Tuesday January 20, 2004

Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday November 7, 2006

Embattled Black rattled by author’s attack on wife

Writing in London’s Sunday Telegraph, downfallen media baron Conrad Black burst the bonds of his trademark embroidered writing style this week to complain starkly about the characterization of his wife, Barbara Amiel, as she had been cast in a recent book excerpt published in London’s Sunday Times.

To wit: “His key-hole, smut-mongering side-piece portrayal of my wife as a man-eating sex maniac prior to her marriage to me is disgusting.”

The “His” referred to here is Tom Bower, whose biography of Black and Amiel is to be published Monday bearing the title Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge. (The title of the U.S. version – Outrageous Fortune: The Rise and Ruin of Conrad and Lady Black – sounds more brazenly predictive of the saga’s outcome.)

The author’s name will not ring many bells to a Canadian audience, but Bower has written a flotilla of biographies on the like of Richard Branson, of the Virgin record-airline empire, and Robert Maxwell, the newspaper proprietor who went tumbling over the side of the Lady Ghislaine more than a decade ago.

Bower can thank Black for revving up the pre-publicity machine, just in time for Christmas and mere months before proceedings against Black are scheduled to commence in a Chicago courtroom.
The book is sure to be a seller.

The initial excerpt ran in the Sunday Times under the hoary headline Conrad the Barbarian, and used as its main art the ill-timed photograph of Black and Amiel that appeared in Vanity Fair, the one where Amiel is seated at her squire’s knee, on the statued and manicured lawn of their Palm Beach estate.

For a British audience it may have been a romping read. For those on this side of the big water who have followed the Black story line, the excerpt revisited the oft-told history of Black’s not-very-cheery father, George, who tumbled over the balustrade to his death some 30 years ago. The Argus battle. The expulsion from Upper Canada College for stealing exam papers. This will all be very familiar narrative territory, going all the way back to Peter C. Newman’s The Establishment Man in 1982. (Source: Toronto Star, 11/1/2006, F1) 

Canada, wealth, Conrad Black, Barbara Amiel, book