Max Beaverbrook : Not Quite A Gentleman by Charles Williams

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Financial magician, flamboyant politician, minister in both world wars, press baron, serial philanderer, Winston Churchill's boon companion in the dark days of 1940-41 and in his later years, Max Beaverbrook was without a doubt one of the most colourful characters of the first half of the twentieth century. Born and brought up in the Scottish Presbyterian fastness of northeast Canada, he escaped to make his fortune in Canadian financial markets. By 1910, when he migrated to Britain at the age of thirty-one, he was already a multimillionaire.

With a seat in the House of Commons and then a peerage, he came to know all the senior figures in both British and Canadian politics. In acquiring the Daily Express, he not only built it into a news empire but used its considerable influence to campaign for his own pet causes. As Charles Williams's sweeping biography shows, Beaverbrook was loved and loathed in equal measure.

Nevertheless, Williams brings to life a rounded character, with all its flaws and virtues. Above all, it is a story of eighty years of entrepreneurism, political dogfights, wars, sex and grand living, all set in the rich tapestry of the dramatic years of the twentieth century.