Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation ended the eighties with a debt the size of Ecuador's and on the verge of catastrophe. Houdini-like, Murdoch escaped, buying time and merging his SKY satellite TV service with its rival BSB. He advanced into the nineties as one of the world's most powerful media barons. But how did he get there, and where was he going?
Willliam Shawcross's controversial study tells two stories. There is the paradoxical story of Rupert Murdoch himself, his origins and his family, his famous charm and his notorious reputation: the grandson of strict Presbyterians he banned his first editor from covering the Kinsey Report yet later became the publisher of Page Three Girls; a left-wing Oxford undergraduate he went on to bring down the print unions. Shawcross follows the trail of the Melbourne 'boy publisher' who took on the world, becoming a US citizen, owning newspapers and TV stations on four continents, a film studio in Hollywood, leasing satellites in space, and selling the late twentieth century's most powerful persuaders - information and entertainment.
William Shawcross has had access to Murdoch, his family and his aides in the furthest corners of the News Empire. With characteristic verve, originality and a wealth of research he has produced a lively and complex portrait of a twentieth-century phenomenon with unprecedented power in the global village.
'William Shawcross has written the best, fairest and most comprehensive account which comes to terms, as far as anyone can, with the perennial question: What Makes Rupert Run? It will not please those who come to throw stones. Shawcross does not judge, although he provides ample evidence on which judgement can be made. Murdoch may be 'an entrepreneur of genius' but broken promises, plunges downmarket and cruel personal decisins have been carefully catalogued...'
'Rarely is such a fine biography produced of a businessman, or any person for that matter.'
'...Unless Murdoch changes his mind and produces the infotainment version, this book will remain the definitive version of his life...'
'The definitive biography of the most gifted all-round newspaperman of the post-Beaverbrook epoch...'
'Fascinating and totally absorbing...Shawcross - a former journalist on The Sunday Times - deals with hard, solid facts, revealing much that is new about Murdoch and his business dealings and drawing a portrait of the man which will raise eyebrows all over the world.'
'...Not only balanced and informative but consistently gripping...'
Mail on Sunday