Maxwell: The Outsider
- Hardcover: 608 pages
- Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (March 1, 1992)
From Library Journal
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 to the States–Maxwell saw to that. It is newly updated, exhaustively researched, and, at times, tediously detailed, especially concerning Maxwell’s fi nancial dealings; it is also an even-handed account of a powerful and destructive egomaniac. Bower writes, “This is a story about a man who used and abused people, who aroused fervent loyalty, fear and disdain among otherwise rational and strong human beings, and whose reputation suffered the misfortune of his best attempts to offer his truth.” Other accounts of Maxwell were also published in 1988: Joe Haines’s Maxwell (Macdonald, a Maxwell company) and Peter Thompson’s Maxwell: A Portrait of Power (Bantam). This is an important addition to communications, history, business, and even legal collections, as it is also a study of censorship and terrorism. The photographs and index were not seen.
– Jo Cates, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, Ill.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The ego has landed
If you’re determined to read a 500-page book make it this one. Tom Bower delivers flesh-and-blood business history as interesting and witty as any fiction.
That’s thanks largely to his subject matter – Robert Maxwell. Nearly 25 years after his death, it’s still hard to imagine a more improbable character. To summarize Maxwell as a unique joint venture of Western banksters and Eastern European communists would be truthful yet incomplete. Maxwell was a man of vision who saw the role of computers and other communications devices long before most others and acted upon it. If war and peace hadn’t done the job then John le Carre would have had to create Maxwell. Come to think of it, Tiger Single in “Single & Single” seems not far off.
Ego and enigma are two lenses Bower uses to examine Maxwell. Nine kids with a shiksa? A rosh yeshiva’s funeral in Jerusalem for someone who walked out on orthodoxy not long after his bar mitzvah? The mysteries abound.
Bower untangles the business jungle and breathtaking fraud better than any investigator. Some might be surprised to learn that the wife was more astute in financial dealings with Maxwell than most of his bankers.
The gray areas are given their proper dimensions. Maxwell’s mistreatment in Britain is only partially true. And Israeli leaders spoke too soon in praise of him. That’s the lot of a diaspora whale, I suppose.
Surprising there hasn’t been a Maxwell movie yet. Maybe Bower can add a foreword and get Hollywood interested. Captain Bob would fit right in with the comic book characters regularly inhabiting the silver screen.
An Intricate Suspicious Insider
This excellent work reveals some of the inner workings of the British publishing-financial world which can be very intricate indeed. The book is a real service.