cover image King Larry: The Life and Ruins of a Billionaire Genius

King Larry: The Life and Ruins of a Billionaire Genius

James D. Scurlock. Scribner, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4165-8922-8

Larry Lee Hilblom (1943–1995) does not have the immediate name recognition of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Howard Hughes, but the enigmatic founder of DHL has a story that is just as fascinating—and more mysterious—than any of these genius entrepreneurs. In his biography of the eccentric businessman, Scurlock (Maxed Out) traces Hilblom’s rise from humble beginnings on a Northern California peach farm through the founding of DHL and its meteoric rise to domination in the airfreight industry to the mysterious disappearance of his seaplane in the western Pacific in 1995. The chronology, twists, and turns of DHL alone are riveting, with one complex, legal battle after another threatening to derail the company, but the allegations that Hilblom fathered several children with underage girls in various Southeast Asian countries lend the book a darker, more sensational tone. While the dense accounts of DHL’s unending litigation battles may prove impenetrable for some, Scurlock sprinkles in enough of Hilblom’s eccentric personal life to keep the narrative lively and flowing. He meticulously researches both the business and personal fact and folklore of the entrepreneur’s life and weaves them into a gripping account of the mercurial, visionary, complicated billionaire’s life. (Jan.)