In The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock, Edward White explores the Hitchcock phenomenon--what defines it, how it was invented, what it reveals about the man at its core, and how its legacy continues to shape our cultural world. The book reveals something fundamental about the man he was and the mythological creature he has become, presenting not just the life Hitchcock lived but also the various versions of himself that he projected, and those projected on his behalf.
It’s said that more books have been written about Hitchcock than any other filmmaker. Edward White’s sleek and modest The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock does not offer grand revelation but a provocative new way of thinking about biography ... Strangely, through these refractions, we receive a smoother, more cohesive sense of a man so adept at toying with his audience, on and off the screen ... White’s style is unadorned and unobtrusive; only occasionally does he allow himself a little turn of phrase...The psychologizing is of a delicate sort — far from Hitchcock’s own ham-handed attempts, which his own characters seemed to mock ... White never forces an explanation or coherence. The radial structure vibrates, like Hitchcock’s best films, with intuition and mystery.
The many ways of being the world’s most famous film director are what Mr. White attempts to pin down in The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock ... Mr. White [...] He takes a middle road in his estimation of his subject as a person, more empathetic than biographer Donald Spoto or critic David Thomson, less reverent than François Truffaut or Peter Bogdanovich. The book presents Hitchcock’s best and worst behavior, and there is a good deal of both ... The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock isn’t groundbreaking, but it is full of such sharp observations, offering a Hitchcock whose art endures alongside—and in some ways depends upon—his insecurities and mistakes.
Alfred Hitchcock (1899–1980) has been the subject of dozens of books in the last 20 years, but White (The Tastemaker) distinguishes his work with an inspired approach. Bypassing a traditional narrative, this necessary and perceptive study of the filmmaker and his cinematic impact is framed in 12 separate portraits, each focusing on a particular aspect of Hitchcock’s character ... detailed but highly readable ... An absorbing, thoughtful, and balanced look at a master of his medium.