A Life in Progress; by Conrad Black


435  words 

Title: A Life in Progress; by Conrad Black; Key Porter Books; 
528 pages; $32.95; Hardcover. 

Reviewer: A.T.Connellan, "In a plethora of how-to-succeed 
books by those who can't, here's a beaut' by one who did. 
It should be on your Christmas, or any other, wish list."  

Conrad Black; a modern day business buccaneer. 

A rich boy's 528-page ego trip? Certainly, and in a well titled book, 
Conrad Black, this country's most Internationally successful 
newspaper entrepreneur, gives us his thumb-to-chest "How I Did It" 
account of his remarkable advancement. A nice contrast in a land 
overpopulated with self-made failures, fingers pointed at every one 
else as the cause of their well deserved misery. 

 With refreshing candor he sets out the wheeling and the dealing; 
wins and losses. In the process, friends and enemies are ruthlessly 
categorized, some pilloried, and extensively quoted. One gets the 
impression that either Mr. Black has a phenomenal memory, or he's 
"wired." Paring of these acidic characterizations could probably 
reduce the volume by 25 per cent but it would cut the fun too. 

The book is written in a fluid, vivid style edging on pomposity. 
He uses a vocabulary of such astonishing breadth as to stretch 
the outer limits of the most sophisticated word processor's thesaurus, 
or perhaps because of it. One of the more delightful terms "demanning"
 refers to the process of reducing the employee mass without severing 
any vital organs.

His admiration of Napoleon as a self-mythologist is evident and 
copied. In doing so Black, perhaps, exposes more than he wants us 
to see. He is no marshmallow, ruthless and devious when necessary, 
he is of the, "don't get mad, get even", school.

 A visit by him to a Hollinger holding equates with the arrival of The 
Grim Reaper, and he clearly believes there is no job security in a 
failing business. 

An infinitely creative student of history, his acquisition programs are 
treated as military campaigns. Battle tactics  employ blitzkriegs and 
commando raids, and advancements are territorial conquests. It's 
exciting stuff and General Black relishes it, and by mid-book he makes 
it clear that "But making money was not my sole or even principal 

Nevertheless that credo has enriched a lot of widows and orphans in 
his progress to the present. By spring of 1993 Hollinger newspapers 
had a daily circulation "...of nearly 4.5 million". He states, "We now had 
beach-heads on four continents, and the sun would never set on our 
successful newspaper publishing endeavours".

 Shameless boasting, or the voicing of a well justified superiority complex? 
Probably the latter, as the immortal philosopher Dizzy Dean said "If ya can 
do it. It ain't braggin"

In a plethora of how-to-succeed books by those who can't, here's a 
beaut' by one who did. It should be on your Christmas, or any other, 
wish list. 

Back to Non Fiction Book Reviews index

Back to Home page