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Howard Hughes: Power, Paranoia & Palace Intrigue Hardcover – February 15, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Stephens Press LLC (February 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932173595
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932173598
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This rambling account of the eccentric, reclusive billionaire stresses Hughes's relationship with Las Vegas, where he spent much of his adult life. Vegas reporter Schumacher draws upon research from other books, interviews and a lifetime of covering his native city to produce an entertaining volume about a relentlessly fascinating character. Hughes (1904–1976) became famous as a producer of such Hollywood classics as Hell's Angels, The Front Page and Scarface. Applying his energy to aviation, he designed planes, broke speed records and founded TWA and Hughes Aircraft. Schumacher swiftly covers these accomplishments, then focuses on the last 30 years of Hughes's life. It is a lively record of business deals, legal battles and personality clashes as Hughes's peculiarities and drug use degenerate into serious addiction and obsessive germophobia. Hughes spent his last decade as a secluded, unwashed, unshaved invalid with attendants who overlooked his best interests. Ignoring chronology, Schumacher's book reads like a series of well-researched, opinionated newspaper articles that include cameos by famous supporting characters like Jane Russell and vignettes about the fight over his estate and Clifford Irving's fake Hughes autobiography. Readers should look elsewhere for an organized biography, but they will find plenty to enjoy in this scattershot collection. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Anyone who wants a better idea of the man behind the myth should read this book. There are many, many books on Hughes out there, but few are as lucid as this one." -- David Schwartz, Ph.D., author of Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

"Do we really need another biography of the reclusive and mysterious billionaire Howard Hughes? If the writer is Geoff Schumacher, the answer is a definite yes. Like most journalists, I believe there is inside me the proverbial and quintessential American novel. I just haven't written it yet. As the brilliant writer Peter De Vries once said, "I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork." The same can't be said for Schumacher, who has written not one, but two outstanding, Nevada-centric non-fiction books. (Full disclosure: Schumacher is a former boss, but I won't hold that against him in this review.) His first book, "Sun, Sin & Suburbia: An Essential History of Modern Las Vegas," was an easy-to-read explanation of how the incredible growth in Las Vegas during the '90s came to pass. The inspiration for his second non-fiction piece, "Howard Hughes: Politics, Paranoia & Palace Intrigue," came from the first book, in which a paragraph or two is dedicated to the legendary Hughes. Schumacher is old school, so I can assure you he did his homework with meticulous attention to detail. Along the way he busts a few stubborn myths regarding Hughes and explains how the billionaire impacted Vegas and Nevada for a few years when he essentially treated the city like his own personal kingdom. While Schumacher is able to debunk most rumors, he refused to add fuel to the fire of others if he couldn't find the truth. The most fascinating chapter in the book deals with Melvin Dummar, who reportedly picked up a stranded and very thirsty Hughes in the central Nevada desert. Hughes purportedly left a little something for Dummar in his will, and the ensuing court action made headlines. Schumacher notes many people discredit Dummar's claim but others, like me, believe Melvin. I interviewed him in Tonopah about five years ago and in fact-checking the resultant story I noted Melvin never deviated from his original account. Schumacher goes into depth on the subject and offers perhaps the best and least opinionated observation on this never-ending debate. So why should folks in northeastern Nevada care about yet another book about Las Vegas or one of its former residents? We should care because Nevada's history is a collection that comes from every nook and cranny in the state and Hughes' contribution to our unique past cannot be ignored. He was the most powerful figure in the state until he left in 1970. It wasn't mining that brought Hughes to Nevada in the first place, but it was gold - the kind you find when you own a casino or two - that kept him a hermit high up in the Desert Inn Hotel. Still, Hughes found yet another passion in his life when it came to mining. Schumacher in one chapter recounts how Hughes, one of the first billionaires in the nation, bought scores of mining claims in what would turn out to be a scam. Oh, and one more local angle: It was Howard Hughes who put up the money to save Elko's community college; an institution that might have blown away with the wind if not for this singular act of philanthropy. Schumacher neither demonizes nor defers to Hughes. You get the entire man, warts and all, from his bizarre phobias, to his drug abuse, to his battle to stop above-ground nuclear explosions at the relatively nearby Nevada Test Site. What makes "Howard Hughes: Power, Paranoia & Palace Intrigue" such a good book is not the built-in brilliance of Schumacher's subject -- it is the author's truly uncommon ability to write about a complex man in clear and concise terms. Schumacher accomplishes this by focusing only on Hughes' time in Nevada, from the mid-'60s to 1970, and by ignoring most of the intriguing but ultimately bogus rumors that swirled around one of the most important personalities of the 20th century. I know, I know. You're reading this and thinking, "That McMurdo sure knows how to suck up to the ex-boss." That may or may not be true, but make no mistake: If you have any interest whatsoever in the aviator who built the Spruce Goose, the film director who "discovered" Jane Russell and her ample bosom, or the political activist that played hardball with a federal government hell bent on turning Nevada into a nuclear wasteland, get the book. Hughes did more Big Things in a single life than most people could in three lifetimes, and a life like that is worth examination. I promise you won't be disappointed. In the meantime, I'll continue to believe I have "The Great American Novel" inside me. Maybe." -- Doug McMurdo Elko Daily Free Press

"Everything necessary to know about Howard Hughes without having to read all those other voluminous biographies." -- The Hollywood Liberal

"Finally someone has written the authentic story of Howard R. Hughes, depicting his impact on American business and particularly Las Vegas and the state of Nevada. Geoff Schumacher clearly describes the Hughes evolution in Nevada." -- Bob Maheu, co-author of Next to Hughes: Behind the Power and Tragic Downfall of Howard Hughes by His Closest Advisor

"Pick up a copy of this book and settle in for a bit of nostalgia, a whiff of scandal, and a peek at the wealthy, famous, and odd. "Howard Hughes: Power, Paranoia & Palace Intrigue" is a rich story and a sure bet." -- Santa Ynez Valley Journal

"Schumacher draws upon research from other books, interviews and a lifetime of covering his native city to produce an entertaining volume about a relentlessly fascinating character. Hughes (1905-1976) became famous as a producer of such Hollywood classics as Hell's Angels, The Front Page and Scarface. Applying his energy to aviation, he designed planes, broke speed records and founded TWA and Hughes Aircraft. Schumacher swiftly covers these accomplishments, then focuses on the last 30 years of Hughes's life. It is a lively record of business deals, legal battles and personality clashes as Hughes's peculiarities and drug use degenerate into serious addiction and obsessive germophobia. Hughes spent his last decade as a secluded, unwashed, unshaved invalid with attendants who overlooked his best interests." -- Publishers Weekly -- Publishers Weekly

"Schumacher flipped over lots of rocks in his research for the real story here, and he includes interviews with people who spilled head-shaking, almost-unbelievable tales about America's best-known, strangest hermit." -- Pelican Press

"The list of must-read books about Las Vegas has grown by one with Geoff Schumacher's new book on Howard Hughes. Schumacher puts the entire Howard Hughes-Las Vegas connection in context by providing both new information and a fresh insight." -- Bob Stoldal, veteran Las Vegas television newsman and chairman of Nevada State Board of Museums and History

"[T]his is an intriguing book filled with scandal, scads of money, and surprising sadness. Author Geoff Schumacher lays to rest some enduring Vegas mythology and he dishes a few juicy tidbits that are sure to renew interest in Hughes, a man one District Court Judge called (in the understatement of the decade) "an unusual person." -- Fayetteville Free Weekly

More About the Author

Geoff Schumacher is an author, editor and newspaper executive in Ames, Iowa.

He is the author of "Howard Hughes: Power, Paranoia & Palace Intrigue," published in 2008, and "Sun, Sin & Suburbia: An Essential History of Modern Las Vegas," published in 2004. Both books were published by Stephens Press. A revised and expanded edition of "Sun, Sin & Suburbia" was published in October 2012.

Schumacher was a reporter, editorial writer and city editor for the Las Vegas Sun for 10 years and editor of Las Vegas CityLife for three years. He founded and edited the Las Vegas Mercury, which ceased publishing after a four-year run. He was the director of community publications for Stephens Media, overseeing editorial operations of numerous weekly newspapers and special sections, for seven years. Schumacher also wrote a weekly public affairs column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal for five years and was the founding editor of CityLife Books, an imprint of Stephens Press.

Today, Schumacher is the publisher of the Ames (Iowa) Tribune and several other newspapers in central Iowa.

Schumacher was born in Madison, Wisconsin, grew up in Southern Nevada and earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1988. He is married and has two children.

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schwartz VINE VOICE on February 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
More than four dozens books about Howard Hughes have been published since the 1960s. It would seem that there's little more we can learn about his life. Why, then, should you bother to read another book about Hughes? Because, in addition to being well-written and entertaining, it's the most exact summary of his documented life to date, and because it also has some thoughtful theories on mysteries that still swirl around the erstwhile aviator.

Schumacher's book is a hybrid. In some regards, it's a synthesis of the plethora of previous Hughes works. Schumacher combed through what must have been an endless array of news clippings and tomes of Hughesiana. But he also availed himself of rare and unique primary sources at UNLV Special Collections, the Nevada State Museum and Historical Society, and the treasure troves of private collectors. His thoroughness definitely shows. I doubt there's much about Hughes-particularly his four Las Vegas years-that Schumacher doesn't touch on.

The book starts with a quick summary of Hughes B.V. (before Vegas), then discusses his lesser-known earlier stays in Las Vegas, including his 1943 Lake Mead crash and his purchase of the "Green House," which is still intact on the land of KLAS-TV, in 1953. Then he brings in the story of Hughes' right hand, Bob Maheu. Maheu's story has been well-documented, but seems to gain something by being placed in the context of Hughes.

Here's where business really starts to pick up. As the Hughes roller coaster inches higher up the initial slope, Schumacher stops to describe "what Vegas saw" with a quick chronological survey of contemporary media coverage the Hughes Las Vegas years (1966-1970). The he dives into the real substance of the book-detailed chapters on Hughes in Vegas.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Sharon K. Nichols on February 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book written by Geoff Schumacher is the best I have ever read on Howard Hughes. I worked in the Executive offices at Hughes during the 60's and 70's, and knowing pretty much everyone he interviewed in the book, I would have to say he certainly did his homework. I am still in touch with a few (not many) that are still alive and they agree. It is certainly well worth reading, if you are intrigued by Howard Hughes.
Sharon Nichols
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Vegas Gar on March 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Length: 2:54 Mins
Video review of Howard Hughes: Power, Paranoia & Palace Intrigue. This is a biography of Hughes during his time in Las Vegas. It is a very in depth look at the impact Hughes had (still has) in Vegas. Please watch my video review. Thanks!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By booklover on September 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I bought this for my son and he called me a few days later to say he had finished reading it and was so intrigued he's going to purchase another Hughes biography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By dpopl4ama on September 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A sick man, surrounded my many sick men and women. A rich man but in reality a very poor person.
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