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A Man in Full

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  11,379 ratings  ·  668 reviews
The setting is Atlanta, Georgia — a racially mixed, late-century boomtown full of fresh wealth and wily politicians. The protagonist is Charles Croker, once a college football star, now a late-middle-aged Atlanta conglomerate king whose outsize ego has at last hit up against reality. Charlie has a 29,000 acre quail-shooting plantation, a young and demanding second wife, an ...more
Paperback, 704 pages
Published October 30th 2001 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published November 1st 1998)
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Great American Novel
117th out of 402 books — 697 voters
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom WolfeA Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensThe Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathAmerican Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
City Life
23rd out of 210 books — 88 voters

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Community Reviews

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Some crappy books are forgettable. A Man in Full still haunts me like a chain-jangling ghost of crappiness. The plot is hamfisted, the "twists" are ludicrous (for a book with the pretensions of this one), and what is supposed to be a look-behind-the-curtain of Atlanta winds up instead being at times an infomercial on Stoicism, a horse-humping voyeur's dream, and a look at the intricacies of west coast meat packing. A part that really bugs me is that there is a line in which one of the characters ...more
Steve Lowe
Dear Tom Wolfe,

I am writing to you now about your insistence on describing what every character is wearing in every scene of your 741-page epic, A Man in Full. I am convinced that, had you chosen to avoid doing such a thing as describe each cut of cloth, each brand name, each sartorial style, and its significance based on the character or the setting, etc., this book could have been a much crisper, much leaner, much more manly 400 pages.

Sincerely, Steve

But I guess that’s what you get when a fopp
Ah, what to say about this book that the other reviewers haven't already said?

One thing - this book seems to be present wherever used books are sold. Every old shop has a surplus of them. It's always on the dollar shelves at book sales. Even at the local thrift stores, it's there, sitting right next to Lonesome Dove and Tim Allen's autobiography.

This book must find its way to second-hand shelves because it's both big AND mainstream. In the age of quick-selling novellas, there aren't many authors
Sharon Howe
Mar 08, 2008 Sharon Howe rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all, people over age 60
I can't believe I bought this 740 page pop seller. It is so unlike what I usually read. I'm glad I broke out of the box and read it. It is well written, fascinating, thought provoking, delightful, fairly light reading, even at 700 pages. I read it in less than a week, as I just couldn't put it down. This is the first Tom Wolfe book I've read.

The story evolves around 4 main characters, and one of them ends up in jail. I decided to skip many of the jail sections, as I cringed at the violence that
This book is Tom Wolfe's Masterpiece. I have read The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test and The Bonfire of the Vanities and this is by far his greatest accomplishment. I was surprised to read the reviews saying the book is contrived and predictable. I thought is was an engaging commentary on American culture. Tom Wolfe is first and foremost a social commentator and this book is no exception. I generally avoid modern authors as the contemporary authors are weak writers, this book is awesome. Ignore the ...more
David DeValera
Charlie Croker is one pig-headed cracker from the old-South. Charlie raises horses, fearlessly handles snakes, shoots quail, runs his own fleet of jets, is married to a younger, beautiful woman, and is in general a good ole boy -- even owns an honest ta gawd plantation where all the helpin' folk are black.

Mr. Croker is also a man in prime need of a humbling experience. Charlie is a real estate developer and his most serious problems result from a wide-body ego coupled with backward planning: des
I read this about 8 years ago and started listening to it again a few weeks ago while I was doing some home improvment projects. I love tom Wolfe - I think he is one of the best story tellers ever and he can really spin a totally believable tale. He creates so much suspense and anxiety in very real-life kinds of situations. This is the story of 4 main characters as they come to find out what potential lies within each of them. Its great, but it does have a lot of harsh language and some sexual c ...more
Firstly, one has to doff the cap to Tom Wolfe’s prose style. The writing throughout this long book remains at a consistently high level, and even chapters which I later considered superfluous were brilliantly written. Absolutely there were points where you could see his research poking through, segments where Wolfe proved he’d learnt something in such fine detail and wanted the reader to know that – but the fact that it was rendered so beautifully in English allowed me to accept these little lec ...more
This is a long book at 740 pages. The story builds rather well but the ending does a poor job of wrapping up the story lines. I was very disappointed. Its almost as if Wolfe lost interest in the book and just briefly summed everything up and not very inventively.

I mainly read this book to get a feel for Wolfe writing style. Tom Wolfe is nothing if not good at character development. The level of detail he provides really allows you to see the scene in your mind and know the characters in the book
Tom Wolfe can write. The Right Stuff and Bonfire of the Vanities are two great examples. There are many bright spots in "A Man In Full", for instance, Conrad (the protagonist) ends up in Santa Rita jail, and must struggle surviving in that hostile environment. I thought that was quite well done until fate intervened and conveniently got him out of a bad situation. But all in all, the plot is so convoluted, and the prose is so filled with extraneous minutia, that I struggled to get through it. Th ...more
Toni Osborne
Charles (Charlie) Croker a middle-aged prominent Atlanta businessman finds his life turned up-side down when his ego brings him to a staggering debt load and to the brink of bankruptcy. Charlie is faced with laying off some workers at his food business to free up cash and buy some time. One victim is young Conrad Hensley who later becomes Charlie's therapist. His bankers smell blood, Raymond Peepgass has even secretly put together a syndicate to take over Crocker's office building at a cut rate. ...more
Abel Mcbride
Without a doubt the best book I've ever read in my literary career. Tom Wolfe is the sharpest mother fucker you'll ever read. He brings so many different elements into his writing. He captures the human spirit so excruciatingly well its a revelation to see it written in words. One his best aspects is although he is very literate and descriptive, his story telling is buttery smooth. I found myself blasting through this book, not only because the story, with all its sub plots and twists and turns, ...more
Shyama Perera
This is one of my all time favourites. I read it when it came out and still remember parts of it vividly - Charlie Croker's almost invisible women, the rape, the meat factory, the jail, Plato and Socrates, the machinations of racial politics, and the kingly pride of real estate moguls who literally shape our cities. I couldn't put this book down, and even though it slightly fell to pieces in the last fifty pages, it didn't matter when the previous 680 or so had kept me in thrall. It isn't as per ...more
David Prybil
This book might not have captured the zeitgeist as fully as some of Wolfe's other books, but I think time will be very kind to it. In truth, I think it was ahead of its time, presaging the mortgage crisis and all the other excesses of this past decade. Some of the best, funniest, and most insightful writing I have had the pleasure of reading - ever. Just great stuff.
I wanted to like this book because it's set in Atlanta & I like Tom Wolfe. Um, yep, so I wanted to like it. But weighing in at a gajillion pages, if I ever have to read 20 pages about each ancillary character's italian leather loafers or bowtie type or silk cravat knot's again, I may shoot myself in the face.
David Lentz
The first 772 pages of this novel may rank among some of the best American mainstream fiction ever written. Wolfe certainly took his time in creating his opus maximus and his work ethic is worthy of great respect. I had the sense that Wolfe immersed himself in Atlanta society as the settings and characters seemed incredibly true to life. Wolfe's ear for American dialect showed great range and seemed unfailing in its ability to ring true. The leitmotifs to Epictetus added substance to the work. H ...more
I was introduced to Tom Wolfe through Dixon during my time at Furman. I read I am Charlotte Simmons and loved the way Wolfe was able to capture so many aspects of the college experience. I knew the characters he described, they just had different names and lived in my world instead.

I learned very quickly that Wolfe has the keen ability to write about life in ways that make you think he experienced every subject he writes about--when he wrote The Right Stuff, he was John Glenn and described the o
Salman Shariff
I remember that when I first picked up this book it was missing the first 30 pages. The reason is because someone had torn them out to use as toilet paper or to roll up joints or to keep score on during card games. This was in the federal detention center in Miami. I read it anyway. They actually had another copy of this book on the cart that looked like it was in new condition, but that copy was in Spanish. My spanish was intolerable at best, and I considered completing my spanish language lear ...more
Tom Wolfe may not write great female characters, but he is a damned master at writing about the rise and fall of overly self important men in all strata of society. Corporate CEOs, politicians, middle management bankers, athletes, and working class schmoes - he takes us inside their heads where they share largely the same fears, worries, and insecurities. Can I make ends meet on the money I have? How can I get more? Does society respect me? Does my wife/girlfriend respect me, and if not, can I t ...more
Richard Knight
Easily in the top five greatest books I've ever read, Tom Wolfe's, A Man in Full, is a modern day classic that has just as much to say about humanity as Uncle Tom's Cabin or The Jungle. I'm dead serious. Tom Wolfe did the impossible with this book by making every last character both likeable, as well as repugnant in their own little way. In other words, he made them into real human beings. This is why something as, unfortunately, commonplace as a rape case is turned into a sprawling (nearly 700 ...more
In many respects, this 1998 novel has a lot going for it. Tom Wolfe creates a convincing panorama of elite life in moneyed Atlanta, complete with a self-indulgent protagonist -- real estate magnate Charlie Croker -- who has risen to great heights by the time we meet him, and whose fall is richly documented over hundreds of pages. Juxtaposed against a cast of rich and powerful characters are a narcissistic college football player and a motley collection of felons and street-folk, all of whom spea ...more
In 2007 I discovered a weathered copy of this novel on a bookshelf in a Mexican hotel and read it straight through on the long trip home. This hotly anticipated follow-up to "Bonfire of the Vanities" hit bookstores with a thud when it was released. Here's why: 1) Atlanta ain't New York as Grand Canvass for an epic; 2) the book is 50% too long.

But I loved the story of Charlie Croker, the "Man in Full" maverick real estate developer nonetheless. I often work with developers and Wolfe nailed a cer
Nate D
Sep 14, 2010 Nate D rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ugh
Recommended to Nate D by: ecstatic press of the time, I guess
Another good example of that variety of satire that seems most lazy, most pointless to me: puppet-like characters jerked through ludicrous plot machinations to converge with very little signifance, impact, pathos, insight, raison d'etre. I guess it's meant to be funny? Surely it doesn't offer much in the way of piercing glimpses of the truth or reality, though it probably is taken as such at times. Has not lead me to read further Tom Wolfe.

Oh yeah, and it's 700 pages of this stuff, so seems to b
Jun 20, 2015 Dan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: library
Having become interested in Stoicism, and having much enjoyed prior books by Tom Wolfe, I was eager to read this book. It did not disappoint. Great characters, great dialogue, and vivid settings. And, it included strong Stoic themes.
Spike Gomes
As with any Tom Wolfe novel, this is a novel of characters. A millionaire business owner up to his neck in bad debt. A desperate working class guy who spirals into the pit of ruin and despair. A middle-aged black lawyer desperate to escape the taint of his white tastes and education. A milquetoast banker who finally decides to go after the big score. A scorned aging first wife, looking for relevance in her post-divorce world. All set in the Boardrooms, country estates, ghettos and prisons of tur ...more
Entertaining, but not as good as Bonfire of the Vanities or the Right Stuff. The central storyline is broadly similar to Bonfire: a rich real-estate mogul gets himself into a situation that threatens his personal and professional standing in well-to-do Atlanta. Seemingly small decisions and fabrications start a Fawlty Towers-esque chain of events that build up to a confrontation.

Wolfe often uses caricature to highlight the anxieties and insecurities of his characters, but in this book, the plot
An engaging and engrossing book but a bit overlong - could have done with some editing.

Tom Wolfe is a funny and sharp writer and, as he does in the more famous Bonfire of the Vanities, he sets out several strands of a story then brings them together as the book unfolds. The themes are also familiar from Bonfire - race; inequalities of wealth; sex and sexism; and politics, and its relationship with money.

The novel is set mainly in Atlanta and much fun is had with sardonic and ironic descriptions
Tom Wolfe dissects sub-cultures with such skill, he may be one of America’s best anthropologists. Better than almost any other author, he can convey the mores, manners, motivations, and behaviors of cliques and groups. Wolfe seems to absorb the beliefs and practices of people who by birth/geography or self-selection live within a cluster of similarly minded people. This is a rare gift … and one that is over-used in A Man in Full. I’m biased toward the art of storytelling, and A Man in Full seems ...more
Lucian McMahon
I'll go ahead and admit it: he might not be a "great" writer, but I like Wolfe all the same. He has a smooth, flowing style and, though he tends to overindulge--I doubt this book needed to be 742 pages long to achieve the same effect--he fashions a compelling narrative. A little complexity and unpredictability couldn't hurt his characters, but nonetheless Wolfe makes you come away feeling somehow emotionally connected to even the most contemptible plutocrat.
This is like Bonfire of the Vanities or Back to Blood in that one city embodies the contradictions between different demographic, economic and demographic groups. A Man in Full is set in Atlanta, and of these three novels, I like this one the best, perhaps because the two protagonists develop as the story unfolds. They're not static.

Charles Croker is a good ole boy real estate developer who is living an incredibly lavish life despite facing financial ruin. Conrad Hensley is a young idealist who
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Wolfe was educated at Washington and Lee Universities and also at Yale, where he received a PhD in American studies.

Tom Wolfe spent his early days as a Washington Post beat reporter, where his free-association, onomatopoetic style would later become the trademark of New Journalism. In books such as The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, and The Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolfe delves into
More about Tom Wolfe...
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test The Bonfire of the Vanities The Right Stuff I am Charlotte Simmons Back to Blood

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“One of the few freedoms that we have as human beings that cannot be taken away from us is the freedom to assent to what is true and to deny what is false. Nothing you can give me is worth surrendering that freedom for. At this moment I'm a man with complete tranquillity...I've been a real estate developer for most of my life, and I can tell you that a developer lives with the opposite of tranquillity, which is perturbation. You're perturbed about something all the time. You build your first development, and right away you want to build a bigger one, and you want a bigger house to live in, and if it ain't in Buckhead, you might as well cut your wrists. Soon's you got that, you want a plantation, tens of thousands of acres devoted solely to shooting quail, because you know of four or five developers who've already got that. And soon's you get that, you want a place on Sea Island and a Hatteras cruiser and a spread northwest of Buckhead, near the Chattahoochee, where you can ride a horse during the week, when you're not down at the plantation, plus a ranch in Wyoming, Colorado, or Montana, because truly successful men in Atlanta and New York all got their ranches, and of course now you need a private plane, a big one, too, a jet, a Gulfstream Five, because who's got the patience and the time and the humility to fly commercially, even to the plantation, much less out to a ranch? What is it you're looking for in this endless quest? Tranquillity. You think if only you can acquire enough worldly goods, enough recognition, enough eminence, you will be free, there'll be nothing more to worry about, and instead you become a bigger and bigger slave to how you think others are judging you.” 11 likes
“He Who Would Live Forever had done an instantaneous back-of-the-envelope calculation and decided that the vicinity of the Chevrolet Suburban was a better strategic alternative than anyplace anywhere near that whitish sandy road above which a gigantic terror-chattering rattlesnake now thrashed in the grip of his boss gone berserk.” 4 likes
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