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The Trade Unionist and the Tycoon

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Pages: 224

Language: English

Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Publisher: Mainstream Publishing: FIRST EDITION edition (10 Nov. 1992)

By: Allister Mackie (Author), Tony Benn (Foreword)

On 5 November 1991 Robert Maxwell drowned. Since then his empire has collapsed. Bankruptcy and criminal proceedings have stalked his family. As more is understood about his business methods, the more the wonder grows that he was ever allowed back into legitimate business after he has been branded by the Board of Trade as unfit to run a public company. Allister Mackie has written the most complete account yet of Maxwell's business methods. It is based on an extraordinary and painful episode in the seventies when Mackie led a workers' co-operative that tried to save a newspaper - and then found himself in a physically and psychologically exhausting struggle as Maxwell manoeuvred to take control and oust him. Here were all the characteristics that typified Maxwell but which could not be revealed in his lifetime because of the threat of libel writs, which Maxwell used as guided missiles to shut up his critics. Here is the charm, the cajolery, the hunger for recognition and power. Here too are the lying, the cheating, the manipulative cynicism that sometimes bordered on the comic. Like the time when Maxwell pretended to prepare a bed in the boardroom so that he could work through the night - and then slipped off to his suite in a luxury hotel: like the time he harangued his adversary Mackie over the Tannoy in a Kafka-esque and nightmarish series of public denunciations. This is a book of exceptional merit that, because of the libel laws, has had to wait a quarter of a century for publication. It is written with power and directness. The characters come vividly to life. Slowly, as Maxwell connived and convinced, Mackie found the loyalty of his beloved workforce slipping away and with it the dream that had founded the 'Scottish Daily News'. The book hastens to a conclusion that has genuinely tragic undertones. Chiefly, it adds to the mystery of how Maxwell was ever allowed back in from the cold: but it does also explain how he was able to fool so many people who satisfied themselves too easily of his good intentions. Tony Benn, who, as the then Secretary for State for Industry, played a central role in enabling the cooperative, provides an authoritative and fascinating foreword.

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