9781324002390 198

The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock

An Anatomy of the Master of Suspense


Edward White (Author)

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A fresh, innovative interpretation of the life, work and lasting influence of the twentieth century’s most iconic filmmaker.

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’s twelve chapters illuminate different aspects of Hitchcock’s life and work: “The Boy Who Couldn’t Grow Up”; “The Murderer”; “The Auteur”; “The Womanizer”; “The Fat Man”; “The Dandy”; “The Family Man”; “The Voyeur”; “The Entertainer”; “The Pioneer”; “The Londoner”; “The Man of God”. Each of these angles 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.

White’s portrayal illuminates a vital truth: Hitchcock was more than a Hollywood titan; he was the definitive modern artist and his significance reaches far beyond the confines of cinema.


"A provocative new way of thinking about biography... The radial structure vibrates, like Hitchcock’s best films, with intuition and mystery." — Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

"Edward White’s The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock is a pinata of literary pleasures. Learned and graceful, thoughtful and provocative, White cracks the Hitchcock code with deft analysis and fine writing. It’s a high-stepping performance full of humor and depth. Walking a tightrope between criticism and biography, White places both the man and his myth in the cultural landscape of his times. In the process, he returns us to the films with a much more informed eye. A book to keep and to return to." — John Lahr, author of Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh

"Perceptive and gracefully written, “The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock” is a bracing study of the master of suspense... It is a rare book that could pleasurably be twice as long." — The Economist

"[The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock] is full of such sharp observations, offering a Hitchcock whose art endures alongside—and in some ways depends upon—his insecurities and mistakes." — Farran Smith Nehme, The Wall Street Journal

"The great strength of “The Twelve Lives” is that a reader comes away from it with a vivid sense of how Hitchcock ignited screen masterpieces with the fires of his inner discord and contradictions." — Alexander Kafka, The Washington Post

"White’s book is a perceptive, plainspoken, and vigorous portrait of an exceedingly strange, complicated, and perhaps deeply wounded man." — John Banville, New Republic

"Running the gamut from 'The Boy Who Couldn't Grow Up' to 'The Man Of God', White's book... deftly divvies up the director's 80 years into a dozen readable chunks. If Hitch was, as this author suggests, "a codex of his times," this is as good a way as any to decipher him." — Neil Smith, Total Film