Howard Hughes lived one of the greatest, most heroic, misunderstood, mysterious, bizarre, and tragic lives in American history. Here at last, in a uniquely full and brilliantly documented biography by a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative team, the mythology that surrounded that life is disentangled from the truth.
Hughes had always been different. Raised by overprotective parents, pathologically fearful of germs, in awe of his father, unable to make friends, he grew into a man ruled by madness. Certainly his riches set him apart. But he was also tough. Orphaned and a millionaire at eighteen, Hughes repudiated his relatives, seized control of the Hughes Tool Company, the linchpin of his fortune, and went on to become a flamboyant movie producer, holder of many world aviation records, principal owner of Trans World Airlines, a critically-important defense contractor, Hollywood’s most pursued, and elusive, bachelor, and partner of the United States government.
This is an epic biography of an epic figure, who bestrode the world like a colossus, yet could not master himself.
Before reading this book I thought of Hughes as more of an icon, after the book you come to realize he was more or less one terrific JERK. Born on third base and thinks he hit a triple, ran every business he owned into the ground, involved in watergate activities and on and on. A very sick mind that almost leaves you cheering for the scam artist who are taking all of his money.
Genius isn't enough when you're surrounded by leeches
I don't believe Howard Hughes was a genius anymore. Certainly, he was a towering intellect in some mechanical fields, aspects of marketing, and the manipulation of business and tax codes. He was inspiring and quick witted. But he was incapable of judging people. He couldn't pick them. He couldn't motivate them. He couldn't lead them. And that is sad. I wonder what he could have been had he not been so mislead by those around them? That wondered, he clearly brought his downfall on himself. He was the one who allowed the Summa criminals to rob him blind, while those managers he ignored at Hughes Oil Tools and Space Systems did do good work and did prosper; so he was clearly part of the problem. This is a great lesson about not trying to do it all yourself, even if you are gifted, but pick your helpers well and don't allow them to conspire against you. Very thorough and very detailed. I was surprised how much detail about a life, even a public life can be recreated. One negative note. There was some horrific editing throughout the last half of the book. Apparently the Narrator couldn't say Moe Daelitz or Summa. The fixes were more butchery than fixes.