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Murdoch by William Shawcross

Murdoch (edition 1997)

by William Shawcross

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781154,388 (3.83)1
Authors:William Shawcross
Info:Simon & Schuster (1997), Paperback, 496 pages
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Murdoch by William Shawcross



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This is biography as it should be written. There is no attempt to ensure that the reader either loves or hates Rupert Murdoch. William Shawcross does his best to describe Murdoch's life in factual terms.

It is a consideration that I cannot see the eponymous hero returning, were he to write a biography. Rupert Murdoch is one of those people that I really do not understand: he truly seems to believe that his ownership of vast swathes of the world's media matters. In one sense, he is right, of course: Murdoch's empire has dragged the West down to levels of ignorance that are hard to believe: crass TV shows featuring young men and women reviling each other in crude sexual terms being just one example. As such, he has defined an era but, in the pages of history, will he merit a footnote? What has his life achieved? Pots of money but an inability to convince himself that he has worth.

You may have guessed, that I am not a fan. So, did the book just reinforce my prejudices? No. I had to admit to agreeing with Murdoch's desire for equality of opportunity, not outcome, although, I differ in that I want a safety net for those who don't shine. I also had to admire the way in which he would accept criticism: perhaps not from his employees, but he does not try to gag adverse remarks from his peers.

This book was written long before the latest sleaze allegations against the News of the World and, by association, Murdoch himself. it does, however, make it easier to believe that Rupert Murdoch may not have had direct knowledge of the way in which his satellites behaved. Murdoch does seem to rule by the old adage of giving people enough rope.... This book takes Murdoch up to, and just through, the near collapse of his empire in the early 1990's. In some ways, it is hard to accept that a company could become so vast whilst operating, almost exclusively, upon a day to day basis. There are numerous stories of Murdoch making instant decisions to launch a new title, or acquire a certain company with little thought as to the long term effect.

Murdoch is painted not so much as an evil man, as an amoral one. he seems to have no concept of educating the masses, genuinely believing that to give the people what they want is the be all and end all of his job. Murdoch was (and perhaps, still is) a king maker. His newspapers helped Margaret Thatcher, in the UK, and Reagan in America to obtain, and retain, power. He does not feel the need to do this honestly but, does not exploit the power for personal gain either. The company is all. ( )
  the.ken.petersen | Aug 24, 2011 |
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