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HOWARD HUGHES Hardcover – Import, 1977

4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: COLLINS; 1St Edition edition (1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002113651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002113656
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,264,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dan Mohr on May 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
I think I originally got a copy of this book at Goodwill, probably 50 of the best cents I ever spent on anything. This is a seriously terrifying and incredible book, documenting the last 20 years of Howard Hughes' life, from the point when the billionaire's obsessive-compulsive disorder began to dominate his everyday existence - basically right where Martin Scorsese's terrific 2004 bio-pic of Hughes' earlier years, The Aviator, leaves things off. (Although written in 1977, you can almost imagine author James Phelan's picking up the story at the very moment where Scorsese leaves Leonardo DiCaprio-as-Howard Hughes at the movie's end, locked and isolated in a darkened restroom, physically scarred by his near-death aviation experiences, driven to paranoia by constant Congressional investigations, unable to stop muttering to himself, "the way of the future...")

Phelan's biography concentrates on the darkest chapters of Hughes' life - how his unbelievable wealth allowed him to fight off all medical treatments and exams and instead sequester himself for years at a time in totally secluded hotel rooms in Las Vegas, Canada and South America, suffering in an almost Beckett-esque cyclical daily hell of obsession with minutiae, paperwork and personal hygiene, all the while allowing his immediate surroundings to deteriorate month after month to skid-row-junkie levels of filth - incredibly, with wait staff at his 24-hour beck and call right around the corner. There would be days when Hughes would page his employees & have his soup sent back 40 times to be cooled down or re-heated again, to his exact specifications of temperature, with no questions asked.
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Format: Hardcover
After watching "The Aviator," my interest in Hughes was piqued, and I subsequently picked up this book again, after first reading it in the late 70's. I consumed it in a day this time. It hasn't lost its relevance and intrigue after all these years. The story of Hughes remains equally fascinating and tragic. This book captures and relates that atmosphere splendidly. Phelan is a professional writer who crafts his material well.
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Format: Hardcover
Investigative journalist extraordinaire James Phelan stays true to the subtitle of his book -- "The Hidden Years" -- and rather than tread familiar territory by writing a lengthy biography of Howard Hughes, including his famed early years, he takes the reader behind the veil of secrecy that surrounded the bizarre final years of the reclusive billionaire.
Relying mainly on the recollections of Hughes' personal assistants during this period of Hughes' self-enforced asylum, Phelan takes the reader through a veritable fun house featuring the many eccentric behaviors of his subject.
How would you like to live your life if you were a well-known, high-powered ladies' man and had a billion dollars? Chances are you wouldn't shrink yourself down to 90 or so pounds on a 6-foot-4 frame and live your life in seclusion, shooting drugs and watching the same movies for nearly two decades.
Hughes -- who had many phobias -- was an island unto himself and if you're looking for his motivation, you won't be able to find it any more successfully than his inner circle, which was kept in the dark by the mysterious, highly connected recluse.
Any writing class will teach you not to write a book about about a "man in a bathtub," that it's tough to hold your readers' attention when not much is going on to the naked eye. Phelan rises to this challenge -- and then some. The book is full of solid information on the Hughes empire, which continued to function through a small cadre of individuals who were only too happy to take Hughes' money, keep their mouths shut and let the old guy waste away in oblivion.
If you are intrigued by the bizarre, this well-written book is for you. If you saw the movie "The Aviator" and want an exposition of the early Hughes, look elsewhere. In short, the book is a perfect illustration of the irony of man who "had it all" and had nothing at the same time.
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Format: Hardcover
Phelan was a reporter with close ties to the US intelligence community (documents show that he was an FBI informant during the Jim Garrison investigation in the late 1960s). His "instant book" on Hughes, rushed out right after the billionaire's death, relied entirely on two lower-level members of the Hughes entourage as sources. It features no footnotes, bibliography or index.

He decried the "cult of conspiracy" that had grown up around Hughes, and the CIA is mentioned in only two places in the entire place. Despite the fact that Phelan was friendly with Robert Maheu (Hughes' right-hand man who was heavily involved in the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Castro). Peter Dale Scott has written that it was difficult to delineate where Hughes' companies ended and the CIA began.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was very helpful information for a book I am writing that features Howard Hughes at one point, in my chapter called "Mormon Mafia."
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