When a 15-year-old Les Hinton started work as a copy boy at Rupert Murdoch’s first newspaper (The Adelaide News), he quickly set his sights on getting a cadetship and becoming a reporter of substance.
He wanted to make his name as a good writer of good yarns and he did just that over 20 years in Murdoch newspapers in Australia, the UK and US.
But his career path suddenly changed when Murdoch brought Hinton, then aged 43, into management, naming him executive vice-president of his magazine division in the US and Britain.
For Hinton, it was the beginning of 30 years in executive roles, most of it as Murdoch’s right hand man as the press baron spread his businesses around the world.
An exciting and influential life from that first day he stepped into the Adelaide News building so many years ago, and now the subject of his entertaining memoir Les Hinton – The Bootle Boy (an untidy life in news).
The book, published on July 2 and launched in Sydney this week, is full of what has been described as “the most undeluded and undiluted portrait yet of a man who is perhaps the last of the great press barons”.
It’s a fascinating record of a colorful life by an extraordinary bloke on an extraordinary journey packed with anecdotes, some humorous and others not so.
But what really makes “Bootle Boy” a winner is the writing. As the saying goes, “Once a writer, always a writer.”
Hinton’s easy, insightful style makes everyone and everything he writes about, come to life.
He writes easily with extraordinary warmth when necessary and with wisdom, humour, steeliness and clarity when describing the high drama moments of life with Murdoch.
“Bootle Boy” is, as you would expect, by far the best of the “good yarns” to which he aspired from the start, with his words drawing the reader from page to page like a siren song.
Newspaper friends and colleagues from around the world turned up at the Sydney book launch including a Who’s Who of past newspaper editors from around Australia, the UK and US.
Three of them have known Hinton from their teenage days when, like the author, were copyboys together in Adelaide where they delivered copy and coffee.
Hinton was sent out to get Murdoch sandwiches. Now that’s a right hand man for you.