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Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty Hardcover – August 13, 2013


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Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty + Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt + The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (August 13, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312662114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312662110
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Oppenheimer’s eleventh biography chronicles five generations of the Johnson dynasty, from the three brothers who founded the world’s largest health-care business in 1888 through the subsequent members of the Lucky Sperm Club, heirs and heiresses who benefited financially from the family name while having little or nothing to do with running the company. Known as “The General,” founding brother Robert Wood Johnson Jr. ruled the roost with an iron fist until his death in 1968, and his great-grandson and namesake Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson IV is the billionaire owner of the New York Jets. Woody’s daughter, “Casey” Johnson, was a tabloid “celebutante” and friend of Paris Hilton who came to a tragic end in 2009 at the age of 31, and his once-troubled uncle is the famed sculptor, J. Seward Johnson Jr. Oppenheimer follows the clan of dysfunctional Band-Aid and baby-powder millionaires through the adulterous affairs, ugly divorces, drug and alcohol addictions, tragic accidents, suicide attempts, paternity disputes, will contests, and other turmoil as the family reaps the rewards of inheritance through privilege, opulence, and excess, for better and for worse. --David Siegfried

Review

“It would seem that having enough money to do every stupid thing that strikes your fancy is no blessing. . . . [Crazy Rich] is gossipy and fast-moving, with surprising emotional resonance.” —Newark Star Ledger

 

“A breathless tell-all . . . Oppenheimer trains his gaze on the Johnsons, the cursed Kennedies of pharmaceuticals—a family who, with every generation, find themselves at the center of celebrity and political scandal. . . . The book is an impressive example of journalistic synthesis, bringing together bits of tabloid journalism not usually connected (playing celebrity connect-the-dots is half the book's fun) around a strong narrative core [about] a family whose money can buy influence and power, but comes with costly personal consequences.” —Publishers Weekly

"A prolific biographer of the rich and infamous, Oppenheimer digs into five generations of the Johnson family . . . detailing their mind-boggling personal wealth. . . . A fast-paced chronicle of births, courtings, marriages, divorces, estrangements, bitter lawsuits, drug and alcohol abuses, crimes, memorable deaths and other unpleasantness. . . . A character-driven saga suggesting that the spoiled rich are their own worst enemies." —Kirkus Reviews

“A wicked debunking of Stewart’s carefully crafted persona.” —People on Just Desserts

“After reading House of Hilton, you'll wonder why anyone wouldn't beg to be dropped from the speed dial of a family that makes the Osbournes look like the Brady Bunch.”
The New York Times


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Customer Reviews

Just like the saying goes- Money won't buy happiness.
gpangel
This book is simply awful, and I urge those reading this review NOT to buy it or waste your time checking it out of the library.
Barbara D.
Two far more interesting books, both better written, told this story already.
JM Reviews Books

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Famolari TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Crazy Rich is the story of the highly dysfunctional Johnson family, the ones who brought you the band-aid, Modess, and Johnson's Baby Powder along with other medical innovations like sterile surgical dressings. While the book tells the tales of the many Johnson problems: multiple divorces, drug addiction, and alcoholism to name a few; the focus is on Woody Johnson, a member of the third generation, who found an identity apart from the family as the owner of the Jets and major bundler for the GOP.

Although the focus is on Woody, the book begins and ends with him plus an internal chapter, Woody's Secrets, recounts his accident prone adolescence, there are plenty of tales of the rest of the family, from Robert Wood Johnson, the General, who forced all his family members out of the company to maintain personal control to his brother Seward, Sr. who in his old age married his chambermaid, Basia, and left her his millions much to the chagrin of his children. The court battle that resulted titillated Princeton when I lived there.

I recommend this book. It has many outlandish tales of Johnson escapades, primarily dysfunctional marriages and bitter divorces, but it also tells the story of a family who revolutionized health care. The three brothers of the first generation were very good business men, ready to capitalize on a good idea. Robert Wood Johnson in the second generation kept the company together with an iron hand. Perhaps this is what the company needed. The family needed to branch out into other pursuits, but generally were unsuccessful in doing so. This is what makes Woody Johnson's story the most interesting in the third generation.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Books4Tomorrow on August 31, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Where do I even start with this review? My overall impression can be summarized in one word: un-befreaking-lievable! Seriously. Crazy Rich is most certainly a fitting title for this biography in more than one way. The lives these people have been living since the start of this dynasty are mind-boggling at the very least. At a whopping almost-five-hundred pages, Crazy Rich is a magnificently in-depth, tell-all read. And still I feel all that is only the tip of the iceberg and merely a glance at the lives of the Johnson heirs. While reading, I time and again asked myself: whose reality is this? It's like reading a fairy tale gone wrong. You have the riches, the power, the influence and all the glory which makes it a fairytale read, but then you also have the scandals, drugs, narcissism and people who are definitely not in touch with what I perceive as reality. Yet, I very much enjoyed this read. I, like almost everyone else, know the Johnson & Johnson products, but I've never heard of any of these people before. Oppenheimer did a stellar job with this book and clearly put a lot of effort into compiling a book which, in my humble opinion, gives an unbiased view of this dynasty. If you go into it looking for scandals, drama or anything painting them in a negative light, you will surely find it. If, like me, you don't care either way what these people did or do with their lives and their millions, and only read it because you're curious about how this world famous product line started, you'll find that and so much more. What I love about Crazy Rich is that everyone will have a different opinion about this book once they've finished it, and it makes for a coffee table must-have that would be a central point in starting topics of discussion which could ultimately lead to various debates and opinions. Highly recommended!
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Nobody on August 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The subject matter appealed to me, so I pre-ordered this book before there was a free sample available. Bad idea. If I'd read the sample, I would have known this wasn't the book for me. I started it last night but did not stick with it very long because a) the writing is incredibly clunky, and 2) in the little bit I read, there was already some repetition (indicating this would be a padded tale). Also, there was a huge stretch made by the author when comparing the Johnsons and the Kennedys, attempting to show "meaningful" parallels between the two families. That, in turn, demonstrated the kind of reasoning the author uses. It served as a red flag -- warning me that he employs faulty logic to reach bizarre conclusions. Thankfully, Amazon makes returning an e-book very easy, so I did.
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42 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Robert B. Lamm on September 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I find this book disturbing on so many levels, including that I enriched the author by paying for it and then actually reading - and finishing - it.

Like many people, I have my guilty pleasures, and one of them is schadenfreude. And, like it or not, there is something comforting about knowing that having tons of money doesn't cure all evils (and, in fact, may create some). But Mr. Oppenheimer takes it to a whole new and base level. I'm ordinarily not a fan of armchair psychiatry, but I have to wonder about what motivates him to keep track of the problems and peccadillos of the rich and famous and to write about them in such egregious and excessive detail. And lest you think that his litany is limited to the nominal subjects of the book - i.e., the Johnson family and their progeny - think again; he rarely mentions anyone, even anecdotally, without pointing out some slime in their background. For example, he has several references to Kirk and Michael Douglas, as the former's wife was a sister-in-law to one of the Johnson heirs, so there is some legitimacy in mentioning them from time to time. However, in the course of these mentions, he has to point out that Kirk was a philanderer, that Michael claimed to have been a sex addict, and that Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael's second wife, was hospitalized for bipolar disorder. In another case, he mentions that Arnold Schwarzenegger was a guest in a bed-and-breakfast owned for a time by a Johnson heir and - again - goes out of his way to remind us that the Governator fathered a child by a housekeeper while married to Maria Shriver, who is an heir to another troubled family (like we didn't know that).
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