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Howard Hughes: The Secret Life
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Howard Hughes: The Secret Life

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  276 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
His wealth was legendary. His passions were bizarre. Now, the truth about the money, the madness, and the man behind the enigma.

Howard Hughes is one of the best known and least understood men of our times--famed for his wealth, his daring, and his descent into madness. Bestselling biographer Charles Higham goes beyond the enigma to reveal the incredible private life of How
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 10th 2004 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1993)
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Mark Sohn
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
What an extraordinary man, what an arsehole!. One one hand you find yourself reeling from his achievements, the next you see a racist, misogynistic paranoiac with crippling OCD. A terrifying story of how even unlimited wealth cannot bring joy with some real jaw-droppers of insights into the world he moved in. Fantastic!.
Keith Parrish
Apr 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Howard Hughes was an absolutely miserable human being. You can interpret that statement in any way that you want and you will not change the truth. Charles Higham brings us the life story of this troubled, mentally disturbed, boorish, selfish, egotistical, and just plain bratty tycoon/film maker/aviation expert. Higham does not shy away from the seedy side of Hughes but rather seems to delight in it. And at the end of it all, I would be hard pressed to identify what the good side of Hughes was. ...more
Prolific celebrity author Higham makes the most controversial claims of all - that Hughes was a prolific, practicing bisexual and died of AIDS or an AIDS-like disease. In addition to extensive, sordid coverage of Hughes's heterosexual action, Higham alleges homosexual action between Hughes and (among others) Jack Buetel, Tyrone Power, Randolph Scott, and Cary Grant. This book is nonjudgmental, almost to the point of apologetic, about the role of Bill Gay and the Mormons in Hughes's late life iso ...more
Apr 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
This book can be broken down into two categories of focus: Hughes's personal life and his business and political dealings. The parts of the book addressing his personal life are fascinating in a can't-look-away-train-wreck fashion. He was obviously a troubled man and had great difficulty in relationships. The book also offers insight into his mental deterioration and his physical breakdowns. Where the book fails is when it attempts to tackle Hughes's tangled web of political and business intrigu ...more
Gary Brim
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
I found out more than I would ever care to know about Hughes' very bizarre social life in his early years, and too much about every detail of his Hollywood exploits. Perhaps this is explained by the author's background and interests in Hollywood. What is missing in this biography is any sense of how Hughes was able to build his huge business empire in his early years, or exert effective, and profitable, control in his later years. The author chose to focus on the aspects of Hughes' life that wer ...more
Dec 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: bios, english
Poorly written, fictional and tabloid-style. I'm disgusted by the book and sometimes i feel i'm wasting my time reading it.
Micky Lee
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
a very interesting read and insight into a intelligencent and maybe crazy man he indeed lived a full and strange life it is a interesting book from start to finish
Duane Lewis
Jan 07, 2017 rated it liked it
A life that defies description---an interesting man with a story that shocks!
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Higham’s book emphasizes Howard Hughes’ eccentric personality. Hughes was the richest man of his time, known for his many affairs with celebrities, both male and female. He inherited his riches from his father’s successful business, the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company, which supplied parts to oil drilling companies. Hughes’ younger years included being a producer, film producer, pilot and inventor.

Ironically, as he became older, he became quite removed from society. The last twenty years of his life,
Jul 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009, fail
Even though I haven't finished it yet, this book is really disappointing. Not that I had too many expectations going in, but I expected something resembling a coherent time line of events and reliable information. The time line is sketchy at best, the author never takes the time to clarify what year or decade certain events take place, so an event you thought happened in 1960 was a flashback to an earlier event that happened in 1950.

It's annoying, but not too difficult to understand. What kille
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
I picked this up on remainder, in an edition that had obviously been rushed out to take advantage of the release of the Hughes biopic "The Aviator" (which I have not seen). Higham cites a massive number of sources and original interviews in his closing pages; why, then, do I still feel when reading his work that I am swimming in the shallow, gossipy end of the biography pool? Possibly it is something to do with his narrative tone, which admits of no argument from or doubt of his own interpretati ...more
 Barb Bailey
Jun 14, 2008 rated it really liked it of those brainiaic odd balls. Insightful !

His wealth was legendary. His passions were bizarre. Now, the truth about the money, the madness, and the man behind the enigma. Howard Hughes is one of the best known and least understood men of our times--famed for his wealth, his daring, and his descent into madness. Bestselling biographer Charles Higham goes beyond the enigma to reveal the incredible private life of Howard Hughes:* his romances with the great stars of Hollywood--Kat
Nov 17, 2014 rated it liked it
An interesting book. but not a great one. Had never really read any biographies of Hughes. Not really sure this was a good one to start with. It claimed to be one of the books used as the basis for the exceptional movie, "The Aviator" but I sure don't see it. I suppose I will need to read a couple more to get a complete picture of the man's life. It certainly does dish the dirt, though. If Higham is to be believed, Hughes slept with just about everyone, male or female, who did movies. I have no ...more
Jan 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is an awful book and proves the adage you can't libel the dead. Higham does his very best to portray Hughes as an insane evil monster. For all I know, that may have been the case, but then surely the role of a biographer is to examine what made him so. But nope, Higham is far too busy making extraordinary claims no-one can refute with any certainty, citing his supposedly extraordinary bad behaviour with no corroboration or investigation into what created it, and sparing no bullet in his des ...more
Kevin Findley
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
It's a compliment to the author that I felt like washing my hands after finishing this biography. Higham didn't gloss over anything in the book and yet was still able to portray Hughes with some sympathy at his lowest points. Only in the final three chapters did I feel that the author became too close to his subject and began to lose objective.

It's certainly worth reading; anyone who enjoys subjects from Watergate to Hollywood will enjoy (or at least read in shock) parts of this incredible man's
Apr 19, 2009 added it
This book is not very accurate. I am a history major and for the past few months I have been doing extensive research on Howard Hughes and his impact on aviation. There are many parts of this book that do not correspond with other sources. If you want a good book about Hughes, that is accurate. Then find the biography that Noah Dietrich and Robert W. Rummel wrote. They both worked very close with Howard Hughes.
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a much more interesting biography than most Hollywood types. The author interviewed a huge amount of people over several decades' time, so the gossipy portion of the book was pretty satisfying. The second half got a little draggy...politics aren't as interesting as sex scandals and movie making. Overall, it's not an entertainment book as much as it is an extraordinary amount of detail about a very complicated man. You can't sum someone like that up in a booklet or a movie short.
Daniel Lopes
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
The forth-and-back timeline breaks the rythm a little, making the story a collection of arguments about one subject at a time, instead of trying to make ends meet at the end of the book.
For me, it was one of those books that I only didn't stop reading with a hope of getting better in the final chapters, but that never happened.
Dec 17, 2007 added it
Shelves: gave-up
I can't rate this book because I just can't finish it. It's deadly boring; a catalog of Hughes's pursuits and quirks. The timeline isn't clear, so I often thought the story was happening in one year, then it would jump over a year or two, then jump back three. I suppose the value of this book is that it doesn't romanticize Hughes's life; I just wish the story had a better flow.
Apr 04, 2007 rated it did not like it
There exists too many biographies of the man that perhaps I had chosen the wrong one. Admittedly, few biographies can captivate me from beginning to end- this one written by biographer Charles Higham is certainly not one of them. Many details are undocumented and highly speculative. Overall, it was way too gossipy.
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
The lunatic adventures of a deaf haddock, from making bad Hollywood movies and sleeping with half of Hollywood, his aeronautical adventures and the famous Spruce Goose, to the decrepit 70's recluse, guarded by Mormons, manipulating the CIA and Cuba from his hotel penthouse. Howard Hughes led an strange, amazing life.
Jessica Vets
Gave a good inside view to Howard Hughes and those that have seen the movie The Aviator, this fills in between the lines of his very dramatic life. Doesn't portray him like the movie, the book made him seem very scattered and constantly grasping at straws to stay afloat.
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, because I was very interested in learning more about Howard Hughes. However after reading about half of it, I felt that it was just very trashy and gossipy and not what I was looking for. I didn't finish it and will try a different one...
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Howard Hughes is one of my favorite historical figures and I love The Aviator which brought me to this book. But this author wallows in the gossip much to the detriment of his life which is really exciting.
May 11, 2016 rated it liked it
The first part of the book is very interesting and a good read, but the second half is very tedious and long winded. I had to force myself to read it to the finish. To me Howard Hughes is one of the most interesting men that lived, I would like to read another biography about him sometime.
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1history, box7
An R rated bio of Howard Hughes. I now know more about Howard Hughes than I wanted to know.
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
He was gross but crazy smart
Rob S.
Jan 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Fairly gossipy, but still a solid overview of a fascinating life.
Jan 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting perspective of the private life of Howard Hughes. A nice read.
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Omg I can't believe what I just read. Juicy Hollywood gossip for days. I think my jaw was open the whole time.
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Charles Higham was an author and poet. Higham was a recipient of the Prix des Créateurs of the Académie Française and the Poetry Society of London Prize.
More about Charles Higham