Nick Cohen's You Can't Read This Book is a must read for those who still believe we have freedom of expression in the UK. He entertainingly lays bare the control the rich elite have over writers, magazines and newspapers. Your story might be absolutely true, but if the person you are writing about has deep pockets and a fearsome reputation, you are unlikely to get the story of financial - or any - wrongdoing published. In this magnificent book, the message is clear: you'd be downright naive to believe that the truth will protect you from claims of libel here in Britain, whose defamation laws are the most Draconian in the Western world. A case in point is how Nick Cohen expertly tackles the workings of the late unlamented Robert "Captain Bob" Maxwell, who took his company for a ride and no one could report on it contemporaneously. Cohen quotes the tycoon's unofficial biographer Tom Bower: "His purpose was to make it impossible for any editor of a newspaper or book to consider writing about him critically without considering the enormous cost both financially and in time wasted that would entail. He would come down on them with the force of a bulldozer." The truth didn't matter, the fear of cost did. And Captain Bob had very deep pockets, stuffed full of his employees' money. Cohen has done a wonderful job here of exposing the lie that we live in a free country. More power to his elbow.
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