Books by John Glatt

Released: Aug. 6, 2019

"It's hard to imagine wanting to read such a story, but devotees of true crime will be drawn to this narrative."
Horrific account of a headline-making case of criminal abuse that shook a California community. Read full book review >
Released: April 14, 2015

"For a wide-angle view of the horrific string of crimes start to finish, Glatt constructs an absorbing winner."
Journalist and seasoned true-crime writer Glatt (The Prince of Paradise: The True Story of a Hotel Heir, His Seductive Wife, and a Ruthless Murder, 2013, etc.) recounts the highly publicized story of three women kidnapped and held in captivity for a decade.Read full book review >
Released: April 16, 2013

"Though not always polished, the writing is generally solid, and the story is interesting enough to keep most true-crime fans happy."
Investigative reporter and true-crime vet Glatt (Love Her to Death, 2012, etc.) turns his attention to the story of a rich playboy's gruesome murder. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 19, 1998

Hard on the heels of the death of one princess, Glatt gathers info and gossip about the world's other favorite princess, Grace Kelly of Monaco, and her three rebellious children, Prince Albert and Princesses Caroline and Stephanie. It's difficult to judge the merits of an exposÇ such as this one without looking at it in the context of current times. True, the seemingly fairy tale fate of glamorous Hollywood movie star Grace Kelly becoming Princess Grace of Monaco in 1956 offers the perfect fodder for an escapist read, but one still has to question Glatt's (Lost in Hollywood: The Fast Times and Short Life of River Phoenix, 1995, etc.) timing. Short paragraphs and out-of-place comments seem inserted after-the-fact to connect the Monaco royals to Diana and capitalize on the current hot topic of paparazzi invasion. Whereas a biography of a deceased public figure doesn—t necessarily have to become tabloid material, Glatt focuses his on the remarkably irresponsible behavior and embarrassingly ill-informed choices made by Monaco's ruling family after the death of Princess Grace. This direction taints Glatt's intentions (whatever they may really be) with a gossipy cast. The author did obtain the cooperation of Prince Albert and others close to the family, but that doesn—t necessarily transform his book from a gratuitous ogling into an enlightening explanation of their tragic misfortune. As for the writing, Glatt repeats himself: several anecdotes and quotes show up again and again in only slightly different form. However, for what it's worth, Glatt understands how to string together a ton of minute, only momentarily intriguing details into an action-packed, larger-than-life TV movie of the week. For those interested in glimpsing how royalty live, this is probably, and perhaps regrettably, a winner. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 1997

Among Frank Zappa's last public statements was this: ``U2 is maybe the most popular and successful export coming from Ireland today, but there's no comparison between the musical quality of what they do and what the Chieftains do.'' Glatt ably explains why. Zappa is one of dozens of musicians, writers, and actors to go on the record for Glatt (Rage & Roll: Bill Graham and the Selling of Rock, 1994, etc.) in this heavily researched account of the career of 58-year-old Irishman Paddy Moloney, the band's leader and driving force, et al., from relative obscurity during the folk and rock eras of the '50s and '60s to their Grammy-winning albums of the '90s and their collaboration with several prominent musicians on The Long Black Veil. All along, the Chieftains have enjoyed the admiration of Seamus Heaney, Peter O'Toole, and the Rolling Stones, and Glatt's legwork is apparent in interviews not only with such diverse luminaries, but also with the the band's families, former members, and associates, and even with actor/director Ron Howard, whose film Far and Away is one of many scored by Moloney. Particularly amusing episodes feature the always cantankerous Ulsterian Van Morrison and a band visit to China that ultimately led to their being named the official musical ambassadors of Ireland. As an unofficial ambassador, Moloney has dabbled in the music of French Brittany and Spanish Galicia, and Glatt does a fine job of impressing upon the reader the Celtic heart of the Chieftains, from their fluency in the Irish language to their endless searches for links between Celtic culture and music in other corners of the world. And unlike other writers, Glatt avoids the temptation to slap a political label on this band that comes from such a politically torn country. Though he offers little to the uninitiated, Glatt has written an indispensable chronicle for the casual listener, the die-hard fan, and all levels in between. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) Read full book review >
Released: March 15, 1995

A depressing and annoying account of the troubled life of actor River Phoenix. Phoenix's parents, surnamed Bottom, were the sort of earnest but ludicrous hippies who in 1970 could give their firstborn the name ``River Bottom'' without noticing its inauspiciousness. Within a couple of years the Bottoms had joined a sinister pseudo- Christian cult, the Children of God, under whose edicts River was apparently introduced to sexual relations at age four. Renamed the Phoenixes by the cult, the family wound up in Venezuela as missionaries. By the time they dropped out, six-year-old River had become the indigent family's principal breadwinner, singing in the street for coins. Soon the Phoenixes moved to L.A. to try to capitalize on River's charisma and talent. There followed appearances in TV commercials and series, and eventually success in feature films such as Stand by Me and Running on Empty. In public, Phoenix was a clean-living vegan and environmental activist, but privately he drank, smoked, and at least sporadically used drugs. Given the childhood sexual abuse, the fact that he spent much of his adolescence in front of a camera, and his parents' conviction that he had a mission to reform the world, it's not hard to imagine the pressures and insecurities that ultimately led to Phoenix's death by multiple-drug overdose at age 23. Glatt (Rage & Roll, 1993) gives only an occasional inkling that he recognizes Phoenix's appeal: The actor gave some edgy, brilliant performances, and he wrote his own finest scene, the narcoleptic hustler's campfire soul-baring in My Own Private Idaho. Glatt did not speak to most of Phoenix's intimates and colleagues in any depth, when he spoke to them at all; much of his information is taken from magazine and newspaper articles, with no attempt at a unifying point of view. Puffy amusement for celebrity-trauma fans that lacks any fondness for its subject. (Photos, not seen) Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1994

A balanced, if redundant, account of the life and times of rock promoter Bill Graham, by English-born investigative journalist Glatt. Born in 1933 in Germany, Graham escaped the Holocaust, coming at age ten to the US, where he was adopted by a Jewish-German family but suffered psychological problems adjusting to American life. Progressing from running crap games at a Catskills hotel, he settled in San Francisco, where he managed a trucking company while yearning for a life in the arts. Taking a big pay cut, Graham became the manager of the San Francisco Mime Troupe; soon after, he began promoting rock concerts, using an old theater in a bad part of town as his venue. Graham built his empire on the Fillmore, eventually opening an N.Y.C. branch while moving into band- management, record production, and the lucrative business of rock souvenirs. He eventually closed both theaters but remained a force in the rock world, organizing charity events like Live Aid and the first Amnesty International tour. Although Graham was professionally successful, his personal life was often a shambles: He treated women poorly and was often strung out on cocaine, Ecstasy, and sleeping pills. Glatt relies mostly on others' written accounts and magazine interviews in compiling this bio (he even uses Graham's own Bill Graham Presents, 1992, which covers much of the same ground), but he did talk to a few Graham associates, particularly one of the promoter's ex-girlfriends, Regina Cartwright, who sheds some new light on Graham's fiery temperament. Glatt's British roots lead him to odd mistakes (he describes Kesey's Magic Bus as ``a brightly painted van''), and he's weak when discussing 60's social trends. In any case, Graham's life was so downbeat (he died in 1991 in a helicopter crash following a decade of new personal declines) that one wonders why we need another bio to supplement his own: for rock completists only. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.) Read full book review >