Memoir of time spent with a deeply unpleasant and, in the end, murderous mogul.
John du Pont (1938-2010) had it all: He grew up wealthy on a huge estate near Philadelphia with all the toys, and his fortune was inexhaustible. His passions were diverse, and he had a museum-worthy collection of natural history specimens. He also sponsored athletes, funding training for young Greco-Roman enthusiasts. “Now, I realized, he was collecting wrestlers,” writes athlete and trainer Schultz, his tone characteristically aggrieved. “We were his newest trophies…and we were more fun to play with than his seashells and birds because we were collectables that he could manipulate.” Inexpert at human relations, du Pont seems to have wanted to buy acceptance, and even though, Schultz insists, the wrestlers had nothing but contempt for him, they seem not to have had any trouble taking his money. In the end, du Pont shot Schultz’s wrestler brother to death and, ever disassociated, went off to prison for his crime, where he died. The author establishes that du Pont was manipulative and abusive and would have been very lonely without his money. (“I get it that it must be tough growing up rich, not knowing whether people like you because of your money or because of who you are.”) Yet Schultz does little more than recount all those negative things, undermining his narrative authority by admitting to such things as using drugs on du Pont’s dime, contemplating killing du Pont himself and taking the money without qualm (“John paid me forty thousand dollars per year even though I had left”). He gives no strong evidence for why the court was in error in deeming du Pont mentally ill, though he insists du Pont was feigning insanity, and he makes no compelling case for thinking the verdict was flawed.
A clumsy account about a tragic collision in which justice seems already to have been served.