“From schoolboy socialist to boy publisher to mogul on the make: Young Rupert offers a revelatory glimpse of Murdoch becoming Murdoch."—Jeff Sparrow, author of No Way But This: in search of Paul Robeson
For half a century, the Murdoch media empire and its polarizing patriarch have swept across the globe, shaking up markets and democracies in their wake. But how did it all start?
In September 1953, 22-year-old Rupert Murdoch landed in Adelaide, South Australia. Fresh from Oxford with a radical reputation, the young and brash son of Sir Keith Murdoch had arrived to fulfill his father’s dying wish: for Rupert to live a “useful altruistic and full life” in the media.
For decades, Sir Keith had been a giant of the Australian press, but his final years were spent bitterly fending off rivals and would-be successors. When the dust settled on his father’s estate, Rupert was left with the Adelaide-based News Ltd and its afternoon paper The News—a minor player in a small, parochial city.
But even this inheritance was soon under siege, as the left-wing “Boy Publisher” stared down his father’s old colleagues at the city’s paper of record, The Advertiser, and a conservative establishment kept in power by a decades-old gerrymander.
Led by Rupert’s friend, ally, and editor-in-chief Rohan Rivett, the fledgling Murdoch press began a seven-year campaign of circulation wars, expansion, and courtroom battles that divided the city and would lay the foundations for a global empire—if Rupert and Rohan didn’t end up in custody first.
Drawing on unpublished archival material and new reportage, Young Rupert pieces together a paper trail of succession, sedition, and power—and a fascinating time capsule of Australian media on the cusp of an extraordinary ascension.