With broad archival research and hundreds of interviews (though none with Armand Hammer himself), University of Missouri journalism professor Weinberg portrays in depth a unique 20th-century character. A one-time M.D., capitalist benefactor of an infant U.S.S.R. and friend of Lenin, U.S. importer of Czarist art, big-time post-Prohibition distiller, world-class oil tycoon and self-appointed adviser to seven American presidents, Hammer, now 90, according to the author, used personal contacts with every Soviet leader after Stalin to conduct behind-the-scenes cold-war diplomacy while building up his Occidental Petroleum Co. in Texas, California, Great Britain, the U.S.S.R., Libya, Israel and China. He has bought, sold and given away fine art on a grand scale and donated millions of dollars to medicine, education and cultural exchanges. Weinberg bitingly records Hammer's acute self-esteem, along with alleged sharp practices and questionable dealings. But his ebullient subject's achievements in many directions remain overwhelming. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
This is an unauthorized biography of the medical doctor who built the Occidental Petroleum Corporation, one of the largest oil companies in the world. It attempts to convey a factual account of Hammer's extraordinary business career from mostly secondary sources. Weinberg maintains that Hammer's own version of pivotal episodes in his life, as reported in either of two previous, authorized biographies, John Bryson's The World of Armand Hammer (Abrams, 1985) and Hammer's own Hammer , with Neil Lyndon (Putnam, 1987), is enhanced to shed favorable light on himself. While Weinberg presents evidence refuting some of Hammer's self-aggrandizing history, he cannot help but give Hammer his due as a master entrepreneur. Comprehensive, balanced, and well written, this is suitable for business collections.-- Joseph Barth, U.S. Military Acad . Lib, West Point, N.Y.
Anyone who produces four separate recountings of his own life deserves an unauthorized biography such as this. Hammer, a near-legendary entrepreneur and diplomat without portfolio, has attempted to create his own character by offering or withholding biographical information. It's not surprising that he has now been recreated as someone else's character, more powerful and sinister than his own. See him fraternize with heads of state. See him build an empire. See him avoid prosecution. Forty pages of notes and 15 of bibliography. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)