The Fourth Estate [NOOK Book]


Fourth Estate

Jeffrey Archer

Richard Armstrong narrowly escaped Hitler's atrocities in Eastern Europe on his courage and his wits--skills that served him well in peacetime. Having turned a struggling Berlin newspaper into a success story seemingly overnight, Armstrong made a name for himself--and more than a few enemies along the way…Meanwhile, young Keith Townsend enters the international arena, armed with a...

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The Fourth Estate

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Fourth Estate

Jeffrey Archer

Richard Armstrong narrowly escaped Hitler's atrocities in Eastern Europe on his courage and his wits--skills that served him well in peacetime. Having turned a struggling Berlin newspaper into a success story seemingly overnight, Armstrong made a name for himself--and more than a few enemies along the way…Meanwhile, young Keith Townsend enters the international arena, armed with a world-class education and a sense of entitlement to match. Charged with growing his father's newspaper business into a global media force, he and Armstrong are bound to become sworn rivals--until they arrive at the edge of collapse and will do whatever it takes to stay alive in the game…or die trying.

In a stunning display of the art of storytelling, reminiscent of his blockbuster novel "Kane and Able," Jeffrey Archer creates two extraordinary protagonists, whose life stories could have been taken from today's headlines, and pits them against each other as each strives to be the first to establish a global media empire. "Archer plots with skill and keeps you turning the pages."--Boston Globe.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for international bestselling author JEFFREY ARCHER

“One of the top ten storytellers in the world.” —Los Angeles Times

“There isn’t a better storyteller alive.” —Larry King

“Archer plots with skill, and keeps you turning the pages.” —The Boston Globe

“Cunning plots, silken style…. Archer plays a cat-and-mouse game with the reader.” —The New York Times

“Archer is a master entertainer.” —Time

“A storyteller in the class of Alexandre Dumas…unsurpassed skill.” —Washington Post

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466817463
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Premium Edition
  • Pages: 704
  • Sales rank: 52,813
  • File size: 926 KB

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Archer

JEFFREY ARCHER was educated at Oxford University. He has served five years in Britain's House of Commons and fourteen years in the House of Lords. All of his novels and short story collections--including Sins of the Father, And Thereby Hangs a Tale, A Prisoner of Birth, and Kane&Abel--have been international bestsellers. Archer is married with two sons and lives in London and Cambridge.

Jeffrey Archer was educated at Oxford University. He has served five years in Britain's House of Commons and twenty-two years in the House of Lords. All of his novels and short story collections--including Best Kept Secret, The Sins of the Father, Only Time Will Tell, and Kane and Abel--have been international bestselling books. Archer is married with two sons and lives in London and Cambridge.


Few contemporary writers can lay claim to as many career highs and lows as Jeffrey Archer -- bestselling novelist, disgraced politician, British peer, convicted perjurer, and former jailbird. And whether you view his misfortunes as bad luck or well-deserved comeuppance depends largely on how you feel about this gregarious, fast-talking force of nature.

Born in London and raised in Somerset, Archer attended Wellington School and worked at a succession of jobs before being hired to teach Physical Education at Dover College. He gained admission to Brasenose College at Oxford, where he distinguished himself as a first-class sprinter and a tireless promoter, famously inveigling the Beatles into supporting a fundraising drive he spearheaded on behalf of the then-obscure charity Oxfam.

After leaving Oxford, Archer continued work as a fundraiser and ran successfully for political office. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1969 but was forced to step down in 1974 when he lost his fortune in a fraudulent investment scheme. He turned to writing in order to stave off bankruptcy. His first novel, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, was published in 1976 and became an instant hit. It was followed, in quick succession, by a string of bestsellers, including his most famous novel, Kane and Abel (1979), which was subsequently turned into a blockbuster CBS-TV miniseries.

On the strength of his literary celebrity, Archer revived his political career in 1985, serving as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The following year he was forced to resign over a scandal involving payment to a London prostitute. (He admitted paying the money, but denied vehemently that it was for sex.) In 1987, he sued a British tabloid for libel and was awarded damages in the amount of 500,000 pounds.

Despite the adverse publicity, Queen Elizabeth (acting on the advice of Prime Minister John Major) awarded Archer a life peerage in 1992. The Conservative Party selected him to run for Mayor of London in the 2000 election, but he withdrew from the race when perjury charges were brought against him in the matter of the 1987 libel trial. In 2001, he was convicted and served half of a four-year prison term. (He turned the experience into three bestselling volumes of memoir!) Since his release, Lord Archer has expressed no interest in returning to public office, choosing instead to concentrate on charity work and on his writing career.

Controversy has dogged Archer most of his adult life. Claims still circulate that he falsified his paperwork to gain entrance to Oxford; and, at various other times, he has been accused of shoplifting, padding expenses, insider trading, misappropriation of funds, and financing a failed coup d'état against a foreign government. Needless to say, all this has kept him squarely in the sights of the British tabloids.

Yet, for all the salacious headlines and in spite of lukewarm reviews, Archer remains one of Britain's most popular novelists. His books will never be classified as great literature, but his writing is workmanlike and he has never lost his flair for storytelling. In addition to his novels, he has also written short stories and plays. Clearly, in "art," as in life, Jeffrey Archer has proved himself an affable survivor.

Good To Know

Archer was once a competitive runner and represented Great Britain in international competition.

Regarding the sex scandal that ultimately landed her husband in prison, Lady Mary Archer, the author's wife of 35 years, told reporters that she was "cross" with her husband but that "we are all human and Jeffrey manages to be more human than most. I believe his virtues and talents are also on a larger scale."

The prison where Archer was transferred for carrying out his perjury sentence in October 2001 is a "low security" jail on the Lincolnshire coast, a facility known for raising high-quality pork. According to one authority, "It is considered to be a cushy little place."

After his "fall from grace," Archer counted former Conservative PMs Margaret Thatcher and John Major among his many loyal supporters.

In the 1980s, Archer and his wife, Mary, purchased the Old Vicarage, Grantchester, a house associated with the poet Rupert Brooke.
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    1. Hometown:
      London and the Old Vicarage, Grantchester
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 15, 1940
    1. Education:
      Attended Brasenose College, Oxford, 1963-66. Received a diploma in sports education from Oxford Institute

Read an Excerpt


The Globe
5 November 1991
The odds were stacked against him. But the odds had never worried Richard Armstrong in the past.
Faites vos jeux, mesdames et messieurs. Place your bets.”
Armstrong stared down at the green baize. The mountain of red chips that had been placed in front of him twenty minutes earlier had dwindled to a single stack. He had already lost forty thousand francs that evening—but what was forty thousand francs when you had squandered a billion dollars in the past twelve months?
He leaned over and deposited all his remaining chips on zero.
Les jeux sont faits. Rien ne va plus,” the croupier said as he flicked his wrist and set the wheel in motion. The little white ball sped around the wheel, before falling and jumping in and out of the tiny black and red slots.
Armstrong stared into the distance. Even after the ball had finally settled he refused to lower his eyes.
“Vingt-six,” declared the croupier, and immediately began scooping up the chips that littered every number other than twenty-six.
Armstrong walked away from the table without even glancing in the direction of the croupier. He moved slowly past the crowded backgammon and roulette tables until he reached the double doors that led out into the real world. A tall man in a long blue coat pulled one of them open for him, and smiled at the well-known gambler, anticipating his usual hundred-franc tip. But that wouldn’t be possible tonight.
Armstrong ran a hand through his thick black hair as he walked down through the lush terraced gardens of the casino and on past the fountain. It had been fourteen hours since the emergency board meeting in London, and he was beginning to feel exhausted.
Despite his bulk—Armstrong hadn’t consulted a set of scales for several years—he kept up a steady pace along the promenade, only stopping when he reached his favorite restaurant overlooking the bay. He knew every table would have been booked at least a week in advance, and the thought of the trouble he was about to cause brought a smile to his face for the first time that evening.
He pushed open the door of the restaurant. A tall, thin waiter swung round and tried to hide his surprise by bowing low.
“Good evening, Mr. Armstrong,” he said. “How nice to see you again. Will anyone be joining you?”
“No, Henri.”
The head waiter quickly guided his unexpected customer through the packed restaurant to a small alcove table. Once Armstrong was seated, he presented him with a large leather-bound menu.
Armstrong shook his head. “Don’t bother with that, Henri. You know exactly what I like.”
The head waiter frowned. European royalty, Hollywood stars, even Italian footballers didn’t unnerve him, but whenever Richard Armstrong was in the restaurant he was constantly on edge. And now he was expected to select Armstrong’s meal for him. He was relieved that his famous customer’s usual table had been free. If Armstrong had arrived a few minutes later, he would have had to wait at the bar while they hastily set up a table in the center of the room.
By the time Henri placed a napkin on Armstrong’s lap the wine waiter was already pouring a glass of his favorite champagne. Armstrong stared out of the window into the distance, but his eyes did not focus on the large yacht moored at the north end of the bay. His thoughts were several hundred miles away, with his wife and children. How would they react when they heard the news?
A lobster bisque was placed in front of him, at a temperature that would allow him to eat it immediately. Armstrong disliked having to wait for anything to cool down. He would rather be burned.
To the head waiter’s surprise, his customer’s eyes remained fixed on the horizon as his champagne glass was filled for a second time. How quickly, Armstrong wondered, would his colleagues on the board—most of them placemen with titles or connections—begin to cover their tracks and distance themselves from him once the company’s accounts were made public? Only Sir Paul Maitland, he suspected, would be able to salvage his reputation.
Armstrong picked up the dessert spoon in front of him, lowered it into the bowl and began to scoop up the soup in a rapid cyclical movement.
Customers at surrounding tables occasionally turned to glance in his direction, and whispered conspiratorially to their companions.
“One of the richest men in the world,” a local banker was telling the young woman he was taking out for the first time. She looked suitably impressed. Normally Armstrong reveled in the thought of his fame. But tonight he didn’t even notice his fellow-diners. His mind had moved on to the boardroom of a Swiss bank, where the decision had been taken to bring down the final curtain—and all for a mere $50 million.
The empty soup bowl was whisked away as Armstrong touched his lips with the linen napkin. The head waiter knew only too well that this man didn’t like to pause between courses.
A Dover sole, off the bone—Armstrong couldn’t abide unnecessary activity—was deftly lowered in front of him; by its side was a bowl of his favorite large chips and a bottle of HP Sauce—the only one kept in the kitchen, for the only customer who ever demanded it. Armstrong absentmindedly removed the cap from the bottle, turned it upside down and shook vigorously. A large brown blob landed in the middle of the fish. He picked up a knife and spread the sauce evenly over the white flesh.
*   *   *
That morning’s board meeting had nearly got out of control after Sir Paul had resigned as chairman. Once they had dealt with “Any Other Business,” Armstrong had quickly left the boardroom and taken the lift to the roof where his helicopter was waiting for him.
His pilot was leaning on the railing, enjoying a cigarette, when Armstrong appeared. “Heathrow,” he barked, without giving a thought to clearance by air-traffic control or the availability of take-off slots. The pilot quickly stubbed out his cigarette and ran toward the helicopter landing pad. As they flew over the City of London, Armstrong began to consider the sequence of events that would take place during the next few hours unless the $50 million were somehow miraculously to materialize.
Fifteen minutes later, the helicopter landed on the private apron known to those who can afford to use it as Terminal Five. He lowered himself onto the ground and walked slowly over to his private jet.
Another pilot, this one waiting to receive his orders, greeted him at the top of the steps.
“Nice,” said Armstrong, before making his way to the back of the cabin. The pilot disappeared into the cockpit, assuming that “Captain Dick” would be joining his yacht in Monte Carlo for a few days’ rest.
The Gulfstream took off to the south. During the two-hour flight Armstrong made only one phone call, to Jacques Lacroix in Geneva. But however much he pleaded, the answer remained the same: “Mr. Armstrong, you have until close of business today to repay the $50 million, otherwise I will be left with no choice but to place the matter in the hands of our legal department.”
The only other action he took during the flight was to tear up the contents of the files Sir Paul had left behind on the boardroom table. He then disappeared into the lavatory and flushed the little pieces down the bowl.
When the plane taxied to a halt at Nice airport, a chauffeur-driven Mercedes drew up beside the steps. No words were exchanged as Armstrong climbed into the back: the chauffeur didn’t need to ask where his master wished to be taken. In fact Armstrong didn’t utter a word during the entire journey from Nice to Monte Carlo; after all, his driver was not in a position to lend him $50 million.
As the car swung into the marina, the captain of Armstrong’s yacht stood to attention and waited to welcome him on board. Although Armstrong had not warned anyone of his intentions, others had phoned ahead to alert the thirteen-man crew of Sir Lancelot that the boss was on the move. “But God knows to where,” had been his secretary’s final comment.
Whenever Armstrong decided that the time had come for him to head back to the airport, his secretary would be informed immediately. It was the only way any of his staff around the world could hope to survive for more than a week.
The captain was apprehensive. The boss hadn’t been expected on board for another three weeks, when he was due to take a fortnight’s holiday with the rest of the family. When the call had come through from London that morning, the skipper had been at the local shipyard, supervising some minor repairs to Sir Lancelot. No one had any idea where Armstrong was heading, but he wasn’t willing to take risks. He had, at considerable expense, managed to get the yacht released from the shipyard and tied up at the quayside only minutes before the boss had set foot in France.
Armstrong strode up the gangplank and past four men in crisp white uniforms, all standing to attention and saluting. He slipped off his shoes and went below to the private quarters. When he pushed open the door of his stateroom, he discovered that others had anticipated his arrival: there were several faxes already piled up on the table beside his bed.
Could Jacques Lacroix possibly have changed his mind? He dismissed the idea instantly. After years of dealing with the Swiss, he knew them only too well. They remained an unimaginative, one-dimensional nation whose bank accounts always had to be in the black, and in whose dictionary the word “risk” wasn’t to be found.
He began to flick through the sheets of curling fax paper. The first was from his New York bankers, informing him that when the market had opened that morning, the price of shares in Armstrong Communications had continued to drop. He skimmed the page until his eyes settled on the one line he had been dreading. “No buyers, only sellers,” it stated clinically. “If this trend continues for much longer, the bank will be left with no choice but to consider its position.”
He swept all the faxes onto the floor, and headed for the little safe hidden behind a large framed photograph of himself shaking hands with the Queen. He swiveled the disk backward and forward, stopping at 10-06-23. The heavy door swung open and Armstrong placed both his hands inside, quickly removing all the bulky wads of cash. Three thousand dollars, twenty-two thousand French francs, seven thousand drachma and a thick bundle of Italian lire. Once he had pocketed the money, he left the yacht and headed straight for the casino, without telling any of the crew where he was going, how long he would be or when he might return. The captain ordered a junior rating to shadow him, so that when he made his way back toward the harbor they wouldn’t be taken by surprise.
*   *   *
A large vanilla ice cream was placed in front of him. The head waiter began to pour hot chocolate sauce over it; as Armstrong never suggested that he should stop, he carried on until the silver sauce-boat was empty. The cyclical movement of the spoon began again, and didn’t cease until the last drop of chocolate had been scraped off the side of the bowl.
A steaming black coffee replaced the empty bowl. Armstrong continued to gaze out over the bay. Once the word was out that he couldn’t cover a sum as small as $50 million, there wouldn’t be a bank on earth that would consider doing business with him.
The head waiter returned a few minutes later, and was surprised to find the coffee untouched. “Shall we bring you another cup, Mr. Armstrong?” he asked in a deferential whisper.
Armstrong shook his head. “Just the check, Henri.” He drained his champagne glass for the last time. The head waiter scurried away and returned immediately with a folded slip of white paper on a silver salver. This was one customer who couldn’t abide waiting for anything, even the bill.
Armstrong flicked open the folded slip but showed no interest in its contents. Seven hundred and twelve francs, service non compris. He signed it, rounding it up to a thousand francs. A smile appeared on the head waiter’s face for the first time that evening—a smile that would disappear when he discovered that the restaurant was the last in a long queue of creditors.
Armstrong pushed back his chair, threw his crumpled napkin on the table and walked out of the restaurant without another word. Several pairs of eyes followed him as he left, and another was watching as he stepped onto the pavement. He didn’t notice the young rating scamper off in the direction of the Sir Lancelot.
Armstrong belched as he strode down the promenade, past dozens of boats huddled close together, tied up for the night. He usually enjoyed the sensation of knowing that the Sir Lancelot was almost certain to be the largest yacht in the bay, unless of course the Sultan of Brunei or King Fahd had sailed in during the evening. His only thought tonight was how much she might fetch when she was put up for sale on the open market. But once the truth was known, would anyone want to buy a yacht that had been owned by Richard Armstrong?
With the help of the ropes, Armstrong yanked himself up the gangway to find the captain and the first officer awaiting him.
“We’ll sail immediately.”
The captain was not surprised. He knew Armstrong would not want to be tied up in port any longer than was necessary: only the gentle swaying of the boat could lull him to sleep, even in the darkest hours. The captain began issuing the orders to get under way as Armstrong slipped off his shoes and disappeared below.
When Armstrong opened the door of his stateroom he was met by yet another pile of faxes. He grabbed them, still hoping for a lifeline. The first was from Peter Wakeham, the deputy chairman of Armstrong Communications, who, despite the late hour, was obviously still at his desk in London. “Please call urgently,” read the message. The second was from New York. The company’s stock had plummeted to a new low, and his bankers had “reluctantly found it necessary” to place their own shares on the market. The third was from Jacques Lacroix in Geneva to confirm that as the bank had not received the $50 million by close of business, they had been left with no choice but to …
It was twelve minutes past five in New York, twelve minutes past ten in London, and twelve minutes past eleven in Geneva. By nine o’clock the following morning he wouldn’t be able to control the headlines in his own newspapers, let alone those owned by Keith Townsend.
Armstrong undressed slowly and allowed his clothes to fall in a heap on the floor. He then took a bottle of brandy from the sideboard, poured himself a large glass and collapsed onto the double bed. He lay still as the engines roared into life, and moments later he heard the clanking of the anchor being hauled up from the sea bed. Slowly the ship began to maneuver itself out of the harbor.
Hour after hour slipped by, but Armstrong didn’t stir, except to refill the brandy balloon from time to time, until he heard four chimes on the little clock by the side of his bed. He pushed himself up, waited for a few moments and then lowered his feet onto the thick carpet. He rose unsteadily, and made his way across the unlit stateroom toward the bathroom. When he reached the open door, he unhooked a large cream dressing-gown with the words Sir Lancelot emblazoned in gold on its pocket. He padded back toward the door of the cabin, opened it cautiously and stepped barefoot into the dimly-lit corridor. He hesitated before locking the door behind him and slipping the key into his dressing-gown pocket. He didn’t move again until he was sure he could hear nothing except the familiar sound of the ship’s engine droning below him.
He lurched from side to side as he stumbled down the narrow corridor, pausing when he reached the staircase which led up onto the deck. He then slowly began to climb the steps, clutching firmly onto the rope on both sides. When he reached the top he stepped out onto the deck, checking quickly in both directions. There was no one to be seen. It was a clear, cool night, no different from ninety-nine in every hundred at that time of year.
Armstrong padded silently on until he was above the engine room—the noisiest part of the ship.
He waited only for a moment before untying the cord of his dressing-gown and allowing it to fall to the deck.
Naked in the warm night, he stared out into the still black sea and thought: isn’t your whole life meant to flash before you at a time like this?

Copyright © 1996 by Jeffrey Archer

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Another must read from the great author, Jeffrey Archer.

    Extra! Extra! Read all about it! A story about the newspaper, publishing world, and the media. The book brings together two men who are rivals to become the biggest newsmen in the world. Armstrong and Townsend are matched up as two men out to conquer the world.
    Sadly, the women in both their lives, suffer from being lonely and left to survive on their own. The two men are too busy to deal with everyday family duties. Their love lives are short and the book does not dwell on this part of the saga.
    Townsend comes from a family with newspaper background in Australia. Armstrong, on the other hand, comes from a poor Jewish background. Armstrong changes his Jewish name to help gain more power in the free world.
    Both men are ruthless in their endeavor to become the best and the most powerful. The two are pitted against each other as they try to create a global media empire. Their ambitions threaten to bring both of them into financial ruin and debt. One of these men will win while the other will end in tragedy.
    This book is worth reading and another page turner by Jeffrey Archer.

    Cherry Blossom

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2001

    Maxwell v Murdoch!!

    There can be little doubt in anyone's mind that the two media moguls featured in this book represent Maxwell and Murdoch. The story of their competition or rather the competition of Archer's characters Armstrong and Townsend is well depicted. Using the same technique he used in Kane and Abel Archer builds up the suspense and makes the reader ask who is going to win in this conflict, Putting aside the knowledge that Maxwell committed suicide when his empire crumbled Archer begins this novel with the re-enactment of that suicide. The two media men are not much alike. Armstrong was a European adventurer changing his name and disclaiming his heritage when he deemed it appropriate. The Australian Keith Townsend, on the other hand, is a member of a wealthy newspaper family. Their aim is the same to control the biggest, most powerful media empire in the world. Archer does not disappoint his readers this is as good as The Prodigal Daughter and Kane and Abel.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013


    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2001

    A very well put together story.

    I liked this book a lot. You really get to know the characters. Archer is an excellent story teller who involves the characters in real people problems.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2014

    Great Book

    Would advise especially people of older age.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2013


    *she kisses back, hugging him.*

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2013

    Great book.

    Totally engrossing like all his books. Hated to see the book end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2009

    The Fourth Estate


    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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