The world's most powerful newspaper barons - which of them will triumph? At first glance, Richard Armstrong and Keith Townsend seemed to have little in common. One was the son of an illiterate peasant, who emerged from the most backward corner of a Europe ravaged by a bitter war. The other was raised in a mansion on the far side of the world while the war was just another piece of news. Once was a hustler, a thief, ready to change even his identity, if it would gain him a momentary advantage. The other was the scion of a well-known family, groomed for a public role, a rebel who didn't care if anyone approved of what he got up to. One craved wealth, recognition, status. The other quickly discovered that real power comes from anonymity. But they did have one thing in common. Both of them were gamblers. Both were prepared to risk everything in their battle to control the biggest newspaper 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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