The riveting tale of how the wannabe aristo Conrad Black and his social mountaineering wife Barbara gulled their way into the City, the Tory party, Wall Street and High Society.
The rise and fall of the media tycoon, Conrad Black, is rivalled in its spectacular extravagance only by the machinations of his social mountaineering wife, Barbara Amiel. Together their story of overweening ambition and greed is a modern-day classic of hubris.
There is no bolder or better informed chronicler of the follies of the rich and powerful than Tom Bower. Fearless in the approach which has brought him accolades for his tireless exposés of Robert Maxwell, Tiny Rowland, Mohammed Fayed and Richard Branson, Tom Bower reveals how the Blacks used other people's money to finance a billionaire's lifestyle and win friends and influence in London and New York.
Born into considerable wealth in Canada, Conrad Black bought and sold (but never properly managed) several businesses, from mining and tractors to broadcasting companies and newspaper. In 1985 he bought the Telegraph group in London, but carefully concealed his past financial shenanigans by forbidding his long-serving partner David Radler to come to London.
In 1993 he married Barbara Amiel, who famously said, 'I have an extravagance that knows no bounds.' Besotted by his wife, he began living way beyond his means. Fabulous parties, jewellery, clothes and homes followed. In 1998 he began to plunder Hollinger, his public company. Five years later, an official report in America accused him of 'outright fraud', 'ethical corruption' and 'corporate kleptocracy' – claims which will be tested at his trial in Chicago in 2007.
Tom Bower's book, based on hundreds of interviews with bankers, politicians, journalists and dealmakers, as well as former boyfriends and girlfriends, is packed with anecdotes and colourful gossip. It is a hugely entertaining account of gullibility in high places.