A brilliantly evocative memoir from the golden age of newspaper publishing, from a man who helped define our modern media.
Les Hinton was 15 when he first worked for Rupert Murdoch, and Murdoch’s “empire” was a single evening newspaper. In the next half century, he travelled the world on the wagon train of his boss’s vast ambition, first as a correspondent, and then as one of his closest aides.
As head of Murdoch companies in newspapers, magazines, and television — including The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, Fox Television Stations, the New York Post, and TV Guide— Hinton has been present at and directed several key scenes in the media’s revolutionary transformation.
His career has spanned three continents: from Fleet Street to Wall Street; from the bucolic small town of Adelaide in Australia, where young Murdoch first dreamed of his media conquests, to the febrile world of Hollywood.
Here Hinton depicts the demonic drive of his boss, and the upheavals that swept his trade, with the same widescreen perspective and sharp colors he deploys to show us how politicians such as Bill Clinton and Tony Blair dealt with the media. From phone calls from Princess Diana, to living next door to O. J. Simpson, Hinton provides a revelatory new angle on the people who make the news.
And, in a book that comes to comprise one of the defining media memoirs of our age, we get the clearest portrait yet of Rupert Murdoch — the man who followed giants such as Hearst, Pulitzer, and Henry Luce, to build a media superpower that overshadowed them all.
“A delightful autobiography…honest, revealing—and a beautifully written page turner…No one has worked more closely and for longer with Rupert Murdoch than Les Hinton…But he does not shy away from criticism of Murdoch’s mistakes.”
William Shawcross, author of Justice and the Enemy
View all reviews
“An epic story…and a penetrating insight into the mind of Murdoch.”
“A rollicking good tale of his extraordinary life…an utterly charming autobiography”
William Shawcross, Standpoint
“Overflowing with the names of the rich and famous, from Yoko Ono, Johnny Rotten and Graham Greene (“I smiled at him, he smiled back”) to Bill Clinton, Princess Diana and Gordon Brown…pacey and engrossing and a lot better written than most of the hacks’ memoirs I have struggled through over the years.”
Michael Leapman, British Journalism Review
“Brilliant…a remarkable book.”
Mark Day, The Australian
“An autobiography “conveying an abundance of charm and refreshingly robust honesty.”
Australian Book Review
“A terrific memoir by one of the all-time great newspapermen. Highly recommend if you want to know what it takes to be a journalist.”
“It vividly captures the rise and fall of the press over 60 years…[no] acolyte’s paean.”
“[A] must-read for anyone with even a fleeting interest in the media.”
Noreen Barr, Press Association
“Hinton evokes delicious memories of the analog age of newspapers, describing the smells and sounds of chutes, linotypes, molten lead stereo casting machines and presses roaring amid mists of paper fluff.”
“[A] great romp of a journalistic memoir.”
Stephen Robinson, The Sunday Times
“Les Hinton’s An Untidy Life, is an ode to journalism and the amazing, eyeopening, exciting and gratifying life it offers…at the centre of it all remains the shining, enticing, come-hither core value of journalism—to tell tales, to record the way we live, to bring light where there is murk and to reflect our societies.”
Mark Day, The Australian
“Les Hinton lifts the lid on his 52 years working with the media mogul Rupert Murdoch…This ‘untidy life in news’ yields a rich crop of anecdotes.”
Daniel Johnson, The Times
“Les Hinton tells the story of his remarkable life in a remarkable book.”
“His narrative of growing up in Bootle, in Liverpool, and many other places around the world then moving into journalism is inspirational for any wanting to follow that path.”
Steve Howard, Manly Daily
“The yarns are delivered with a classic journalist’s eye for the telling physical detail, an ear for the revealing quote and a knack for sequencing facts.”
David Cohen, Sunday Star Times
“The stories are all told from the front row.”
Roy Christopher, Well-Red Bear
“Almost all of Hinton’s stories contain era-defining events, the kind of media moments every writer waits for, looks for, longs for…An Untidy Life isn’t all punk-rock dive bars and dishing dirt, but the stories are all told from the front row.”
“[T]old in down-to-Earth fashion by a modest and likable man”
Winnipeg Free Press