In a stunning display of storytelling, reminiscent of his blockbuster Kane & Abel, Jeffrey Archer creates two extraordinary protagonists whose life stories could have been taken from today's headlines, and pits them against each other as each strives to be the first to create a global media empire and become the most powerful man on earth.
Lubji Hoch breaks the bonds of his humble beginnings as the son of an illiterate Jewish peasant, escapes the Nazis, changes his name to Richard Armstrong, becomes a decorated officer in the British army and ultimately finds himself in Berlin, where his sharp mind and killer instincts win him the opportunity to head up a floundering newspaper. As rival papers in the city fail in the wake of his ruthlessness, he is poised to move on to even greater things.
On the other side of the world, in Australia, Keith Townsend, son of a millionaire newspaper owner, is being groomed to follow in his father's footsteps. Private schools, an Oxford degree and a position at a London newspaper lead him up to the time of his father's death, when he takes over the family business. His energy and brilliant strategic thinking quickly make him the leading newspaper publisher in Australia. Yet he, too, longs to move on to the world stage.
Armstrong's and Townsend's ambitions collide on a global scale. Each controls a mass-circulation British tabloid and a New York daily newspaper that is losing money. Each suddenly finds himself threatened by financial disaster brought on by enormous debts. Both become desperate to save their crumbling empires. One ends up flying his private jet to his yacht in Nice and ordering the captain to sail out to sea. The other prepares a press release to announce that he is about to go bankrupt.
The Fourth Estate is the timely and compelling story of two men who, though they come from totally different backgrounds, stand face to face on the highest precipice, prepared to risk everything to beat each other and control the biggest media empire in the world.
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Utilizing his extensive theatrical experience, Martin Jarvis handles the difficult task of narrating Jeffrey Archer's bestseller, The Fourth Estate, quite admirably. As in his extremely popular novel, Kane & Abel, Archer has once again created dual protagonists--in this case, chronicling the parallel lives of two rival media tycoons, each bent on global domination of the newspaper industry. Because of this doubly complex plot device, the narrator must possess a very flexible voice to differentiate not only the two lead characters, but each of their large supporting casts as well. Jarvis tackles the challenge quite capably.
Although the work is billed as fiction, the personalities and events bear a striking resemblance to actual stories seen in headlines. So recognizable, in fact, that lawsuits were filed in an effort to halt publication of Archer's book altogether. Perhaps that can explain his relatively safe, methodical effort here. As usual, he has devised an absorbing and intricate plot, but the story follows the action forward so closely that there is little time allowed for insight into the character's motivations or for philosophical narrative. Still, Archer's considerable talent as a storyteller and the noteworthy performance by the very talented Jarvis make The Fourth Estate a compelling look at the cause and effect of ruthless corporate behavior and provides an intriguing peek behind closed boardroom doors. (Running time: six hours, four cassettes) --George LaneyFrom the Back Cover:
One man's rescue is another man's ruin in this epic novel about the battle to control the world's largest newspaper empire from international bestselling author
Richard Armstrong narrowly escaped Hitler's atrocities in Eastern Europe on his courage and his wits―skills that served him well in peacetime. Having turned a struggling Berlin newspaper into a success story seemingly overnight, Armstrong made a name for himself―and more than a few enemies along the way...
Meanwhile, young Keith Townsend enters the international arena, armed with a world-class education and a sense of entitlement to match. Charged with growing his father's newspaper business into a global media force, he and Armstrong are bound to become sworn rivals―until they arrive at the edge of collapse and will do whatever it takes to stay alive in the game...or die trying.
"Archer turns raw male ambition into fast and furious fun."―Entertainment Weekly
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