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Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright

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Frank Lloyd Wright has long been known as a rank egotist who held in contempt almost everything aside from his own genius. Harder to detect, but no less real, is a Wright who fully understood, and suffered from, the choices he made. This is the Wright whom Paul Hendrickson reveals in this masterful biography: the Wright who was haunted by his father, about whom he told the Frank Lloyd Wright has long been known as a rank egotist who held in contempt almost everything aside from his own genius. Harder to detect, but no less real, is a Wright who fully understood, and suffered from, the choices he made. This is the Wright whom Paul Hendrickson reveals in this masterful biography: the Wright who was haunted by his father, about whom he told the greatest lie of his life. And this, we see, is the Wright of many other neglected aspects of his story: his close, and perhaps romantic, relationship with friend and early mentor Cecil Corwin; the eerie, unmistakable role of fires in his life; the connection between the 1921 Black Wall Street massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the murder of his mistress, her two children, and four others at his beloved Wisconsin home. In showing us Wright's facades along with their cracks, Hendrickson helps us form a fresh, deep, and more human understanding of the man. With prodigious research, unique vision, and his ability to make sense of a life in ways at once unexpected, poetic, and undeniably brilliant, he has given us the defining book on Wright.


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Frank Lloyd Wright has long been known as a rank egotist who held in contempt almost everything aside from his own genius. Harder to detect, but no less real, is a Wright who fully understood, and suffered from, the choices he made. This is the Wright whom Paul Hendrickson reveals in this masterful biography: the Wright who was haunted by his father, about whom he told the Frank Lloyd Wright has long been known as a rank egotist who held in contempt almost everything aside from his own genius. Harder to detect, but no less real, is a Wright who fully understood, and suffered from, the choices he made. This is the Wright whom Paul Hendrickson reveals in this masterful biography: the Wright who was haunted by his father, about whom he told the greatest lie of his life. And this, we see, is the Wright of many other neglected aspects of his story: his close, and perhaps romantic, relationship with friend and early mentor Cecil Corwin; the eerie, unmistakable role of fires in his life; the connection between the 1921 Black Wall Street massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the murder of his mistress, her two children, and four others at his beloved Wisconsin home. In showing us Wright's facades along with their cracks, Hendrickson helps us form a fresh, deep, and more human understanding of the man. With prodigious research, unique vision, and his ability to make sense of a life in ways at once unexpected, poetic, and undeniably brilliant, he has given us the defining book on Wright.

30 review for Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright

  1. 5 out of 5

    David Eppenstein

    I studied architecture in college. Architecture in my time was a five year cirriculum with the fifth year devoted to a thesis. My thesis was on architectural history, an option that hadn't been selected by any other student in the preceding 20 years so I was told. So I guess it's fair to say that I am not only familiar with Wright but also all the other architects of historical merit ancient to modern. I also live minutes away from Oak Park, Illinois, the site of many of Wright's early work incl I studied architecture in college. Architecture in my time was a five year cirriculum with the fifth year devoted to a thesis. My thesis was on architectural history, an option that hadn't been selected by any other student in the preceding 20 years so I was told. So I guess it's fair to say that I am not only familiar with Wright but also all the other architects of historical merit ancient to modern. I also live minutes away from Oak Park, Illinois, the site of many of Wright's early work including his home and the incomparable Unity Temple and have toured many of his houses locally as well as in other states. So when it was announced that the author of this book would be appearing at the Oak Park Public Library promoting and signing his book I was on the computer making my reservation and purchasing my copy of the book. The promotional event was highly entertaining as the author is a very engaging speaker and his talk had me eager to read his book as it sounded fascinating and different from anything I had ever read before about Wright. Initially let me say that this book is not an architectural history though it would be impossible to write about Wright without dealing with his buildings and his art. The author is not an architect but a journalist and he does discuss Wright's work but not to the extent one might expect as the author is more interested in the man than in his buildings. While the author is more focused on Wright I hesitate to call this book a biography even though it is biographical. So what is it? I would call it a filter. Through this book the author runs down all of the myths and misrememberances, all the lies and legends that have been written about, repeated, and promoted about Frank Lloyd Wright. When the reader finishes the reading the lies and legends have been washed away and the myths and misrememberances have had their edges more sharply defined and the their color restored. What you will have is a clearer image of a man that was uniquely talented, impossibly vain, alternately fortunate and unfortunate, and tragically flawed and troubled. I have either read or am familiar with most if not all the books about Wright cited by this author in his research. After reading this book I can say the author has produced a treatment about Wright the likes of which I have never come across before. If you are interested in Frank Lloyd Wright then this is a must read book. As a journalist Mr. Hendrickson's approach in this book reads almost like a newspaper expose or the reports of a private investigator at times. The author doesn't simply tell us about Wright he tracks down as many people as he can that had anything to do with Wright at any time in his life. From time to time it did seem to me that wild goose chases were being conducted but then pay dirt was discovered and the pursuit justified. The investigations reveal a great deal about Wright's family of origin as well as the family he fathered. His childhood and his siblings of full and half blood are detailed and Wright's relationship or lack of relationship with his extensive family is fully explored. One thing that I was uncomfortable with was the amount of psychological speculation the author indulges in regarding motivation and behaviors of various people the author discovers and how these people may have influenced Wright. The author admits freely the lack of evidence for much of his speculation so I was then bothered by the inclusion of this material. Nevertheless, the material discovered is fascinating and does more clearly define the man Wright became. Of course the author also concludes that what has been learned also adds to the mystery of Frank Lloyd Wright and it is this unanswerable quality of Frank Lloyd Wright that insures his place in history. I can't say I am a fan of Wright's work but I do appreciate and understand the beauty and merit of it. After reading this book I think my regard for the man is now on about the same level as my regard for his architecture.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    The title points to a book about how fires haunted FLW; but author’s search for the person (not the icon) shows relationships that could have provoked “dreams and furies”. Most of the book is about the people in Wright's life. The longest profiles are for those who are vague, mis-represented or absent in the author’s autobiography and public statements. Some of the people covered suggest uncomfortable truths. Wright’s family life was probably his first tragedy. Paul Hendrickson finds holes in Wri The title points to a book about how fires haunted FLW; but author’s search for the person (not the icon) shows relationships that could have provoked “dreams and furies”. Most of the book is about the people in Wright's life. The longest profiles are for those who are vague, mis-represented or absent in the author’s autobiography and public statements. Some of the people covered suggest uncomfortable truths. Wright’s family life was probably his first tragedy. Paul Hendrickson finds holes in Wright's implication that his father deserted the family. Court records show his father a victim and family accounts have his mother as unreasonable and violent. Wright's stepsister's memoir is specific about a very troubled family life. The marriage and divorce of William and Anna Wright destroyed his father… not the other way around. A significant person absent, but for his act, from Wright literature is Julian Carlton, the man who set the fire that destroyed Taliesin and wielded the ax and gasoline that killed 7. Hendrickson explores him and it is not a cursory look. To draw his portrait he visits Carlton’s home town, searches for anyone who was related to him or knew about him. He checks census and court records. He visits Carlton’s Chicago address, his Wisconsin jail cell and checks on his previous employment places. Cecil Corwin and Richard Lloyd Jones have lengthy treatments. Corwin was an early associate who introduced Wright to fine arts, fashion and dining in Chicago. Hendrickson leaves it to the reader to interpret this professional and personal relationship. Richard Lloyd Jones, a first cousin, was once a protégé of Wisconsin’s progressive senator and governor Robert LaFollette. Jones later betrayed his progressive family heritage and fanned the fires that led to the Tulsa’s attacks on its black citizens. Hendrickson imagines how Wright might have felt upon leaving his family to be with Mamah Cheney; being told of the fire and murders at his home; being with Louis Sullivan in his last days, hearing news of his old friend Cecil Corwin; visiting his father’s grave site and more. While Wright’s tremendous output in his final years (approaching and entering age 90) ends the book, the narrative essentially ends when he meets third wife Olgivanna and begins The Fellowship. While considerable research in this book answers questions about Wright it also poses more. Here are a few observations: - The portraits of Wright’s mother Anna and his second wife Miriam are unmistakably similar. - Wright was highly favored by his mother whose bitterness may have influenced him regarding his father until he had more life experience. - How many pianos were there at Taliesin? (one cousin asks… and I do too). FLW's father's primary interest was music. He taught, performed and wrote sheet music in addition to his ministerial career.. - Wright’s violence: two physical assaults (a co-worker in Chicago and a husband demanding his wife’s long overdue wages); and material on his stormy second marriage strongly suggests Wright can be violent. - Hendrickson notes the tragedies that occurred in FLW designed houses. Would statistics reveal an unusually high percentage? If so, is there something risky or suicidal in the nature of those who engaged him to design their home? - You can lose count of the number of “Wright scholars” Hendrickson consults. Are there 100’s of them? - Robert Moses was a relative of FLW. (Hendrickson does not say how). Actress Ann Baxter is a granddaughter. Other descendants have had distinguished, although not famous, careers. - A book with Hendrickson's style of research would make a worthwhile contribution on the Fellowship's apprentices. The book needs to be read with online and print resources to see the buildings. The few B&W in the book are not enough. The index works. The author jumps around on the timeline… but warns you what will come. This is a must read for those who already know the FLW story; others will need more background. The author’s style holds you until the end which seems rushed.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Having grown up in Oak Park next to a Frank Lloyd Wright home, and being totally immersed in Wright architecture, I wanted to love this book a bit more than I did. I felt Hendrickson tried a bit too hard to prove some things that were just theories/concoctions. He dug very deep (with quite impressive research) on things that in my mind, could have been skipped ( Tulsa race riots as one example). That being said, I was enthralled through this 500 page book- both with the writing style, and with h Having grown up in Oak Park next to a Frank Lloyd Wright home, and being totally immersed in Wright architecture, I wanted to love this book a bit more than I did. I felt Hendrickson tried a bit too hard to prove some things that were just theories/concoctions. He dug very deep (with quite impressive research) on things that in my mind, could have been skipped ( Tulsa race riots as one example). That being said, I was enthralled through this 500 page book- both with the writing style, and with his knowledge of Wright and his era. There were many facts/stories that I had not known previously. A worthwhile read for anyone interested in Wright.

  4. 4 out of 5

    June

    Interesting, but the writing style--author inserting himself into the book at every opportunity--is annoying and very distracting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John Findlay

    I can understand why many reviewers gave this book a lower rating than I did. At times, as I read it, I was thinking of a lower score. The author keeps jumping around as he describes Frank Lloyd Wright's amazing life, and sometimes seems to go off on tangents that aren't essential to the narrative. One example would be the section on Wright's racist cousin who was responsible for the Tulsa Race Riot (more accurately the Tulsa Race Massacre). But, all in all, this is a very thorough and absorbing I can understand why many reviewers gave this book a lower rating than I did. At times, as I read it, I was thinking of a lower score. The author keeps jumping around as he describes Frank Lloyd Wright's amazing life, and sometimes seems to go off on tangents that aren't essential to the narrative. One example would be the section on Wright's racist cousin who was responsible for the Tulsa Race Riot (more accurately the Tulsa Race Massacre). But, all in all, this is a very thorough and absorbing story of all that went into America's greatest architect. While Hendrickson very thoroughly researched the story, it is clear that there are still many questions that cannot be answered definitively. Nobody knows precisely why Julian Carlton went crazy and murdered many people at Taliesin in 1914, for instance. But Hendrickson is willing to offer some opinions. He is also willing to correct some mischaracterizations that have been carried in the literature for years. FLW's father did NOT desert his family when Frank was a boy. Essentially he was driven away by an absolutely crazy and vicious wife. FLW in his own autobiographies, and his many biographers, have perpetuated many mistakes and inconsistencies. Hendrickson attempts to resolve many of these. We are left with a picture of FLW as a narcistic genius, who probably had more humanity than he is given credit for. I was fascinated by the span and variety of his work. His "Prairie School" was very early in his career. Many years later, in 1936, he worked on Falling Waters, the Johnson Wax headquarters, and the first of his inexpensive, "everyman" houses, the Jacob. But he was still very actively working into his 80's, culminating in the Guggenheim Museum. He had three wives, and a mistress who died in the Taliesin fire. He was not close with his children, and would admit it. His ego was enormous, like many geniuses. His life is almost unbelievable; if you didn't know it was true, you would probably think it had been invented and exaggerated. In general, I love reading biographies, but have gravitated too often to those of politicians or generals. This book illustrates how meaningful it is to read about the leaders in other fields such as art, science, or architecture. I highly recommend this book. It may not be for everyone, but many will enjoy it immensely.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    I often rather like a conversational writing style where you feel like the author is just telling you about a subject that he/she is so enthusiastic about but here I found the author's style annoying. Well researched & informed, but also determined to push theories that had little or no basis other than his wanting it to be so. Ultimately I'd have to say the book made me look up some of Wright's buildings online to visually see what he was talking about & I learned more about Wright but I wouldn I often rather like a conversational writing style where you feel like the author is just telling you about a subject that he/she is so enthusiastic about but here I found the author's style annoying. Well researched & informed, but also determined to push theories that had little or no basis other than his wanting it to be so. Ultimately I'd have to say the book made me look up some of Wright's buildings online to visually see what he was talking about & I learned more about Wright but I wouldn't go looking for anything else by this author & I wasn't convinced by all the twists & turns of his story as to all of his theories

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert Holmes

    Much of the material in this book was interesting, but the presentation was confusing. The timeline was mixed up with repeated hints of material to be discussed in detail in a later part of the book. There was a confusing mix of documented fact and speculation. My major criticism is that it is far too long. FLW led a long life, but the book could have had less detail or covered a briefer period. For example the section on his cousins role in Oklahoma race riots was irrelevant. The continuing und Much of the material in this book was interesting, but the presentation was confusing. The timeline was mixed up with repeated hints of material to be discussed in detail in a later part of the book. There was a confusing mix of documented fact and speculation. My major criticism is that it is far too long. FLW led a long life, but the book could have had less detail or covered a briefer period. For example the section on his cousins role in Oklahoma race riots was irrelevant. The continuing undocumented hints of homosexuality were distracting. The final chapter called Sources basically told about how the book was written was particularly annoying.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Walker

    I liked this more than I thought I would. I think that’s because it included contextual historic events along with information about FLW and his life and work.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dalton

    I knew of Frank Lloyd Wright, admired his most notable pieces of architecture (Fallingwater, the Guggenheim), but I would never have called myself knowledgeable on the man or his career, nor frankly was I craving for a biography. However, when I closed Plagued by Fire, I was floored with not only how much I learned, but how much more I wanted to learn. This impressively researched, gripping biography doesn’t chronicle Wright’s life beginning to end but focuses on the highest and lowest point wit I knew of Frank Lloyd Wright, admired his most notable pieces of architecture (Fallingwater, the Guggenheim), but I would never have called myself knowledgeable on the man or his career, nor frankly was I craving for a biography. However, when I closed Plagued by Fire, I was floored with not only how much I learned, but how much more I wanted to learn. This impressively researched, gripping biography doesn’t chronicle Wright’s life beginning to end but focuses on the highest and lowest point with incredible clarity and insight. Each chapter was cinematic in approach, unique for a biography I feel, and by looking not only at Wright and his legacy but the legacies of his buildings, Paul Hendrickson made this a living text. Plagued by Fire is one of the most surprising and fascinating non-fiction books I’ve read in sometime.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Du

    This just did not work for me. I think it came down to the fact that Wright might have been a creative genus but he was a bad, no good, horrible person. The author captures that and I wonder if through that lens, I really found the book to take on the aspects of Wright I didn't like. hmmmm This just did not work for me. I think it came down to the fact that Wright might have been a creative genus but he was a bad, no good, horrible person. The author captures that and I wonder if through that lens, I really found the book to take on the aspects of Wright I didn't like. hmmmm

  11. 4 out of 5

    EllenZReads

    *I received a free uncorrected bound proof from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.* Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright is everything you didn't know you wanted to know about one of the United States' most celebrated architects. The author notes that his book is not meant to be an FLW biography in the conventional sense, but a kind of "synecdoche," moving the narrative forward and backward in time. Frank Lloyd Wright designed some 1100 buildings over his care *I received a free uncorrected bound proof from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.* Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright is everything you didn't know you wanted to know about one of the United States' most celebrated architects. The author notes that his book is not meant to be an FLW biography in the conventional sense, but a kind of "synecdoche," moving the narrative forward and backward in time. Frank Lloyd Wright designed some 1100 buildings over his career, approximately 400 of those were built, but he was so much more than his known work. "It's such a grand American story: the lowly arrival, the startling becoming, and practically every Frank Lloyd Wright book that's ever been written, not least his own, has wanted to deal with it in some way or other. Even accounting for all the luck and seized opportunity, no one has every quite been able to explain how it happened, the realizing part, because artistic genius of this sort, or maybe any sort, doesn't have real explanation." Paul Hendrickson's exquisitely detailed book starts with the fire and murders at Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's home in Spring Green, Wisconsin, on August 15, 1914, by a "servant gone beserk." Seven people were killed, including Wright's mistress and her two children from a previous marriage. The story then moves around not quite chronologically, back and forth between different significant events and people in Frank Lloyd Wright's life, including his wife, his mother, his children, his work, his father, and his friendships with Cecil Corwin and others. "Story. In place of knowing, what we so often seem to have with the life of Frank Lloyd Wright are the stories themselves." On William Carey Wright, FLW's father: "Those are the headwaters: William Carey Wright, a man so prodigiously gifted, who lost at life...it was a life, for all its talents and charismatic qualities, which went slowly toward oblivion. A life with more than its share of seeming bad fortune in it. How do you explain bad fortune? You don't." The book then goes into some seemingly peripheral tragedies involving FLW relatives, including his cousin, newspaper owner Richard Lloyd Wright, who (allegedly) instigated the Tulsa Race Riot, and his young grandson who lost his mother (FLW daughter-in-law) and baby brother in a car crash. One of Frank Lloyd Wright's apprentices: "Frank Lloyd Wright attracted fire." "All my life I have been plagued by fire."--FLW after a fire broke out at the church in which his daughter was getting married. "You can never get to the end of the knowing." --Paul Hendrickson on Frank Lloyd Wright. Hendrickson's passion for his subject and his meticulous research make this a thoroughly fascinating and worthwhile read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Although there were a few major issues I had with this book, more on those in a minute, this was still a mostly enjoyable read and I particularly enjoyed how Hendrickson went deep in investigative research mode to tease out threads of people tangentially related to Wright. Particularly, I loved the deep dive into the man who killed his mistress and her two children, and refuting much of the common wisdom around his life. I also found the, rather sad and horrifying, story of Wright's cousin's inv Although there were a few major issues I had with this book, more on those in a minute, this was still a mostly enjoyable read and I particularly enjoyed how Hendrickson went deep in investigative research mode to tease out threads of people tangentially related to Wright. Particularly, I loved the deep dive into the man who killed his mistress and her two children, and refuting much of the common wisdom around his life. I also found the, rather sad and horrifying, story of Wright's cousin's involvement in the Omaha Race Massacre. I liked hearing new research and appreciated what fresh eyes Hendrickson brought to the story. Less so his rather unsupported theory about Wright's latent bisexuality, particularly with early mentor Cecil Corwin. While I'm certain there were some complicated feelings and maybe unrequited desire on Corwin's part, I don't buy Hendrickson's theory. I also was a little put off on his frequent insistences on how "wrong" past Wright researchers are, while still chasing his own thinly drawn conclusions. Overall though, I'm very happy I read this and recommend it to any Wright scholars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Geoff Moore

    Unreadable. Read 100 pages to give it the benefit of the doubt but couldn’t get any further. The subject matter may be interesting in another writer’s hands. In Hendrickson’s, it is a vehicle for his own ego in an infuriating writing style. Hendrickson takes every opportunity possible to point out where he is right and other Wright scholars are wrong. It would be enough to point out where this book differs from previously accepted history. Instead he takes a tone of this book is different becaus Unreadable. Read 100 pages to give it the benefit of the doubt but couldn’t get any further. The subject matter may be interesting in another writer’s hands. In Hendrickson’s, it is a vehicle for his own ego in an infuriating writing style. Hendrickson takes every opportunity possible to point out where he is right and other Wright scholars are wrong. It would be enough to point out where this book differs from previously accepted history. Instead he takes a tone of this book is different because I’m better. This book becomes about him to the point that it distracts from Wright. He also bounces between short, terse, sentence fragments and paragraphs long run-on sentences. I suspect Hendrickson was trying to strike a conversational tone. It may work in conversation but it just reads as unnecessarily clipped. On the other end, it sounds like one of those people who will get lost in their own droning on and on. All in all, I wish I could get past the writing style. It does seem to be meticulously researched and I suspect it would offer a more objective look at Wright.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lee Barry

    Highly recommended for anyone that has ever admired a Wright building. When you know the juicy details of the backstories, do you admire them less? If he “fixed” his life back in Oak Park, would there have been the same body of work? Probably not. Same story for Philip Johnson and his Nazi party connections; I still love his contributions to art and architecture. I don’t think: “There’s that strange glass house I used to like before I knew what I know now.” Even after living in Oak Park for 30 ye Highly recommended for anyone that has ever admired a Wright building. When you know the juicy details of the backstories, do you admire them less? If he “fixed” his life back in Oak Park, would there have been the same body of work? Probably not. Same story for Philip Johnson and his Nazi party connections; I still love his contributions to art and architecture. I don’t think: “There’s that strange glass house I used to like before I knew what I know now.” Even after living in Oak Park for 30 years, there are always other details you don't know. It’s funny, he wanted to escape the village and what it stood for in the 1900s, but I still love the walks down Forest looking at those fantastic houses. I never tire of them. Obviously, there are probably thousands of writings on Wright, but the last line is right: “You never get to the end of the knowing.” The book could have been shorter. Too many pages devoted to Julian Carlton.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Hendrickson is such an engaging nonfiction writer. The book flies along. Here he takes a non-chronological approach to Wright's life, focusing on key points and buildings but definitely not exhaustive or comprehensive. The book focuses a lot of time on the murder of Wright's lover at Taliesin -- opening the book with a gory recounting and then returning to the tale in the middle of the book as he tries to explore the identity of the man responsible. The book takes some big swings (the murder at Hendrickson is such an engaging nonfiction writer. The book flies along. Here he takes a non-chronological approach to Wright's life, focusing on key points and buildings but definitely not exhaustive or comprehensive. The book focuses a lot of time on the murder of Wright's lover at Taliesin -- opening the book with a gory recounting and then returning to the tale in the middle of the book as he tries to explore the identity of the man responsible. The book takes some big swings (the murder at Taliesin is an early domino that results indirectly in the tragedy of the Tulsa Race Riot, Frank Lloyd Wright was bisexual with a homosexual dalliance from an early mentor) that are good reading if not conclusively supported in fact. Throughout a vivid picture of Wright emerges and the book is a page turner of a history.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    The story of Frank Lloyd Wright comes alive here without the trappings of adoration that I recall from my earlier years. His designs live on in homes that he had built, but the fact that many occupants have had to "correct" faults to make their homes livable should not be lost. One of the things I found interesting was that so much of his fame came about through what can only be considered self-promotion. He also had serious problems with the women in his life, and it is difficult to believe tha The story of Frank Lloyd Wright comes alive here without the trappings of adoration that I recall from my earlier years. His designs live on in homes that he had built, but the fact that many occupants have had to "correct" faults to make their homes livable should not be lost. One of the things I found interesting was that so much of his fame came about through what can only be considered self-promotion. He also had serious problems with the women in his life, and it is difficult to believe that he was on complicit in these problems. The author has dug into Wright's father's life, as well, and here we may discover once again the huge impacts of family on living life well. Well worth the time to listen even if you are not terribly interested in architecture.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul Henry

    Maybe 1-1/2. I'm not sure what possessed me to put this one on my reading list since I'm not that interested in Frank Lloyd Wright's life. His architecture, yes. His relationship with his father, no. The writing style, I'd call pompous. One indecipherable sentence early in the prologue is 93 words long including 12 commas and a set of parentheses. I had to re-read it several times just to figure out the subject and verb. After that, I looked for the end of the prologue (it's 28 pages long) and s Maybe 1-1/2. I'm not sure what possessed me to put this one on my reading list since I'm not that interested in Frank Lloyd Wright's life. His architecture, yes. His relationship with his father, no. The writing style, I'd call pompous. One indecipherable sentence early in the prologue is 93 words long including 12 commas and a set of parentheses. I had to re-read it several times just to figure out the subject and verb. After that, I looked for the end of the prologue (it's 28 pages long) and skipped to the beginning of the book itself but after reading a few pages I noted the unread Le Carre on my desk beckoning to me. That was an easy decision: put aside Plagued by Fire and pick up the Le Carre.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Leshyn

    I so enjoyed this book which brings into focus Frank Lloyd Wright's private and professional life, as well as his relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. He possessed a huge ego and was not always considerate of his many children and those around him. Plagued by trauma early on, he wove a life filled with lies and disdain of his own making. He was an extremely gifted architect which seemed to come naturally, since his formal education in this area seems limited. Form and function were I so enjoyed this book which brings into focus Frank Lloyd Wright's private and professional life, as well as his relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. He possessed a huge ego and was not always considerate of his many children and those around him. Plagued by trauma early on, he wove a life filled with lies and disdain of his own making. He was an extremely gifted architect which seemed to come naturally, since his formal education in this area seems limited. Form and function were basic aspects of his creative designs. I've seen and toured many of his houses in the Chicago area and marvel at their design.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Evan Brogan

    Impressive investigative depth. A great look into the life of FLW. I really appreciate the lengths the author took to research his subject. That depth allows for all sorts of interesting ancillary storylines and characters which adds to the intrigue. That being said, I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style. "Quick cuts." It's simply choppy. An ever present inner monologue by the author. It's noticeable, and detracts from the subject matter. Impressive investigative depth. A great look into the life of FLW. I really appreciate the lengths the author took to research his subject. That depth allows for all sorts of interesting ancillary storylines and characters which adds to the intrigue. That being said, I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style. "Quick cuts." It's simply choppy. An ever present inner monologue by the author. It's noticeable, and detracts from the subject matter.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Marchessault

    I'm glad I finally finished this; it took me a long time and not just because it is a long book. The author's style took some getting used to, also, I didn't find the subject as interesting as I had hoped. If you have read any other biographies of FLW, you might enjoy this one. It is rather detailed, plus the author has many of his own theories about his subject. I'm glad I finally finished this; it took me a long time and not just because it is a long book. The author's style took some getting used to, also, I didn't find the subject as interesting as I had hoped. If you have read any other biographies of FLW, you might enjoy this one. It is rather detailed, plus the author has many of his own theories about his subject.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Dacey

    An interesting take on the life of Frank Lloyd Wright. Don't know if I agree with his take on this. I feel it is better suited to a fictional character ( like heart of darkness ) but interesting how he lines up facts to support his thesis. Unfortunately I see this applied to much of the current world. I don't think it passes the balanced view test. An interesting take on the life of Frank Lloyd Wright. Don't know if I agree with his take on this. I feel it is better suited to a fictional character ( like heart of darkness ) but interesting how he lines up facts to support his thesis. Unfortunately I see this applied to much of the current world. I don't think it passes the balanced view test.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sherrywd

    This author has the longest preface I've ever seen in a book. He also has the almost annoying habit of telling part of something, saying there will be more about this later - and he does bring it up later, with much detail. Because I am a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, I liked the book and figure that surely now there can not be a stone unturned in Wright's life. This author has the longest preface I've ever seen in a book. He also has the almost annoying habit of telling part of something, saying there will be more about this later - and he does bring it up later, with much detail. Because I am a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, I liked the book and figure that surely now there can not be a stone unturned in Wright's life.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Harrison

    Through his dazzling prose and innovative narrative structure, Hendrickson uncovers truths about Wright the legendary architect long obscured through his tall tales and the mythmakers who perpetuated them. Too many revelations too count, told in spellbinding fashion.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Hays

    A sprawling read, I dipped in and out. The sociocultural history is fascinating

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chaz

    Not really a fan of his writing style... A little too meandering and folksy. But it's a fascinating story. Drags in parts maybe, but a worthy read just the same. Not really a fan of his writing style... A little too meandering and folksy. But it's a fascinating story. Drags in parts maybe, but a worthy read just the same.

  26. 4 out of 5

    CHILTONM

    Vivid authorial voice, unconcerned with biographical convention, a real testament to historiography

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Singletary

    Without a doubt the strangest biography I have ever read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dale Pajak

    Really disappointing! Very disjointed and spends so much of the book delving into the back story of other characters.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Bertino

    Great to know more about this unusual person.. I found the writing to be rambling and tiresome . I like more straight forward ..going in one line stories..But a great biography

  30. 5 out of 5

    JamesRR

    A fussy, smug and self-satisfied book. A meringue of a biography. More projection than anything else.

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