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Publisher's Summary

Howard Hughes lived one of the greatest, most heroic, misunderstood, mysterious, bizarre, and tragic lives in American history. In this brilliantly documented biography, the mythology that surrounded that life is disentangled from the truth.

Hughes had always been different. Certainly his riches set him apart, but he was also tough. Orphaned and a millionaire at 18, Hughes repudiated his relatives, seized control of the Hughes Tool Company, the linchpin of his fortune, and went on to become a flamboyant movie producer, holder of many world aviation records, principal owner of Trans World Airlines, a critically important defense contractor, Hollywood's most pursued and elusive bachelor, and partner of the United States government.

This is an epic biography of an epic figure who bestrode the world like a colossus yet could not master himself.

©1979 Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele (P)1994 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Of all the books written about Howard Hughes, Empire is easily the best...." ( New York Times Book Review)
"A remarkable job of investigative reporting....cracks Hughes's public persona as it disentangles the psychodrama of his private doings." ( Publishers Weekly)
"[The] most responsible and authoritative biography of Hughes to date." Newsweek)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved this from start to finish!

Where does Empire rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top

What did you like best about this story?

The story and the narrator where perfect.

What does Christopher Hurt bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His voice and pacing were wonderful. I could listen to him read the phone book.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

an amazing life

Any additional comments?

listen to it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I want the abridged copy

Howard Hughes was obviously a complex person with a fascinating history. The problem is this book is wrapped in minutiae and a a story that I would love to hear was overpowered by trivial details

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • LOUISVILLE, KY, United States
  • 07-09-12

Too Much Detail on Trivial Matters

Any additional comments?

The book goes on for 30-40 minutes detailing correspondence between Howard's mother and his summer camp leader when Howard was around 7 or 8. "Please make certain Howard has plenty of thick socks for summer activites", "I assure you madame, Howard will have an ample number of socks for the summer", etc., etc. 30 to 40 minutes of this? Seriously? This could have been abridged.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating, Fascinating, Fascinating!!!

I've read several books about Howard Hughes throughout the years, but this book by Donald Bartlett, tops them all!

The author takes us on an intriguing adventure that totally captivates you from start to finish. Hughes, as has been well chronicled throughout the years, was an intriguing, yet dashing figure and personality throughout the mid-part of the last century. When he was younger, he had the world at his fingertips, with movie starlets for girlfriends anytime he wanted, boatloads full of money, the ear of every influential politician of his era, and so much more.

It's an intriguing tale of what we may nowadays call "mental illness", which was fueled by addictions to painkillers and narcotics, psychosis, a mistrust of people in general, fear of germs and, finally, his own "inner circle" closing in around him and taken advantage of him while he mindlessly toiled away the days/weeks watching television butt naked as he eventually lost control of his empire.

The story did get a little tedious when the author went into probably a little bit too much detail, and some of the business dealings that Hughes was able to construct, but other than that, this text will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.

I don't know if I learned anything new about the life and times of Howard Hughes, but this rendition of the story that is been told before, is by far the very best. A must-read for those who like mystery, intrigue, adventure, featuring one of the wealthiest and best-known personalities that this country has ever produced.


Excellent!!!

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • william
  • BUDA, TX, United States
  • 02-06-18

Starts interesting, ends with jarring editing

There are at least 100 instances of "Summa" harshly inserted by rough editing into the second half of the book in place of "Hughes" or "Hughes Tool (Company)". Ironically, they aren't even correctly used in many instances as this book jumps back and forth through time at least a half-dozen times. It seems like they just decided to replace each and every instance after the point that told the story of the change of the name of the Hughes Tool Company to Summa.

Beyond that, the story really suffers from the time jumps. This story should have been told from start to finish, not broken into separate subjects and telling the story of each of these subjects from start to finish. At the time of the 4th or 5th subject change with its corresponding jump back in time, I started to feel like this book was never going to end and that the most interesting parts were never going to be touched on again.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Very well done. Greatly enjoyed it

A very complicated and astounding story masterfully presented. Would highly recommend it if you are interested in Howard Hughes.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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This Book

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. A fascinating look of Howard Hughes. I highly recommend this book.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating how much the public eye distorts.

The man truly did live 2 lives and was constantly at odds with his own sanity.

I never realized how much the public eye was misinformed and distorted from the reality of who he really was and what really happened through the years.

Excellent read and it is simply jaw dropping at times to hear about the different world he created for himself.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

EVERYTHING you Ever wanted to know about HRH

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

My books are during 1 hour ride to & from work, 5 days per week for 10 hours. This book had some dry spells, but overall I found it educational.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I think the pinnacle is the 'Spruce Goose', but there are so many different things he did, it's difficult to peg any one.
Least interesting was the in depth reading of the multiple hand written instructions for every aspect of his mad, mad solitude.

What didn’t you like about Christopher Hurt’s performance?

For the documentary present, it was well read. Par for documentary, some dry spots, but not taking away overall.

Could you see Empire being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

There are already movies. Most recent being "The Aviator"

Any additional comments?

A very long book, I appreciated its additional information even if it did get boring at times. I have long fascinated in HRH, mainly for his aviation interests. I learned much about the many other things he obsessed over. In the end I realized he swung onto the scene due to his parents untimely demise, and without proper direction, became a spoiled, self indulged brat. That said, he and those working for him did make great strides in the science of aviation.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

great, but very long

I really liked this book. overall, it went through everything you'd ever need to know about Howard Hughes. the last third of the book gets a little repetitive.