David McKnight’s brilliant new book, Murdoch’s Politics: How One Man’s Thirst for Wealth and Power Shapes Our World (Pluto, 2013) has been reviewed in the Guardian this week. The review by Andy Beckett is, at the time of writing, the third most viewed article in the Guardian‘s books section, and the book is being sold via the Guardian shop for a special discounted price of just £10.39.
Describing the book as ‘a brave and pacy portrait of Rupert Murdoch’s fickle relationships with world leaders’, Beckett undertakes a quick overview of the last forty years, focusing on Murdoch’s erratic interactions with various world leaders in Australia, the US and UK, and his equally unpredictable weight-shifting in favour of Right and Left. He writes:
McKnight, who is a professor of journalism at the University of New South Wales, and was a leftwing newspaper and TV reporter for decades before that, shows that Murdoch was surprisingly clumsy and erratic in his early politicking. In Australia and then in Britain, he hastily fell for and then rejected party leaders, changed his mind on policy questions, and swung from left to right and back again, or sometimes even in both directions at once. During the 1972 British miners’ strike, Murdoch’s Sun, as he later put it, “pushed public opinion very hard behind the miners”; almost simultaneously, in Australia, he was allegedly complaining to one of his editors about “long haired stuff in the paper … bleeding heart stuff … Aboriginal stuff … Aboriginals don’t read our papers.”
Beckett has more to say about the aesthetic quality of McKnight’s writing as well.
McKnight extracts most of his Murdoch quotes and facts from easily available sources: other Murdoch books, pieces in Murdoch newspapers, memoirs by former Murdoch underlings. Yet the portrait he builds feels fresh and strong, free of the usual biographers’ ruminations on the Murdoch mystique and their love/hate feelings towards him. Sometimes the book is a little stark and skeletal as a result, a 260-page charge sheet, calmly but relentlessly laid out. Only occasionally does McKnight allow himself some descriptive colour, such as a Bond villain image of Murdoch in 2003 watching the invasion of Iraq, for which his papers had lobbied for almost a decade, “on the panel of seven television screens mounted in the wall of his Los Angeles office”.
For the full review, in itself a great taster of the main course offered by McKnight, check out the Guardian‘s books section here.
To buy it, either click on the purchasing info below, or, for the rare and unusual pleasure of purchasing one of our books elsewhere (and for cheaper!) check out the Guardian online bookshop, here.
How One Man’s Thirst For Wealth and Power Shapes our World
David McKnight. Foreword by Robert W. McChesney
Searching analysis of Rupert Murdoch’s impact on politics, media and culture. Includes the fallout from the Leveson inquiry.
“A timely and hard-hitting account of the career of the world’s first and greatest global media baron, from one of Australia’s leading academics in the field of journalism studies. A former journalist himself, McKnight’s account of the Murdoch empire should be read by all who are interested in the relationship between media and political power in our time.” – Brian McNair, Professor of Journalism, Media & Communication at Queensland University of Technology, author of News and Journalism in the UK (2009)