The Observer’s Alley Canwath takes a look at an updated edition of Branson, an unauthorized biography of the British billionaire first published nine years ago:
Among the responses to the original version of this book in 2000 there was one that Tom Bower must have particularly relished. It came from Branson himself, who said with a customary flourish: ‘What I have read has offended me on every single level … it is a foul, foul piece of work from the first words to the last – really rotten, nasty stuff.’
Celebrity endorsements don’t come much better than that, and the reasons for Branson’s fury aren’t hard to understand. Bower not only presents a damning alternative history of Branson’s company, Virgin, showing it lurching from crisis to crisis; he also takes aim at what Branson holds most dear – the Branson brand. Bower repeats Branson’s assertion that ‘you don’t have to be a complete shit to be a success’ more than once, but the swashbuckling entrepreneur is presented here as petulant, publicity-crazed and mean-spirited….
Since Branson has long since been supplanted in the public eye by Alan Sugar and the current crop of fresh-faced internet entrepreneurs, there’s little in the updated section – including his pay TV battle with the Murdochs and his attempted takeover of Northern Rock – to justify the decision to republish.
Read the full review.