MR Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

MR Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  176 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The real Hugh Hefner-the extraordinary inside story of an American icon

"Riveting... Watts packs in plenty of gasp-inducing passages."-"Newark Star Ledger"

"Like it or not, Hugh Hefner has affected all of us, so I treasured learning about how and why in the sober biography."-"Chicago Sun Times"

"This is a fun book. How could it not be? Watts aims to give a full account of the...more
ebook, 544 pages
Published March 23rd 2009 by John Wiley & Sons (first published January 1st 2008)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about MR Playboy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about MR Playboy

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 388)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Elizabeth
hefner is certainly a cultural player worthy of a thoughtful biography; however, i remain unconvinced that mr. playboy needed its full 453 pages. my biggest complaint was the wordiness, the repetitiveness. i felt the book could have been shortened by at least 100 pgs. entire chapters felt unnecessary, such as chapter seven which, except for a few paragraphs about his political interests, was largely a reiteration of ideas well covered in previous chapters. while there is some discussion of how t...more
Chessmen
I found it funny that the same author of Mr.Playboy also wrote a biography on Walt Disney. Clearly he sees them both as iconic American entertainers who transformed their societies through the creation of their personal fantasies.

Hefner never published his own autobiography in whole, so this is the most complete biography you'll get! The author (professor of histroy) gives Mr.Playboy the scholarly treatment, analyzing how and to what extent Playboy magazine influenced American society. He conclu...more
Bunny
Hugh Hefner is a douchebag. If you know this already, and you know that the grotto exists, you don't need to read the book.

Okay, that's not really fair. The book has a lot of interesting information from the start of the magazine. I wasn't so much interested in Hefner as I was in the origins of the magazine, and the trials and tribulations. Having to deal with Hefner's opinion that women were inferior to men and how, despite his hatred of his "Puritan" upbringing, and his own "bisexual encounter...more
Deborah
Author Watts made an excellent attempt at objectivity, telling the pros and cons of the sexual revolution and respective positions of the parties involved (feminists, conservatives, etc.)but his bias is clearly in favor of Hefner. It's a good book anyhow.

I personally feel that Hefner and his ilk are nothing but glorified pimps, and their female counterparts are prostitutes (pornography IS literature about prostitutes). These publishers have hid behind the first amendment for too long. A pimp is...more
dejah_thoris
All right, let me first lead off by noting that I have never read a Playboy or knew much about the business or the man behind it. (I know, strange considering all the other sex history I've studied.) So, I consider myself unbiased towards the company and its owner.

That said, this book clearly shows the importance of Hef's influence in breaking down some barriers and steadfastly preserving others. On the one hand, he was a sexual revolutionary in the 1950s-60s pushing the boundaries of tradition...more
Christine
A biography of Hugh Hefner is not complete without delving into the Playboy Mansion, the rotating round bed and the infamous grotto …I understand that. A biography of Hugh Hefner is not complete without looking at Mr. Hefner’s personal sexual philosophy … I get that too. This book offers just a little too much of all that. Titillating? Not so much … parts of this book could have been called The American “Wet” Dream.

Okay, with that rant out of the way, the rest of book was extremely interesting....more
James Perkins
Written by the Professor of History at the University of Missouri, this book is a comprehensive, objective look at the life of Hugh Hefner and his role in the shaping of modern America. Far from being merely a smut magazine, Hefner's goal (through his publication) was to open society to a more liberal attitude and promote the idea that sexual expression was a healthy part of being human. It was a long, rocky road, but Hefner has, over the last 50 plus years, profoundly affected the values that d...more
Cameron
Two-thirds of the way into Steven Watts’ new biography, Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream, the infamous publisher summarizes the mission of his monthly publication. “What the book is first and foremost: a lifestyle magazine devoted to how one spends one’s leisure time.” Thankfully for Hefner, Watts and readers of this biography, there’s so much more to the story of Playboy, an empire that “expanded to include clubs, resorts, music, films, television shows and a wide array of mercha...more
Kim
If I were basing my review solely on the wild stories from the mansion, I'd give this book a hundred stars. I liked the book and would probably waver between three and four stars. The only reason why it is not a clear four is that Watts is often too chained up in the Ivory Tower, in my opinion. As I read parts of this book, I had serious flashbacks (nightmares?) of the writing instruction I received when working on my master's thesis. It is almost too technical for the subject matter. I also fou...more
Celticoracle
This book is fascinating as much for its analysis of changing American culture and how Playboy fit (and fits) into it as for its portrayal of Hefner.


I'm always torn when reviewing an audiobook as to whether my issues are with the actual content, or the drawbacks inherent in listening while driving.

I found the organization of the text into parts, then chapters, then numbered sections to be a bit jarring and confusing. This would probably be less of an issue in print. However, the text is overly...more
VegasGal
Mar 01, 2009 VegasGal rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: playboy fans
Shelves: read-2009
The interesting aspect of this book, is that this review needs to touch on two important parts, the author and of course the subject, Hugh Hefner, himself. Sure, this is like any biography, but the fact that the subject about such an important and often seen as notorious character, it needs to be touched on separately.

The book was well written, organized, flowed smoothly, although it was a bit wordy and slightly repetitive at times, Watts definitely made sure every detail of Hefner's life was d...more
Kaushal
The best thing about hefner's life when quited his job and walking out on the road, without money but the big dream inside his heart, and choosed the way which was almost impossible in that century, braving and started the play boy with three man one of his friend photographer he and his model.he get the feat. The story of his life sensetional. I am not interested in his personal sex philiosophy but i like his dream and feat which turn this playboy in the vivtory of his dream. In this book whole...more
Steven
I started this book in hopes of reading some juicy, scandalous stories about the infamy in the Playboy mansion. And there is plenty of that in the book. Including an embarrassing accidental swallowing of a "toy " by Hef.

But there is also detailed analysis of how the magazine helped to shape our national values. They helped to usher in the consumer values, love of leisure, and pursuit of self fulfillment that started in the 50's and has continued ever since.

The book also covers the political batt...more
Samantha
For some reason, I found this book really interesting. I applaud Hef's choice to dream and achieve, if against the best interest of the wider public's opinions. I had to return it to the library, so I never got to finish it, which is probably okay since I read up until the 80's which is a little too close to home for me. I like the history part.
Erica
This book is okay, depending on what you're looking for. To call it a biography of Hugh Hefner is a bit of a misnomer. The book is MUCH more about the history of Playboy magazine and the social, political, and financial issues surrounding its publication. The 10 percent or so actually dedicated to Hefner as an individual didn't contain anything not covered in the E! True Hollywood Story (literally). I expected more about Hefner given the book was advertised as his biography. However, it was stil...more
Vince
I can't believe that Hugh Hefner is this uninteresting so I have to hold the author responsible for portraying him as such. It is amusing to think he really believes all of these young women who come to live in the mansion really find him this deep, great lover. It couldn't be thr free rent and advancement of their respective careers. Nah not very likely. The author repeats himself over and over in each chapter and could have shaved 100 plus pages and not altered the story just saved me some tim...more
Amanda
I thought this would be a basic biography of Hugh Hefner, but it turned out to be much more about the intersection of Playboy and the changing social mores of America and how the magazine both helped to usher in the sexual revolution and was ultimately left behind by it. At the same time, the book examined Hefner and his double standard of behavior, his embracing of living as the ultimate Playboy and how disconnected he was from the wider world as he isolated himself in his own fantasy.
Rhoda Alfeche
It's about the man who built an empire on pleasure. But midway to reading it, I had to stop before getting brainwashed into the logic of: if it doesn't feel good, it must be bad. Standing by integrity and being responsible does not always "feel" good, but when it is thrown away, there is nothing left that matters.

I read enough about his life for me to realize that I can live a life of passion, but I want to be responsible about it.
AmblingBooks
"[A] nuanced portrait of Hefner's life that also serves as a panorama of hip culture from the 1950s onward�.Probably the last word on the man behind a million adolescent fantasies." � Kirkus Reviews

Listen to Mr. Playboy on your iPhone, desktop, or smartphone.
David Strong
Very disappointed and stopped reading it about halfway through. Hugh Hefner, Playboy, Playmates, The Mansion...you would think this would be a fun book, right? Wrong! The author takes a very intellectual tone in his writing, repeats himself constantly, and drags out the story to the point of boredom and frustration. Skip this one!
Ace Wall
I've always been interested in the man who created the American empire known as Playboy. This book tells the story of Hue's creation of the magazine and his famous life afterwards. It's a great story with some history of American sexual liberation interwoven. The author does get long winded at times but overall I enjoyed the book.
Yvonne
I have a strange obsession with Hefner, probably from "The Girls Next Door." This is a comprehensive biography that is worth reading. It's a thick book, but it moves smoothly and quickly without lacking detail. It's probably the best biography I've read, though I admit I don't read many biographies.
Jane
Since I grew up while Playboy magazine became popular, I found this biography rather interesting.....more so for the history of my era than for the story of Hefner, but he is a pretty interesting character, too. It's a long book.....I read portions and then put it down for a while while I read some fiction.
Jennifer
Well written book about a dirty young, now old, man. Kind of nauseating, but subtle enough to keep me from vomiting. I had no idea the turmoil Hefner went through whilst creating and recreating his empire. And the magazine itself? It IS about the articles! :)
Polyvivi Marthell
A voluminous, repetitive, detailed -not that detailed ;) account of Hugh Hefners life. At times in the book I fluctuate between wanting to bitch slap him and elect him for President. The story of how we almost choked to death on a Ben Wa ball...
Abdul
Book was mildly interesting. In my humble opinion Mr. Hefner was in the right place at the right time. He tries to make it seem as though he invented this genius lifestyle that could not have been invented by anyone else.
Melanie
I actually read this in Borders after I accidentally knocked it off the shelf trying to find another book. Is it bad that I already knew a lot of the stuff in this book?
Elizabeth
Interesting read on not only Hefner's life but the life of Playboy magazine. I have new respect for this magazine and the life and times of Hefner.
E.J. Eisman
As much as it was informative I really didn't get a sense of the man behind the bunny.
Gary Gray
A bit on the long side, but everything you ever wanted to know about Hugh Hefner.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 12 13 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Death and How It Changed America
  • The Complete Beatles Chronicle
  • Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science
  • In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules
  • The Google Way: How One Company Is Revolutionizing Management as We Know It
  • The Bloody White Baron
  • Governess
  • Casanova: Actor Lover Priest Spy
  • Euler: The Master of Us All (Dolciani Mathematical Expositions, No 22)
  • The Essential Rosa Luxemburg: Reform or Revolution/The Mass Strike
  • What is America?: A Short History of the New World Order
  • Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms
  • Plato: A Very Short Introduction
  • Trickle Up Poverty: Stopping Obama's Attack on Our Borders, Economy, and Security
  • Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family
  • The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch
  • Hitler's War
  • Too Good to Be True: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff
The People's Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life Self-Help Messiah: Dale Carnegie and Success in Modern America The Republic Reborn: War and the Making of Liberal America, 1790-1820 The Romance of Real Life: Charles Brockden Brown and the Origins of American Culture

Share This Book