I wanted to understand more about Howard Hughes and had good expectations that this book would enlighten me. However I gave up after Part 1 - it was a long dry litany of names, places and events - no insight or comment upon Hughes life and the man himself. Do yourself a favour and give this one a miss.
Avid reader of history, biography, and true crime.
This could well be 'the most exciting bio of the year'. Poor old Howard Hughes, who really had nothing much apart from his looks and his vast fortune, would be turning in his grave to know how much of his private life is now public and how many of his secrets are in the public domain. His strange rituals and habits are morbidly fascinating, but in the end I just felt sorry for him. Life lived and ended almost entirely in one filthy room, filled with drugs and attended by people who cared more about themselves than about him is a terrible way to go.
The book is very good at detailing the life of Hughes on a personal level. Hack has uncovered all the girlfriends, marriages (real and sham), and bizarre behaviors of Hughes himself.
What the book does not do, is tell one how Hughes actually accomplished his incredible business career. How did he do it? This is the main question I was hoping to have answered, and the book provides very little information or insight into this.
Compare, for example, "Lawrence in Arabia," by Scott Anderson. For me, Anderson really cleared up that mystery for me -- how did someone like TE Lawrence have such a huge (or "Hughes") impact on the Middle East?
Somehow, for example, Hughes Aircraft goes from a garage shop business, producing a few stunt airplanes, to a major high-tech defense contractor, with tens of thousands of employees, and an ability to build such things as satellites, or retrieve sunken nuclear submarines.
Also, how did Hughes Tool, the golden goose of the Hughes fortune, keep operating at such an industry-leading position for so many decades? I've never heard of a company, particularly a company as large as Hughes Tool, that can just run on autopilot.
Hughes must have had an amazing ability at picking capable people, and then, somehow, keeping them motivated, year after year.
How did someone who had so little formal education, teach himself to navigate the most sophisticated upper-reaches of the American capitalist system?
I think Hack would have written a truly great book, if he had edited out a lot of the details, of Hughes' bizarre and mentally-ill personal behavior. Ultimately, such details become repetitive and pointless -- yes, we understand Hughes had serious mental issues, but then what?
If Hack insists on giving so much detail, on Hughes' mental illness, he should at least offer some insight into it. It is only at the very end of the book, where Hack presents just one psychological evaluation of Hughes. This one psychological evaluation is very limited and offers almost no insight, other than to say that Hughes seems to have internalized the fear of illnesses his mother had -- a totally obvious observation, that doesn't require a psychology degree to deduce.
Given that Hughes was so incredibly secretive and bizarre, Hack does deserve great credit, for unearthing and re-assembling, the broken and scattered pieces of Hughes' shattered life.
However, the process of just assembling all this information seems to have exhausted Hack, or at least the patience of his publisher, with no time left to really analyze the material he collected. That is the next step, and that is when the "definitive" biography will be written.
I am a 30 year old over-the-road truck driver. I listen to A LOT of audiobooks!
I have always been fascinated by Howard Hughes, but there are a lot of strange and questionable stories about him floating around. I liked the no-nonsense, factual approach of the author.
Howard Hughes. BECAUSE THE BOOK IS ABOUT HIM!
I have never listened to any of his other performances so this question is moot.
Non-fiction books don't usually evoke emotions in me. I was extremely fascinated by almost every aspect of the book.
A great read for a history buff, avation buff, Hughes buff, pretty much anyone. It will really capture you and you won't want to stop listening.
A comprehensive biography of the enigma that was Howard Hughes. It is well-written and the narrator in the audiobook is very adept at imitating the voice of HRH.
The book causes you to think about the man that much of America once admired, and before long you realize he had a deplorable secret life that thought little of other people except for what he could get from them and how he could control them. It's a sad commentary that for all his wealth and hard work, he descended into an obsessive madness in the last years of his life. I found myself having pity for him, and thinking of how his life could have been so very different.
I do recommend this book for anyone who enjoys biographies and anyone who has even a slight interest in the life of Mr. Hughes
Middlemarch, Middlesex, Middlebrow
This is the lively and fascinating story of a brilliant creep with a serious personality disorder, which seems to have matched his times and social milieu perfectly. He appears literally to have been unstoppable by physics or law enforcement, until succumbing to a dreary and debilitating brand of "meshugas". Being under 75, I had to Google pictures of his female conquests, but, I must say, he did phenomenally well in that department. Money, however, is just money.
Unfortunately, the writing is barely literate. For instance, the word "that" is used uniformly and annoyingly when "which", "who", or "whom" is called for. The reader amplifies the effect by stumbling over words, such as, "camaraderie" and coming up with at least three unique mispronunciations of "Domergue".
I was riveted by this fascinating insight into this strange and complicated man. The title says it all as the story proved extemely well researched and equally compelling.
I have always been fascinated by Hughes and his life and this biography was behind-the-scenes factual as well as entertaining.
Who can resist a story of such an enormously wealthy man mixed with a descent into madness?
Howard Hughes lead a life of nutty and/or brilliant behaviors--performed over and over again. But he never had the personal growth or relationships that make for a compelling biography.