The Secret Parts of Fortune: Three Decades of Intense Investigations and Edgy Enthusiasms

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9780060934460: The Secret Parts of Fortune: Three Decades of Intense Investigations and Edgy Enthusiasms

One part intellectual and one part private eye, Ron Rosenbaum takes readers into "the secret parts" of the great mysteries, controversies, and enigmas of our time, including:

  • the occult rituals of Skull and Bones, the legendary Yale secret society that has produced spies and presidents, including George Bush and George W. Bush.

  • the Secrets of the Little Blue Box, the classic story of "Captain Crunch" and the birth of hacker culture.

  • the "unorthodox" cancer-cure clinics of Tijuana.

  • the Great Ivy League Nude Posture Photo Scandal.

  • the unsolved murder of JFK's mistress.

Also including sharp, funny cultural critiques that range from Elvis to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Bill Gates to Oliver Stone, and J.D. Salinger to the Zagat® guide, The Secret Parts of Fortune is a vital record of American culture.

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Review:

One part intellectual and one part journalist, Ron Rosenbaum offers a thick book full of his writing from Esquire, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, and The New York Observer (where he is currently a columnist). Perhaps not every selection will interest every reader--the diversity of topics is incredible--but there is probably something, or many things, for everyone in The Secret Parts of Fortune.

An outstanding entry is an excerpt from his celebrated book Explaining Hitler. Other highlights include a hilarious interview with Robin Leach (entitled "The Frantic Screaming Voice of the Rich and Famous"), an explanation of why Murray Kempton "is the best prose writer in America," and a short history of computer hackers. One of Rosenbaum's finest pieces focuses on the cancer-cure underground: "False hope springs eternal," he writes, describing how phony cancer "cures seem to spring up and sweep the nation like religious revivals, a new one at least every decade." Yet he's sympathetic--or at least mildly understanding--of the motivations behind the fake healers: the movement isn't "composed mainly of cash-hungry charlatans and snake-oil salesmen eager to make an easy killing off the sufferings and hopes of cancer victims. In fact, among the healers, the prophets, and the alchemists, you find less greed than evangelical fervor--the rapturous conviction of religious visionaries."

Rosenbaum is rougher with Bill Gates; he lights into the billionaire's fabled high-tech home, which he says "exhibits the distinctive feature of the totalitarian mind: the inability to distinguish between private and public spheres. It suggests this isn't just the way he wants to run his house, it's the way he wants to run the world: total surveillance, enforced entertainment, everyone isolated in programmable pods." Yet another standout is Rosenbaum's article on Kim Philby, the British intelligence officer who spied against his native land on behalf of the Soviets. Or did he? Rosenbaum considers the fascinating "possibility that Philby had been not a Soviet double agent but a British triple agent." And there's so much more. This rich book is full of provocative and gripping prose, and highly recommended. --John J. Miller

From the Inside Flap:

In 1998, Ron Rosenbaum published Explaining Hitler, a national bestseller and one of the most acclaimed books of the year, hailed by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times as "lucid and exciting . . . a provocative work of cultural history that is as compelling as it is thoughtful, as readable as it is smart." Time called it "brilliant . . . restlessly probing, deeply intelligent."

The acclaim came as no surprise to those who have been reading Ron Rosenbaum's journalism, published widely in America's best magazines for three decades. The man known to readers of his New York Observer column as "The Edgy Enthusiast" has distinguished himself as a writer with extraordinary range, an ability to tell stories that are frequently philosophical, comical, and suspenseful all at once.

In this classic collection of three decades of groundbreaking nonfiction, Rosenbaum takes readers on a wildly original tour of the American landscape, deep into "the secret parts" of the great mysteries, controversies, and enigmas of our time.

These are intellectual adventure stories that reveal:

 ¸  The occult rituals of Skull and Bones, the legendary Yale secret society that has produced spies, presidents, and wanna-bes, including George Bush and his son George W. (that's the author, with skull, on the cover, in front of the Skull and Bones crypt)

 ¸  The Secrets of the Little Blue Box, the classic story of the birth of hacker culture

 ¸  The Curse of the Dead Sea Scrolls; "The Great Ivy League Nude Posture Photo Scandal"; the underground
realms of "unorthodox" cancer-cure clinics in Mexico; the mind of Kim Philby, "the spy of the century"; the unsolved murder of JFK's mistress; and the mysteries of "Long Island, Babylon"
 ¸  Sharp, funny (sometimes hilarious) cultural critiques that range from Elvis to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Bill Gates to Oliver Stone, Thomas Pynchon to Mr. Whipple, J. D. Salinger to the Zagat Guide, Helen Vendler to Isaac Bashevis Singer
 ¸  And a marriage proposal to Rosanne Cash

Forcefully reported, brilliantly opinionated, and elegantly phrased, The Secret Parts of Fortune will endure as a vital record of American culture from 1970 to the present.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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