Saturday, September 30, 2006

Some Of What I'm Reading This Month

Howard Hughes: Hell's Angel

Darwin Porter

Darwin Porter brings The Aviator down to earth with a crash. The story of Howard Hughes billionaire, aviator, movie mogul, lunatic and lothario is laid bare in graphic detail in this new biography. The story of Hughes achievements in business and aviation would themselves make for an excellent story but added to this Hughes descent into madness and his systematic seduction of what seems like every major Hollywood star male and female and you have an explosive read.

Hughes literally slept his way through the 20th century’s most beautiful women from Gloria Swanson to Marilyn Monroe and many of its men as well including his most enduring relationship, with Cary Grant. Whilst he may have had a reputation for seduction he seemed incapable of relationships, probably as a result of an incestuous bond with his mother and his neurosis would eventually lead to paranoia and madness. From the dizzying heights of an America’s aviation hero to a sordid and squalid death after years of lunacy Darwin Porters epic and meticulously researched biography covers every aspect of Hughes amazing life and as a consequence runs to a massive 800+ pages but grips you from start to finish.

Highly recommended

***** Stars


Diana Vreeland

Though not an autobiography in the usual sense DV is a collection of vignettes from one of history’s most stylish and stylized women. Miss Vreeland’s famous wit, style and sense of the absurd are all brought to the fore in this conversational and gossipy memoir. Not afraid to mince her words she makes outrageous pronouncements that are as individual as her famous sense of style.

Vreeland was editor of Harpers Bazaar and Vogue and was THE fashion maven for 50 years long before Anna Wintour and her ilk. Referred to as the Empress of Chic she literally shaped what the world wore for from the Second World War almost till the end of the century. As well as the delightful name dropping and witty stories, what really comes across in this book is Vreeland’s curiosity and her passion for life and people.

A delightful insight into one of the 20th Century’s most chic and eccentric personalities.

**** Stars

Life of the Party:The Biography of Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward Harriman

Christopher Ogden

Christopher Ogden vividly captures the life of the last great courtesan Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward Harriman the self driven plain daughter of a minor British aristocrat who propelled herself into money and power via a series of relationships with some of the world’s greatest men. Her husbands included Randolph Churchill, son of Winston. Leland Hayward, theatrical impresario and Averell Harriman, political saviour of the Democratic Party.

At home in the best male circles in England Europe and the US, though often despised by the women in those circles, she numbered Gianni Agnelli, Aly Khan, Elie de Rothschild, Rob Murrow and Bill Paley amongst her lovers, despite being a somewhat plain woman. Unlike many great courtesans, it was her final years that saw her

greatest triumphs after what was described by some as the worlds greatest facelift, she became as a tireless campaigner for the democratic party in the US and was instrumental in getting Bill Clinton into the White House. As a reward she would end her days as the US ambassador to France. Very few can claim to have been on first name terms with both Clinton and Winston Churchill but Pamela was one of them, a fascinating story of one of the 20th century’s most driven and ambitious women.

A fascinating read.

***** Stars

Buy these books at Amazon US

Buy these books at Amazon UK

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