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A Man in Full
by Tom Wolfe
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998
Hardcover; 744 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-374-27032-2
$28.95

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The setting is Atlanta, Georgia-a racially mixed, late-century boomtown full of fresh wealth and wily politicians. The protagonist is Charles Croker, once a college football star, now a late-middle-aged Atlanta conglomerate king whose outsize ego has at last hit up against reality. Charlie has a 29,000-acre quail-shooting plantation, a young and demanding second wife-and a half-empty office complex with a staggering load of debt.

Meanwhile, Conrad Hensley, idealistic young father of two, is laid off from his job at the Croker Global Foods warehouse near Oakland and finds himself spiraling into the lower depths of the American legal system. And back in Atlanta, when star Georgia Tech running back Fareek "the Cannon" Fanon, a homegrown product of the city's slums, is accused of date-raping the daughter of a pillar of the white establishment, upscale black lawyer Roger White II is asked to represent Fanon and help keep the city's delicate racial balance from blowing sky-high.

Networks of illegal Asian immigrants crisscrossing the continent, daily life behind bars, shady real estate syndicates, the cast-off first wives of the corporate elite-Wolfe shows us contemporary America with all the verve, wit, and insight that have made him our most admired novelist. Charlie Croker's deliverance from his tribulations provides an unforgettable denouement to the most widely awaited, hilarious, and telling novel America has seen in ages-Tom Wolfe's outstanding achievement to date.

Reviews

"A book that defies you not to buy it." -John Updike, The New Yorker

"Wolfe is a peerless observer, a fearless satirist, a genius in full." -People

"Imagine Bonfire of the Vanities set in Atlanta: a star running back from the slums is accused of raping the daughter of a blueblood family even as Asian immigrants sneak into town and protagonist Charlie Croker, a football star turned businessman, tries to get out of debt." -Library Journal

". . . [A] massive, spectacularly ambitious, superbly observed, and ruthlessly funny novel . . ." -Mark Harris, Entertainment Weekly

". . . A masterpiece . . . From the author of Bonfire we expect the brilliant jokes, the dead-on dialogue, the dazzling scene-setting that mark every page of his new novel. But now we get something more. Is it sympathy? Generosity? I'm not sure what to call it. But it is the difference between seeing the world in slices and seeing it in full." -Andrew Ferguson, The Wall Street Journal

"It's clear, almost from the start, that A Man in Full . . . is a big if qualified leap forward for Wolfe as a novelist. The cartoonish cast of Bonfire-a collection of physical and sartorial tics animated by heaps of authorial malice-has been replaced by characters who bear more of a resemblance to real, sympathetic human beings, and Wolfe's novelistic canvas has expanded persuasively to include not merely the powerful and rich but also the poor and middle-class." -Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A Man in Full is an expansive, energetic, ambitious, bumptious book, flawed in much the same way its predecessor was, but big in the same way, too. . . [L]ike The Bonfire of the Vanities it calls to mind the work of Dickens and the other great Victorians, embracing the whole gaudy array of human society; like The Bonfire of the Vanities it is the work of a determined and acutely perceptive reporter, a man who believes that fiction should engage the world rather than wallow in the psyche of its author, and who has done just that to singularly telling effect." -Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

"Here's a prediction: People in the 21st century and beyond will be reading Tom Wolfe's books-specifically The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities and his new novel, A Man in Full-to understand what crazed folks we Americans were as the millennium approached. Wolfe has our number in all matters-sexual, racial, political and economical . . . a big book that is a big triumph for Tom Wolfe." -Deirdre Donahue, USA Today

"The novel contains passages as powerful and as beautiful as anything written-not merely by contemporary American novelists but by any American novelist. . . The book is as funny as anything Wolfe has ever written; at the same time it is also deeply, strangely affecting." -The New York Times Book Review

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