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The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch Paperback – 6 May 2010

3.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (6 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099523523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099523529
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,593,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Enjoyable book, especially with its fascinating afterword on Murdoch's war on the internet" (Guardian)

"Wolff pins his detailed, thorough and endlessly gripping life story on Murdoch's controversial acquisition of The Wall Street Journal." (The Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

The definitive, exclusive-access account of the life and career of Rupert Murdoch - one of the most powerful, unusual, controversial, menacing, and captivating figures of our age.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Any readers of Vanity Fair will be familiar with Michael Wolff's columns. Usually a good, snappy read about media or political subjects. Murdoch too ought to be an interesting subject, so I was looking forward to this book. Unfortunately it was a big yawn.

Much of the book is written in a present tense, chatty style, which might fit a magazine article, but is fairly annoying across the length of the book. Although the takeover of the Wall Street Journal is the main focus there are also lengthy trawls through the Murdoch business history. Mainly it just seems a superficial hack job for a lot of the time. Two page portraits, for example, of all the Murdoch brood, but not much depth. I would hope a decent sketch of an oily creep like James Murdoch might tell me a bit more than this: ' James gets up early, works out at the gym, arrives in the office before anyone else, and leaves in time to put his kids to bed.' Really? What a smashing guy! And how interesting! I think your job is safe there, Michael.

As for Rupert, his defining feature, according to the book, is that he is a difficult man to pin down, vague, but successful, a kind of Warhol of the business world. That may be so, but it makes for an unenlightening read.

If you wanted to buy a book to read on a flight, with a view to picking up a few snippets of mildly interesting information, then, after a meal and glass of wine, doze off, finally leaving the book, by accident, of course, in the magazine compartment, this is a good purchase. Alternatively, pick up a copy of Vanity Fair.
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Format: Paperback
This book is badly over-hyped: the author was supposed to get unique access, with much travel for reporting, and from his experience as an internet entrepreneur but also as a writer, he would provide great insight into what made one of the great dealmaker's such a success. I read this book and other sources carefully, and I must say that it offers little beyond conventional wisdom and rather banal generalities, even stereotypes. If you have followed the press about Murdoch even superficially, there is very little to learn here.

So what do we know? He started out in tabloids, not as an effete journalist (i.e. those with hard-won knowledge, standards, and a mission to serve the public), but selling the public what it "wanted": lurid stories, grotesque personal and political smears, with an emphasis on selling at a low price to the lowest common denominator. Taking over various newspapers, Murdoch turned them around for 60 years, entering many related industries. He hates the "establishment" and sets himself against it as the perpetual outsider, his resentments nurturing extremely right wing views, and cares very little for the way that the more educated public despises him. During the 1980s, he became a master of making deals with leveraged debt, somehow making his empire profitable even as many of his newspapers continued to lose money. He maintains an iron grip of control, surrounding himself with yes men and knowing that most of his employees are dependent on him as they could never get similar jobs elsewhere due to the low standards of their work but also by his generosity to loyalists. He has few consistent values, never nurtured any lasting friendships, and almost ruined his family by repeated divorces, attempts at excessive control, and prolonged absences.
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Format: Paperback
Having read William Shawcross' 1992 study of Murdoch and watched as he has sought to conquer the media world, this was a fascinating insight into the man and his personal vision. Quite amazing that Murdoch (and his family) allowed it to happen - maybe he was distracted by thinking about his now-made-public offer for the rest of the BSkyB holding!

Grammatical style is not easy to follow at times and it could be argued it is too one sided and written with evident glee. But, as one who refuses to watch Sky TV, read the Times or the News of the World and, based on newsapaper reports of its style, would not watch Fox in the USA, I really enjoyed the analysis of the man and his motivation.
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