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Empire: The Life, Legend, and Madness of Howard Hughes Paperback – January, 1981

4.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Paperback, January, 1981
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Though he rose to fame after a record-setting flight around the world and the construction of an unprecedented fleet of airplanes, aerospace industry icon Howard Hughes wasted millions of dollars in production, swindled taxpayers through self-serving philanthropy projects and regularly lied to stockholders. In his spare time he worked for Joe McCarthy, was an avid supporter of segregation and nearly destroyed himself through drugs. In this biography of Hughes, authors David Barlett and James Steele reveal the dark, often unlawful, existence that can accompany an American success story. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

This meticulously detailed and well-written biography strips the glamour from the Howard Hughes legend . . . -- Library Journal, Mark Annichiarico --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 687 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (January 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393000257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393000252
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,392,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Donald Bartlett and James Steel's book, "Empire: The Life, Legend, and Madness of Howard Hughes" is an excellent example of journalistic reporting converted into book form; the book is simply fascinating to read. The authors accomplish the gargantuan task of separating fact from fiction in the very complex life of Howard Hughes. "Empire" is impeccably researched and documented; It is a bona fide biography that reads more like fiction than real life-such was the world of Howard Hughes.

"Empire" traces the rise and tragic fall of Howard Hughes; a man who wore many hats, he was an aviator, Hollywood movie producer, Las Vegas hotel/casino owner ... and a recluse. For one brief shining moment, Hughes was considered one of America's premier aviators, breaking flying records, but then falling out of grace with government and the aviation industry for breaking contract deadlines. In the long run, Howard Hughes would become a grand failure in the world of big business.

Bartlett and Steel show the reader a man who had everything to live for, good looks, fame, fortune, power and prestige, but he was unable to triumph over his social and physical phobias that led to psychological, emotional, and physical illnesses and to his final descent into the dwellings of the insane. Hughes' deep mistrust of all people-even family, worked against him and led to his demise and the lose of his billion dollar empire by the very people whose job it was to safeguard him and his empire.

By the time I finished reading "Empire: The Life, Legend, and Madness of Howard Hughes, I was much more accepting of my status as a non wealthy individual. Although Howard Hughes had everything a man could possibly wish for, he was underprivileged in peace of mind.... The authors do a superb job in separating fact from myth in the life of Howard Hughes. The book is worth reading.
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Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic account of the life of Howard Hughes. The book moves deftly through Hughe's life from beginning to end, from a man that refuses to give consideration to other people's suggestions and advice to a withered shell that is practically canabalized by the many companies he created. With his mind and body failing, Hughe's "assistants" become more and more empowered. The book is often punctuated with Hughe's truely bizarre memos and notes to his assistants. They cast Hughes in what would now be considered an obsessive compulsive personality.
This book is well written, from his days as a youth to his germ phobic self imposed exile.
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Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic book, if you need to read a real and thorough biography about Howard Hughes. I mean, it is so thorough, that you can find anything you possibly want to know (if you study HH as a scholarly subject or just curious)... you can find anything, but the speculations about his private life. This book is not about speculations, it is a REAL RESEARCH. It is done chronologically and it has many appendices, that discuss everything, from significant dates in HH's life to the financial statements of his company and his finances throughout his life. I, personally, don't have any warm feelings towards the character of HH as a historical figure (quite to the contrary...as a matter of fact I dislike him), but the authors of this book deserve all the praise, they can possibly get.
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Format: Paperback
"Empire: The Life, Legend, and Madness of Howard Hughes" is indeed an empire within itself. This book manages to expose the life of a very seceretive and private man of power who lived in his own unique way in the world. An incredible book about an incredible man...
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Format: Paperback
After reading other books on Howard Hughes, I thought this book would be a waste of my time since I'd "read everything else" but little did I know that this book went into such detail of his life, exposing in great detail specifics that other books briefly mentioned.
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By A Customer on December 16, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the first book I had read about Mr. Hughes. A wonderful book. At times slightly more detailed than I would like.. Buts lots of great information about truly one of the most interesting characters of the 20th century.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book answers the question, "How did he get to be that way?" It delves deeply into his relationship with his mother (and lack of one with his father) and follows him into adulthood. He seems a little eccentric but still within the normal range for most of his early life. He lived lavishly, but his demons caught up with him eventually. The pity is it didn't have to be that way.

I read this book when it was on the Best Sellers list. Howard Hughes was the subject of one of my papers for a psychology class and this book was my main source.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Life, Legend, and Madness offers an in-depth view into the secretive life of Howard Hughes. Unbiased in its writing, the book focuses on all of Hughes accomplishments and successes, as well as some of the darker aspects of his life. After reading this book, one can really see that Hughes is one of the few "larger than life" characters that ever lived.

Hughes played an integral role in shaping this country, a role unknown to many of today's younger generations. Donald Barlett and James Steele do an amazing job detailing both his accomplishments and private life. Some of his endeavors are less obvious today than others, such as helping transform Las Vegas into the resort town we know today. Many people are unfamiliar with the Hughes Medical Institute or the creations from the Hughes Aircraft Company. Although the book does show his odd lifestyle behind the darkened windows and closed doors, it is fair in that it also accurately focuses on his important business dealings.

The popular movie "The Aviator" seems to be scripted largely from the first half of this book. To fully appreciate the movie, I recommend reading this particular book first. Not only will it help clarify references that may slip by in the movie, but this book shows that Hughes was much more than a movie producer who flirted with Hollywood's divas of the day. He was a master engineer, expert businessman, and defender of Democracy (he furiously fought Communists). Innovative people like Hughes is what America is all about.
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