Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Carpetbaggers Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2007
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"Robbins's books are packed with action, sustained by a strong narrative drive, and are given vitality by his own colorful life." The Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The book gives us a twenty year glimpse into the life of Jonas Cord. Cord turns everything he touches into money while his own life is falling apart. The interesting thing about this novel is not really the story it tells but the way in which the story is told.
Told through the lives of the people Cord comes into contact with, Robbins gives us enough material for five novels let alone one. Here we have the history of the early twentieth century through the lives of a ex-gunfighter, a Hollywood actress, a movie company executive, and the proverbial prostitute with the heart of gold.
Robbins research into his time period was exhaustive and his storytelling ability is flawless. If there is a problem with the novel it is that it tends to go a little too deep for a little too long. No one character can be so much a part of the times that he is involved in so many historical events.
Part of the fun of any novel of this type is discovering who the major characters were based on. Cord is a clear pictue of Howard Hughes while Rina Marlow seems to be loosely based on Jean Harlow.
The reader needs to become immersed in this novel. One does not so much as read it but lives the lives of these characters if only for a little while. You let this one take you away and you embark on one hell of a ride.
Pop fiction like this is like candy. It does not stimulate great or exciting thought but it sure is fun. Isn't that the reason for reading in the first place?
One of the very first references is when Jonas Cord is landing his plane - the landing field is apparently like a female naked body. In a short period of time, Jonas' father dies, and he is immediately raping his step-mom, Rina. He then sleeps his way across the US. He's got a naked daughter upstairs while he negotiates business with the father downstairs. You learn that Rina had slept with her adopted brother for many years as a teen, even becoming pregnant. Rina then made advances on her adopted father, which he rejects in horror. She becomes a bi-sexual for a while, living with her lesbian female teacher in France while also being mistress to an older man.
While most of these things might seem ho-hum in modern times, to the 1961 audience, it was incredibly shocking. It would have been enough to put in one such item in the book and to give it meaning - but the situations were just piled one on top of the other in order to keep further shocking the reader. Jennie is drugged and raped! Then she goes to work for an abortionist! Then she has an affair with him, even though he was married! Then she becomes a high-paid whore! There's little chance to develop the character in here, except as the repeated victim of horror after horror.
I'm not saying the book is not engrossing. It's 679 pages, and I read it in a single night. But it's more like watching a train wreck, rather than enjoying a good story. I don't mind reading about sex, but the situations were very contrived. The story was focussed on those sex details vs the other things that went on in peoples lives that helped to define them.
I was bothered by the many stereotypes in the story. It's about sexy, handsome white rich people. There are a few jewish people - and they are not portrayed very well at all. I believe there's one black person - the butler who is the 'wise dutiful loyal silent type'. The American Indian woman is dutiful and quiet (and of course goes through an explicitly sexual rite before marriage, described in bloody detail).
I also disliked the ending of the story. After everything else that went on, it was way too contrived and neat. POOF, characters that really didn't have that much in common suddenly decide to live happily ever after. There are a number of huge plot holes, but I won't give away story details by revealing those. There are occasional sentence structure errors that make it unclear who is speaking, which means you have to re-read a page twice to get the gist of how the discussion progresses.
But that all being said, it is interesting how the book is broken up into sections, each about a certain person, and how you go back in time to learn why they became the way they were. It's interesting to hear what people in the 60s thought about culture. There are all sorts of "laugh with me!" references, as people back in the "old days" (the story begins in the 20s) think talking movies won't catch on, that plastics is a strange new item, and that World War II will never begin.
This is a book to read to understand what the 60s was all about, as people moved from the staid, quiet days of the 50s into the more free-wheeling times of the 60s. It's also a book to read just because it's one of the top selling books of all time, to be able to discuss the ideas in it if someone else brings the topic up. Just don't expect anything very enlightening!