Book Reviews

Book Review: A matter of Principle.


In this voluminous book, C. Black, once the chairman and executive officer of a huge holding company, explains how he developed the enterprise, starting with a small-circulation Quebec regional newspaper.

In 1993 he was the proprietor of London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, one of the world’s largest newspaper groups.

He explains in great detail (sometimes too much personal detail) how in boardroom battles and courtroom trials he sat across from his nemesis, fought associates who acted on his behalf but in the end against him, how lawyers are dangerous, if not selected very carefully. Law firms charge outrageous fees, insisting on retainers to ensure their enrichment regardless of their efforts.

Boardroom battles, equity market manipulations, selection of individual lawyers will; inform the careful reader how to proceed. This alone makes the book worth reading.

But there is more! C. Black writes extensively about his court case in Chicago, the American justice system, the penitentiary administration, and especially how food is ordered and pilfered. In addition, anything and everything (including spirits and recreational drugs) is available at a price, at least in minimum-security penitentiaries.

The reading requires concentration because of many individuals’ involvement in several companies, and convoluted enterprise structures.

C. Black provides a glimpse into teh newspaper publishing industry in Britain and how competition can make or break a newcomer into the marketplace.

He also states that newspaper owners “dictate” coverage, although according to him, he never interfered with his editors except to insist that all must report facts truthfully and let the reader decide.

He is a lively writer with a very rich vocabulary, and succeeded in creating an oeuvre to defend his corporate behaviour, and study in resilience.

His advise to business people is very valuable, but unfortunately he failed to manage, and lacked the foresight to prevent what unfolded!

Highly recommended.

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