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No tycoon is more popular, few claim to be richer, and none has masterminded a more recognizable brand than Richard Branson. What is behind the success of the buccaneering balloonist, the tabloids' favorite celebrity nude, the "grinning jumper," and the scourge of corporate goliaths? Helped by eyewitness accounts of more than 250 people with direct experience with Branson, Tom Bower has uncovered a different tale than the one so eagerly promoted by Virgin's publicists. Here is the full story of Bransonhis businesses, his friendships, his ambition, his law-breaking, his drug-taking, his bullying. From the cockpit of a balloon in the clouds to the center of Branson's operations in his Holland Park home, this book is an intimate scrutiny of exactly how Richard Branson created himself and sold himself. Tom Bower's biography reveals Branson to be a single-minded profiteer who, while occasionally generous to others, has a fixed purpose to enhance his family's wealth in secret off-shore trust funds. Instead of a glittering saint, Branson emerges as a devious actor, proud of swiping for his own profit the good ideas of others. From his quest to acquire the license for the National Lottery to his plans to launch space tourism with Virgin Galactic, this fully updated edition follows Branson's enterprises and investments up to his failed bid for Northern Rock.
Tom Bower is an investigative writer and biographer whose titles include Fayed, Nazi Gold, and Outrageous Fortune.