Engrossing story of the Balzac-scaled life of the great architect. Wright (1867-1959) was born in Wisconsin to a Welsh family of radical thinkers and was nurtured to be an architect by his mother, who told him he was destined for greatness. He dropped out of the Univ. of Wisconsin after two semesters to take a draftsman's job at $8.00 a week, and soon was working for the master architect Louis Sullivan (inventor of the skyscraper). Within a year, Wright had become chief designer at Adler and Sullivan and also had married the first of his three wives. In the next 30 years, he was to abandon his wife and six children (and his phenomenally successful practice), calling marriage a ""barnyard institution. I am a wild bird""; marry a morphine-addicted heiress and follower of Mary Baker Eddy who was killed by an axe-stroke to the brain by an insane servant; marry a Serbian beauty 30 years his junior who was an instructor for G.I. Gurdjieff; build his beloved house Taliesen (East) three times--it twice burned to the ground; time and again ingeniously raise prodigious sums of money and spend them in profligate excess; revive his career with the building of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo--the only major structure to remain undamaged in the largest earthquake of the century in 1923 in Japan; and go on to greater triumphs, culminating with the Guggenheim Museum in 1956. Secrest (Salvador Dali, 1986, etc.), who had access to the newly opened archives at Wright's Memorial Foundation, does a superb job in telling the human side of Wright's story. And without allowing it to overmaster her narrative, she provides clear architectural background to explicate Wright's designs, stature, and influence. Definitive.