In this relentlessly grim portrait of Armand Hammer, his former public relations consultant Blumay and journalist and novelist Edwards characterize the powerful international businessman as a skinflint, a womanizer, a liar, a browbeater of his staff and, above all, a man obsessed with money, power and fame. Ironically, Blumay in this book undoes his 25-year-long attempt to build an image of Hammer (1898-1990) as ``caring, compassionate and wise.'' Unfortunately, the book lacks an organized overview and, although it proceeds chronologically, it is difficult to follow. Moreover, while Blumay offers insider details, the book strains credibility. It lacks both footnotes and bibliography, relies on deceased sources such as Hammer's brother Victor for damaging information and serves up numerous verbatim quotes from decades-old conversations. Armand Hammer, Steve Weinberg's 1989 biography, remains the standard. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (Nov.)
Hammer, millionaire chairman of the board of Occidental Petroleum, who died in 1990 at the age of 92, was not a nice person. Blumay, Hammer's public relations consultant for 25 years and architect of his public persona, describes in astonishing detail the methods by which both the American public and his stockholders were hoodwinked into believing that Hammer was a generous philanthropist, a brilliant businessman, and a scholarly art collector. The widely held perception that this noted capitalist was an officially sanctioned good-will ambassador to the Soviet Union was totally bogus. Blumay reveals that Hammer's seven-decades-long relationship with the former Soviet Union was complicated and, like most of his relationships, nefarious. Readers will discover a man who was unbelievably ruthless and cruel, demanding unquestioning loyalty of his employees and devoid of any redeeming qualities. Even in old age, Hammer continued to sow seeds of misery in the lives of the people he touched. Recommended for public libraries.-- Andrea C. Dragon, Coll. of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, N.J.