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Murdoch Paperback – July 2, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For this unauthorized biography of media baron Rupert Murdoch, a "uniquely important" information broker whose life has been "an unending assault upon the world," Shawcross ( Sideshow ) had privileged access to Murdoch, to his colleagues and family. The result is a mostly nonjudgmental, flat profile of a driven, often ruthless, lonely man of "invincible energy and ambition" who put together a communications empire stretching from Australia to London to New York, Chicago and Hollywood. Shawcross perceives "a certain dour puritanism" in the king of sensationalist tabloid journalism. Murdoch's life was a series of takeovers, wins and losses that included the acquisitions of the New York Post, the London Times , Fox film and television, and HarperCollins publishers. Murdoch, an ardent supporter of Reaganism and Thatcherism, viewed himself as "totally internationalist" and saw his media empire as instrumental in promoting the Americanization of the world, but Shawcross fails to explore the implications of that prospect. Photos. Author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Here is yet another chronicle of the life and times of Rupert Murdoch (Thomas Kiernan's Citizen Murdoch , LJ 10/15/86; Michael Leapman's Arrogant Aussie , LJ 6/15/86; Jerome Tuccille's Rupert Murdoch , LJ 11/1/89). In part a biography of an opportunist seizing hold of a tabloid-hungry society, it also is a study of a complex financial restructuring and a comment on info-tainment and its impact on the mass media industry. It is exhaustively researched and is an occasionally forgiving story of media giant Rupert Murdoch and his empire (Fox Broadcasting, TV Guide , New York magazine, New York Post, London Times , etc.). Most compelling is the account of Murdoch's financial dealing with Ann Lane, a Citicorp vice-president who formulated the business plan to restructure and salvage Murdoch's News Corporation and devised the two guiding principles: "We are where we are" and "Nobody get out." Recommended for large business and communications collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/92: there may be some demand due to the controversy that arose when novelist John LeCarre accused Tina Brown of misusing her position as editor of The New Yorker to dismiss Shawcross's book because it contained an unflattering portrait of her husband, Random House Publisher Harold Evans.--Ed.
- Jo Cates, Northwestern Univ. Lib., Evanston, Ill.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (July 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684830159
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684830155
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Conno on December 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
I'll state from the beginning; I think this is the best biography ever written, about one of the most fascinating men in the history of the world.

I have read a number of Murdoch "biographies", including, Murdoch: The Great Escape and Andrew Neil's view of Murdoch in "Full Disclosure". Neither of them have the depth and detail that this book does. But it is more than depth and detail which makes this book truly great. It is William Shawcross' ability to capture the feeling of enormous vision and ambition that Rupert Murdoch has which makes this book unique.

The story describes how his father built one of the greatest news networks in the Australia, the Herald & Weekly Times, yet had few significant assets of his own, as he was an employee of the company.

Thus, while a young Rupert dreamed of ringing the world with satellites that would brodcast news, information and communication around the world, it would be a company owned by his family which would be the beneficiary.

Upon his father's death, he moved to Adelaide, where he took over the Adelaide News, which he built into a formidable earner. He then bought numerous papers around the world, continuing is his dream until he had amassed a huge network of newspaper, television, theatrical and television assets around the world.

One of the most brilliantly told tales of the book is when Rupert went back to the Herald & Weekly Times in his home town of Melbourne and made an offer for the company. After much toing and froing, he bought the company for several billion dollars. "He bought the house his father built".

What makes this book a must buy is that it reads like a long term plan of the News Corporation.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on November 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
Murdoch is, to say the least, one of the more controversial figures in media today. His name still inspires visions of the pitched battles that have arisen around the pieces of his empire and the ethical debates about the role of journalism and issues of media ownership. There is a tremendous amount to be learned from studying Murdoch and the way he built his kingdom, and this book is not to be missed, particularly for people studying media history or the media industry.
Shawcross presents a very balanced picture, light on both censure and praise, and manages to give enough personal detail to illuminate the public Murdoch without veering into a personal melodrama. The writing is occasionally a bit dry, but generally of a high quality & the source notes and bibliography are quite valuable in and of themselves.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By NS on August 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
Straightforward journalistic over view of Murdoch's career while also giving useful insight into the print and media worlds of Australia and the UK in the 50s to 80s.
However, little comment ventured as to Murdoch's underlying motivations or his relationships with family or friends.
Stops in early 1990s, so an update or second edition would be good.
Author seems a bit infatuated with his subject and reserves his criticism for Murdoch's competitors and critics like Maxwell and Harold Evans.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Andy Orrock VINE VOICE on August 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
When I read William Shawcross' "Murdoch" back when it was originally published (early 90s), I thought it was one of the best biographies I had read. I especially liked the author's focus on his subject's "pre-News" days, most notably a very memorable discussion on Murdoch's infatuation with Marxism during his university days.
Murdoch explains that period away with the following answer: "If you're 20 and not a communist, you have no heart; and if you're 40 and not a capitalist, you have no head."
Shawcross then painstakingly builds a portrait of a man who - over the next 30 years - slides clear across the spectrum to become Maggie Thatcher's biggest champion. There's a great blow-by-blow of Murdoch's battle with the press unions at Wapping, with Thatcher's tacit support.
Of course, things in Murdoch's world move quickly, so Shawcross put out an update edition (this one) in 1997. Now, we need an update to the update. So much has transpired in these six years. We need Shawcross' take on:
- The continued rise of the Fox Network (expecially Fox News)
- Lachlan and James Murdoch's increasingly large roles at News Corp.
- The DirectTV takeover attempts (Part 1 and 2)
- Continued efforts to penetrate India and China
- Wife #3 Wendy Deng + two new young children
...and much, much more. Never a dull moment with the man who fellow (now ex-) mogul Ted Turner heads up the world's leading "evil empire."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By clive@thecomedychannel.com.au on April 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
billy shawcross - thank god you wrote this book. you'll never look at the media the same after reading this. if you work in media, or busniess for that matter, this is a must.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lehigh History Student VINE VOICE on December 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
Rupert Murdoch is one of the most interesting business men of our day. His growth at the Fox Network and other various news outlets has made him one of the most powerful men on the planet. Shawcross does an excellent biography telling about his life in Australia up through his dominant position in America today. It covers the start of the fourth network as well as the New York post and battles with government regulators. It stops before the Fox News Channel really gets going but this still remains the best biography on Murdoch that has been done to date.
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