Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty by Jerry Oppenheimer

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Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty by Jerry Oppenheimer

Category: Biography
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: We've all heard about the Kennedy dynasty, but the Johnson & Johnson dynasty has had much less publicity but at least an equal share of tragedy and scandal.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: August 2013
Publisher: St Martin's Press
ISBN: 978-0312662110

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Back in 1885 three brothers were inspired by a speech by Joseph Lister, the pioneer of antiseptic surgery, to create a range of surgical dressings - such things were previously unheard of - and this was the beginning of Johnson & Johnson, providers of Band-Aids and baby powder. It also brought phenomenal wealth to the founders and a variety of trusts continued this down the years. The first president of the company was Robert Wood Johnson. NFL fans will be aware of his great grandson, Robert Wood Johnson IV (known as 'Woody'), owner of the New York Jets. In between the two - and afterwards - there are a string of tragedies and scandals which put you in mind of the Kennedy dynasty.

Jerry Oppenheimer is known for his unauthorised biographies of the prominent. His telling of the founding of the Johnson & Johnson is succinct and jargon-free but it's obvious from early on in the book that his real interest is in the people rather than the company which brought them their fortune. To be clear though - we are talking about the seriously rich here - and it's a family that's managed to keep surprisingly well under the radar, despite the extreme lifestyles of some family members. Messy divorces, drug taking, family feuds - it's all there. The family is extensive - Kirk and Michael Douglas are a part of it - and there are connections to other rich families such as the Hiltons and the Trumps. It's not surprising then that this is the stuff of tabloid journalism.

It was not, though, an easy read. I'll disregard the fact that some of the writing was tortuous as I have hopes that it will be improved from the proof I read, but the book was frequently repetitious and the temptation to throw i at a wall might have been overwhelming had I not been reading on my Kindle. Even that restriction might have overcome if I'd read once more about Mary Lea Johnson being the original face on the cans of baby powder, or that someone always called Robert Wood Johnson IV 'Bob' rather than the more usual 'Woody'. I did at one point wonder if some parts had originally been written for press publication and then loosely stitched together to make the book.

The book is interesting to a certain extent and it has tempted me to look for more informative books about the company. I'd like to thank Net Gallery for allowing me to read a copy.

If this book appeals you might also enjoy Richi$tan: A Journey Through the 21st Century Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich by Robert Frank.

Buy Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty by Jerry Oppenheimer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty by Jerry Oppenheimer at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty by Jerry Oppenheimer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty by Jerry Oppenheimer at Amazon.com.


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