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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 1998
As he previously did with Robert Maxwell (ne Jan Hoch) and Tiny Rowland (aka Roland Fuhrop), Tom Bower has produced a wonderful biography of Mohamed Fayed which debunks a lot of myths and presents reality in a somewhat different manner from Fayed's publicists and spin doctors. Tracing his origins to the back streets of Alexandria selling cans of coke and sewing machines from door to door, Bower recounts Fayed's good luck and timely business judgement with a mixture of begrudging admiration and bitchy comments. The maneouvres and shenanigans described in the book are in part fascinating, in part cringe-making and in many places hilarious, to the point that if this book were a novel, the reader might think that some features (eg the alleged dirty tricks and the apparent sheer vulgarity of the Fayed empire) stretched credulity a little far. But this book is a riveting good read throughout, even if one can't help feeling sorry for its subject towards the end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 1998
Unwrapped on Christmas Day, this 462 page expose has proved as infuriating to my, oft ignored, family as it will undoubtedly be to Mr. 'Al' Fayed. Written without undue sensation, the unfolding story of the life and times of Mohamed Fayed has been literally un-put-downable over the past three days. The well told story links a series of facts and fantasies widely reported in various media over the last 15 years and is, therefore, valuable as a diary of events which have shaped our recent national history. Covering a broad spectrum, Tom Bower's unauthorised biography exposes the nature of power, individual and corporate greed and excess, British politics in the '80's and '90's, class structure, the awesome reach of the media, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll - literally something for everyone. The common denominator, of course, being the omnipresent and 'omnipotent' Mohamed Fayed. An entertaining and sometimes shocking account I will, naturally, decline to leave my name or any other traceable identification with this review - if you read the book, you'll understand why....!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 October 1998
A totally different kind of biography is the unauthorised one of Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed by Tom Bower. Firstly, it is not a biography of Al Fayed - it is a biography of Fayed. Bower refuses to acknowledge the Al in Al Fayed throughout the book. But that is not the only strange thing about it. Al Fayed was the instigator when he asked Bower to write an authorised biography five years ago. Bower says he declined that but it gave him the idea to write an unauthorised one. Fayed then made the mistake of co-operating with the book initially - and then appearing to change his mind later. He therefore got the worst of both worlds, and got the book that he deserves. In the main this is a warts and all account that, bearing in mind Tom Bower's reputation, is probably mostly true. There isn't much praise for the subject. Bower did a lot of research and first got to meet Al Fayed when he was researching his epic biography of Tiny Rowland. Bower has also come on and is a much better writer than he was five years ago. Mohamed Fayed will be furious with this book, but after effectively withdrawing from his libel action against Vanity Fair earlier this year, he is probably in no position to sue. And if he did the statement of claim would be of record length and the legal fees big enough to make a dent even in his fortune. The drift of the book is that Mohamed Al Fayed is probably not a nice man. Buy this book and read it. You won't learn anything useful from it, apart from the strange machinations of the establishment and the relationships tycoons have with each other. But you can believe it, as my experience is that Tom Bower, more often than not, gets it right, much to the chagrin of his subjects.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 1999
Read in three days, the book covers Mo's life from selling coke in Egypt to beer in Harrods. In between, you read in mute astonishment as the reality of Fayed's life is peeled away, layer by layer. An undeniably colourful character, you close the book feeling slightly sickened about the corrupting effect of both money and "power".
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on 22 October 2009
"I know!" said the Rory Bremner take-off of Fayed, or, as he has long preferred to call himself, al-Fayed (a more aristocratic version to which he has no entitlement). Bower, a fearless debunker of frauds (cf. his Robert Maxwell books), here takes on a tycoon as litigious as "Maxwell" himself. Before I read this book, I thought Fayed was a jolly if probably untrustworthy person. This book lays pretty bare his nasty side which seems to be considerable, though I have little doubt that he can be spontaneously kind. He probably half-believes a lot of his own propaganda and, if it is so that his fortune came mainly from his moral blackmail of Adnan Khashoggi (his then father-in-law), the bulk of his fortune has come from parlaying that starting capital into a huge empire. Bower was wrong there: the Fayed empire HAS survived since this book came out. I was also interested to see how very weak and corruptible (and money-mad) so much of "British" society is. The so-called "upper classes", since about 1970, capitulated and have rolled over like nice doggie for Arab millionaires and billionaires (especially the oil sheiks), Jewish fraudsters like "Maxwell" and the more legitimate international speculators like Jimmy Goldsmith. So long as you have money, you're OK, it seems. If Fayed had been a bit more willing to pretend to be a sort-of "English gentleman", outwardly, this book may well never have been written or would have been different in its content. A good read though overlong.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2012
Reading this book it appeared fayed was hell bent 0n his son Dodi,
getting together with Diana, for great publicity to increase his
social standing, and to get revenge on the royal family, as he was
reapeatedly refused a british passsport,it shows despite his wealth
it didnt buy him a passport,They didnt care about Kelly Fishers
feelings even denied Dodi and her were due to get married in August,
she was paid off, to keep quiet,such harsh treatment,so this so called
gentle family are not so gentle as they descibe themselves,callous is
more like it,most of the public never believed, Diana would have got
engaged to Dodi,it was another passing fancy,she had her sons to think
about ,and any other siblings in this mixed religion was not acceptable,
and rightly so.unless your born in Britain of Brittish parents your not
Brittish,some people just dont understand that.
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