Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kerry Stokes: The Boy From Nowhere, by Andrew Rule

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

Andrew Rule's Kerry Stokes: The Boy From Nowhere is a lively portrait of a likable man. 

The cards were always stacked against Kerry Stokes. Born John Patrick Alford, his  mother had to give him up. His name was scratched out by a judge’s pen on his adoption papers and in its place written Kerry Matthew Stokes. His new parents, Matthew and Irene Stokes, showed him little love or regard. Stokes grew up in Melbourne working class neighbourhoods during the 1940s and 50s, Dickensian in their squalor, disease and poverty. 

As a young man Stokes moved to Perth. Energetic and sharp, Stokes was a natural at selling and developing property. When the opportunity came to start buying media businesses, he couldn’t resist the power that came with it.

Biographer Andrew Rule has balanced two key aspects of Stokes’s life - his extraordinary business acumen and inauspicious beginnings - to create a lively portrait of a likable man. Stokes is decent and civilised. His approach to business has been to exercise caution and limit risks.

Kerry Stokes: The Boy From Nowhere is an inspiring business story that is also a chronicle of Australia’s cultural and technological development in the second half of the twentieth century. Through Stokes we see how much the country has changed. Anyone interested in Australian business and high achievers will enjoy this accessible biography.

Kerry Stokes: The Boy From Nowhere, by Andrew Rule. Published by HarperCollins. ISBN: 9780732295981

This review was first published in Books + Publishing magazine.

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