Man of Steel

(No Series)

Havill, author of Deep Truth: The Lives of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein offers readers the inside story of Christopher Reeve's heroic struggle with paralysis. Reeve has been in the public spotlight since his equestrian accident, giving encouragement to his millions of fans and peers in the entertainment industry. This is the first book available on this tragic, yet uplifting story.

Thankfully well-researched, the writer takes up little space with introspection and filler, instead using facts, quotes and known impressions down to the finest details and the more obscure sources. If you're a Superman or Reeves fan, I highly recommend this book when searching for a biography.

The book opens announcing the world's reaction to the accident, going into detail about what was required for procedure and everything leading up to it. There were details and tidbits about the procedures and problems with outside influences that were discussed in the biography, while Reeves did not personally bring them up in his own book.

Man of Steel went into graphic detail about the filming of each Superman film, which should delight fans, but also chronicles every stage of Reeve's acting career, from every small film and every struggle. Most attention is given to the first big movie, Superman, taking pages to show how hard it was to cast parts with each actor. Marlon Brando was certainly painted in a poor light, not really from the side of the producers and during the movie, but especially afterward with scathing reviews.

Even small, amusing tidbits like this were included: "...was concerned that when his star wore the costume with the bright red tights that the protruding part of Reeve's anatomy be in the same place for each shot. To make sure, he assigned a script girl to keep track. After a conference it was decided that a true Superman would be neither left nor right - but dead center. A plastic codpiece was found... "

Toward the end of the book, as Reeve grew more passionate about causes, protects, and politics, this was all handled well by dishing out tidbits about groups he joined, speeches given, leading causes under his enthusiasm. I was surprised to learn about the Donald Trump involvement with Reeve over Trumptown in New York, and of course impressed by the speech and rally at Chilie which may have well saved 88 lives. With the political turnout a year later for the better, country officials again noted Reeve's involvement. It was especially invigorating how he chose to spend time lobbying for the Arts guild, including fighting a school board that fired a teacher for a controversial play. His comments on censorship there - bravo.

The writer also digs deeply into what the tabloids speculated and what Reeve confirmed or disproved regarding his ten year relationship (no marriage) to his sweetheart Gae, and his firm stance on no-marriage until hitting an older age and meeting Dana. I learned through his words in interviews how his relationship with father and mother were and differed, in a way more than I learned from his personal autobiography, Still Me.

Man of Steel presents a courageous, impressive man who was talented in so many ways - childhood pianist, enthusiastic pilot, sailor, activist, and of course actor. While presenting a positive and admiring light of Reeve's character and ambitions, it is unapologetic with it's honesty during the rougher times of his acting career, lining up reasons the career fell so far in a straight way any reader will get without being told. (Surprisingly it wasn't at first from being typecast as Superman, not so much.) Even the most brutal and vicious review piece is shared, all to accurately portray his acting achievements and pitfalls throughout the years.

The wrap-up at the end was touching and you could feel the support of fellow actors and those lives he touched as he attended the awards. Inspiring stuff.

This thorough book is a wonderful accompaniment to 'Still Me.' The autobiography definitely shouldn't be passed up for this less personal piece, for 'Still Me' shows his personal mindset about his love of acting, of life, of sports, and of the tragedy that befell him. His philosophical musings, especially at the end, were sobering, powerful pieces. But taken together, both factual book and the more personal one, was a rewarding reading experience about this interesting man who was so well suited to play the man in red and blue.

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