Liz Smith says Mr. Confidential reads like, "A house afire in a sultry swamp!" Publishers Weekly gives it a starred review, and calls it, "Hard boiled-yet juicy... an apt, unflinching take on the wildly popular tabloid!" And Booklist raves, happily urging readers to, "Get a load of it!" while Cox News Service goes highbrow, chapioning the book's take on, "The neurotic underpinning of the American Dream." But sshhh! Keep it Confidential...




(Starred review): Bernstein's hard-boiled yet juicy chronicle of publisher Robert Harrison’s 1950s celebrity gossip magazine "Confidential" is an apt, unflinching take on the wildly popular tabloid that stood by its slogan, ‘Tells the Facts and Names the Names.’ In its heyday, the rag was revealing romantic trysts, outing gay stars and insinuating a lot more for an audience of over 5 million readers. That wouldn't last, as "The Trial of 100 Stars, then 200 stars" in 1957 brought multiple felonies against the tabloid - including conspiracy to commit libel and disseminate obscene material - that would lead to circulation-killing content and format changes. Focusing on the embattled founder and two key "Confidential" players - Harrison's niece and research director Marjorie Meade, ‘the most feared woman in Hollywood,’ and editor Howard Rushmore, a ‘goofball-popping, alcoholic, violent, Communist witch-hunter’ - and including a huge cast of celebrities, Bernstein does a commendable job bringing Harrison and his times to life with a page-turning pace and prose worthy of the tabloid (somewhat appropriately, his frequent italicized asides could have used more consistent attribution). Including more than 75 pages of photos and reproductions of the magazine's stories and covers, this smart exposé should please anyone interested in 1950s Hollywood or the evolution of celebrity journalism.