Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man...Review
Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner first crossed paths as actors on the set of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Little did they know that their next roles, in a new science-fiction television series, would shape their lives in ways no one could have anticipated. In seventy-nine television episodes and six feature films, they grew to know each other more than most friends could ever imagine.
Over the course of half a century, Shatner and Nimoy saw each other through personal and professional highs and lows. In this powerfully emotional book, Shatner tells the story of a man who was his friend for five decades, recounting anecdotes and untold stories of their lives on and off set, as well as gathering stories from others who knew Nimoy well, to present a full picture of a rich life.
As much a biography of Nimoy as a story of their friendship, Leonard is a uniquely heartfelt book written by one legendary actor in celebration of another.
Because William Shatner is William Shatner, this book is as much about him as it is about Leonard Nimoy. But, instead of being a Nimoy book about Shatner, it's more a book of Shatner's reflection next to Nimoy. Bill obviously has a great love and respect for Leonard and it comes across. He is straight-forward in most things as he talks about Leonard's life and their shared experiences.
Much of this was new to me, because for all my love of Star Trek, I really haven't followed the careers of the actors or obsessed about the details of their lives. So, I didn't know that Leonard's family were Jewish immigrants from Russia. I loved the family parts and Leonard's obvious respect for his upbringing and heritage and his trip to Russia as an adult, where he was able to return to the village his parents fled and meet family members.
I enjoyed the honesty. That Leonard was a recovering alcoholic and how that affected his life and relationships. The actor's perspective that Shatner brought to the book was effective as he shared Leonard's experiences and compared them to his or to acting in general. This was especially enlightening as he explained their perspective of filming the original series and thinking they were all going their separate ways when it ended. Then their sincere shock at the popularity of the series in syndication, the original fan conventions and the films. They all thought they would escape the Star Trek phenomenon at some point, and then their realization and acceptance that it was forever part of them. It was not only informative, but insightful.
I haven't read any Trek biographies, so I don't know how much of this information is already out there or how much is uniquely William Shatner's knowledge. I really don't care. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I have been a Trekkie all my life and being that I was born the same year the series premiered, I can say that with certainty. I remember watching it with my dad when I was little. And can I just say that I loved how Shatner used the original term of "Trekkie" rather than the term "Trekker", because that is the name I grew up knowing. And, seriously? Who the hell cares? Trekkie sounds geekish and Trekker sounds pretentious, but whatever. You want to refer to yourself as a Trekker? Fine. You want to refer to yourself as a Trekkie? Fine. People who love Star Trek, love Star Trek. The labels just don't matter.
Sorry, rant over.
Interspersed with the recollections and experiences were little nuggets of wisdom and insight. I underlined some parts and reflected on others in this book. But, I came away with a better understanding on the remarkable person that Leonard Nimoy was and the life he led and the lives he touched.
It's incredibly cheesy and cliche, but Kirk's eulogy in The Wrath of Khan really is perfect to describe Leonard Nimoy in so many ways, "Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most....human."
Leonard Nimoy left an incredible void, not only in the world of Star Trek, but life in general.
This was my personal copy, not a book for review.
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