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Before Rupert : Keith Murdoch and the Birth of a Dynasty

The University Of Queensland Press, 2015, 392 p., $ 35.

Following the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, Rupert Murdoch said his greatest regret was that he had let his father down. Popular history views Sir Keith Murdoch (1885–1952) as a fearless war correspondent – author of the famous letter that led to the evacuation of the Anzac force from Gallipoli – and a principled journalist and dedicated family man who, on his death, left a single provincial newspaper to Rupert. This benign reputation is unsurprising : the two previously published biographies of Keith were Murdoch family commissions. But is there another side to the story of Keith’s success and the origins of News Corporation ? With controversial revelations – of forgotten fiancées, First World War propaganda operations, the promotion of eugenics, and the sensationalising of a schoolgirl’s murder leading to the execution of an innocent man – Before Rupert is an unflinching prequel to the saga of the Murdoch family’s rise to power, and details how Keith Murdoch ruthlessly exploited his influence and networks to gain control over Australia’s media and political landscape.

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