It’s entertaining stuff, pacily written, charting Green’s evolution from, as one friend puts it, “a seriously under-rated businessman with some interesting contacts to someone who was now mixing in a world of celebrities and who wanted to be part of that world”...If the book has one shortcoming, it is this. While Green can be intimidating, to say the least, he can also be immensely entertaining. That warmer side to his character, and especially his sharp sense of humour, does not surface enough here.
Shah, the business editor at The Sunday Times, has followed Sir Philip Green’s career (he was given a knighthood by Tony Blair in 2006, despite residing in a tax haven) in impressive detail since joining the paper in 2010. In this excellent account of the rise and fall of the bumptious entrepreneur the thing that strikes the reader most forcefully is the sheer unpleasantness of the man.
Shah, the Sunday Times business editor, starts his book with Green threatening to chuck him out of the window, and recalls throughout how he menaced rivals with threats of visits from tasty geezers from south of the river. Only 299 pages later does Shah allow him to back-pedal on his threats. “If I had any boys in south London, they’d have been around to see you long before now,” Green tells Shah in one of their last conversations. Typical Green: all mouth and dodgy trousers.
It is a sweeping, detailed, colourful account of the rise and fall of the king of the UK’s High Street, complete with a Dickensian cast of grifters, charlatans, flunkies, the odd dogged hero, and an irresistibly obnoxious protagonist...The complex financial detail may sometimes overwhelm the casual reader... But Shah has written a hard-hitting, often funny, ultimately sobering tale of how fortunes were made and lost in late 20th and early 21st century Britain.