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The Common Touch

Paul Foot, 10 November 1994

Hanson: A Biography 
by Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £20, September 1994, 1 85702 189 4
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... great-grandsons,’ Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe write without a trace of irony. One of these was Robert Hanson, the great James’s father, through whose veins the entrepreneurial spirit pulsed so fiercely that he stored other people’s furniture in a warehouse next to a garage packed with petrol. One day, the whole thing went up in smoke, which was ...
... Sun. (At least this was Rowland’s version of what was happening – Murdoch has denied it.) Robert Maxwell is trying to buy a 10 per cent share in Fleet Holdings from the, Australian tycoon Robert Holmes a Court for £15.4 million, while another bidder – it’s not clear whether or not he is a rival to ...

You can’t put it down

Fintan O’Toole, 18 July 1996

The Fourth Estate 
by Jeffrey Archer.
HarperCollins, 550 pp., £16.99, May 1996, 0 00 225318 6
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Tickle the Public: One Hundred Years of the Popular Press 
by Matthew Engel.
Gollancz, 352 pp., £20, April 1996, 9780575061439
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Newspaper Power: The New National Press in Britain 
by Jeremy Tunstall.
Oxford, 441 pp., £35, March 1996, 0 19 871133 6
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... experience, have learned something that you could bring to bear on a book about Rupert Murdoch, Robert Maxwell and the media in the contemporary world. From your unique insight into tabloid sex scandals, you must, for instance, have noticed among last year’s crop at least two that stood out for their quintessentially Post-Modern character. One was ...

Why Wapping?

Rex Winsbury, 6 March 1986

... over into Fleet Street. But even more important, two new proprietors have arrived in Fleet Street: Robert Maxwell and Rupert Murdoch, each warriors in the tabloid newspaper circulation war. Maxwell secured large job cuts at the Mirror by threats and cajoling. Murdoch could not be slow to follow. But Murdoch is also ...

Who Runs Britain?

Christopher Hitchens, 8 December 1994

The Enemy Within: MI5, Maxwell and the Scargill Affair 
by Seumas Milne.
Verso, 352 pp., £18.95, November 1994, 0 86091 461 5
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... Something was supposed to stick, and stick it did thanks to the assiduous repetitions of Captain Robert Maxwell and his ‘Labour paper’. But the actual money, as Milne shows, cannot have and did not come from Libya. And the timing of its deployment and discovery was so exquisitely calibrated as to require the intervention of someone with knowledge ...

Dashing for Freedom

Paul Foot, 12 December 1996

Full Disclosure 
by Andrew Neil.
Macmillan, 481 pp., £20, October 1996, 0 333 64682 7
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... combines (Independent). The bullying which Neil described was reproduced almost to the letter by Robert Maxwell when he took over the Mirror. The same telephone terrorism, the same silence routine, the same bullying of underlings which spread downwards until almost everyone was being shouted at by a ...

Down among the press lords

Alan Rusbridger, 3 March 1983

The Life and Death of the Press Barons 
by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 288 pp., £12.50, December 1982, 0 436 06811 7
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... Not while Rupert’s still around. And while Rupert’s still around (and Sir James, and Robert, and Tiny – and maybe even Victor: ‘I have the papers in which to give my views, but I think the House of Lords will be better’), reports of the ‘death of the press barons’ are somewhat exaggerated. The British certainly like to give the ...

Medes and Persians

Paul Foot: The Government’s Favourite Accountants, 2 November 2000

... Lybrand was in the soup more than once over its not altogether distinguished accountancy of the Maxwell empire. It was sued on behalf of Maxwell companies and pensioners by a string of accountants, including the receivers for the fat man’s bust businesses, Arthur Andersen. Most of these cases were ‘settled’ in deals ...

Getting it right

Tam Dalyell, 18 July 1985

The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... writes as pungently as anyone in modern journalism, but he has a weekly column to sustain, and Robert Maxwell is by no means as anxious about the fate of the Belgrano as he is about the costs of the Falklands, or the welfare of the Polish Government. Like Mr Foot, John Rentoul of the New Statesman has contributed some crucial articles ...

Dual Loyalty

Victor Mallet, 5 December 1991

The Samson Option: Israel, America and the Bomb 
by Seymour Hersh.
Faber, 256 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 571 16619 9
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Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the US-Israeli Covert Relationship 
by Andrew Cockburn and Leslie Cockburn.
Bodley Head, 423 pp., £17.99, January 1991, 0 370 31405 0
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... to Moscow in sanitised form in order to ingratiate itself with the Soviet Union). The late Robert Maxwell, the publisher, and Nicholas Davies, the former foreign editor of the Daily Mirror, have inconsequential British bit parts in the saga as told by Hersh. But Maxwell’s Jewish origins, his escape from the ...

‘No view on it’

Paul Foot, 22 October 1992

Nuclear Ambiguity: The Vanunu Affair 
by Yoel Cohen.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 297 pp., £10.99, July 1992, 1 85619 150 8
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... delighted the Sunday Mirror’s owner, the fervent Zionist, now resting on the Mount of Olives, Robert Maxwell. But it was quite false. The following Sunday, the Sunday Times published a six-thousand-word exclusive, starting on the front page. It was an excellent piece of journalism, awakening the world community for the first time to the fact that ...

Muted Ragu Tones

Michael Hofmann: David Szalay, 20 April 2016

All That Man Is 
by David Szalay.
Cape, 437 pp., £14.99, April 2016, 978 0 224 09976 9
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... is dismayed to notice, when his thoughts turn to ending it all – in the style of Hart Crane or Robert Maxwell – that, wherever he jumps from, he will probably only find more superyacht beneath him. A woman’s hair may be ‘a sort of aureate beige’ or ‘dyed a maximal black’. Pleasures are technical, liquid and faddish; they are afforded by ...

Entranced by the Factory

Simon Schaffer: Maxwell’s Demon, 29 April 1999

The Natural Philosophy of James Clerk Maxwell 
by P.M. Harman.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £35, April 1998, 0 521 56102 7
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... in 1873 to join a new society for metropolitan physicists, the Cambridge professor James Clerk Maxwell set out in his witty way the practical philosophy of this public science. He thought soirées were like clouds of gas particles: they allowed buttonholing only during the brief if violent collisions of their participants. Lecture-rooms were ...

Irving, Terry, Gary and Graham

Ian Hamilton, 22 April 1993

Behind Closed Doors 
by Irving Scholar and Mihir Bose.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £14.99, November 1992, 0 233 98824 6
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Sick as a Parrot: The Inside Story of the Spurs Fiasco 
by Chris Horrie.
Virgin, 293 pp., £4.99, August 1992, 0 86369 620 1
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Gary Lineker: Strikingly Different 
by Colin Malam.
Stanley Paul, 147 pp., £12.99, January 1993, 0 09 175424 0
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... was busy with Gazza-saving schemes right to the end. Unluckily, his only source of finance was Robert Maxwell: another good reason for Sugar, Rupert Murdoch’s friend, to have moved in when he did. Irving Scholar is now seen as a typical loadsamoney illusionist of the Eighties, and is taken to be the architect of all Spurs’ financial cock-ups in ...

Dirty Money

Paul Foot, 17 December 1992

A Full Service Bank: How BCCI stole millions around the world 
by James Ring Adams and Douglas Frantz.
Simon and Schuster, 381 pp., £16.99, April 1992, 0 671 71133 4
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Bankrupt: The BCCI Fraud 
by Nick Kochan and Bob Whittington.
Gollancz, 234 pp., £4.99, November 1991, 0 575 05279 1
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The BCCI Affair: A Report to The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 
by Senators John Kerry and Hank Brown.
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 800 pp., September 1992
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Inquiry into the Supervision of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International 
by Lord Justice Bingham.
HMSO, 218 pp., £19.30, October 1992, 0 10 219893 4
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... attached to it. Adams and Frantz describe in detail one deal in which Clifford and his partner Robert Altman, well-known in Washington social circles since he was married to Wonderwoman, bought and sold shares through BCCI and ended up with $9.8m in their pockets. Kerry reveals that Clifford’s and Altman’s firm was paid some $45m in legal fees by ...

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