The recent arrest of Roman Polanski prompted me to read his 1984 autobiography, "Roman by Polanski". Polanski has led an eventful life, surviving in Nazi occupied Poland as a Jewish child, becoming a famous movie director and joining Sharon Tate in a marriage which ended tragically when she was murdered by the Manson Family. However I didn't find his account all that compelling. I am not much of a movie buff and the only one of Polanski's films that I have seen is Chinatown . Thus I wasn't that fascinated by inside accounts of the making of films I had never heard of. The book had some interesting material but not (in my opinion at least) 450 pages worth. So unless you have some special interest in Polanski's films I would skip this book.
He gives a defensive and not completely convincing account of the incident that led to his becoming a fugitive from justice. But the exact truth of what happened doesn't matter too much at this point. He admits to the charge to which he plead guilty (unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13 year old girl). By his account the 42 days he did spend in jail was not particularly traumatic. His decision to flee the country instead of appearing for sentencing is not really explained and seems to have been somewhat irrational. The bottom line in my view is this. Martha Stewart and many others, who could easily have fled the country, showed up for sentencing and did their time. It would be completely unfair to them to give Polanski a pass.