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Shocking True Story: The Rise and Fall of Confidential, "America's Most Scandalous Scandal Magazine"

3.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  103 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Humphrey Bogart said of Confidential: “Everybody reads it but they say the cook brought it into the house” . . . Tom Wolfe called it “the most scandalous scandal magazine in the history of the world” . . . Time defined it as “a cheesecake of innuendo, detraction, and plain smut . . . dig up one sensational ‘fact,’ embroider it for 1,500 to 2,000 words. If the subject think ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published January 19th 2010 by Pantheon (first published 2010)
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Kirsti
"Remember this: Today's headlines, tomorrow's toilet paper." --Studio head Jack Warner to closeted actor Tab Hunter

Before there was TMZ, before there was E! True Hollywood Story, there was Confidential magazine. This is a short, entertaining account of the magazine's rise and fall in the 1950s.

In some ways, the book is too short--it underexplains some issues. As I'm an editor, I'm all for brevity, but I still have some questions.

* I can absolutely understand why a fellow might hire a bunch of mo
...more
Graceann
Oct 31, 2015 Graceann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in celeb culture
Recommended to Graceann by: my husband
Shelves: history, film-history
I love gossip. Old-time movie gossip, anyhow. I couldn't care less about that family that begins with the letter "K," or how some dopey singer ended up in jail. It's boring. The reason it's boring is that it's all been done before. Doris Duke and Barbara Hutton? Both heiresses and famous for their disastrous personal lives - hmm, I wonder why that sounds familiar...

Believe it or not, there weren't a lot of venues for hearing about the seamier side of a celeb's life. They were mostly underground,
...more
Tim
Feb 02, 2013 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun book on the growth of scandal journalism and focus on the lives of celebrities. I think it is interesting to note how the forerunner to TMZ began because Hollywood was so successful in controlling the media. Confidential did not want to be in Hollywood's pocket and challenged the star system with clever innuendos alluding to adultery, homosexuality and other improper behavior.
I was conflicted as I read this book - was this good or bad? I finished conflicted too - these stories hurt people,
...more
Brittany Jamison
Flawed, unstructured, and over the place but still entertaining and the only book I know that covers this topic. Before there was TMZ there was Confidential. I wished Scott provided more insights and raised more questions about the far-reaching ramifications of this magazine; how it destroyed that certain Hollywood mythos forever. But it is a decent entry in the history of celebrity scandal and tabloids.
Sy Snootles
NPR is tricky. They have a way of making anything they talk about sound extremely interesting. I was absolutely tickled to get my hands on this book after hearing the author interviewed on Fresh Air. I have a minor degree in Film Studies, am a collector of vintage movie magazines, and wrote a term paper on Confidential and its ilk in college. Still, I'm no expert on the magazine, so I was excited to read this book and learn all the dirty details. What a disappointment. This is Scott's first book ...more
Kayla
Jan 27, 2014 Kayla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This books seemed empty, as though it was lacking for facts, something that strangely Confidential never suffered from. Every chapter starts with a section from the magazine, as the author uses them to plot the rise and the fall of the paper. Some of these make sense, some of them just seem as though the author felt he had to include them. I could easily dig through old back issues of Confidential however, I had hoped for something more in depth in the author's treatment of the subject than just ...more
Rachael
Oct 06, 2011 Rachael rated it it was ok
It took me almost two weeks to read this book. I had such high hopes for it. I read "For Enquiring Minds" years ago and when this book came out I listened to the author's interview with NPR. The book sounded more interesting than it actually was. Also during that interview the author gave away everything that was interesting about his book.

"Shocking True Story" wasn't shocking at all. It was quite boring in fact and the writing was rather clunky. "For Enquiring Minds"provided more information re
...more
G.L. Jackson
Oct 29, 2015 G.L. Jackson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
If you're interested in reading Hollywood scandals, this is not the book you're looking for. If you want to read a scholarly history of Confidential magazine, with most of the emphasis paid to those who ran it, then this is the book for you. I found that compared to the subject matter, the prose was on the dry side. The insights into the people involved and the way Hollywood both ruled over and tried to protect its proteges was fascinating, though.
Jessica Powell
Jan 31, 2016 Jessica Powell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great introduction to Confidential, one of the first true gossip magazines. The book covers Confidential's rise to success, with examples of the type of stories it ran, and then its demise in the midst of lawsuits. Very interesting!

For more on the history of Confidential, I've blogged about it and this book in more detail at: http://www.babiafi.co.uk/2015/11/confidential.html.
Bookworm Erica
It was an easy read...sloe because I found I wasn't to invested. never heard of the magazine before and bought this book years ago for a penny. it wasn't bad. I felt I learned about the expose magazine beginnings. wouldn't reread it tho
Jeff
Apr 21, 2010 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the concept for laying out this book, using as a starting point for each chapter a different story from Confidential and then doing the back story on it. Unfortunately, he goes far afield by the end of each chapter, so that the structure seems chaotic by the end. It was a good idea in theory, but he just doesn't make it work. This is a two or three star book that easily could have been, by reworking the structure, a five star book. The book suffers in that the story of the people behind ...more
Hester
The only thing I got out of this was some vintage gossip about Robert Mitchum, I'll never think of ketchup in the same way again.
David Burkam
Nov 07, 2014 David Burkam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A surprisingly dull read on an lurid (and influential) moment in publishing history.
Astrid Yrigollen
Scandal sheets,they seem to have always been around, even before some of us were born.Juicy little tidbits of gossip about the people who are in vogue at that time * that may not be true*. If you like to read about the older celebrities like Rock Hudson and Marilyn Monroe, this book acts as a mini time capsule of the by gone era where celebrities, though imperfect, still practiced discretion and had class. While Scott's heart was in the right place the book seems a little disjointed and at times ...more
D.R. Haney
Still another book I read as research, though not for a novel. I was hoping for much more in the way of detail and analysis of the Confidential era. But it moves fast and doesn't tax one's powers of concentration, which is a definite plus when you're trying to read on a plane, a train, or a bus, as I did during a recent visit to New York City, with screaming children and people shouting on phones all around me.
Jay Levine
Mildly entertaining (re: can be dry) story of rise/fall of Confidential, the first generation of the TMZ type publications from the 1950s.
Shawn Thrasher
Mar 01, 2011 Shawn Thrasher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
For a shocking true story, it was kind of, well, boring...
Sarah
Mar 02, 2010 Sarah marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Heard an interview with the author on Fresh Air today.
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