Al Capone was finally nailed on tax evasion. The man had led an appalling career of bloodshed and left a wake of great suffering; one can only hope that the communities that he affected eventually recovered.
I scarcely know what to say about this book. Oh, it's good, extremely well written, I earnestly recommend it; but it's a worry just writing this in any form.
This is the built in problem with this book; the book itself documents so much bad behaviour dished out to eveyone and anyone who tried to shine light on what was going on, that reading it, you think "I can't review this", but here you go; I'm going to try.
Someone, a long time ago, said to me (and he wasn't particularly political) that Murdoch's real triumph in Britain was convincing the generation that had fought Hitler (and won magnificently) that a culture that was completely and irrevocably foreign, and absolutely at odds with the ideals that underpinned the nation at that time - that that detestable culture was in fact THEIRS and always had been.
If you look at Britain in the post world war state, you can see a rather murky haze that may have partly explained how this could happen; Britain financially was in a dire state, having had to pay punishingly high war reparations to the USA, and so on; food was scarce for some time; and the hardships of the immediate post war period still fresh in people minds when Murdoch launched into tabloid journalism.
In saying this I am in real danger of being the devil's apologist; I don't like that. But the truth is, some three generations later, the appalling things that were published found a most willing audience. That audience gave Murdoch great circulation and great power, and he may have still been hosting the News of the World had not some exceptionally brave souls stood up.
What actually transpired and what was done by the individuals involved, and the terrible consequences, are covered very well in this book. For something so vile, you actually desperately need a cool objective account; well done fellows; this is exactly what you get here.
The law in Britain is in a very strange state as regards much of this. It may be, (and I would like to know more about this, but it's expensive to research) possible to prosecute people who hound other people into states of total despair and suicidal depression; there should be such laws, but how they would be framed is a difficult affair.
But what remains true is that all this was done, and many times over. The actual lawbreaking, of course, people largely assumed was not actually present until the very end; this book makes it perfectly clear that the law was broken, and badly so right from the beginning.
I could make a remark here; there was supposed to be a very restricted and censored press in Russia before the end of the cold war. This book has made me speculate that in fact the damage done by Murdoch in the name of press freedom exceeds by far any damage done by censorship in the USSR.
Reading the book further and more deeply, you realize that Murdoch has done more than corrupt the kinds of characters who wander into the local chip shop and read the Sun; he has reached far into the seat of Western democracy and destroyed, or at least, damaged a great part of it. With what representational democracy we have is so tainted by what this man has done, and the consent he has operated with, it is hard to imagine us winning a war like that one that ended in 1945.
The people who buy these horrible publications may not now have the equipment to make important moral decisions at all; that is the ultimate horror; but there is wishful thinking in hell (as CS Lewis once remarked), and as long as some people are prepared to do that work that these authors have done, there is most certainly hope.
The darkness cannot prevail; eventually the most evil deeds will be exposed for what they truly are.