Attacked, damned, praised and read around the world, THE CARPETBAGGERS was first published in 1961 and shelved high enough that the kids couldn't get their hands on it.
Set in the aviation industry and Hollywood in the 1930s, it is said the lead protaganist Jonas Cord is based on Bill Lear and Howard Hughes. It is the original sex and money blockbuster: a cracking story driven relentlessly forward by the sheer power and boldness of Robbins' writing.
Robbins was the world's first playboy author and master of publicity. In March 1965, he had three novels on the British paperback bestseller list - Where Love Has Gone at No 1, The Carpetbaggers at No 3 and The Dream Merchants in sixth spot.
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With reported worldwide sales of 750m, Harold Robbins sold more books than JK Rowling, earned and spent $50m during his lifetime, and was as much a part of the sexual and social revolution as the pill, Playboy and pot. At the height of his success, Robbins had a mansion in Beverly Hills, a home in the south of France and a house in Acapulco. He owned a fleet of 14 cars, including a white Rolls-Royce and a number of Jensens, an exquisite art collection (Picasso, Chagall, Leger, Bernard Buffet) and two yachts, one moored in Los Angeles, the other in Cannes.
After a drug overdose in 1984 he had a seizure in the process of which he shattered his hip. Confined to a wheelchair he spent his fortune on care and died $1million in debt.