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06Aug

The Chief by Andrew Roberts review – the original alpha Mail

Access to the papers of Lord Northcliffe, founder of the Daily Mail, gives the historian a wealth of detail to work with, but significant questions go unanswered

Towards the end of The Chief, his keenly researched biography of Lord Northcliffe, the Daily Mail founder and “Britain’s greatest press baron”, the historian Andrew Roberts observes: “Great men are seldom nice men.”

Northcliffe, or Alfred Harmsworth as he was born, possessed several unpleasant characteristics. He was an outspoken antisemite – alas, not unusual in Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; he was a devoted imperialist and jingoist, a remorseless bully and, in the inglorious tradition of the job, a towering hypocrite in matters of social morality.

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