Thomas Michael (Tom) Bower (born 28 September 1946) is a British writer, noted for his investigative journalism and for his unauthorised biographies, often of business tycoons and newspaper proprietors. His books include unauthorised biographies of Tiny Rowland, Robert Maxwell, Mohamed Al-Fayed, Geoffrey Robinson, Gordon Brown and Richard Branson. His 2003 book Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football won the 2003 William Hill Sports Book of the Year.
Bower's parents were Jewish refugees who fled Prague after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 and arrived in London later that same year. After attending the William Ellis School in Hampstead, Bower studied law at the London School of Economics, before working as a barrister for the National Council of Civil Liberties. In 1970 Bower joined the BBC as a researcher on the programme 24 Hours before becoming a reporter on Panorama. He was a producer on Panorama from 1975 until 1987, and he left the BBC in 1995. Bower is married to Veronica Wadley, former editor of the London Evening Standard, and has four children.
Books and journalism
Bower's second book was Klaus Barbie: The Butcher of Lyon (1984) which documented Klaus Barbie's war crimes during World War II as head of the Gestapo in Lyon, Germany and his post-war work for the American intelligence agency CIC and South American narcotics and arms dealers. Bower's book was serialised in The Times in September 1983. Neal Ascherson positively reviewed the book in The Observer in January 1984.
In 1987 Robert Maxwell responded to the publication of two unauthorised biographies of himself with numerous lawsuits, threats of legal action against individual booksellers, and the rapid publication of an authorised biography by Joe Haines, an editor on an newspaper which he owned. Of the two unauthorised books, Maxwell: A Portrait of Power by Peter Thompson and Anthony Delano was withdrawn from sale and all unsold copies pulped after Maxwell successfully sued the publishers and authors for libel. The second book, Maxwell: The Outsider by Bower sold out in hardback but Maxwell prevented the paperback edition appearing, in part by buying the publishing company which held the paperback rights. Maxwell also filed a libel action against Bower and the hardback publishers, Aurum Press. Maxwell allowed this action to lapse in 1990 but only after Bower and Aurum had submitted a detailed defence of the book. Maxwell also tried to sue Bower in the English courts over an article published in America, by the magazine The New Republic, on the basis that it had 136 British subscribers Bower also believes that Maxwell tried to break into his house and also went through his phone records and bank statements.
In 2000 Richard Branson sued Bower for libel over an article he had written for the London Evening Standard in 1999. Branson chose not to sue the paper, but its editor, Max Hastings, agreed the newspaper would fund Bower's defence. Branson lost the case, and later expressed regret at bringing the action. Bower continues to write articles critical of Branson's business affairs, and published biographies of him in 2000 and 2014.
Geoffrey Robinson MP
In 2001, Bower published The Paymaster: Geoffrey Robinson, Maxwell and New Labour, a biography of the Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson. The book's evidence that Robinson had solicited a £200,000 business contract from Robert Maxwell led to Robinson being suspended from parliament for three weeks as he had not disclosed the matter to an inquiry some years previously. Robinson denied receiving the money in question from Maxwell and denied that he had sought to mislead parliament.
In 2003, Bower won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award for Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football, an investigation into corruption in English football.
Bower's joint biography of Conrad Black and Barbara Amiel Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge was published in November 2006. In February 2007, Black filed a libel suit in Toronto against Bower over the contents of the book. The suit was frozen when Black was convicted of fraud and imprisoned.
The Daily Express proprietor Richard Desmond brought a libel action against Bower over a passing reference in Dancing on the Edge. Desmond claimed that the book included an account of an incident that weakened his "super-tough" reputation as a businessman and was therefore defamatory. Bower denied libel on the grounds of the story being "substantially true". The action was heard in July 2009 and Desmond lost the case. An unauthorised biography by Bower of Richard Desmond, titled Rough Trader, was written and printed in 2006, but still awaits publication.
In 2011 Bower published a biography of the Formula One executive Bernie Ecclestone titled No Angel: The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone. Ecclestone cooperated with Bower in the writing of the book, facilitating introductions to people for Bower. Over lunch Ecclestone told Bower "You write what you like, provided it's more or less the truth, because I'm no angel". Ecclestone's quote provided the title for the book. Ecclestone became friends with Bower and would say to him "What can I do that's evil for you?"
Bower's biography of the music executive and entertainment impresario Simon Cowell, Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell, was written with Cowell's co-operation and published in April 2012. Cowell later said that Ecclestone had advised him to co-operate with Bower. The title of the book refers to Cowell's relationship with fellow entertainment impresario Simon Fuller. Though Cowell had given Bower some 200 hours of access to him, Bower subsequently said that Cowell had tried to restrict his access to sources. Cowell contacted Bower after the book's publication to say that he had it "a bit embarrassing" adding "...you got things I didn't know you'd got." Bower has secured Cowell's co-operation for a planned sequel to the book.
- Blind Eye to Murder: The Pledge Betrayed (1981) ISBN 978-0-233-97292-3
- Klaus Barbie – Klaus Barbie: Butcher of Lyon (1984) ISBN 978-0-552-12548-2
- The Paperclip Conspiracy (1987) ISBN 978-0-586-08686-5
- Red Web (1989) ISBN 978-0-749-31478-1
- Robert Maxwell – Maxwell: The Outsider (1991) ISBN 978-0-749-30238-2
- Tiny Rowland – Tiny Rowland: A Rebel Tycoon (1993) ISBN 978-0-434-07339-9
- Dick White – The Perfect English Spy: Sir Dick White and the Secret War, 1935–90 (1995) ISBN 978-0-749-32332-5
- Heroes of World War II (1995) ISBN 978-0-752-21674-4
- Robert Maxwell – Maxwell: The Final Verdict (1996) ISBN 978-0-007-29287-5
- Nazi Gold (1997) ISBN 978-0-060-17535-1
- Blood Money: The Swiss, the Nazis and the Looted Billions (1997) ISBN 978-0-330-35395-3
- Mohamed Al-Fayed – Fayed: The Unauthorized Biography (1998) ISBN 978-0-330-37239-8
- Richard Branson – Branson (2000) ISBN 1-84115-400-8
- Geoffrey Robinson – The Paymaster: Geoffrey Robinson, Maxwell and New Labour (2001) ISBN 978-0-743-41572-9
- Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football (2003) ISBN 978-1-847-39003-5
- Gordon Brown – Gordon Brown (2004) ISBN 978-0-007-17540-6
- Conrad Black and Barbara Amiel – Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge (2006) ISBN 978-0-007-23234-5
- The Squeeze: Oil, Money and Greed in the 21st Century (2010) ISBN 0-446-54798-0
- Bernie Ecclestone – No Angel: The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone (2011) ISBN 978-0-571-26929-7
- Simon Cowell – Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell (2012) ISBN 978-0-571-27835-0
- Richard Branson – Branson: Behind the Mask (2014) ISBN 978-0-571-29709-2
- Tom Bower (26 July 2009). "My week: Tom Bower". The Observer. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
- Sophie McBain (19 February 2014). "Tom Bower: the biographer as big-game hunter". New Statesman. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- Chris Tryhorn (23 July 2009). "Tom Bower: biographer with a taste for the secrets of the powerful". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Tom Bower (9 September 2002). "The people who sank Panorama". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Tom Bower. "On the butcher's block.", The Times, London, 19 September 1983, pg 12.
- Neil Ascherson, "Doing the dirty work.", The Observer, London, 29 January 1984, pg 52.
- Steve Lohr (1 May 1988). "Britains Maverick Mogul". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Dennis Barker and Christopher Sylvester (6 November 1991). "The Grasshopper obituary of Robert Maxwell". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
- Helsinki Watch (1991). Restricted subjects:freedom of expression in the United Kingdom. Helsinki Watch. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
- Stuart McGurk (5 April 2011). "How to write a biography". GQ Magazine (British edition). Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- BBC News (23 March 2000). "Branson sues over lottery jibe". BBC News. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Lynn Barber (17 November 2002). "Planes, trains and publicity". The Observer. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- John Tillman (11 July 2001). "Must the defamation defence of 'fair comment' be 'fair'". Press Gazette. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Tom Bower (12 December 2005). "Richard's brand – Branson hype has hidden his record of failures". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Tom Bower (5 December 2007). "Why Richard Branson is the last man to be trusted with Northern Rock". The Daily Mail/ MailOnline. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- "Branson: Behind the Mask". Faber and Faber. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- BBC News (31 October 2001). "Robinson suspended from Commons". BBC News. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
- Press Gazette (21 February 2007). "Conrad Black sues Bower". Press Gazette. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Simon Houpt and Paul Wilde (18 June 2012). "Conrad Black's trials not over". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
- James Robinson (7 July 2009). "Tom Bower book damaged Richard Desmond's 'super-tough' reputation, court hears". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Culture, Media and Sport Committee (2010). Press Standards, Privacy and Libel. The Stationery Office. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-215-54408-7.
- Helen Pidd and Chris Tryhorn (23 July 2009). "Richard Desmond loses libel case against Tom Bower". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Richard Williams (10 December 2011). "The Saturday interview: Bernie Ecclestone". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "Simon Cowell: I spent last week hiding under a pillow in my bedroom after book revelations". The Telegraph. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- Dan Sabbagh (18 April 2012). "Simon Cowell 'tried to restrict biographer's access'". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- "Simon Cowell biographer plans sequel". The Telegraph. 23 April 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
|William Hill Sports Book of the Year winner