Synopses & Reviews
G. Bruce Knecht, former reporter for The Wall Street Journal and author of The Proving Ground and Hooked, describes the creation of an outsized yacht in a sweeping narrative centered on the men and women who made it happen.
Doug Von Allmen, a self-made man who grew up in a landlocked state dreaming of the ocean, was poised to build his fifth yacht, his biggest yet—a 187-foot behemoth that would cost $40 million. Lady Linda’s interior walls were to be made from rare species of burl wood, her floors paved with onyx and exotic types of marble, her furniture custom-made, and her art specially commissioned.
But the economic crisis changed everything. Like many others, Von Allmen suddenly realized that he could no longer afford his lifestyle. Then it got worse: desperate to reverse his losses, he fell for an audacious Ponzi scheme. Would Von Allmen be able to finish the yacht? And if he did, would he be able to keep it?
In Southern Mississippi, blue collar laborers are artisans pressed on with their work. The divide between the very rich and everyone else had never been greater, but the livelihoods of the workers and yacht owners were inextricably intertwined. Even $10-an-hour employees knew that no one was ordering yachts like Lady Linda anymore.
Knecht transports readers to a world of high seas luxury and ostentation that already seems like a bygone era. But like Tracy Kidder’s House, Grand Ambition takes us deep inside the building process in a narrative that is ultimately focused on the individuals who piece together the yacht.
"With a love for the sea and sailing, Knecht, a former senior writer and foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, tells the story of tricked-out yacht Lady Linda, a gigantic ship which cost a fortune to build and controlled the fate of the rich man who loves it. The lavish construction of such a yacht required the dream of big-spender Doug Van Allmen, a wealthy private equity investor, and a colorful cast of characters such as Evan Marshall, the influential Brit yacht designer; Gale Tribble, the prideful shipfitter; and Mitch Davies, the steady New Zealand builder. Knecht reveals the demands of high society and luxury, where Van Allmen's big losses amid the recent economic downturn opened him up for a corrupt Ponzi scheme. Regardless of the challenges presented by the cost and construction of Lady Linda, Van Allmen's grand vision comes true, with all of its custom-made treasures and accessories, and the result of its well-earned triumph makes the book required reading for those who dream big with the grit and persistence to make it happen. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
andlt;Bandgt;DOUG VON ALLMEN, andlt;/Bandgt;a self-made man who grew up in a landlocked state dreaming of the ocean, was poised to build a 187-foot yacht that would cost $40 million. andlt;Iandgt;Lady Linda andlt;/Iandgt;would not be among the very largest of the burgeoning fleet of oceangoing palaces, but Von Allmen vowed that it would be the best one ever made in the United States. Nothing would be ordinary. The interior walls would be made from rare species of burl wood, the floors paved with onyx and exotic types of marble, the furniture custom made, and the art specially commissioned. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;But the 2008 economic crisis changed everything. Von Allmenand#8217;s lifestyle suddenly became unaffordable. Then it got worse: desperate to reverse his losses, he fell for an audacious Ponzi scheme. Would Von Allmen be able to complete andlt;Iandgt;Lady Lindaandlt;/Iandgt;? Would the shipyard and its one thousand employees survive the financial meltdown? andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;The divide between the very rich and everyone else had never been greater, yet the livelihoods of the workers, some of them illegal immigrants, and the yacht owners were inextricably intertwined. In a sweeping, high-stakes narrative, the critically acclaimed author of andlt;Iandgt;The Proving Ground andlt;/Iandgt;and andlt;Iandgt;Hooked andlt;/Iandgt;weaves Von Allmenand#8217;s story together with those of the men and women who are building his yacht. As the pursuit of opulence collides with the reality of economic decline, everyone involved in the massive project is forced to rethink the meaning of the American Dream.
About the Author
andlt;Bandgt;G. Bruce Knecht andlt;/Bandgt;is a former senior writer and foreign correspondent for andlt;iandgt;Theandlt;/iandgt; andlt;iandgt;Wall Street Journalandlt;/iandgt;.andlt;iandgt; andlt;/iandgt;Author of andlt;iandgt;The Proving Ground:andnbsp;The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Raceandlt;/iandgt; and andlt;iandgt;Hooked:andnbsp;Pirates, Poaching and the Perfect Fish, andlt;/iandgt;he has also written for andlt;i andgt;Theandlt;/iandgt; andlt;iandgt;Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazineandlt;/iandgt;,andlt;iandgt; andlt;/iandgt;andandlt;iandgt; Conde Nast Travelerandlt;/iandgt;.andnbsp;An avid sailor, Knecht raced across the Atlantic in 2005 on the yacht that broke the 100-year-old transatlantic race record.andnbsp;He lives in New York City.