Investigative Journalist And Author Bill Dedman To Speak At Baylor Monday

  • Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Baylor School graduate and Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter Bill Dedman will return to his alma mater and hometown March 10-11 to share insights on his nationally acclaimed book, Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. 

Review for Empty Mansions:

Empty Mansions is a nonfiction history/biography of a remarkable American family, from the father W.A. Clark, who discovered incredible riches in copper during the Civil War and founded Las Vegas, to his last surviving daughter, Huguette, who held a ticket on the Titanic and was still alive in New York City on 9/11. Mr. Dedman stumbled on the story, discovering that Huguette’s fantastic estates were unoccupied while she lived out her last 20 years in a simple hospital room. 

Mr. Dedman collaborated with Paul Clark Newell, Jr., a cousin of the eccentric heiress Huguette Clark and one of the few relatives to have frequent conversations with her. Empty Mansions was published in September by Ballantine Books (Random House), and reached No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. It was named on best-of-the-year lists from Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com, and on the year-end favorites list from New York Times book critic Janet Maslin. It has stayed on the bestseller lists from The New York Times and Indie Bound (independent bookstores) for nine weeks, and The Los Angeles Times list for 13 weeks. 

In a story that spans nearly all of American history in three generations, Mr. Dedman and Mr. Newell tell a fairy tale in reverse: the talented daughter, born into a family of fortune and privilege, who hides herself from the outside world. The authors reveal a complex portrait of the enigmatic Huguette and her intimate circle—including her extravagant father, her publicity-shy mother, her star-crossed sister, her French boyfriend, her nurse who received more than $30 million in gifts, and the relatives fighting to inherit Huguette’s copper fortune. Richly illustrated with more than seventy photographs, updated with information on the outcome of the contentious court battle for the estate, and based on the conversations with Huguette as well as the testimony of fifty witnesses including her inner circle, Empty Mansions is a story of an eccentric of the highest order, a last jewel of the Gilded Age who lived life on her own terms. 

More information about the book is at http://emptymansionsbook.com/ 

Mr. Dedman will speak in the Baylor School Alumni Chapel on Monday. On Tuesday, March 11, he will meet with the Chattanooga Writers' Guild at the Chattanooga Public Library (downtown), from 6:30 - 8 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. He will appear live on WRCB-TV’s “3 Plus You” show Tuesday, March 11 at noon, and a taped interview on WTCI’s “The A List with Alison Lebovitz will air in May (go to www.wtcitv.org for specific dates). 

Mr. Dedman graduated from Baylor in 1978 and worked at the Chattanooga Times as a copy boy at the age of 16 and was a page at the public library shelving books. He attended Washington University in St. Louis and was a copy editor and a reporter for the Chattanooga News Free Press and the Chattanooga Times before joining the Atlanta Journal Constitution. While working there as an investigative reporter he was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for "The Color of Money," a series of articles that exposed racial discrimination in mortgage lending in Atlanta. In 2006 he joined NBC News, where he writes for NBCNews.com, formerly known as msnbc.com.

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