Fall

by John Preston

Biographies & Autobiographies History

Fall Synopsis

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE 2021

A dramatic, gripping account of the rise and fall of the notorious business tycoon Robert Maxwell from the acclaimed author of A Very English Scandal

Robert Maxwell was a very British success. Born an Orthodox Jew, he escaped the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, fought in the Second World War, 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 after his dead body was discovered floating in waters around his superyacht, 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.

What went so wrong? How did a man who had once laid such store on the importance of ethics and good behaviour 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.

'I have a shelf full of books about frauds, but this one is by far the most enjoyable' Craig Brown, author of Ma'am Darling

About This Edition

ISBN: 9780241388686
Publication date: 28th October 2021
Author: John Preston
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 352 pages
Primary Genre Biographies & Autobiographies
Other Genres:

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John Preston Press Reviews

'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' -- Robert Harris - Sunday Times

'Electrifying... the supreme chronicler of modern British scandals' - Mail on Sunday

'This is such a richly detailed, well-written, gripping biography I wished it could have been twice as long' -- Lynn Barber - Daily Telegraph

'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' -- Craig Brown - Mail on Sunday

'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' -- Quentin Letts - The Times

'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' - Observer, Book of the Week

'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' - Daily Mail

'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' - New Statesman

'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' -- Francis Wheen - Spectator

'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' - Financial Times

'Vivid ... Preston (has a) gift for the kind of wry comedy that suits English decline' - Guardian, Book of the Day

'John Preston's research for this terrific biography is extensive; he interviewed three of Maxwell's children and his sister. But he also presents a large character at the heart of a gripping novel which happens to be true' - Evening Standard

'Thanks to Preston's fine writing, Fall fizzes along at pace and is engrossing as it charts Maxwell's astonishing life - and how he came to be so widely reviled' - i

'John Preston tells [the story of Maxwell] with great verve and the benefit of extensive interviews with, among others, Maxwell's one-time rival Rupert Murdoch... the portrait that emerges is more subtly drawn than previous ones' - Economist

'John Preston brings the old crook and liar magnificently to life in this sparkling biography... this beautifully written book provides many moments of high and low comedy... Preston's sharp eye for the ridiculous and the piquant conjures up a lost Fleet Street world' - Jewish Chronicle

'Preston is a natural storyteller' -- The Times Deeply researched, fluently written, and darkly comic, it reads like a thriller -- Ben Macintyre on 'A Very English Scandal' Brilliant, sad, startling -- Jon Ronson on 'A Very English Scandal' A terrific book and brilliantly researched -- Claire Tomalin on 'A Very English Scandal' Very funny and endlessly extraordinary - Guardian on 'A Very English Scandal'

Preston is a natural storyteller - The Times

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9780241388686
Publication date: 28/10/2021
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780241388679
Publication date: 04/02/2021
Format: Hardback

ISBN: 9780241388693
Publication date: 04/02/2021
Format: Paperback

View All Editions

About John Preston

John Preston is a former Arts Editor of the Evening Standard and the Sunday Telegraph. For ten years he was the Sunday Telegraph's television critic and one of its chief feature writers. He is the author of a travel book and four novels. His most recent novel, The Dig, was published to great acclaim in 2007.

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