x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

The Fall of the House of Forbes: felling a dead-tree empire

Stewart Pinkerton, a former Forbes magazine managing editor, chronicles the publishing empire's shocking decline.

The Fall of the House the Forbes
Stewart Pinkerton
St Martin's Press
Dh112
The Fall of the House the Forbes Stewart Pinkerton St Martin's Press Dh112

Look no further than the recent flap over a story on how expatriates rate the livability of the UAE to realise that this book’s depiction of digital turmoil in the media is both spot on and timely.

Forbes.com was forced to backtrack and note that the poll that ranked the UAE the least friendly country for expats was unscientific, and that a broader analysis vaulted it into the three best. Oops.

Stewart Pinkerton would not be surprised at such embarrassment.

The former Forbes magazine managing editor, whose book is subtitled The Inside Story of the Collapse of a Media Empire, chronicles with verve and panache the dead-tree publishing empire built by the Scotsman BC Forbes and taken to extraordinary heights by his free-spending son Malcolm. Then he witnesses Malcolm’s four sons, in their hubris and indecisiveness, preside over its shocking decline.

It’s a well-written yarn for general readers, delivered with both balance and attitude. The eccentricities of the Forbes clan make for amusement and disbelief, and through their dysfunction you can see the collapse coming – and snigger in delight as you realise, perhaps, that they got what they deserved.