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Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  483 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
Howard Hughes is legendary for his success as an industrialist, aviator, engineer, film producer, director, philanthropist & for much of his lifetime, was the richest man in the USA. He's also remembered for his eccentric behavior & reclusive lifestyle in later life, caused in part by a worsening obsessive-compulsive disorder. His desire for privacy so fierce, & ...more
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published August 31st 2001 by New Millennium Press (Beverly Hills, CA)
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Greg
Howard Hughes was a nut-job.

If he hadn’t been fucking bonkers he would probably be totally reviled, instead he’s something of the uber-off his rocker celebrity. It helps when you have hundreds of millions of dollars at your disposal to really craft the perfect level of crazy.

This book was probably more ‘truthful’ (who knows though), but I preferred the Hughes from Ellroy’s USA Trilogy, or as he’s known through most of it, Dracula.

I actually don’t know how to review this. I wrote, ‘review this
...more
Nathan
Sep 12, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Howard Hughes would read this book.
Howard Hughes suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder. Howard Hughes kept his urine in a jar. Howard Hughes liked to sprawl naked in a lounge chair and hurl his feces at the television when Bobby Kennedy came on TV. Howard Hughes was the archetype of the modern military industrialist. Howard Hughes was so angered by seeing an African American boxer on television that he bought the television channel and fired everyone. Howard Hughes liked to burn all his clothes when he was convinced someone ...more
Lady of the Lake
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This story of the life of Howard Hughes says one thing and it says it loud and clear to me... All the money in the world cannot make you happy. What a life this man had. His parents certainly played a huge roll in his lunacy as they coddled and protected and shared their lunacy with him as he grew up. But Hughes was in need of serious psychotherapy and meds. He accomplished so much and yet most likely could have a acomplished so much
More had he not been a junkie and seriously mentally Ill hidin
...more
Anne Baker
Oct 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of America's crazy old rich ass coots. Weirdo and entrepreneur, Hughes had affairs with some of America's beloved actresses and hotties of his time. A long-time relationship with Katherine Hepburn probably grounded him for a period, but they never married. His failed marriages certainly didn't do much for him. This is one of those books that begins with the end, which is fascinating - old Howard holed up in one of the grand hotels he owned, windows blocked out, fingernails and beard ragged a ...more
Jeri Lane
Mar 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a Howard Hughes enthusiast. I absolutely love this eccentric, horrible, brilliant, immoral, caring, wealthy, germaphobic, genius, spoiled brat, inventive, innovative, selfish, stubborn, fearless, recluse. I cant help but be in awe of him. I have seen the mighty Hercules (Spruce Goose) many times in my life, and it always makes me giddy. This book is so packed with information that it will make your head spin. Every detail of this mans life is in account. Ithought I knew everything about him ...more
Lance
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
America’s first billionaire. He “had it all”, almost from day one - fame, fortune... yet he died of self-imposed, staff assisted starvation, dehydration and drug addiction. The sad story of a wasted life.
Ice
May 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Was ever a life more incredible than that of Howard Hughes? Record-setting aviator, fabled lover, celebrated film director and producer, genius financier and industrialist, the nation's first billionaire. who at one time or another owned TWA, RKO Studios and most of Las Vegas, Hughes (1905-1976) also suffered from severe psychological afflictions that led him to spend his last years in isolation, naked in blacked-out rooms on several continents, devoting days at a time to screening grade-Z movie ...more
Bill
Jul 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Well … I read a review (perhaps on goodreads, perhaps on Amazon, who knows) that claimed the reader especially liked this book because “—it wasn't the usual Hughes bio with pages and pages of his idiosyncratic lunacy" ... and while this book didn’t quite fit that description, it was pretty damned close.

About one-third is devoted to his pre-cuckoo bird days and the remaining two-thirds to his scurrying between blacked-out hotel rooms, dictating the course of his vast empire to his lackeys … usual
...more
Ben Iverson
May 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-stars
Howard Hughes has got to be one of the most eccentric characters of American history. He ranged from constantly seeking the public spotlight early on in his career, to hiding inside his hotel with all light blocked out for the last 35 years of his life. While he had major psychological problems, he was also a brilliant business man (becoming one of the wealthiest people in the world) and daring aviator. This particular book was well written and had tons of interesting insights into his life. The ...more
Tim Jin
All great minds has its downfalls. Howard Hughes was his obsessions and paranoia of his own self. The book goes into great detail of Hughes' riches and businesses in planes, films, monopoly of Vegas, Mormon staffs, his consistence womanizing and his hatred of paying taxes. If you want to find out more of business side of Hughes' estate, there is plenty of information out there. If you want to find out more about his corks, paranoia and isolation from everyone and everything, this title is a must ...more
thewestchestarian
Nov 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book, Hughes’ life story cascades in a rapid series of jaw-dropping anecdotes from childhood to death in an epic but credulity-straining biography. All accounts about the life of Howard Hughes should be taken with several grains of salt given the legend that has coalesced around him. This is unfortunate given that much of these are likely true and therefore astonishing to think they happened to a single individual. Hack’s book is a long series of encounters with legendary actors, histori ...more
Erik Graff
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
The subtitle of this biography, "The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters", is misleading. This is not a collection of such materials but rather a straightforward biography which has utilized a whole host of resources including personal interviews with principals.

The life of Howard Hughes, as represented here, is a cautionary tale. It was not, on whole, a happy one. Nor was much of it edifying. Hughes inherited his wealth, living off of the proceeds of the company his father had founded and off th
...more
Dan Domme
Aug 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Howard Hughes
Shelves: nonfiction
This is the first biography I ever read, and I wasn't disappointed. Hughes was a renaissance man before he was a nutcase, and this biography gives you the entire picture of his life.

I actually started reading this book in 2004 and got perhaps halfway through it when the film The Aviator was released. Any fans of the enigmatic figure that was presented by DiCaprio should definitely check out this book.

The book covers both hero and villain in the same man, and forces you to draw your own informed
...more
Dan-o
Mar 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
To say that Howard R Hughes was an eccentric recluse would be the understatement of the century. This book delves into the playboy rich kid who grew into the first American billionaire. In many senses Howard seemed to have the midas touch. His father's tool company was that old cash cow that let him spend millions as a film producer and aerospace pioneer. He even once landed his plane on an LA golf course in pursuit of Cathrine Hepburn!
The book was very well written and captivating. It doesn't t
...more
Shay
Jun 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Hughes is such an interesting character and I'm fascinated to learn more about him. I started reading the Hoax before I picked up this book and I was like I should probably learn more about the actual man before I read a box that claims to be about him. There were a lot of facts in this so at times it was a little boring to read the lists but overall it was really interesting. I really liked the notes at the bottom of the pages that told more information about people. Those were really surprisin ...more
Annette
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am almost sad that I read this book. How could this man possessing of so much greatness, bravery and foresight into the forging of our future technology end so badly? A true crash and burn life story. Perhaps it was when he crashed the XF-11? Did the resulting head injury inflict life long damage resulting in the out of control descent of OCD? Or did he truly just despise himself and subconsciously sabotage himself unable to live with the pedestal of greatness America placed him upon? These ar ...more
Jeff
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hughes was a amazing man, a genius, a workaholic, had an incredible knack for business and was a real ladies man until OCD took a hold of him and sent him into seclusion then madness.

The movie The Aviator while an entertaining movie doesn't really portray just how successful and driven he was before he became ill. 2 things really set off his decline one was getting VD which caused his OCD about germs and disease and the other was the horrible plane crash that nearly killed him.

While Hughes was a
...more
Don
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 mad
...more
Jeff
Hack is a celebrity biographer, and that's the nature of the book - heavy on the ladies, light on the litigation. Probably as breezy a read and as good of an introduction to Hughes as any of the books. Some saucy stuff, but nothing outlandish. Heavy coverage of the mid-to-late 1930s, Hughes's most active time with women, and almost no coverage of 1961-1966, when Hughes was living in Bel Air and consumed with TWA litigation. Does not fawn over Maheu even though Hack co-authored Maheu's memoir.

Bes
...more
Luke Powell
Nov 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I read about Howard Hughes, and in many respects it was a let-down. I was expecting a giant man of vision and industry, and I got a spoiled dilettante who was probably responsible for much more waste of potential than in any of the success of his businesses. All the same, the book was well-written and clearly showed both the man's triumphs and his failings. There's no doubt he was a very interesting character, though the tales of his foibles got a little repetitive toward ...more
Mary
Dec 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: Tommy Blacha
Shelves: recommendo
During a brief IM chat wherein the subject of weirdos came up, Tommy recommended this book to me, and I promptly ordered it from Amazon. But that was MONTHS ago. I can't believe how long it took me to finish it. It should have been a zip, because it was very interesting and an easy read. Life just gets complicated sometimes, I guess.

My only real criticism of this book is how rife with typographical errors it is. For a book about a famously neurotic weirdo...well, it just struck me as ironic. Bu
...more
Jess
This was a vaguely bizarre look into Hughes' life that nevertheless filled in lots of spaces that my knowledge from The Rocketeer and The Aviator left open. Like the entire second half of his life (which, if Scorsese had done the film, would have been called The Guy Who Couldn't Catch a Break). Worth reading, but not particularly improved by the audio.

Also, as other readers have mentioned, the one thing I might have liked a bit of speculation on is what made Hughes the way he was by the end of h
...more
Mark Mortensen
Jan 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I thought I was prepared to delve into the mysterious life of America’s first billionaire Howard Hughes (1905-1976), but I was wrong. For the man who had it all at a young age, the details in the book present a much more bizarre personality than I envisioned. HRH was a true control fanatic and eccentric genius with gifted talents and visionary mind for science. Sadly, America’s first billionaire never sought or cultivated one true friendship. I’m sure author Richard Hack enjoyed the entire resea ...more
Lily Moon
Very interesting. I really liked reading about this man. He had everything to be happy: lots of money, fame and beauty. He used them very well during the first part of his life but at the end, his life ended miserably. He wasted the end of his life with huge amounts of drugs and his Mormon aides didn't have a good influence on him either. He accomplished great things but he was also a real bastard with people.
Miles
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Biography From A Trusted Source
Howard Hughes flew his Flying Boat in Long Beach Harbor in 1947. I was born in Long Beach in 1947. My father worked in management at the Ford Motor Company a short distance from the hanger the Hughes plane was stored in for 33 years. Howard Hughes was an influential person in my life. Richard Hack has a reputation for integrity. This book clears up some of the myth about the man.
Sharon
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Bought this for $3 at BN after Christmas sale. I wanted to learn more about HH ever since I saw the Aviator. This is a really interesting book about HH's life...both his business saavy (he played a huge role in making TWA a success....then failure) and juicy personal life (among his conquests...he dated the wife of Herman Munster in the Munsters)! This guy was a freak. The movie really did portray him very close to what's written in this book. A quick, fun and interesting read.

Judy
Nov 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
Interesting in sections. How could it not be? I did skim some in the middle of the book. It's sad that Hughes had constant pain--no wonder he took codeine for relief, even though it made his life worse. I wonder what really caused his reclusiveness; sad that he would not allow his wife into his life. She might have taken better care of him than the paid staff. Getting what he wanted wasn't getting what he needed. Amazing to me that he thought his money could buy anything.
Thefiremun
Initially I was intriqued by Hughes wealth and how he dealt with it, but as I read this, I came to see a very interesting and perplexing character. Hughes was very much a visionary and worked however hard as was necessary (even to his demise) to get what he wanted: from women, to movies, to inventions, to government contracts. Yet - he was rarely happy. Unfortunately, his life is a vivid example of how all of those things can't buy true happiness.
Dewayne Stark
Several internet sources state that the Southern Cross was actually 425 feet in length not the 320 as stated in the book Page 100.

Page 155, to move the aircraft from Culver City to Long Beach the sum $16,970 paid to Star House Moving is given. I have read that the cost far exceed that because of the required power and telephone line in the way.

I was standing on the corner of Jefferson and Lincoln with my father watching the convoy creep up the hill towards Manchester Blvd.
Risto Kärkkäinen
I didn't find anything inspiring from the life of Howard Hughes. He was adequately smart, a sociopath and inherit-rich to change the world of aviation. However, his life presents what is wrong in the world anyway: greed, social class inequality, racism and paranoia about something that cannot be fully controlled.

The book is well written, though.



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Born in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, Hack attended the Lynnewood School, and Haverford High School, on the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia. He later attended Pennsylvania State University and holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Design.

Hack moved to Los Angeles where he was hired by TV Guide magazine as its West Coast national programming editor. By the early 80s, Hack began writing the TeleV
...more
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