cover image Howard Hughes: Power, Paranoia & Palace Intrigue

Howard Hughes: Power, Paranoia & Palace Intrigue

Geoff Schumacher. Stephens, $25.95 (295pp) ISBN 978-1-932173-59-8

This rambling account of the eccentric, reclusive billionaire stresses Hughes’s relationship with Las Vegas, where he spent much of his adult life. Vegas reporter Schumacher draws upon research from other books, interviews and a lifetime of covering his native city to produce an entertaining volume about a relentlessly fascinating character. Hughes (1904–1976) became famous as a producer of such Hollywood classics as Hell’s Angels , The Front Page and Scarface . Applying his energy to aviation, he designed planes, broke speed records and founded TWA and Hughes Aircraft. Schumacher swiftly covers these accomplishments, then focuses on the last 30 years of Hughes’s life. It is a lively record of business deals, legal battles and personality clashes as Hughes’s peculiarities and drug use degenerate into serious addiction and obsessive germophobia. Hughes spent his last decade as a secluded, unwashed, unshaved invalid with attendants who overlooked his best interests. Ignoring chronology, Schumacher’s book reads like a series of well-researched, opinionated newspaper articles that include cameos by famous supporting characters like Jane Russell and vignettes about the fight over his estate and Clifford Irving’s fake Hughes autobiography. Readers should look elsewhere for an organized biography, but they will find plenty to enjoy in this scattershot collection. Photos not seen by PW . (Feb.)