THE DARK SIDE OF POWER by Carl Blumay

THE DARK SIDE OF POWER

The Real Armand Hammer
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A revelatory rundown on Armand Hammer from a close, longtime colleague who provides a credible corrective to Hammer's best- selling 1987 autobiography and carefully nurtured public image. The head of Occidental Petroleum's PR operation for more than two decades, Blumay was once told by Hammer that his main job was ``to make me immortal.'' Here, without gainsaying the validity of his subject's achievements, Blumay makes clear that, on a personal level, Hammer had few redeeming qualities. Hammer's odyssey (which ended at age 92 in 1990) ran from a comfortable childhood in the pre-WW I Bronx to the chairmanship of Occidental Petroleum. Along the way, he earned an M.D. from Columbia, spent nine years in the USSR (where Lenin made him his pet capitalist), and made small fortunes in several stateside businesses. In semiretirement during the 1950's, Hammer latched on to Occidental and made it a transnational energy colossus. He also traded on his well-known acquaintanceship with Lenin to appoint himself an unofficial envoy to Communist capitals; and, apparently using corporate funds, he gained fame as a patron of the arts, a philanthropist, and an unabashed apologist for unrestricted East/West trade. Noting that Moscow's expatriate press corps referred to Hammer as ``the Politburo's pimp,'' Blumay leaves little doubt that his subject was a Comintern agent. While shamelessly pursuing a Nobel Peace Prize in his twilight years, moreover, Hammer picked up a conviction for violations of US election law. In addition, he faced constant accusations of wrongdoing by the IRS, SEC, and other government agencies. Nor, by Blumay's account, was his client any bargain for members of the extended Hammer family, friends, and business associates (whose tenure tended to last only as long as their usefulness), or for stockholders in Occidental, a publicly held enterprise that Hammer evidently treated as a private fiefdom. A dirt-dishing revisionist version--which rings true throughout--of a fascinating life. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-70053-7
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1992