While the book is worth owning just for this 322-page interview, it is also full of other material that is equally revealing. Rosenbaum presents a meticulous chronology of Welles's life, closely following his day-to-day activities from his birth in 1915 to his death in 1985. Anyone who thinks that Welles was an essentially lazy and profligate artist will be astonished at how hard he worked and how much he accomplished, even after the completion of Citizen Kane. Another treat found in the book is a detailed description—complete with rare photographic stills—of the original Magnificent Ambersons, Welles's impressive follow-up to Kane, which can now be seen only in a tragically truncated version.
This 1998 reissue of the volume contains a fond new introduction by Bogdanovich and another crucial piece of Welles minutia, excerpts from his 58-page memo to Universal Pictures about the editing of Touch of Evil. Forty years after its composition, the material in this memo has been used to create a restored "director's cut" of the film. With such grand material between two covers, This Is Orson Welles is the most informative and entertaining book available on one of the 20th century's greatest artists. —Raphael Shargel