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Comment: The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text is not obscured or unreadable.
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Howard Hughes: The Secret Life Paperback – October 21, 2004

2.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though the author claims he aims to show his subject's "crucial role not only in aviation and movie-making but in major political affairs," this gossipy book mainly concerns the bisexual lusts and personal quirks of Howard Hughes (1905-1976). In sometimes overwrought style, Higham, biographer of Katherine Hepburn and Errol Flynn, describes how the eccentric tycoon, who backed such films as The Outlaw , indulged his sexual tastes on screen, how his favors for the CIA (e.g., leasing a Bahamian island as a base for dirty tricks in Cuba) aided his companies, Hughes Tool and Hughes Aircraft, and how he bought large chunks of Las Vegas in 1967. Hughes apparently spent six-hour stretches on the toilet, made humiliating demands of his bodyguards and stashed underage starlets in isolated, elegant houses in Bel Air and Beverly Hills. While some of Higham's contentions are buttressed by witnesses, some of the most incendiary--such as his claim that Hughes's sexuality was malformed as a teenager, when his uncle seduced him; that Hughes may have died of AIDS; and that Hughes played a key role in the Watergate break-in--are speculative. Photos not seen by PW. First serial to National Enquirer.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

An outing of the billionaire closet bisexual by Higham, whose bios include lives of Cary Grant, Brando, Orson Welles, the Duchess of Windsor, and L.B. Mayer, among others. Higham does his research an injustice by insisting on printing much sexual hearsay as fact (and hinting that Hughes died of an AIDS-like disease), especially since he has done as much homework on Hughes's business and monetary activities as he did on Wallis Windsor and Mayer. The first half of Hughes's life fascinates with his immense network of seductions as he forms one movie company to assuage his voyeuristic needs and buys another to continue them- -while also running Hughes Tool, TWA, and other businesses--and meanwhile breaking an around-the-world aircraft speed record and building the gigantic Spruce Goose military transport (a white elephant of no use whatsoever). This is all before his psychic collapse into fear of large-scale germ warfare via Kleenex, a mental illness that Higham suggests Hughes picked up from his mother, a monumental cleanliness nut. As for the bisexual hearsay, Higham says he got it from Lawrence Quirk, nephew of Photoplay publisher James Quirk, who got it straight from Hughes's bisexual uncle Rupert Hughes, who got it from Hughes himself during a confessional outpouring. Higham says that Hughes's ``sexual partners were not so much lovers as hostages, prisoners or victims of his will; he had to dominate in everything.'' The author tells of Hughes's descent into Hollywood S&M, and as for his news about Hughes paying off Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon: It may not be new, but it comes strongly documented. The recluse's last years are...ripe--he even takes to storing his urine in Mason jars. Undeniably a hypnotic portrait of a great American monster. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (November 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312329970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312329976
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Guernon on March 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
Like many new readers to the Hughes tale, I picked up Howard Hughes: The Secret Life (the bookstore was out of Citizen Hughes). Given the preface and afterword of the book, associating itself to the Martin Scosese film,The Aviator, I was misled to think it would be a correspondingly detailed and insightful account of Hughes successes and personal demons (with words instead of pictures). Instead it was the worst sort of puerile incoherence; the caliber of literature which is often hailed in bathroom stalls and tea parties. In fact, I was a bit surprised not to see "Hughes Eats It!", or "For a good time call HH" somewhere in the book.

The events are not approached with any linear semblance and dates and events bounce back and forth. There is very little structure to the varied liasons attributed to Hughes, and none of them offer a scintilla of insight as to why Hughes was engaged in them, and how it affected his business, reputation, etc. The author has, a particularly, hard time working, a comma, into a sentence, with any literary aptitude. Some of his conjectures are simple falisity and are in direct opposition to verified accounts, in numerous text (see his insinuation of what when on at San Simeon....in short that type of open behavior was forbidden at the Hearst Castle and violators were sent packing (literally)-not to say that it didn't happen, but not at the level Mr. Higman suggests. Additionally he fails to properly index the book, leading references off the index altogether. Stylistically, formatting and content wise this book falls harder then Hughes on Bell Air Drive.

It almost seems that Mr. Higham had something personal against Mr. Hughes (and certainly had a lot of choices to pick from). But an academic interest of Hughes is not served in this book.
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Format: Paperback
Of all the Howard Hughes biographies that are currently available to tie in with the recent film, this is easily the worst. The book is filled with hearsay and speculation on the author's part and attempts to bring his subject down and make him less than human. Higham attempts to get into Hughes' head in order to put a 'dirty' spin on just about everything. Some of the claims the author makes concerning Hughes' sexuality are incorrect-- the FBI report on Hughes never found evidence of homosexuality-- and some of the 'stories,' such as his relationship with Cary Grant, are truly ridiculous in how they are described and are insulting to both Hughes and Grant. This is a revisionist biography that does more harm than good; its sole purpose is to titilate rather than inform us with the facts.
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Format: Paperback
This is one book about Howard Hughes that should be returned to the book seller if bought without reading it first. The author, an Englishman, apparently tries to be "popular" in America by being clinically dirty. His "shocking" revelations have no references, and he seems to be a grand master of the "he undoubtedly said..." school of research. The book certainly does not belong in a family library, and as far as university libraries go, it has no scholarly value.
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Format: Paperback
I picked this up at a sale for $1.50; I should have kept that cash. I am a huge fan of biographies, since you learn not only about that person, but also about the history going on in the world at that time. This book is not very good in any way. It lacks the basic academic credentials you would expect a high school research paper to have. "Facts" are thrown out with no footnotes, no sources, and usually have no meaning. This is a private individual who affected America's course through aviation, interactions and influence on the CIA, Nixon, etc. His father invented, and Hughes furthered, the drill bit upon which billions has been made, and entire countries shaped based on that oil revenue. Yet this drill bit is mentioned as an aside, since the author needs to focus on supposed homosexual encounters with actors. Honestly, I can't believe this book was published. It's a gossip rag thrown together in order to make a buck. I deploy to Afghanistan every other year and always bring a ton of books with me, usually softcover so I can leave them behind in the USO or airports for other service-members. I don't even want this in my house on my bookshelf. This is not because of the salaciousness in its pages, but rather I don't want my teenage son to read this book and think this is how an academic writes a book - it is all rumors, innuendo, and insignificant details. So many historic events happened during this time - Prohibition, WWI, WWII, Great Depression, Vietnam, etc. Yet this book glosses over these events, failing to investigate in detail the influence of Hughes on these events.

Argh, I am annoyed I bought this book and took it with me overseas. What a waste of space in my seabag! I forced myself to read 50 straight pages, then flipped through the rest hoping to find some references, footnotes, or something to save it. Nada. This is going in the burn pit, not the USO's bookshelf.
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Format: Paperback
This book is not really a biography of Hughes, but instead appears to be an expanded tabloid article that alleges that Hughes had sexual relations with just about everyone, and the burning question is--- "WHO CARES?"

It also has a very enlightening section on Hughes' problem with irregularity.

This book is worthless garbage. It's not even a good wheel chock.
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