Anderson, John 1954–
Anderson, John 1954–
Born March 27, 1954; married; children: one son. Education: Rice University, A.B.; Yale University, Ph.D.
Journalist, writer, and editor. Former deputy editor of the American Lawyer.
(With Hilary Hevenor) Burning down the House: MOVE and the Tragedy of Philadelphia, Norton (New York, NY), 1987.
Art Held Hostage: The Battle over the Barnes Collection, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2003.
Follow the Money: How George W. Bush and the Texas Republicans Hog-Tied America, Scribner (New York, NY), 2007.
Also author of Follow the Money blog.
John Anderson is a journalist and author whose book Art Held Hostage: The Battle over the Barnes Collection tells the story of the Barnes Collection, a noted foundation that boasted what art connoisseurs consider to be the greatest collection of impressionist and postimpressionist art in the United States. In his book, the author explains how the collection came to be and the legal entanglements that consumed the foundation and lasted for over a decade, leading the Barnes Foundation to the brink of collapse.
Anderson begins by delving into how the collection was amassed by Dr. Albert C. Barnes, who grew up in the slums of Philadelphia and went on to become a physician and pharmaceutical tycoon in the early twentieth century. The author then follows the history of the collection and the Barnes Foundation, which had a nine-million-dollar endowment in 1951, which is equal to approximately sixty-two million dollars in current value. Anderson details how the foundation has been depleted of much of its funds via corruption and greed, as well as bungling in the management of the foundation's assets. Integral to the story is Richard Glanton, another man who grew up poor only to become a noted lawyer in Philadelphia and subsequently president of board for the Barnes. It is Glanton who oversaw the worldwide tour of the collection and also the renovation of the Barnes galleries, only to end up in a long court battle with neighbors of the building where the Barnes Collection was housed. The battle was over a parking lot adjacent to the building that housed the collection. Overall, the legal fight ended up costing Glanton his position as president and the Barnes Foundation more than six million dollars in legal fees.
"This is a bonfire of second-rate vanities, which reads best as a portrait of a man [Glanton] pathetic not only for his aspirations, but also because he is clearly smart enough to have done something better," wrote Andrew Solomon in the New York Times Book Review. David Theis, writing on the Rice Sallyport Web site, commented: "Collecting art and issuing lawsuits are two prized American pastimes, but seldom do they come together so forcefully as in the tale of the Barnes Collection."
In his next book, Follow the Money: How George W. Bush and the Texas Republicans Hog-Tied America, Anderson presents his account of how a group of wealthy Texas Republicans hijacked American politics for their own gain. The author begins by explaining how the Texas political system came to be controlled by a sophisticated and well-funded group of conservative Republicans who then set out to get George W. Bush elected to the presidency. Afterwards, according to Anderson, they proceeded to not only control the government but also to make big money in the process. Anderson also examines how former Beltway Texan Tom DeLay from Houston's Twenty-second District became majority leader in the U.S. Congress and how he controlled which bills made it through Congress and which did not.
In his book, the author points to what he considers to be DeLay's many underhanded dealings. For example, he describes DeLay's initiation of Project Relief. The author writes: "The not-so-innocent goal of Project Relief was to cut corporate taxes and loosen government regulation over big business. The name given the project was a pure piece of advertising … but full of irony, foretelling an ominous future. The ‘victims’ awaiting relief turned out not to be the country's many millions of poor and indigent, but were instead a handful of America's richest citizens and biggest corporations."
The author goes on to detail a corrupt flow of millions of dollars among Republican lobby groups and political action committees in Washington, reflecting a Texas-style politics of influence-peddling, deal-making, and money-laundering. The author also writes about how the damaging fall-out of this corruption has touched nearly all Americans. In the process, Anderson discusses topics such as the recount vote in Florida, the national tort-reform movement, passage of the Medicare Reform Act, congressional redistricting schemes, the financial machinery of the Christian right, and the destruction of basic constitutional protections. "All the president's men of Houston receive a powerful lashing in this soundly researched, only occasionally sarcastic exposé of high-level corruption by investigative journalist Anderson," wrote a contributor to Kirkus Reviews, who went on to call Follow the Money "a timely and important work."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Anderson, John, Follow the Money: How George W. Bush and the Texas Republicans Hog-Tied America, Scribner (New York, NY), 2007.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2007, review of Follow the Money.
New York Times Book Review, May 11, 2003, Andrew Solomon, review of Art Held Hostage: The Battle over the Barnes Collection.
Follow the Money Web site,http://www.followthemoneybook.com (June 20, 2008).
Rice Sallyport Web site,http://www.rice.edu/sallyport/ (June 20, 2008), David Theis, review of Art Held Hostage.
W.W. Norton Web site,http://www.wwnorton.com/ (June 20, 2008), overview of Art Held Hostage.