Maxwell: 2the Outsider

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Viking Press, 1992 - Biography & Autobiography - 539 pages
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Robert Maxwell was driven by an obsession to be remembered by posterity, to create and re-create his own life in order to become part of the Establishment. Tom Bower's compelling portrait, the subject of numerous libel suits brought by Maxwell in Britain before his death, is now published for the first time--in a thoroughly updated edition--in the United States. It provides a fascinating look at the man who was relentless in his attempts to obtain media power and respectability, attempts that would eventually destroy him.
Born into a life of poverty, an outsider forever trying to get in, Robert Maxwell was plagued by a deep sense of alienation. His career as publisher, printer, politician, financier, industrialist, and tycoon extraordinary was charged with both magnificent coups and controversial setbacks. He built his fortune on a mixture of engineered leaks and secrecy at the expense of long-term stability. Accused of everything from creative bookkeeping to outright fraud, Maxwell withstood each debacle until the end, surviving troubles that would have felled a less determined personality.
Bower describes the many suspect strategies of Maxwell's business dealings while he was alive and the disintegration of his empire after his death, focusing along the way on Maxwell's often nebulous business dealings and his immense skills at bullying and deception. Beginning with Maxwell's early years, Bower describes in depth the period after World War II during which Maxwell made a fortune out of barter deals and the export of scientific journals from Germany, which became the basis for his Pergamon Press flagship; the Pergamon-Leasco affair in the late 1960s (involving two millionaires, Maxwell and Saul Steinberg), an ill-fated takeover deal that fell apart with Maxwell declared unfit to hold office in a public company; and his revival of the loss-making British Printing Corporation.
The author explains Maxwell's numerous acquisitions and his competitive obsession with Rupert Murdoch. We learn of the mysteries surrounding Maxwell's private banking in Liechtenstein, his strange links with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the notorious "Mirrorgate" affair and Maxwell's close relationship with Israel. Going beyond recent media coverage, the author provides up-to-the-minute facts on missing corporate assets and pension funds as well as the nefarious share-support schemes.
In this powerful biography, Tom Bower comes as close as anyone ever will to understanding Robert Maxwell and his demons.

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Maxwell, the outsider

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Publishing mogul Robert Maxwell drowned in November 1991. By December this book was being readied for publication. Originally published in Britain in 1988 amidst much legal ballyhoo, it never made it ... Read full review


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About the author (1992)

Tom Bower, a London-based historian, broad-caster, and journalist, is the author of several acclaimed books about tycoons, including works on Richard Branson, Geoffrey Robinson, and Robert Maxwell.

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