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From the best-selling author of A Very English Scandal, the jaw-dropping life story of the notorious business tycoon Robert Maxwell.
In February 1991, the media mogul and former MP Robert Maxwell made a triumphant entrance into Manhattan harbour aboard his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, to complete his purchase of the ailing New York Daily News. Crowds lined the quayside to watch his arrival, taxi drivers stopped their cabs to shake his hand and children asked for his autograph. But just 10 months later, Maxwell disappeared from the same yacht off the Canary Islands, only to be found dead in the water soon afterward.
Maxwell was the embodiment of Britain's post-war boom. Born an Orthodox Jew, he had escaped the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, fought in World War II and was decorated for his heroism with the Military Cross. He went on to become a Labour MP and an astonishingly successful businessman, owning a number of newspapers and publishing companies. But on his death, his empire fell apart, as long-hidden debts and unscrupulous dealings came to light. Within a few days, Maxwell was being reviled as the embodiment of greed and corruption. No one had ever fallen so far and so quickly.
What went so wrong? How did a war hero and model of society become reduced to a bloated, amoral wreck? In this gripping book, John Preston delivers the definitive account of Maxwell's extraordinary rise and scandalous fall.
'Preston is a natural storyteller' The Times
© John Preston 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021
'This is the best biography yet of the media magnate Robert Maxwell - by turns engrossing, amusing and appalling... it slips down as richly, easily and pleasurably as a tablespoonful of Beluga caviar'
'Electrifying... the supreme chronicler of modern British scandals'
'This is such a richly detailed, well-written, gripping biography I wished it could have been twice as long'
'I have a shelf full of books about frauds, but this one is by far the most enjoyable. By turns self-righteous and revolting, Maxwell makes the perfect villain'
'Any good biography of a mountebank depicts not only its subject but also the ambivalent society that accommodated the monster. John Preston's Fall does this with deft understatement ... Preston's A Very English Scandal used an almost novelistic eye to revive a well-worn scandal. Fall is equally satisfying'
'An absorbing profile of the war hero turned rogue ... Preston comes to his subject with the advantage both of hindsight and his great skill at exposing hypocrisy and subterfuge ... he has an eye for the telling detail and an ear for the revealing quote'
'There have been many books written about Robert Maxwell, but surely none as pacy, entertaining and jaw-dropping as this one... yes, this is quite a book'
'Preston has written a wonderfully entertaining book and interviewed almost everyone who crossed Maxwell's path in his heyday. He has an eye for comedy and drama and, where he explains his subject's shady and dauntingly complex business dealings, he does so clearly and succinctly'
'Irresistible page-turning pace ... what emerges from Fall is a vividly grotesque picture of the emperor showing off his nonexistent new clothes to an applauding crowd of courtiers - politicians, editors, bankers - who all too willingly suspended any disbelief they may have felt'
'John Preston's book Fall, a recounting of the life of one of the most extraordinary figures in British corporate life, is timely ... almost 30 years since Maxwell died at sea in unexplained circumstances, it is possible to look back on his story and the fraud as a great, sweeping whole, a bridge from the second world war to the last years of the media barons before the internet began ... Preston tells the story well ... its strength is in telling the grand sweep of an extraordinary life'
John Preston, author of new book The Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell, shares five facts he unearthed about one of the 20th Century’s most villainised figures.