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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel for the ages
You might, as you start reading Man in Full, think that it's going to be another bonfire of similar vanities. You might, but you would be wrong. I loved Bonfire of the Vanities, but this book has more heart; it's even better.
The book is mostly set in Atlanta, and Wolfe makes the case that Atlanta has a unique racial situation. Race relations and racial tensions...
Published on June 9 2004 by elwin

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3.0 out of 5 stars Review
The novel "A Man in Full" is mainly about social and racial problems. The complex story also shows the importance of relationships and money for the position in society.
In this book many well described protagonists like for example Charlie Croker, Conrad Hensley and Roger Too White, who have different feelings and belong to different social classes, can be...
Published on Feb. 5 2003 by MJD


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel for the ages, June 9 2004
By 
elwin "elwin" (Cambridge, MA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Man in Full (Paperback)
You might, as you start reading Man in Full, think that it's going to be another bonfire of similar vanities. You might, but you would be wrong. I loved Bonfire of the Vanities, but this book has more heart; it's even better.
The book is mostly set in Atlanta, and Wolfe makes the case that Atlanta has a unique racial situation. Race relations and racial tensions form a major theme in the novel. Wolfe views race from many angles, including views from Atlanta's black elite, wealthy conservative and liberal southern white, and the inside of a California prison.
The characters and characterizations are marvelous. This was one of the strengths of Bonfires and it's a strength of this book too. I don't think Wolfe writes women as well as he writes men, but the men of several different walks of life are as fully fleshed as anything I've ever read. Another fascinating thing about the book is the inside knowledge Wolfe shares. The insider's view of an Atlanta mayoral campaign was truly eye-opening, as was the inside view of a prison.
The book is hard to classify, but the view is often satirical (like Bonfire), and makes fun of the pride, vanity, lusts, and fears of the elites (like Bonfire). However, there is more heart. Some of the heart shows up in Wolfe's compassion for divorced 50-something wives who have been discarded by their social climbing husbands. In Bonfire, the wives, called "X-rays" were subject to the same ridicule as their husbands; not so in this book. Wolfe also shows some compassion for the poor souls in prison, as he illuminates the brutal social structure in his california jail. It's never mawkish; it never plays for sympathy or tears, but the simple facts of prison life are a horror.
Finally, Wolfe's foray into Stoic philosophy is beautifully and brilliantly done. When was the last time you read a novel where a philosophy book formed a major plot element? I think this book will continue to be read long after we've forgotten about Tom Clancy and Danielle Steele and most of the rest of the current crop of best-selling authors.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sublimely captivating satire, Dec 12 2003
By 
Chris Salzer (Gainesville, GA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Tom Wolfe, as is his trademark style, emanates forth in A Man in Full his caustic wit, biting satire, amazingly diverse characters, superior dialogue, and a highly engrossing writing style. Due to this undeniably rare combination in modern fiction, Wolfe elevates himself above the 2 books/year modern authors who churn out books like a factory and value spineless & flavorless style over certifiable substance. Wolfe, in A Man in Full, gives us a work not lacking in either comprehensiveness or profundity. This, like Bonfire, is a great American novel.
Wolfe's refreshing penchant for amazingly lucid and superlatively amusing dialogue makes this book hard to put down. Wolfe ingeniously satirizes the unwritten, although readily apparent, class structure of the South through such bizarrely eclectic characters as Charlie Croker(good ol' boy establishment), his ex-wife Martha(shallow elitist), Fareek "The Canon" Fanon(flatulent inner-city star athlete), Croker's wife Serena(trophy wife), Roger "too" White II(the Morehouse Man in an identity crisis), Conrad Hensley(blue collar drone turned philosopher), and my favorite character, the entertainingly enigmatic Raymond Peepgass(the East Coast crowd moved South).
A Man in Full comes highly recommended to those who value witty, substantive works over vapidly trite novels of fluff.
It's only fitting to conclude with an excerpt of typical Wolfe dialogue from the jail scene:
"But how do you get to be a...player?" Conrad asked Five-O. "What can you do?"
"No do no mo'notting, brah. Use da mouth. NO make beef wit' da buggahs. Use da mouth."
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5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable work, especially in audio form, Oct. 21 2003
By 
P. Kingsriter "R.N. Guy" (Lakeville, MN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Man in Full (Audio CD)
This review refers to the Audio book, masterfully read by David Ogden Stiers.
A MAN IN FULL is a noteworthy work by Tom Wolfe that examines the core of true manliness in the modern world. While there's no swashbuckling, open-shirted flexing of pectorals, just watch as two men are pressed far beyond the breaking point of most - one maintains his honor at the ultimate cost, the other struggles mightily with folding his hand. Both rise from the ashes of their former lives in extraordinary form.
Wolfe has a keen ability to delicately describe the intricacies of interpersonal interactions with delightful detail. Though the audiobook is abridged, it maintains the integrity of Wolfe's wonderful descriptions. The beauty of Wolfe's work is in the subtle, smart observations of human thought, action, and reaction. For example, one of the main characters loves to flex his large lattissimus dorsi (back) muscles as it insinuates his physical dominance not only to his companions, but to himself. Admit it - you know someone like that, and recognizing it will make you smile.
Though cleverly written and plotted, A MAN IN FULL is not for the faint of heart. There is some grizzly, real-world subject matter that may make the reader cringe. There is an artfully crafted scene that far surpasses the end-of-your-rope tension presented by the feature films "Falling Down" and "Changing Lanes", where the reader will feel the vice of life's little injustices add up to an unbearable Herculean burden. There is a particularly gut-wrenching scene that culminates in a hideous violation in a prison shower stall. Though we'd like to assume these things don't happen, Tom Wolfe reports it with a sad urgency that requires the reader's attention.
I would recommend listening to A MAN IN FULL in its audiobook format as read by David Ogden Stiers. I don't believe that I've ever heard an audiobook reader so perfectly matched for a particular novel. Stiers expertly evokes a wide range of American dialects from upper-class white Atlanta, to upper-class black Atlanta, to lower-class Oakland, to white-supremacist prisoner, to Latino, to butcher, baker, and candlestick-maker. The entire performance is pitch-perfect, adding an additional level of emotional involvement in the story. Stiers (of M*A*S*H fame) shines brightest when performing the behind-closed-doors scenes of Atlanta's political and business meetings. He brings the precise amount of vocal snobbery, conceits, and vulnerability that we came to love/hate in his M*A*S*H character, Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester III.
A MAN IN FULL comes highly recommended for those seeking an excellently crafted novel, with rich descriptions of each character. An additional recommendation comes for the audiobook. David Ogden Stiers provides the ideal avenue on which to (re)experience this well-told tale.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Defining a man in full, Oct. 21 2003
By 
therosen "therosen" (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
What is a man in full?
Tom Wolfe, author of prior books on banking and astronauts takes us into Atlanta to explore what gets to the root of being a man.
Is it a defense lawyer coming to grips with a racially sensitive legal case? Is it a businessman struggling against the tides of modern banking? Is it a distribution center worker imprisoned out of his own sense of honesty? Is it a banker coming to grips with his declining influence over the years?
We are taken through a complex narrative that weaves the stories of these characters together. A plot driven story of this magnitude can frequently run into trouble, but Mr. Wolfe finds a way to make his character both deep and believable. You find yourself rooting for them despite their imperfections.
Similar to Bonfire of the Vanities, Mr. Wolfe investigates the pretenses that we have put around ourselves. Stripping them away reveals a deeper understanding of strength and character. Writing about this is what Tom Wolfe is all about.
Who and what is a Man in Full? I hope you will have an answer after reading the book. :-)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Drive for the deal, Oct. 3 2003
By 
I read the hard-cover edition of this book because my professor at a prominent real estate school recommended it. Well, I shouldn't say recommended it more than mentioned it class with such a mischievous look in the eye that it piqued my curiosity.
Wolfe had consulted with my professor for this book, and I could tell where Wolfe integrated the information. For example, Croker breaks the developer's rule of never becoming personally liable for loans. The mischievous look from the professor was probably due to the unconventional way in which Croker acquires the land for his tower of egomania. Plot spoiler: Croker essentially incites a race riot that depresses the value of speculative land in the county 20-fold. I suppose such tactics are fair game for a novel, but in the real world, this can turn heads. The novel is supposedly fiction, but sometimes one wonders, given the "Streptofoam"-lined baby seats and legal research on "Lexus and Nexus". Fareek "The Cannon" Fannon's sexcapade has uncanny semblance to (and perhaps lessons for) the Kobe Bryant saga going on now. The almost too close parallels to reality are what make the book an exciting read.
The last novel I read was, interestingly enough, Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, a book known for the (literary) strength of its female lead character. Wolfe also has Tolstoy's remarkable perceptive ability with regards to what people are thinking in social and private situations. In many cases, this is what adds humour to the book. By contrast, Wolfe does not aim to make sweeping political statements in this story. Its primary theme and sole purpose is given by the title--to describe the powerful, dominative, egotistical, brutish male psyche and spirit, that is seductive in its unrelenting "drive for the deal."
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4.0 out of 5 stars tour de force scenes, Aug. 24 2003
By 
algo41 "algo41" (philadelphia, pa United States) - See all my reviews
This is a harrowing social novel of the Atlanta elite, both black and white. The main character is a former football player, now real estate developer, with a second wife and a load of financial problems. Another major character is an intelligent, highly principled (white) warehouseman whose path ultimately crosses the real estate developer's. I did not find any of the other principal characters very well developed. At the same time, Wolfe's forte is to richly imagine and convey the emotion of a scene, and many of these tour de force scenes involve black characters. No one will ever accuse Wolfe of subtlety, but his prose can be fun as well as effective and creative. I won't give it away but I did not like the ending: a happy, conventional ending suggested it itself, and would actually have been more realistic than the ending chosen. Wolfe is interested in the ancient Stoics , and does very well in giving life and relevance to their philosophy, but carries it just a bit too far; in fun?
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2.0 out of 5 stars anorther man in full, May 1 2003
By 
mike (grayslake il) - See all my reviews
Tom Wolfe's novel, A Man in Full is an intriguing book about sixty-year old Atlanta real estate developer whose empire has begun a grim slide toward bankruptcy and a twenty-three-year-old manual laborer who works in the freezer unit of a wholesale food warehouse in Alameda County, California, owned by the developer.
The book starts out with Charlie Croker, out shooting quail on his vast South Georgia plantation. Then moves on to Roger White, a spiffy black lawyer, as he drives to an urgent appointment. It moves to a variety of people who have some connection with each other. And Wolfe tells a part of their lives to answer a single question who is truly a man in full.
To answer that question Wolfe brings in men who have every thing and men who are happy with what they have and the two main charters are like this they are an owner of a major company and one of the shipping employees.
I believe that wolf uses the connections that you make with his charters very well in telling his story. Any one who reads this book will be intrigued by it development of its characters and his ability to keep you enthused. Wolfe says
"If a man has talent and can't use it, he's failed. If he uses only half of it, he has partly failed. If he uses the whole of it, he has succeeded, and won a satisfaction and triumph few men ever know."
This goes to show you how he thinks and gives you some insight to the great mind that wrote A Man In Full.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Review of "A Man in Full", Feb. 6 2003
By 
Kussmann, Karen (Minden , Germany) - See all my reviews
The novel "A Man in Full" by Tom Wolfe describes the society of modern Atlanta with its problems between black and white, rich and poor.
The main character of the story, Charlie Croker, is a successful real estate developer however he is deep in debt. To get out of this unpleasant situation, he searches for a solution that would allow him to keep his good position in society. As a former Football star he is asked to speak for a black Football player who is accused of having raped the daughter of Charlie`s friend. This way, Charlie could loose his debts.
With the use of motifs and interesting language the author describes the problems of corruption in politics.
After a surgery Charlie is introduced to the Stoics philosophy. This event changes his attitude towards money and belongings completely and he gives his possession to the bank. Surprisingly he leaves Atlanta and becomes a successful TV- preacher whereas the city is left in trouble.
Tom Wolfe used motifs of sexuality, relationship and the role of politics to show character roots and plot development. This helped to make the sometimes complicated story line easy to understand. However one has to invest time to read this piece of literature!
The author used beautiful language and interesting characters to make the story enjoyable. All in all the novel satisfied me in reading, altough the ending is a bit too short in comparison to the rest of the novel.
I recommend this novel to those readers who are interested in politics,like to follow the development of different characters and have enough time to read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars review "A Man in Full", Feb. 6 2003
By 
The fictional novel "A Man in Full", by Tom Wolfe, deals with the financial and racial problems of several characters. Three different stories that take place in Atlanta and Oakland go along parallel, but are running together in the end.
First of all there is Charlie Croker who is in debt and struggling with PlannersBanc which tries to get all his possessions. The second story is about Roger White, who has to defend the Georgia Tech football star Fareek Fanon in [an attack] case. Fanon is accused of [attacking] Elizabeth Armholster, the daughter of the famous and influential businessman Inman Armholster. The third story is about Conrad Hensley who gets laid-off and ends up in jail because of a dumb coincidence.
The "Stoics Philosophy" is a very important element that comes up all the time throughout the story. Conrad Hensley is amazed by the religion of Zeus since he read a book of the Stoics when he was in jail. Charlie adopted his religion when Conrad stayed with him as a nursing assistant.
Our first impression of the book was not too good. The prologue confused us a little and was not helpful as an introduction. The book contains too much detailed, senseless and boring information, which is the reason why it was hard having the motivation to keep on reading. We also did not like the topic and the structure. In comparison to the detailed beginning of the book the hilarious ending is much too short. Our proposal for improvement is a shorter style of writing (not so detailed) and a better ending which fits to the rest.
We would recommend the book in first place only to men, because we think it is a typical mensbook/machobook. The book is written for men who are in their "midlife-crisis" and maybe are about to lose everything they owe, their possessions, their family and so on. The book is probably especially interesting for businessmen who are in the 40's or 50's.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Review, Feb. 5 2003
The novel "A Man in Full" is mainly about social and racial problems. The complex story also shows the importance of relationships and money for the position in society.
In this book many well described protagonists like for example Charlie Croker, Conrad Hensley and Roger Too White, who have different feelings and belong to different social classes, can be found.
At the beginning of the book it seems as if these characters are not much related but after some chapters Tom Wolfe connects their different lives and problems.
In Atlanta the former football-star and now successful business-man Charlie Croker, who owns a great empire of food warehouses and is the master of a 29.000 acres plantation called "Turpmtine", owes PlannersBanc 750 million dollars so he has to lay off many of his workers.
This decision introduces the young Conrad Hensley. Compared to his working mates he is a very responsible person and he has a clear aim for the future (a new condo for his family). But after he lost his job at the food warehouse his bad luck continues and he finally ends up in jail. By chance he receives a book about the Stoics philosophy which later has a huge impact on him.
Back in Atlanta the black football-star Fareek Fanon is accused of raping the daughter of the influential white business-man Inman Armholster. To avoid a race riot the black lawyer Roger Too White has to defend him. But for this he also needs the help of his old friend Wes Jordan who is now mayor of Atlanta.
Surprisingly Charlie Croker is involved in this rape case but he has to make a decision: will he support his longtime friend Inman Armholster or Fareek Fanon to get rid off his money problems.
In our opinion there are many interesting parts like for example Conrad's time in jail but unfortunately the book also contains some boring and disgusting passages like the "horse mate". Tom Wolfe also tends to use too long descriptions of the setting, although they are sometimes unnecessary for the plot. Another disadvantage is the ending which is very short compared to the rest of the book.
We recommend this book to everyone who is a "fan" of Tom Wolfe, but also to those who like detailed descriptions of the setting and can identify with one of the characters.
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A Man In Full: A Novel. by Tom. Wolfe (Hardcover - 1998)
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