Review Roundup: “Dial M for Murdoch” and Larry Tye’s History of “Superman”

"Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain" by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman

How does the saying go? Power corrupts, while absolute power corrupts absolutely? If you were asked to summon the archetypes of absolute corruption, a few names might come to mind: Fat cat "Boss" Tweed, for instance, reshaped the gilded age with his grubby hands. The pointed pyramids of Charles Ponzi's duplicitous scheming set off a wave of imitators, conman Bernie Madoff being among them. Now, Tom Watson and Martin Hickman, authors of the punchy new biography "Dial M for Murdoch," are eager to add Rupert Murdoch's name to the top of the liar's list. Watson and Hickman punch holes through Murdoch's shaky public standing, and they uncover a series of actions sealed with Murdoch's approval - some known, others less so - that brazenly undermine truth and justice at every turn.

Building their case on the infamous News Corporation's connection to the News of the World wiretapping scandal, Watson "plays on the Hitchcock theme to good effect," writes John Kampfner of The Guardian. "The title could equally have borrowed references from The Godfather, but that would have been too obvious." Kempfner goes on to say that "as a compendium, as a charge sheet, this is a gripping account, particularly for the growing army of Leveson inquiry junkies."  Jonathan Heawood of The Telegraph calls this "an impressive piece of journalism. The authors weave the events of the past decade into a compulsive narrative that includes not only phone hacking but email interception, surveillance, burglary, cover-ups, political influence and – at its darkest – murder. Anyone who has lost track of what happened, or why it matters, should read this book." And finding better thrills in real life, Ewen MacAskill of The Washington Post explains how even "Hitchcock’s 'Dial M for Murder' is quite tame by comparison."
Bio-Metric: 4/5

"Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero" by Larry Tye

On the opposite end of the morality spectrum is Superman, the King of comic books and America's most legendary fictional superhero. Though at times he's mistaken for a plane (even though a 747 looks wimpy by comparison), there's no mistaking the impact his ever-evolving yet reliable image has had on American culture. In "Superman," Larry Tye takes us through the history of the high-flying hero, lifting the rafters of the narrative to highlight the unsung heroes within the animation: the writers, the artists and the publishers that helped make Clark Kent a household name.

The acclaim for "Superman" soars like the hero himself. It is an "exhaustive" and "engaging" book, writes James Parker of The New York TimesEthan Gilsdorf of The  Boston Globe notes how "'Superman' gives us the backstory, front-story, inside dirt, and more," and how author Larry Tye "treats Superman as a biography-worthy superstar icon. His hypothesis is that each generation of writers, artists, readers, and viewers has shaped him to fit their image and applied him to the challenges of their times." According to Michael Cavna of The Washington Post, "In its textured telling of rising, falling and rising again, it shares a story as American as Superman himself...Tye does his homework well."
Bio-Metric: 4.5/5