House of Maxwell: Tom Bower reveals how his book was blocked
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Ghislaine Maxwell is the youngest daughter of Robert Maxwell, an impoverished Czechoslovakian turned media mogul. Ghislaine is currently at the centre of perhaps the Maxwell family’s most notorious scandal, as she awaits sentencing for sex trafficking convictions in connection to the late Jeffrey Epstein. However, the Maxwells have long been mired in murky waters.
The patriarch of the family, Robert Maxwell, was an enormous figure in British national life.
He was a war hero, a businessman, a Labour MP and then, most famously, a media mogul.
However, how Mr Maxwell garnered such success was not clear. Investigative journalist Tom Bower “wanted to find out who Maxwell really was and how he’d built such an empire.”
He was asked to write “a book about the truth”.
But the book was quickly blocked by the newspaper tycoon, who Mr Bower claimed used “terrorist tactics” to suppress the book’s publication.
Mr Bower told the new BBC documentary ‘House of Maxwell’: “There were not only writs against me and the publishers, but writs against all the book shops, and also writs against the distributors of books.
“And like a pack of cards, they all collapsed.
“The establishment was on Maxwell’s side.
“He used terrorist tactics to suppress the truth, suppress the book. And he won.”
During his investigation for the book, Mr Bower discovered a “shady” past including “black market operations” in Berlin and “working for both British intelligence and Russian intelligence.”
Mr Bower said that Mr Maxwell had “no loyalties other than to himself”.
When the time came for Mr Bower to write the book, he claimed that Mr Maxwell went to extraordinary lengths to prevent it from being published.
Mr Bower explained: “Maxwell knew exactly what I was doing… and he did two things.
“First of all, he hired several private investigators to not only follow me but, extraordinarily, set up secretly some sort of electronic device at the bottom of my garden in my home in North London, and be able to read what I was writing as I was typing it up.
“And secondly, he commissioned his own book, the flattering hagiography.”
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Mr Bower claimed that he had to take unusual measures in order to get his book published.
He said: “Well, I had no doubt, as I got towards the end of the book, that Maxwell would try to prevent it being published.
“So I persuaded the publishers, without much trouble, that we should print it out of England, and import it into England as a gardening book.
“So, it would say something, you know, Flowers of Britain, or Flowers of China on the packaging, so that his attempts to steal it and intercept it at the ports would be unsuccessful.”
Archived footage played during the documentary showed Mr Maxwell admitting that he had consistently refused to release a biography, and described Mr Bower’s book as a “hatchet job”.
He went on to say that, in order to protect his reputation, he would sue anyone who handled the book for libel.
Mr Bower claimed that Mr Maxwell stayed true to his words, and said that the mogul “issued writs like confetti.”
Maxwell: The Outsider by Tom Bower was originally published in 1988.
In Maxwell’s 1991 obituary, The Guardian reported that it sold out its hardback print run, but got no further.
Mr Maxwell filed a libel action against Mr Bower and his publishers, Aurum Press, which Maxwell later allowed to “go to sleep”.
The paperback edition was published in 1992, after the death of Maxwell.
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