Review of A Man in Full

Christopher Caldwell, Commentary, February 1999.


Wolfe’s second best-selling novel, A Man in Full, is intended to serve as another such work of reclamation. It is the story of sixty-year-old Charlie Croker, an under-educated ex-college-football star who has developed much of the skyline of Atlanta, Georgia, out of sheer elan vital. Along the way, he has picked up several businesses, a Gulf-stream-5 jet, a ludicrous 29,000-acre antebellum plantation (called “Turpmtine”) that he uses for quail hunting and writes off as an “experimental farm,” and a wife who is less than half his age. Now he has plowed hundreds of millions of his own and other people’s money into a 40-story office building for which he cannot find tenants. When we meet him, the creditors are closing in.