The Fourth Estate
by Jeffery Archer
Lubji Hoch survived World War II on luck, guts, and ruthlessness. At the war’s end, renamed Richard Armstrong, he buys a floundering newspaper in Berlin and deviously puts his competitors out of business. But it isn’t enough. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Keith Townsend, the Oxford-educated son of a millionaire newspaper owner, takes over his family’s business. His energy and brilliant strategic thinking quickly make him the leading newspaper publisher in Australia. Still, he longs to move on to the world stage. As both Armstrong and Townsend seize control of everything they see, their ambitions collide on a global scale. But suddenly they both find themselves threatened by finicial disaster and enormous debt. Frantic to save his crumbling empire, each man turns desperate. One’s quest will lead to triumph, the other’s will end in tragedy in this awesome tale of wealth and corruption, desire and destruction.
About The Author
Archer wrote his first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, in the autumn of 1974, as a means of avoiding bankruptcy. The book was picked up by the literary agent Deborah Owen and published first in the US, then eventually in Britain in the autumn of 1976. A BBC Television adaptation of the book was broadcast in 1990, and a radio adaptation was aired on BBC Radio 4 in the early 1980s.
Kane and Abel (1979) proved to be his best-selling work, reaching number one on The New York Times bestsellers list. Like most of his early work it was edited by Richard Cohen, the Olympic fencing gold-medallist. It was made into a television mini-series by CBS in 1985, starring Peter Strauss and Sam Neill. The following year, Granada TV screened a ten-part adaptation of another Archer bestseller, First Among Equals, which told the story of four men and their quest to become Prime Minister. In the U.S. edition of the novel, the character of Andrew Fraser was eliminated, reducing the number of protagonists to three.
As well as novels and short stories, Archer has also written three stage plays. The first, Beyond Reasonable Doubt, opened in 1987 and ran at the Queen’s Theatre in London’s West End for over a year. However, Archer’s next play, Exclusive, was not well received by critics, and closed after a few weeks. His final play, The Accused, opened at the Theatre Royal, Windsor on 26 September 2000, before transferring to the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in the West End in December.
Archer has stated that he spends considerable time writing and re-writing each book. He goes abroad to write the first draft, working in blocks of two hours at a time, then writes anything up to seventeen drafts in total. In 1988 author Kathleen Burnett accused Archer of plagiarising a story she’d written and including it in his short-story collection, A Twist in the Tale. Archer denied he had plagiarised the story, claiming he’d simply been inspired by the idea.
It has been suggested that Archer’s books undergo an extensive editing process prior to publication. Whilst Archer’s books are commercially successful, critics have been generally unfavourable towards his writing. However, journalist Hugo Barnacle, writing for The Independent about The Fourth Estate (1996), thought the novel, while demonstrating that “the editors don’t seem to have done any work”, was “not wholly unsatisfactory”.
Since 2010, Archer has written the first draft of each new book at his luxury villa in Majorca, called “Writer’s Block”.
In 2011, Archer published the first of seven books in The Clifton Chronicles, which follow the life of Harry Clifton from his birth in 1920, through to the finale in 2020. The first novel in the series, Only Time Will Tell, tells the story of Harry from 1920 through to 1940, and was published in the UK on 12 May 2011. The sixth instalment, Cometh the Hour, was published on 25 February 2016. The final novel in the series, This Was a Man, was published on 3 November 2016.
Archer’s next novel has been provisionally titled Heads You Win, and will be published in 2017, along with another volume of short stories.