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The long-anticipated biography of Robert Redford.
Among the most widely admired Hollywood stars of his generation, Redford has appeared onstage and on-screen, in front of and behind the camera, earning Academy, Golden Globe, and a multitude of other awards and nominations for acting, directing, and producing, and for his contributions to the arts. His Sundance Film Festival transformed the world of filmmaking; his films defined a generation. America has come to know him as the Sundance Kid, Bob Woodward, Johnny Hooker, Jay Gatsby, and Roy Hobbs. But only now, with this revelatory biography, do we see the surprising and complex man beneath the Hollywood façade.
From Redford’s personal papers—journals, script notes, correspondence—and hundreds of hours of taped interviews, Michael Feeney Callan brings the legendary star into focus. Here is his scattered family background and restless childhood, his rocky start in acting, the death of his son, his star-making relationship with director Sydney Pollack, the creation of Sundance, his political activism, his artistic successes and failures, his friendships and romances. This is a candid, surprising portrait of a man whose iconic roles on-screen (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, The Natural) and directorial brilliance (Ordinary People, Quiz Show) have both defined and obscured one of the most celebrated, and, until now, least understood, public figures of our time.
“Bracing. . . . A fascinating study . . . of fame and our uneasy relationship with it.” —Maureen Callahan, The New York Post
“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.” —Kirkus
“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
“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.” —Booklist
“Relentless and first-rate. . . . A layered portrait of one of the most famous—and elusive—faces in pop culture.” —Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“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
“Carefully crafted. . . . Callan is clearly on his games 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
“Remarkable. . . . [An] unpredictable and soaring story [by] an author in full command. . . . Santiago encapsules an island’s history in the splendid tapestry of Ana’s boldly imagined life [and] joins a stellar line-up of Latin American authors who have brought to literary life the maverick women of Spanish colonial times, most notably Isabel Allende and Laura Esquivel. . . . Santiago has crafted this elegantly written story from a bountiful imagination that blossomed from conversations with her parents, who grew up in and near sugar plantations; and dogged research into the most intricate details of aristocracy in Seville and colonial life in Cuba, Puerto Rico and New York. . . . Historical lessons abound, but pathos and authenticity keep one glued to the tale. . . . The indomitable Ana has been compared by early reviewers to Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. [She is] the flawed but ultimately admirable woman through which Santiago narrates the complex story of a nation’s beginnings. In Santiago’s hands, Ana is a woman to remember and Puerto Rico a country to cherish.” —Fabiola Santiago, The Miami Herald
“What do you get when you drop the author of When I Was Puerto Rican into a steamy, sultry stew of 19th century island intrigue? You get Conquistadora, an imaginative re-imagining of things from a strong-willed woman’s point-of-view. You also get one helluva historical epic.” —John Hood, NBC Miami Niteside
“A grand romantic adventure tale, complete with plenty of sex and violence [and] satisfying richness . . . Santiago doesn’t ignore the political and economic realities of Ana’s life. . . . The novel is loaded with details of life on a sugar plantation.” —Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch
“Conquistadora is an expertly researched novel that fuses Antillean/Puerto Rican history and a spellbinding and action-packed storyline that will surprise and dazzle its readers. . . . A Pandora’s box of triumphs and tragedies unfolds and will keep you on the edge of your seat. . . . A crown jewel of Puerto Rican literature.” —Charlie Vázquez, Being Latino
“The American South had Scarlett O’Hara as its Civil War antiheroine . . . In fiction, plantation mistresses have tended to be either unbridled despots or demure creatures who stay in the Great House . . . Santiago plays with, then capsizes, these caricatures in Conquistadora, set in mid-19th-century Puerto Rico. . . . But Santiago’s plantation mistress isn’t a shrew who derives sadistic pleasure from flogging her slaves. Nor is she their ministering angel. . . . Ana is something much more elusive and contradictory. She delegates the flogging, but flinches when the slaves screams. [And she] is a feminist before her time. . . . The book’s strength is its Rubik’s Cube portrait of Ana, an unconventional, ambitious woman whose attitudes toward children, slaves and lovers perplex and engross. . . . Ana is emotionally intelligent enough to imagine how slaves might feel, to understand their longing for freedom, yet ruthless enough to use and punish them in order to flourish herself. Neither white witch nor angel, she is convincing despite her contradictions–indeed, because of them. . . . Conquistadora [is] a guided tour of the history of sugar and empire. Santiago takes us through events of the past as if they were rooms, navigating the cholera epidemic that ravaged Puerto Rico in the 1850s here, depicting the secret abolitionist societies active in San Juan there, and over all, divertingly evoking a place that was one of the last holdouts for slavery in the Americas.” —Gaiutra Bahadur, The New York Times Book Review
“Santiago has created a ferociously seductive character. By day, headstrong Ana Cubillas is a well-heeled 19th-century Spanish teenager. . . . By night, she dreams of emulating her conquistador ancestor and turning her back on ‘country, family and custom’ to make her fortune. . . . Read this absorbing, impeccably researched novel for its lusty history and for the way Santiago’s narrative constantly surprises–just as its protagonist does, confronting the gender limitations of her day.” —Meredith Maran, More