Chris Nashawaty
March 24, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Paul and Me

Current Status
In Season
A.E. Hotchner
Nan A. Talese
Nonfiction, Biography

We gave it a B+

A.E. Hotchner first met Paul Newman in 1955. One was a struggling writer adapting a Hemingway story for television; the other was that movie’s star, still smarting from the sword-and-sandal bomb The Silver Chalice. Over the next 53 years, the two would forge a friendship whose main ingredients were fishing trips, pranks, oil, and vinegar. Hotchner’s portrait of his pal is breezy and heartfelt. He obviously adored him. And reading his anecdotes of their high jinks together, it’s easy to see why. Newman may have been one of the biggest stars on the planet, whose blue eyes could stop a happily married woman at 20 paces, but he was also a burgers-and-Budweiser man’s man. The second half of Paul and Me chronicles their creation of Newman’s Own — a mom-and-pop operation that started with salad dressing and grew into big business, raising $300 million for charity. Toward the end, Hotchner tiptoes around Newman’s battle with cancer (what’s more? important in a friend than discretion, after all?), but the actor’s last words to him perfectly sum up their times together: ”It’s been a hell of a ride.” B+

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