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King Larry: The Life and Ruins of a Billionaire Genius Hardcover – January 10, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416589228
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416589228
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #861,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James D. Scurlock studied at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania before dropping out to pursue an entrepreneurial venture and later a documentary film career. His first film, Parents of the Year, won numerous awards and was an official selection of more than twenty-five film festivals. His first feature-length documentary, Maxed Out, explored our culture of debt and won the Special Jury Prize at South by Southwest. His first book, a companion to the award-winning documentary, was nominated for the National MS Society's "Books for a Better Life" Award. He has written, primarily about the impending (and now realized) financial crisis, for Slate, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, and AARP Magazine, among others. He has also appeared on numerous programs, including Nightline, The Today Show, and CNBC’s Power Lunch. Scurlock lives in Santa Monica, California.

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Customer Reviews

Very interesting book.
Mary Carlson
The writing jumps around a lot and expends too much time on characters and events surrounding Larry, rather than painting a clear narrative of Larry himself.
SlippySlappy
The publishers should have fact-checked the book before sending it to print.
saipanblogger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By NonFictionOnly on February 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Seems like the other reviewers have kind of beat me to the punch, so I'll try to be pithy.

That the life of Larry Hillblom is only now being chronicled will amaze anyone who reads this book. Hillblom was both a revolting creep, and a brilliant businessman. His ability to outwit and outmaneuver virtually every adversary almost reads like the stuff of cheesy fiction until you realize it's all based on really well researched facts. Hillblom was also a pedophile who wasted much of his wealth fueling the (often underage) sex industry in SE Asia, an unfortunate and glaring footnote in this business biography. Larry's pedophilia aside, the book is indeed gripping, and almost reads like a movie just aching to be made.

Yes, the legal details were a bit much at times, but the minutiae nearly always seemed to have a purpose. And yes, the pedophilia and sex did seem to be more of a footnote than you'd expect from an enlightened, western author. But if Scurlock's purpose was to make a book that told a more complete story about Hillblom without becoming a rant on his many imperfections (which include abhorent, immoral behavior), then Scurlock succeeded. Hillblom was clearly a flawed, perverse, even depraved sex addict who also happened to be a visionary who transformed an entire industry almost single-handedly. Not many biographies (including that of Jobs) can make such a claim on their subject.

King Larry isn't perfect, but for a non-fiction biography, it's damn close. Couldn't recommend it more highly!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nona on March 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
King Larry is a little gem of a book. It describes the rise and fall of Larry Hillblom, the founder of DHL. Hillblom's success as a businessman stands in stark contrast to his failings as a person. He created a great company, but cheated on his taxes and chased, and caught, young virgins across Oceania.

Scurlock does a great job describing the details of just how Hillblom pushed the limits in creating his main business and his later investments; and how he continued to push the line in his personal life.

Scurlock creates a uniform picture of Hillblom the man. At the same time, however, Scurlock, acknowledges the mystery of Hillblom's life and death and intentionally makes us wonder if the picture that he paints is complete. It is hard to believe a man as smart as Hillblom, who actually wrote a legal opinion on the rights of unacknowledged heirs, never anticipated that his many children would surface after his death. Maybe the Hillblom will litigation was a gift to his kids, or maybe he just never got around to dealing with issue. We will never know.

The book is a quick read and would be good companion on a plane. It is an interesting detour from the usual airport escapism and actually makes the reader think about the how the same qualities that led to success in business, may have led to personal disaster.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By wolfie@netpci.com on March 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book was a fun read. Having lived on Pohnpei in the mid- to late 1980's, and Guam since then, I have been acquainted with many of the people mentioned in the book even if I never met "King Larry" and was never directly involved in any of his legal battles. Most, although not all, of the descriptions of people and places I know rang true. Still, small but glaring errors made me wonder what else in the book might be wrong. In discussing the battle for control of Air Micronesia, the author repeatedly gets the name of the first president of the Federated States of Micronesia wrong. Would you completely trust a biography of some prominent figure in North America in the latter half of the 18th century if there were repeated references to U.S. "President Washburn"? With Google, the author and his editors should have been able to find President Tosiwo Nakayama's correct name as easily as a Micronesian could confirm the name George Washington.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By vjstravino on January 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many folks have said they should and would pen the story of Larry Hillblom, but only Scurlock has carried out the task. As the reader will find out, Hillblom was an interesting, weird fellow. Not only did he create a major international company out of nothing, but he found a tiny Pacific island that he could easily manipulate for his own motives. He, literally, became King (or kingmaker) in the Marianas due to his fantastic wealth and will. His mysterious death in a plane accident and, subsequent, emergence of illegitimate heirs born out of wedlock to young Asian virgins elevates this tale to something truly out of the ordinary. The messy political and legal bloodbath over his billion dollar estate is enough to make anyone swear off going to law school.

Give Scurlock credit as many other worthy writers have given up on this task as the digging, distance and due diligence must have been overwhelming. He lays down the story in three parts rather well. Early on, Hilbloom is portrayed as a true underdog character taking on building a new, exciting company and sticking it to the Big Guys. He seems likable despite the fact that he has few, if any, redeeming qualities except being an exceptionally motivated, hard worker and "the rich boss." As the tale progresses, however, Hilbloom cocoons himself in his protected Micronesian Hamlet by propping up politicians and business deals by intimidation, legal maneuvers and sheer bully wealth. A true sense of his personality evaded me as a great deal was made over his idiosyncrasies like his shabby dress, diet, and, eventually, his sexual depravity. The story is patched together through the eyes of business associates, yes men, adversaries, court documents and a fair number of hangers on.
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