NEXT TO HUGHES by Robert & Richard Hack Maheu

NEXT TO HUGHES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The self-servingly selective reminiscences of a world-class hustler who, among other dubious career distinctions, was a top aide to Howard Hughes. A sometime FBI agent who made a name for himself after WW II as a freelance trouble-shooter for a suspect clientele (the CIA, Stavros Niarchos, etc.), Maheu (who turns 75 this year) was first retained by Hughes during the mid-1950's. While he never met his employer (who kept in touch by phone or memo), Maheu soon became the reclusive billionaire's main front-man, representing him, among other matters, in the purchase and operation of a wealth of Nevada casinos. Maheu also acted as the Hughes organization's bagman in its efforts to influence such pots as Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon. In the meantime, he continued to do the odd dirty job for pals in the intelligence community (e.g., recruiting gangsters Sam Giancana and Johnny Rosselli to assassinate Fidel Castro). Eventually, however, the high-living, Las Vegas-based Maheu ran afoul of the so-called Mormon Mafia, whose members danced personal attendance upon the ailing, drug-addicted Hughes, and he lost his plush post as the mad industrialist's chief surrogate toward the end of 1970. Maheu devotes much of the chronological narrative (coauthored with Dove Books & Audio VP Hack) to exculpatory accounts of the legal woes he endured in the wake of his ouster. These dreary recitals ring false, however, largely because Maheu's assessment of his own role in any number of criminal activities is impenitently amoral. A graceless, narcissistic, score-settling apologia that affords little flesh insight into eccentrics, villains, or scandals from the recent past.

Pub Date: April 22nd, 1992
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: HarperCollins