The Unmutual Reviews: Not a Number, Patrick McGoohan: A Life
Rupert Booth, Supernova Books, ISBN: 978-0956632920.

Review by Anthony Rooney.

Click HERE for another review of this book by Rick Davy

I spent yesterday evening reading ‘Not A Number’, Rupert Booth’s biography of Patrick McGoohan. I don’t normally find factual books so engrossing that I cannot put them down but with this one, well, when I finished and looked at the clock I found it was 3.00 in the morning! I’m not sure how much of the compulsion to read the book from cover to cover is due to Booth’s writing or the magnetism of McGoohan’s personality, which endures even beyond his death.

Not A Number provides a fascinating insight into the history and career of the man behind John Drake and Number Six. The book certainly doesn’t pull its punches but there were a couple of occasions where I thought it drew conclusions that it could not quite back-up (I don’t think one should accuse a person of having a bipolar disorder without some medical evidence). Don’t get the impression from this that the book is a hatchet-job – it’s not. Booth does an admirable job of giving a fair and balanced look at a remarkable actor.

McGoohan is notoriously hard to pin down because he shunned publicity. Booth pulls out all the stops in his research and treats the reader to extracts from the all-too rare interviews that McGoohan granted during his career. Even so, it feels like you’re looking through a misted-up window trying to decipher the intriguing shapes beyond. To be honest, I don’t think you can know McGoohan unless you actually knew McGoohan.

Not A Number is a superb work and possibly the best biography we will ever have for Patrick McGoohan. The book is by no means perfect – while McGoohan’s early life and career up to The Prisoner are given the full forensic by Booth I think the story post-Prisoner is far too bare-bones by comparison, as if the author had finished with the bit of the story he’d really wanted to tell and kind of rushed the ending. Still, I highly recommend this book. 'Who is Number One?' is easy, 'Who is Patrick McGoohan' is far more difficult to answer.

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