Young Rupert: The making of the Murdoch empire (Walter Marsh, Scribe)
Rupert Murdoch’s influence is ubiquitous, yet the man himself remains oddly opaque. Contradictions abound. During his university days, he toyed with left-wing politics but soon moved to the right. He painted himself the outsider but quickly became the establishment. As Murdoch once said candidly: ‘Monopoly is a terrible thing, until you have it.’ Journalist Walter Marsh’s new biography of Murdoch concentrates on the mogul’s formative years in Adelaide at the helm of The News, especially its controversial coverage of the 1959 Stuart royal commission, which brought Rupert and his editor, Rohan Rivett, close to a jail term for seditious libel. The book also works as a dual biography of his father, Keith. Murdoch senior started as the editor of the Melbourne Herald and was soon engineering a series of ambitious business deals that sowed the seeds of the Murdoch empire but left him overdrawn and overstretched. Rupert clearly inherited his father’s penchant for high stakes and risk taking. Young Rupert is a scrupulously well researched history that examines the power of the press in the 20th century and its influence on politics. Rupert Murdoch remains largely elusive, yet new research shows glimpses of a man under pressure and unable to enjoy his success. Readers interested in Australian politics and publishing will find much to satisfy here.
Books+Publishing reviewer: Chris Saliba is the co-owner of North Melbourne Books. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.