The Candlestickmaker is now available on Amazon!
Three men in a tub
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker
And all of them lost at sea.
Aboard the spy ship U.S.S. Argosy in the war-tossed waters off the coast of Vietnam, three young American sailors form an unlikely bond. Each has fled an America they were raised to love but somehow no longer understand. When forced to choose whether to face combat or stay and fight the war in the streets, they sign up for a war that reflected the conflict that raged inside each of them. The one thing of which they were certain was that the only people in the world that they could depend on were each other.
As their friendship deepens in bars and brothels from Hong Kong to Subic Bay, Ernie Brigham and his companions slowly become aware of a dark secret aboard the U.S.S. Argosy. Upon their return to the America they left behind, they are changed at best, lost and damaged at worst, but ultimately sobered by a war that never should have been fought.
In the tradition of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke, and Phillip Caputo’s A Rumor of War, The Candlestickmaker recalls a Vietnam that seared disenchantment into a post World War II generation who learned to question authority at all levels. A coming-of-age story bookended by shocking revelations that shatter illusions about patriotism, government and the nature of modern warfare, The Candlestickmaker takes readers on a voyage that will guarantee they never read the Mother Goose nursery rhyme in the same way again.
Recently discussed Vietnam, writing, and varied flotsam and jetsam with veteran blogger Luke Ford. Listen and/or read about it here: Luke Ford Q&A
"Things Have Changed: The Lives of Bob Dylan" is my next project for John Wiley & Sons
paperback, Spanish and Portugese. It is required reading for aspiring actors and a bestseller in beautiful downtown Madrid.My biography of Jack, L.A. and the evolution of the film industry over five-not-so easy decades is now out in
Here's what they said at...
the L.A. Times,
the Long Beach Press-Telegram,
the Orlando Sentinel.
...and the Washington Post.
And here's the pre-publication reviews.
FROM PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:
Taking on not just a legendary subject, but a legendarily private subject—refusing biographers and TV personalities, Nicholson prefers “the occasional magazine Q&A or quickie newspaper interview”—author and New York Times film writer McDougal (Privileged Son) has turned out a model biography: exhaustive, full of action, and startlingly illuminating. Nicholson—flamboyant yet guarded, outrageous yet articulate, charming yet polarizing—has marched to his own drummer for 50 years, heading up a parade of celebrated films and famous women, eliciting strong opinions in just about everyone; as such, McDougal presents an engrossing showcase of big films and bigger personalities. Following a modest, fatherless New Jersey childhood, Nicholson set out on a California odyssey that would require stamina, guts and luck, as “eking out a living” in the early sixties gave way to the career-making premier of Easy Rider: “ ‘I had been around long enough to know while sitting in that audience, I had become a movie star.’ ” Los Angeles plays a starring role, giving Nicholson his wild lifestyle, a loyal, eclectic roster of friends and a long-time neighbor in Marlon Brando. Digging up as many roles offstage as on—hardheaded businessman, softhearted friend, master of rude rejoinders, fanatical sports fan and poetic philosopher—McDougal makes Nicholson’s everyday life just as fascinating as his films, which also get considerable, thoughtful attention; in fact, McDougal’s research is so deep and detailed, his extensive chapter notes could make a fine book of their own. (Oct.)
FROM THE LIBRARY JOURNAL:
"Jack Nicholson has the most Oscar nominations in film history, and only Katharine Hepburn has more wins. He has shunned television interviews and never cooperated with a biographer, though a dozen or so books have been written about him. Journalist McDougal (The Last Mogul: Lew Wasserman, MCA, and the Hidden History of Hollywood) researched Nicholson through friends, associates, court documents, books, and unpublished documents. Raised to believe his mother was his sister, Nicholson spent ten years struggling to make it in Hollywood, toiling in potboilers like The Cry Baby Killer and Hells Angels on Wheels, writing scripts (e.g., The Trip and the Monkees movie, Head), and hanging out with other Hollywood hopefuls like Bob Rafelson and Henry Jaglom (who both became well-known directors and figured prominently in Nicholson’s career). His small but career-changing role came in 1969 with Easy Rider. With lots of interesting tidbits that will surprise fans and almost 60 pages of notes and bibliography, McDougal’s biography is the most definitive to date. Highly recommended."—Rosellen Brewer, Sno-Isle Libs., Marysville, WA
A SIGN OF THE TIMES AT "AMERICAN EXPERIENCE"
Five years ago, I signed with Peter Jones Productions as consulting producer on a two-hour PBS documentary based on my biography of Otis Chandler, "Privileged Son: Otis Chandler and the Rise and Fall of the L.A. Times Dynasty." "Inventing L.A.: The Chandlers and their Times" which premiered on "American Experience" in October of 2009, is an ambitious reprise of the generation by generation history of the once-great Los Angeles Times and its publishers who, arguably, created modern day Los Angeles from a pueblo that Gen. Harrison Otis first called home in 1881. The tale tracks the career of the General's son-in-law Harry Chandler, one of the inspirations for Robert Towne's Noah Cross character in the classic L.A. noir film "Chinatown", followed by the quintessential L.A. power couple Norman and Dorothy Buffum Chandler, and culminates in the ascension of their son Otis to the Publisher's Suite in 1960. Last spring, "Inventing L.A." was honored with a George Peabody Award for excellence in television broadcasting.
HUH, HELL... PAY ATTENTION!
The New Yorker
--New York Times
--New York Daily News
“Tough and adversarial”
--Los Angeles Times