life and the plays, gives the book a weird, woozy quality ... The book’s appeal doesn’t lie in its stupendous aggregation of facts about his life (which are too plentiful) or its fresh insights into the plays (which are too scarce) — it’s how the book came to be written, and by whom. Arthur and Barbara Gelb spent their lives 'obsessively and permanently entangled with the tormented, enigmatic O’Neill' ... I can imagine a more penetrating biography of O’Neill, but not a more poignant one. It is a haunted book about a haunted man.
...admirably captures O’Neill’s tempestuous life ... the Gelbs provide a steady, unflinching examination of the influence the women in his life had on his work ... O’Neill’s unmatched creative career and his dark family backstory make for compelling reading. It is as difficult to put down this exhaustively reported reexamination of America’s first major playwright as it is to ignore fresh productions of his great plays.