countdown boutiques-francophones Learn more vpcflyout home All-New Kindle Explore the Vinyl LP Records Store sports Tools Registry

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:$33.11+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on September 26, 2011
Exceptionally candid and wonderfully written - Conrad Black has exposed himself and his travails for the world to see. Like the subjects of his two third person biographies - Richard M. Nixon and Franklin Delano Roosevelt - this exceptional author offers a compelling tale (make of it, and his claims of innocence, what you will) of the extraordinary growth of what may be one of the last sizable newspaper groups, and his (and its) undoing. For those interested in business-related books, this one is a 'page-turner' on the scale of Barbarians at the Gate; for those interested in 'how to succeed in growing an empire using as little equity as possible', this is a tale that highlights both what is possible and the limitations forced upon those whose ambitions are not matched by a sustainable capital structure; and for those who believe that nothing is as important as 'good governance', this appears to be an object lesson of what can happen to the underlying business when a board allow 'form' to trump business substance - particularly in an industry undergoing existential threats. Mr. Black, even with his conviction, has shaken off the cloak of 'charlatan' that his accusers and adversaries, the popular press and gossip hounds have spent the past 7 (and more) years attempting to put about his shoulders. A singularly good read.
0Comment| 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 6, 2011
Conrad Black's latest book 'A Matter of Principle' is a fascinating read. The reader has to wade through the hundreds of characters involved in his persecution but the narrative is riveting. Not many people could keep going under such pressure from the forces of corporate and state evil but Mr. Black has you on his side as he explains the spider's web that was wrapped around him in an effort to separate him from his company. He admits that his personality has caused many of his problems but he never was guilty of criminal intent in any of it. He is to be admired for his ability to run companies, suffer legal prosecution, and personal humiliation and still write these wonderful books. I have read most of them.
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 25, 2011
The book is well written and this is no news for people who read anything Black wrote. It is about seven years of personal hell that followed his mistake of allowing to form "Spitzer-zeitgeist" inspired special governance committee in Hollinger International, his successful public US corporation in the newspaper business.

It is a must read for any executive operating in US especially if she is not a US citizen. Canadian executives will learn a lot about the internal mechanics of their own legal system and securities regulators and very sensitive and complicated relationships they have with their US counterparts. Every executive will also learn about the realities of working with hyper-expensive lawyers (Brendan Sullivan, Eddie Greenspan) who frequently value their egos, pockets and good relations with other lawyers and judges much more than their own clients' good (clients are treated as "bloody nuisance" by some of these guys per Black).

Black is not only a good writer. He has a strong analytical mind coupled with academic training in history and law and vast business experience. Prior to systematic destruction by "governance" zealots and their greedy collaborators described in the book, Hollinger and related companies were a world class success that allowed Black to maintain close business and personal relationship with ruling (and ex-ruling) elites such as Kissinger, British lords, Pearle etc. His portraits of these people and their ways are perceptive and highly educational.

The last chapter alone is worth the price of the book even if the reader has no interest in Black as a person. It represents a penetrating criticism of the US legal system: plea bargains (an arrangement that allows the prosecution to bully people into "testifying" anything they want in return for immunity and/or reduced sentence for themselves), unfair advantage of the prosecution (statistically prosecution will succeed in 90% of the cases) and much more. The catastrophic results for people in the land of the free are clear:

"An astounding 47 million Americans have a criminal record, albeit most of them are for minor offences long ago, but about 750,000 people are sent to prison in the US every year and the country has six to twelve times as many incarcerated people per capita as other wealthy and sophisticated democracies: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom." (p.500)

Unlike many others, Black has the guts to speak his mind on controversial subjects without worrying too much about consequences for himself. But on the balance he is also openly critical of his former self admitting mistakes and taking responsibility for them.

Black's sense of humour eases the 600-hundred page journey (in fact the book could have been shorter, that's my only complaint that led to reduction of one star). Here is a representative sample (Black attributes it to an attorney in his case) : "A trial is entertainment for everyone except the defendants".
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 4, 2011
I just finished Conrad Black's book. It's 5am in the morning. If you are dealing with the courts, if you are dealing with prosecutors with their own agendas, if you are dealing with high fee charging lawyers, if you see innocent people being abused, then read this book. Reading it gives you strength to deal with the system. And his final address to the judge, in the final pages of the book will make you want to stand up applaud.
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 31, 2011
In the boardroom battles and the courtroom trials, Conrad Black sat across from some very dangerous and destructive people. But the next most dangerous people (and only by a tiny amount) were the lawyers sitting by his side. Black is pretty candid about the difficulties and the outrageous cost of dealing with legal firms and individual lawyers, who are part (along with the judges and prosecutors) of what he terms "a medieval guild". Time after time in reading this book the words of the Al Stewart song "License to Steal" came to mind:

'He's taking from them, he's taking from you
Lawyers love money, anybody's will do'

Only at the very end of this saga, when Black appeals his convictions to the Supreme Court of the United States, does he seem to find competent counsel who are interested in doing the best for their client, rather than grandstanding for the enhancement of their reputations.

In addition to a very detailed accounting of the legal issues surrounding his situation, Black takes some time to comment on the very damaging effect of the unrestrained prosecutorial system in the U.S. He draws on his experience in prison to make some very trenchant comments on where the U.S. is headed under this regime.

It would be untrue to say this book is an easy read: the issues and personalities are complex and the story long and complicated. But the reward is great. It is very uplifting how Conrad Black has persevered in the face of attempts to destroy him that are partly ideological, partly pure greed, and partly personal animus. Reading this book, you see the strong and affectionate bond between Conrad Black and his wife, Barbara Amiel, and with the rest of his family.

And you will see clearly how the U.S. is well on the road to becoming a cruel and twisted state, with the fundamental rights emplaced by the Founding Fathers viciously flouted and ignored by the judicial system.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 22, 2014
As someone who has always admired the US this book really opened my eyes to the judicial sham in the US. It is mind boggling that this can happen to anyone. Well written and very insightful.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon August 3, 2013
In typical Conrad Black writing style, this book is a rambling lambasting of everyone and everything who he holds responsible for his legal troubles while his Hollinger companies were effectively stolen from his control and bankrupted. Its what you'd expect from someone that feels they've been wronged, defamed and stolen from. He also rightly calls out the US legal and prison system for the disgrace they truly are with plenty of firsthand and well researched evidence to back up claims.

Unfortunately, although mostly well written, reading this book is made significantly more difficult due to the fact that its absolutely peppered with a countless number of the most obscure and unpronounceable words imaginable. Its Conrad Black writing so no surprise here, but even the built-in Kindle dictionary didn't have definitions for at many of these words!

There is no question that American prosecutors grossly overreached when creating a case against Mr. Black. It was based on no real evidence and in fact on outright falsehoods, this proven by the fact that Conrad's lawyers absolutely destroyed the bulk of the government case against him. By even bringing this case forward, the American legal system proved yet again what a total farce its truly is, unfortunately at Mr. Blacks' and shareholders' great expense.

Whether you like him or hate him, he did build a great company and billions in shareholder wealth, and you can't help but admire the fact he battled the American prosecutors and their WILDLY overstated case against him and almost won a near total victory while maintaining his dignity through the whole ugly painful process.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 25, 2014
Book arrived as described and promptly
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Though I find Black readable, I don't find him a credible read because of his propensity to either bask in the dangerously delusional sense of self-importance or to wallow in the mire of being misunderstood and slighted by those like me who don't buy in. It is between these two positions that Conrad Black's later autobiographical statement, "A Matter of Principle" lies. Focusing on those very troubling years of 2000-2010, this book attempts to explain why and how the baron did what he did as one of the main equity holders in Hollinger Inc. Black sets the context in which he and other key board members attempted to divest themselves of their newspaper holdings through special deals that involved non-compete arrangements. He paints a one-sided picture where he and his partners were embroiled in a nasty battle with the common shareholders and certain legal activists in it for their own personal gain. Such a version of events sounds rather self-serving and self-righteous. Naturally, he challenges the rights of others to question him on the use of corporate funds for personal indulgences. He alludes to the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn the fraud charges on the grounds that Black and friends did not deny the right of shareholders to honest services as proof of his innocence. In the second part of the book, Black attacks those who either deserted him in his fight for justice or failed to act on their consciences at critical moments. Key figures like Judge Posner, Eddie Greenspan, Radler, Judge St. Eve and some of his former Tory cronies come in for a lot of scorn for failing to vigorously defend his constitutional rights. When that line wears thin, a deeply stoical but obviously wounded Black launches a vitriolic attack on the glaring deficiencies of the America judicial system, from a jail cell within the walls of the Coleman detention centre, looking for a new following among the downtrodden and badly-served victims of a corrupt penal system. Read this book if you need, like I did, to see where Black presently sees himself in this unfolding drama. While he might have some provocative things to say about the ills and shortcomings of the American judicial system, he fails to understand the real principle at stake here; that legal system actually succeeded in taking the side of the little guy by prosecuting, convicting and sending him to jail.
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 17, 2014
Conrad Black is a giant amongst Canadian elites; underestimated and under appreciated in his own country. This tome further burnishes his already sterling reputation; we won't see his like again in our lifetime.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse