Leo Robson at The New Statesman:
Of the several-hundred volumes on Hitchcock published over the past half-century, the majority divide into acts of critical exegesis indifferent to his public persona or even his private self and brisk, myth-laden biography in which Hitchcock emerges as a superb technician, the man who invented the inverse zoom, who got Detective Arbogast to fall backwards so brilliantly down Mrs Bates’s staircase.
Peter Ackroyd, a biographer of Dickens, Blake and London, belongs comfortably to the second camp but nonetheless finds himself in a challenging position. He can’t really argue in 2015 that Hitchcock wasn’t some kind of genius, at least not with the hectic casualness that has characterised his recent work, from his ongoing history of Britain to the series of Brief Lives of which this is the latest. On the other hand, he cannot, as a sceptical Englishman, accept the highfalutin terms in which this tickled showman is routinely praised. But his attempt to rebuff this sort of criticism is undone by the impression that he has never read any.