Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “What's It All About” as Want to Read:
What's It All About
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

What's It All About

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,106 ratings  ·  87 reviews
For more than 25 years, Michael Caine has remained one of the few enduring stars of international stage and cinema--a rare and remarkable achievement. Now, with easy charm and humor, the Academy Award-winning actor brings to life his lean years and his triumphs, his treasured friendships and his passionate love affair with his wife, Shakira. Illustrated.
Paperback, 466 pages
Published December 29th 1993 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1992)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,106 ratings  ·  87 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of What's It All About
Oct 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I learned that Maurice Micklewhite would be an excellent subject for an autobiography even if he never became famous. Caine writes the rare star autobiography that is just as interesting in telling of life before fame as after. He writes just like he talks. You get a sense of his personality. I loved his descriptions of his childhood in the English countryside during the war and of his ridiculous idea to enlist in the military to go to Korea. I was moved by his solitary get away to Paris. Readin ...more
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'I was once asked in an interview: "How would you sum up your life in one line?" and I answered, "All my dreams came true."'

I don't read many celebrity autobiographies. Of the countless books I've read there's been maybe 3? Or 4, if John Stuart Mill counts as a celebrity. (Perhaps he did, but not since he broke up with Kim Kardashian.)

Michael Caine is one of my favourite actors. I even enjoy some of his bad movies, or at least his movies that other people consider bad, like Blue Ice. And for som
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Biographies are not really my genre, but this was entertaining book. The most vividly remembered parts of this book are his early years, for example London during WWII and his early excursions with Peter O'Toole.

Nice, nothing deep, but with a good sense of humour and it does sound like him...
Michael Caine's memoirs were absolutely fascinating for the first eighty to a hundred pages, but after that the next thirty or so it starts falling flat. I'm sure I could have forced myself past that and re-kindled my interest, but I simply don't have the motivation. The stories are amusing and you can't help but hear Michael Caine's voice while you read, but while he's certainly had an interesting life even before the acting career, he starts to get bogged down in too many details.

I usually don
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Caine has had a fascinating life. He tells his life story with charm, wit and minute detail. From his start in the South London area of Elephant and Castle, right up to 1992.

Caine has seen a multitude of amazing things, and remembers them with a clarity that is only rarely experienced. He name drops quite liberally, but always in a context that is relevant to the story. He chronicles his experience of World War II, his time in amateur theatre, his horrific time in the Korean War, and fi
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
In this surprisingly lengthy autobiography, Michael Caine doesn't come off as a very deep thinker or even terribly intelligent, but he certainly had an interesting life and it was a pleasure to read the many stories he tells about the movie business. The book was written in 1992 and he is still alive so much has happened since then. ...more
Brian Turner
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
An addictive read - Michael Caine has led an interesting life, not least fighting on the frontline in the Korean War. Most of his stories and anecdotes were very entertaining, though in the last 10% it did fall into a pattern of listing famous names at dinner parties. Still, very much recommended.
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
What a fun read! Michael Caine is an engaging writer and I enjoyed reading about all the famous people he met during his acting career and about a lot of the movies he was in, flops and successes both. He worked hard, is obviously very talented but above all was very tenacious and had great timing and luck.
Michael Pryor
Aug 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Breezy, entertaining, charming.
Oct 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Ever since I saw Michael Caine in "THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING" and "THE EAGLE HAS LANDED" back in the 1970s, he has been one of my favorite actors. Now that I have finished this delightful and wonderful memoir (one of the best that I've ever read), I like him even more as a human being.

Born into poverty in London in 1933, Caine had a childhood ambition to be an actor. Up until he was almost 30, he struggled, largely unrecognized, to develop his talent. With the success of "ZULU", Caine became a s
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just recently finished reading this Michael Caine autobiography. I enjoyed it for several reasons. First of all I've always considered English acting as the very best and that coupled with the fact that Caine and I are the same age gave me the chance to compare his life long experiences to those of mine at the various stages of our lives. We both grew up in grade school during World War II. Obviously the effect on him much more severe than on me. He served in the trenches of North Korea as a t ...more
Jan 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Every so often I like to read an autobiography of someone I like. This is a good read of Michael's life and career up to 1992 (I think - I read this about 4 years ago and it was published back in the 1990s; he has written more since). I loved the bit about the filming of Zulu and Caine's naivety of the film industry at that time. It got me thinking, is Caine a talented actor even if you make it in Hollywood. The answer is yes, and although he's made some bad films he will always be remembered fo ...more
Dec 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: autobiography
This was an enjoyable read, the kind of book you pack in your beachbag for a summertime read. Caine writes almost the same way he speaks, so there is constant humor and a love of life. His start in life was tough and he doesn't hide his own failings regarding his first marriage and child, so the honesty is appreciated by the reader.

Sometimes he seems to aim for the heights conquered by David Niven in his enjoyable memoirs and doesn't quite get there. I'm not sure all of it is truly happening as
Brian Connolly
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
I love Michael Caine. But this book was just a long list of names dropped. It started out brilliantly with the wonderful story of his hard work against the odds rise to stardom, but then turned into a procession of stars he hung out with who were all very nice apparently. I'd love to hang out with him for a while, and I love that he wouldnt care about my review. But not a great book in my mind. ...more
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of Michael Caine’s 1992 memoir, “What’s It All About?”, is enthralling. His life is one struggle after another: poverty, escaping the Blitz, unhappy times at school, military service in Korea, one dead-end job after another in hopes of making it as an actor despite his Cockney background and accent.

And then, success. First comes “Zulu,” the 1964 film that earned him his first major notice; then “The Ipcress File,” the first of the Harry Palmer films; and then, of course, “Alfie,”
I've always liked Michael Caine as an actor though I haven't really seen a lot of his films. So seeing this autobiography whilst in a charity shop I thought I'd give it a go.

When it comes to 'celebrities' I'm not really one of those people who reads up on them and their lives, who obsesses over minutiae of what they do every minute of every day. When it comes to actors my one consideration is did you play/act your part well, was I convinced. Beyond that I don't particularly care what they do in
Douglas Cunningham
Oct 09, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was written before Michael Caine stared in a Muppet Christmas Carol, would love to see how filming that went.

I hate it when he tries his hand at purple prose, but love it when he’s short and to the point.

(on Jaws 4)
"I have never seen the film but by all accounts it was terrible. However I have seen the house that it built, and it was terrific."

"The most important thing that happened while I was shooting the picture in Nassau in the Caribbean (another good reason for doing it-the family
Robin Zebley
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just loved this book. I like memoirs from non-celebs that describe a place or way of life experienced, and this is all that and could have stood on its own just describing a life in the poor side of town during a horrible period in history to grow up in, in a place where class definitely matters.

But add to that his life with his fellow celeb friends who were struggling to make it at the same time, interesting tidbits about the films, and all in his voice put this over the top.

You really feel y
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography, memoir
I was once asked the difference for me between theatre, film and television. They were like three women, i said. The theatre was a woman i loved, but who didn't love me back and treated me like shit. The cinema was a woman i loved, who loved me back so deeply she didn't care when i treated her like shit. And television was a one-night stand.

A sometimes witty, self deprecating autobiography by the star of Alfie, Get Carter and so many other memorable movies from the sixties up till this b
Laura Besley
May 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
It's funny this obsession we have with celebrities and their lives behind the scenes. And there's a risk, of course, that you may like them less once you've read their words. Or you may like them more.

I recently read Sally Field's autobiography, Pieces of Me, and was blown away by it. I didn't like Michael Caine's "What's It All About" as much.

I liked the first third the most. He was still an 'unknown' and it was genuinely interesting to read about what he had to do to become the actor he is t
mark mcmahon
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and enjoyable.

Easy to.choose a.five star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating. I've read all Michael's books and this is load d with stories I've not heard about. Great takes of dinners with very famous stars and back information about some of my favorite films. I highly recommend this book as I found that every spare minute I had was spent with my head buried in this amazing story of without doubt one of the most interesting lives I've had the joy to share. 10/10 a must read... 🔰🔰🔰
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Better than I expected

Michael comes from the same area as my Father, he has cockney wit and I for one do not begrudge his wealth. Really interesting in that I knew the majority of places in England, a very pleasant read.
keith kirkham
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Even though this book was released back in the early 90s it is a great read. To be honest I don't think Michael has done a lot since which would need a revised edition. Some great stories as well as some sad ones too. ...more
Julie Taylor.
Good Read

Well written account of Mr Caine's life and work. Recommended for those who like a good story. It shows him to be a warm and sincere man as well as a caring human being - qualities missing in a lot of today's celebrities.
Sue Foster
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting autobiography

Very interesting autobiography by Michael Caine this one of three he has written covers his childhood and his time in the Army during his National Service in Korea. To his early film career and the now iconic Zulu.
Anita Hargreaves
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Read a while ago from library but discovered it again on YouTube. You can hear him in his narration. Seeing his future wife on an advert, he gave Chase
Sadiqa van der does de bije
Well written but a bit long to read. Love all of your films!

Well written but a bit long to read. Love all your movies! X x x x x x x x

Jacquie Jerrard
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bloody good story

I was as interested in this book at the end as I was at the beginning. It takes a remarkable man to write as honest as this. He tells it warts and all.

Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book, very fun and funny!
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
(On making Jaws IV) " I have never seen the film but by all accounts it was terrible. However I HAVE seen the house that it built, and it is terrific." ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Moon's a Balloon
  • To Be Loved
  • Eleven Years a Drunkard, Or, the Life of Thomas Doner: Having Lost Both Arms Through Intemperance, He Wrote His Book with His Teeth as a Warning to Others
  • Bring on the Empty Horses
  • Tall Tales and Wee Stories: The Best of Billy Connolly
  • Clark Gable: A Biography
  • The Shadow Puppet (Maigret, #13)
  • Palomino
  • Billy Connolly's Route 66
  • The Leopard Hunts in Darkness (The Ballantyne Novels, #4)
  • A Rare Benedictine: The Advent of Brother Cadfael (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #0.5)
  • Vintage Stuff
  • Mission Flats
  • Gooberz
  • Linda Goodman's Love Signs: A New Approach to the Human Heart
  • Linda Goodman's Sun Signs: Virgo (Linda Goodman's Sun Signs Set)
  • Linda Goodman's Sun Signs
  • Darknight (The Witches of Cleopatra Hill, #2)
See similar books…
Sir Michael Caine, CBE was born Maurice Joseph Micklewaite near Elephant and Castle in South London. His first major starring roles, beginning in the 1960s, include 'Zulu,' 'The Ipcress File,' and 'Alfie.' He is a major Hollywood film star and two-time Academy Award winner with a career spanning over sixty years. ...more

Related Articles

  Listen up, because our colleagues here at Goodreads have some excellent audiobook recommendations for you! Of course, the books they've...
44 likes · 25 comments
“I told him that the lawyers were always saying 'You can't say that you'll get sued.' He said to me, 'Write fiction Michael, you can tell the truth.' (Kirk Douglas to Michael Caine)” 5 likes
More quotes…