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Robert Redford: The Biography Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 3, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Revealing . . . An unusually well-written movie-star biography . . . What emerges is a comprehensive portrait of a man beset by colliding tides of ambition and hesitation . . . Robert Redford is as fascinating . . . as its subject.”
            -Scott Eyman, The Wall Street Journal
“Relentless and first-rate . . . A layered portrait of one of the most famous—and elusive—faces in pop culture.”
            -Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Bracing . . . A fascinating study . . . of fame and our uneasy relationship with it.”
            -Maureen Callahan, New York Post
“Deeply researched . . . Give Callan credit for letting in dissident voices and for allowing Redford’s less Galahadian qualities to shine forth: the opportunism and narcissicism, the scattershot management style, the absentee fathering. Best of all, Callan’s book begins and ends exactly where it should: with that quadrant of Utah soil christened by its owner ‘Sundance.’”
            -Louis Bayard, The Washington Post
“Genuinely insightful . . . Michael Feeney Callan remains keenly aware of his subject’s larger-than-lifeness, even as he tries to chip away to reveal the person underneath.”
            -Keith Staskiewicz, Entertainment Weekly
“Carefully crafted . . . Callan is clearly on his game when it comes to dissecting Redford’s film career.”
            -Daniel Bubbeo, Newsday
“A candid, accessible portrait that makes for perfect summer reading . . . Callan’s meticulous research and obvious respect for the actor are evident in this crisply written book.”
            -Larry Cox, King Features
“Revealing . . . Intriguing . . . An all-American beautiful jock with a brutal iron will and the soul of a visionary tyrant, Redford, under Callan’s gaze, emerges as a sui generis American figure. A gripping, intimate treatment of one of cinema’s last great iconic stars.”
“Comprehensive . . . Callan reveals the complex man beneath the Hollywood persona. Absorbing and remarkably well documented; readers will enjoy losing themselves in this long-awaited biography.”

About the Author

Michael Feeney Callan is the author of a collection of short stories, for which he won the Hennessy Literary Award, two novels, and several plays, as well as biographies of Anthony Hopkins, Richard Harris, Julie Christie, and Sean Connery. He has worked for the BBC, Ireland’s Ardmore Studios, and PBS as a writer, producer, and director of television dramas and documentaries. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1St Edition edition (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679450556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679450559
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #738,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mr. August VINE VOICE on May 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I began reading this pre-publication biography of Robert Redford, I thought I would be learning about a laid-back guy from California who fell into acting via the gift of his good looks combined with perfect timing. Not so. His life totally surprised me. I know he is a conservationist with liberal political leanings, but I was not aware of the layers of this man's ambition and intellect.

Brought up without money by a wonderful, supportive mother and a critical father, Redford (Bob) was a rebellious child and teen-ager who was constantly aspiring to find what would make him happy. Michael Feeny Callan organizes fourteen years of interviews with Redford, his friends and associates to disclose the essence of the man. He also had access to Redford's personal journals and diaries which gives the reader both sides of this man. He gives equal credence to the golden boy of Hollywood, his political activism for the environment and founder of the independent film Mecca Sundance, a magnificent tract of land located in Utah. Redford has been obsessed with the wilderness, it has brought him peace, solace and helped him transform the landscape of film making.

Redford comes across as a restless egotist. He worked himself beyond fatigue and his stubbornness was uncompromising. He surprised many directors and fellow actors with his demands regarding his characters in movies and plays. What looked so easy for him on stage and film was the product of endless study and overwhelming analysis of the character in the movie or play.

It is surprising that Redford is somewhat of a tyrant. He is an autodidact, a self-taught intellectual, who challenges himself and anyone who will not allow him to proceed as he envisions.
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Format: Hardcover
I have found stars interesting my entire life. They are different from the rest of us, and we never really get to know them because we only see what is exposed to the rest of us. Their human element is never displayed except when they have issues with the law, or divorce, or just outrageously bad behavior. Robert Redford has managed to go an entire lifetime without having to sacrifice himself or his individuality to the fame system that is indigenous to anyone who is part of Hollywood, let alone a member of the A-List.

All actors are by definition what I call strays. I manage money for a living for very famous people as well as governments and finance ministers. Actors are simply people who must act. They really have no other choice. They are compelled to do what they do, and in what they do there is tremendous distress for they do not know where their next job is coming from, or if one is coming at all. This is the world that Redford has occupied and exulted in for probably 50 plus years. What is unique is that he has managed to maintain an aloofness from Hollywood which is unheard of for a star of his magnitude. He embraces Hollywood when he must and then just as rapidly detaches himself once again, being one of those few actors who can maintain his own center in the face of such fame, and adulation.

I have been waiting more than 20 years for someone to do a fabulous biography of this screen legend and I for one believe that author Michael Callan has successfully pierced the veil that Redford has maintained all these years. We see the man, the heart, we feel the passion and in doing this Callan has done us the reader and Redford a great service.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My wife saw the book on the kitchen counter and summed up the Redford Problem. "Isn't that a book for women?" But the Redford life and film canon are more complex, and his Irish biographer, Michael Feeney Callan, has devoted ten years of his writing life to proving it. Here's the result: a bio of a conflicted, sometimes agonized man in the throes of a two-level career: swoon-worthy matinee idol and golden boy on one hand, deadly serious, reclusive cineaste -- serious to the point of ponderous -- on the other.

Callan chronicles Redford's path to becoming the biggest movie star in the world through "Butch Cassidy," "Jeremiah Johnson," "The Way We Were," "The Sting," and misconceived bombs like "Waldo Pepper" and "The Great Gatsby." Redford is immediately uncomfortable with popcorn-movie success and cultivates a second persona through the Sundance Institute and as director of grave and chilly work like "Ordinary People." He is depicted as earnest and professional but terminally indecisive, easily distracted, uncommunicative, and incapable of keeping a schedule -- a hard guy to work with, as Callan himself found out. (We get the impression this book would have been completed years ago if Redford hadn't kept backing out of meetings.) The depiction is detailed and engrossing, but the reasons for all this conflict ultimately elude Callan, and us.

By the '80s, aging, Redford can no longer play cute-guy roles but essays popular junk ("Legal Eagles," "Up Close and Personal") in order to subsidize unpopular art ("The Milagro Beanfield War"). His highest-grossing movie ever, apparently, was the supremely junky "Indecent Proposal," and most of his more heartfelt personal projects in the last decade or so must be classified as noble failures.
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