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Publisher's Summary

Robert Altman - visionary director, hard-partying hedonist, eccentric family man, Hollywood legend - comes roaring to life in this rollicking cinematic biography, told in a chorus of voices that can only be called Altmanesque.
His outsized life and unique career are revealed as never before: here are the words of his family and friends, and a few enemies, as well as the agents, writers, crew members, producers, and stars who worked with him, including Meryl Streep, Warren Beatty, Tim Robbins, Julianne Moore, Paul Newman, Julie Christie, Elliott Gould, Martin Scorsese, Robin Williams, Cher, and many others. There is even Altman himself, in the form of his exclusive last interviews.
After an all-American boyhood in Kansas City, a stint flying bombers through enemy fire in World War II, and jobs ranging from dog-tattoo entrepreneur to television director, Robert Altman burst onto the scene in 1970 with the movie M*A*S*H. He revolutionized American filmmaking, and, in a decade, produced masterpieces at an astonishing pace: McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Thieves Like Us, The Long Goodbye, 3 Women, and, of course, Nashville. Then, after a period of disillusionment with Hollywood - as well as Hollywood's disillusionment with him - he reinvented himself with a bold new set of masterworks: The Player, Short Cuts, and Gosford Park. Finally, just before the release of the last of his nearly 40 movies, A Prairie Home Companion, he received an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement from the Academy, which had snubbed him for so many years.
Mitchell Zuckoff - who was working with Altman on his memoirs before he died - weaves Altman's final interviews, an incredible cast of voices, and contemporary reviews and news accounts, into a riveting tale of an extraordinary life. Here are a series of revelations that force us to reevaluate Altman as a man and an artist.
©2009 Mitchell Zuckoff; (P)2009 Random House
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Critic Reviews

“A brilliantly researched, near-cinematic evocation. . . . Altman never gave up creating his cinematic portraits of people on the margins—con artists, prostitutes, gamblers, theives, clowns, movie executives—if only to shed light on the falsity behind his country’s seemingly indefatigable, desperate pursuit of success.” (The New Yorker)
“Scrupulously intelligent and entertaining. . . . Noisy, funny, slightly ill considered, a bit chaotic, and wholly believeable. In short, Altmanesque.” (The New York Times Book Review)
“I just now put [Robert Altman] down feeling heartbroken but happily and deeply inspired. . . . Wonderful.” (Wes Anderson)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Wise & Careful Shopper on 10-17-10


I bought this book at full price, and as the read began, felt certain I had made a huge mistake. Contrary to the very misleading description given for this item, 98% of the voices of the celebrity narrators listed-- including Robert Altman, himself --are fudged by 3-4 professional audiobook readers, NOT contributed by the actors, directors and producers themselves. The listing of narrators certainly should be changed to protect buyers.

Nevertheless, this is a great audiobook, fully captivating, throughout every one of its 18+ hours. In fact, I liked it so much, that the minute it ended, I played it again, start to finish. It is that insightful, informative and entertaining. The actual voices of Altman's wife, Kathryn, and those of his daughters and sons, along with the stunningly good portrayal of Robert Altman's voice by actor, Michael Murphy, are well worth the price of admission. If you weren't an Altman fan before, this will make you want to rent each of his movies in turn, to experience what you've missed of his extraordinary talent on screen. There will never be another like him and he is missed!

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8 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By M. Clarke on 12-12-09

Better Than The Book, With An All-Star Altman Cast

The best audiobook I've listened to in a long time.

When Robert Altman died a few years ago, it put into doubt the book that he and Mitchell Zuckoff had been working on. It's hard, however, to imagine how their collaboration could be better than this. Robert Altman's discussions of his movie career are included throughout, but the observations by the other narrators make this audiobook better than the book could be.

Many participants in his movies are quoted at length. In many cases, the narration is done by the actors themselves. For example, Tim Robbins talks about the way he was hired for his starring role in the movie, The Player. Altman's wife, Kathryn, and several of their sons are the actual narrators for their sections. The result is a rich look at his life, as seen by Robert Altman and the people who knew him.

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6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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