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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 27 August 2015
Well written and superbly researched. I'd like to have seen more on the Little Red fiasco which was completely omitted. I am a self confessed airline geek of the highest order. I have worked with and for many high level company leaders and always knew Branson could not have got where he is without leaving wreckage behind him. However the scale of his ability to create smoke and mirrors is extraordinary. Yet he seems now almost a hollow cut out sailing into the sunset.

If you doubt how real these truth are just look at the Little Red saga at Virgin Atlantic - everyone knew from day one it would fail for all the reasons Virgin were warned about. Branson appearing with the usual blonds and in underpants saying "stiff competition" over his privates for photos at the press launch, it was all too fake. Then the recent TV series about the airline. He couldn't even remember staff he worked with for 30 years. He seemed disconnected. Young staff had never even seem him never mind met him. At the 787 route launch to Atlanta he made the most embarrassingly unscripted and impromptu speech I've ever seen. The audience looked shocked, disappointed, even dumbfounded. In 2012 there was a huge Virgin Galactic stand at Farnborough Airshow. In 2014 it wasn't even there.

So, read this book, look at what you can see for yourself - the adoration of a workforce - 500 of whom were made redundant just as the TV Show finished airing and yet it went almost unreported. Then look into the book again and it becomes sad, for Virgin and for Britain. We were all conned by the image makers and Branson's bluster. So while I may not like Branson or his modus operandi, will it stop me flying Virgin? No! An excellent book that deserves a wider audience.
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on 4 April 2016
"Nickel and dime" is Bernie Ecclestone's opinion of the "so-called billionaire" Branson. On reading Bower's expose, it's difficult to come to any other conclusion. Branson's a snake-oil salesman who got lucky.
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on 5 December 2016
Ok the author may be anti Branson but this biography reads more true than the auto biographies by the man himself. Clearly Branson uses his charm to manipulate and cheat people for his own self gain
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on 15 March 2016
An excellent expose of a snake oil selling parasite...a close friend of bliar...and all the other parasitical worms which infest the system.
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on 8 April 2014
Or maybe he has (I bought it a long time ago, only just got round to writing a review). If, like me, you'd always thought there was something dodgy about Richard Branson, this book will confirm your suspicions. Tom Bower did a nice hatchet job on Robert Maxwell, and he's done another one on Branson. If you just want to know the dirt, you can Google Branson and get the full SP in a few pages. But Tom Bower has a good writing style, and a book is a book.
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on 15 August 2015
This reads like the CV of almost any successful venture capitalist. Branson is different in that he likes the personal publicity, the knockabout and his Virgin brand name. He was foolish to take on Murdoch or his son; they don't take prisoners and are very focussed on their industry where Branson is all over the place.
My guess is that as soon as his new Galactic rocket is made he will be looking to exit the space business, probably by 'merging' with a space company that actually knows what it is doing. He will probably franchise the Virgin Galactic brand name to the new owner in order to maintain the illusion of Virgin going in to space. I think this whole venture was the ultimate ego driven mistake.
This book certainly dismantles the 'frivolous' image, and there is something deeply unpleasant about the man.
The book is interesting and full of detail, but a bit repetitive, i.e. describing several similar situations in great detail, and can be boring.
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on 25 March 2014
For years I wondered why TV satirists were so mean about Richard Branson. Was this just another example of the British 'tall poppy syndrome', hating success?

Far from it. Read Bowers and find out the warts and all truth behind the Virgin story, its not nearly as successful as it seems.

The amazing thing is how brilliantly Branson has used the Virgin brand to fleece the British tax payer.

Worth the price of admission for the low down on the Virgin Galactic failure to reach space and for the anecdote about Branson hitting on Jensen Buttons girlfriend.
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on 2 October 2001
There is part of me that is upset at the details revealed in this book (like finding out that Father Christmas isn't real!) but there is also a part that finally understands why the daily commute into London with Virgin trains is such a pain!
Having read "Losing my viginity", "The Virgin King" and "Dirty Tricks", it was nice to see some balance added to the Richard Branson myth! The authorised books obviously record the story from Richard's perspective and Tom Bower delves behind the hyperbole to uncover an fascinating view of the Virgin empire.
I was already a fan of Tom Bower's work - once again he has produced a highly readable, interesting book. Superb!
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on 29 March 2015
I thought I knew a lot of the names & now I've come to Herbert Smith, the airline's solicitors. My sister, Tracy & I have known Richard, his parents & his sister since 1981. My mother met him later on up here when he helped her with prizes for the Diabetic Grapefruit Ball. I am enjoying Tom Bower's books as I do have a business mind! My last permanent job was with McDonnell Douglas & Boeing's solicitors!
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on 17 January 2015
Bower unveils the real Branson, not only greedy and staunchly self serving but also a lot less rich than the like of the Times makes out. He likes to project the loveable rogue image, David against Goliath in the public image...after you've read this, you;ll know that nothing Virgin does is really in the public interest. Hats off the Bower. Couldn't put it down.
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