Levin, Hillel 1954-
LEVIN, Hillel 1954-
Born April 26, 1954, in Bridgeport, CT; son of Maurice and Mildred (Benson) Levin. Education: Johns Hopkins University, B.A., 1976; M.A., 1977. Religion: Jewish.
Home—824 Park Avenue, River Forest, IL 60305. Agent—Nat Sobel, 146 East 19th Street, New York, NY, 10003.
Journalist, author, and entrepreneur. Metropolitan Detroit, Detroit, MI, executive editor, 1983-1985, editor, 1985-1986; Chicago Magazine, Chicago, IL, editor and chief operating officer, beginning 1987. CoolSavings.Com, Chicago, IL, founder, 1997, president 1997-99.
Grand Delusions: The Cosmic Career of John DeLorean, Viking Press (New York, NY), 1983.
While the editor of Metropolitan Detroit magazine, Hillel Levin wrote Grand Delusions: The Cosmic Career of John DeLorean, about a prominent scandal that broke in 1983. After leaving his executive position at General Motors, John Z. DeLorean denounced the corporation and set out to manufacture his own dream car: a safe, efficient, stainless-steel, gull-winged creation. "Tall, dark, and handsome John DeLorean was at one time viewed by many business analysts as the possible savior of the American automobile industry," wrote Dan E. Moldea in a review of Grand Delusions for Book World. Several reviewers noted in retrospect that for several years journalists gave only glowing assessments of DeLorean. "One journalist who admits to being initially dazzled by the DeLorean persona is Hillel Levin," wrote Brock Yates in a New York Times book review of Grand Delusions. Levin took a closer look at DeLorean and ended up writing an unflattering 5,000-word essay in Metropolitan Detroit.
By the time Levin published his book-length investigation, DeLorean was on trial for drug trafficking, allegedly having conspired to sell 220 pounds of cocaine for cash to keep his company afloat. Moldea quoted Levin on DeLorean's arrest: "'What was that guy doing there? Every rookie cop and street dope pusher knows the rule by heart: never make the buy yourself.' Only moments before the arrest, DeLorean has held up a kilo bag of cocaine and crowed, 'It's as good as gold, and just in the nick of time.'" Yet DeLorean had already extracted $30 million from American investors and more than $150 million from the British government to support establishing the DeLorean factory in Northern Ireland. John McDermott, in a review for the Nation, explained: "From 1974 to 1982, though under intense public scrutiny, DeLorean was able to parlay an infinitesimally small personal investment in a clearly unsound, poorly run and financially mismanaged enterprise into a venture whose predictable demise would cost others as much as a quarter of a billion dollars." DeLorean took advantage of these investors from the beginning: according to a reviewer for Time, Levin "makes a strong case for DeLorean's systematic looting of his infant firm." Michael McDowell, in the Globe and Mail, dubbed Levin's work "a thoughtful personal study, describing DeLorean the Man."
After publishing Grand Delusions, Levin continued his career as a journalist before having his own taste of the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial world: he launched CoolSavings.Com in 1997, served as its president, and left the company in 1999.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlantic, November, 1938, Roy Blount, Jr., "Gatsby without the Dream," pp. 142-145.
Book World, October 2, 1983, Dan E. Molden, "Losing Control in the Fast Lane," p. 5.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario), January 14, 1984, Michael McDowell, "How the DeLorean Dream Went Wrong."
Los Angeles Times, October 11, 1983, Jeff Riggenbach, "DeLorean Saga Leaves Too Much Untold."
Nation, November 12, 1983, John McDermott, "The Entrepreneur's New Clothes," pp. 469-471.
New Leader, October 31, 1983, Jamie Kitman, "Corporate Thriller," pp. 17-19.
New York Times Book Review, September 25, 1983, Brock Yates, "An Auto Maker's Faustian Course," p. 12.
Time, September 19, 1983, review of Grand Delusions, p. 75.
Digital Edge,http://www.digitaledge.org/ (September 26, 2003), "CoolSavings and Others Speak to What Drives Online Shoppers," includes interview with Hillel Levin.*