MAXWELL by Roy Greenslade

MAXWELL

The Rise and Fall of Robert Maxwell and His Empire
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 When Robert Maxwell met his mysterious death offshore the Canary Islands less than a year ago, the world first thought it had lost a billionaire media baron. As soon became apparent, however, Maxwell had been a great pretender whose fiscal chicanery marked him among the globe's meanest and most daring swindlers. In his authoritative, dirt-dishing audit of the mercurial Maxwell's career, Fleet Street veteran Greenslade dashes any lingering notion that much good was interred with his subject's bones. The author made the most of his relatively brief tenure at London's Daily Mirror--the UK's top tabloid as well as Maxwell's flagship paper--accumulating a wealth of anecdotal evidence on his employer's autocratic, boorish, meddlesome, and secretive management style. While Greenslade doesn't claim to have realized that the Czech-born Maxwell was looting the pension funds of companies under his control, he decided, after evaluating the leveraged condition of the proprietor's publicly held and private enterprises (British Printing, Macmillan, Mirror Group Newspapers, New York's Daily News, etc.), to withdraw from the corporate retirement program. Meanwhile, the author recounts, he, fellow journalists, and analysts in The City (London's Wall Street) had precious few doubts that an overextended ``Cap'n Bob'' was heading for a fall because of his inability to meet debt-service obligations--and because of what associates dubbed ``the Max factor.'' That the truth of the matter turned out to be far worse than imagined was due, Greenslade says, to the vagaries of English business and libel law, plus Maxwell's litigiousness and willingness to run risky bluffs in pursuit of illusory rewards. He concludes that Maxwell committed suicide rather than face the disgrace of exposure as a lifelong grifter. Although Greenslade has an axe to grind, he sets a high standard by offering an objective if unsparing portrait of a villain who was often in error but seldom in doubt. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 1-55972-123-5
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Birch Lane Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1992