Book Review Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell by John Preston

I have just finished reading Fall which was recommended by my wife who knows that I am very interested in corporate psychopaths.  The book has 2,259 ratings on Amazon scoring 4.4/5 which shows that I don’t walk alone and is a rating that I would give the book myself.  I think it is best exposition about a corporate psychopath I have ever read.

So if you want to read about a corporate psychopath in action this is the book for you.  Preston provides a number of social and family explanations about Maxwell’s behaviour and personality.  They may provide an explanation for perhaps 10% but if you are a believer in the 7MTF model of behaviour Maxwell’s GoGetter is through the roof and his Regulator is below the basement.  Both were drivers of his behaviour.

One of the most compelling parts of the book is the continual comparisons with Rupert Murdoch who bests Maxwell again and again.  Murdoch’s GoGetter is on a par with Maxwell’s but his Regulator (emotional self-control) is so much stronger that he continually wins.

Preston has an easy-to-read writing style and the book contains a stunning collection of anecdotes about the rich and famous and Maxwell’s social climbing exploits across many political and social worlds.  Maxwell was smart, spoke nine languages and could ooze charm and flattery.  If you want to learn about corporate psychopaths this is the book for you.

For me the most telling story was at the end of Chapter 14: Madness.  It describes a discussion between Mike Molloy, editor of the Mirror and Tom Pitt-Aikens, a psychiatrist who asked how it was going with his new boss.

Molloy replied that he was pretty eccentric.  Pitt-Aikens said that Maxwell was not eccentric but crazier than the worst of his patients and clinically mad.  He then asked a series of questions that Molloy answered in the affirmative.

“Does he have a group of executives who are bitter rivals and only report to him?”

“Does he micro-manage trivial matters, but leave important decisions deliberately vague and then blame others when things go wrong?”

“Does he make grandiose claims for all his business motives?”

“Does he treat his family like slaves?”

Molloy then said in Maxwell’s defence that he claimed that he wanted to leave a great heritage for his children.

Pitt-Aikens retorted that all he would leave his children would be ashes.

And so it came to pass.

If you think you are working for a corporate psychopath the above list of questions is good to ask.

I believe a model of temperament like the 7MTF is the secret to lifting your emotional intelligence.  If you want to quickly lift your EQ consider doing my practical emotional intelligence courses.  Do the basic 7MTF course for an investment of A$25 and 5 hours of your time and you will dramatically increase your EQ competency in days.

This blog was first posted on LinkedIn on 29 August 2022


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