I was a little surprised to hear, in advertisements promoting Martin Scorsese's new film The Aviator, that Hughes "fought a corrupt system," or some such. By far, I think, the finest book I've read on Hughes is Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele's work, Empire, which was based primarily on court documents, tax returns, government records, and hundreds of interviews. The Amazon page offers a fairly good summary:
Though he rose to fame after a record-setting flight around the world and the construction of an unprecedented fleet of airplanes, aerospace industry icon Howard Hughes wasted millions of dollars in production, swindled taxpayers through self-serving philanthropy projects and regularly lied to stockholders.
And that was all well before he went crazy in his later years. I suppose Scorsese's film will have its merits, but I doubt that historical accuracy will be one of them...Posted by Ideofact at December 14, 2004 11:48 PM