... slips down as richly, easily and pleasurably as a tablespoonful of Beluga caviar. If it is the best of the Maxwell biographies it is because Preston is the best of the writers to tackle the subject. He has a novelist’s eye for the grotesque, a journalist’s inside knowledge of newspapers, an effective deadpan style, and has done plenty of original research, interviewing scores of witnesses, including three of Maxwell’s children (Ian, Christine and Isabel) and Rupert Murdoch ... On and on it goes, until by the time one reaches the description of his second autopsy, the reader may well start to feel morally queasy, like a member of the audience crowding round to gawp at the Elephant Man ... The truth is that all the bankers and businessmen, politicians and journalists who queue up to denigrate and revile Maxwell were happy at the time to put up with his abuse and his grotesque personal habits as long as they were enjoying his hospitality and taking his money. They sucked up to him. They made him possible — so much so that I closed this engrossing, amusing, appalling book with an odd sneaking sympathy for the old brute — and a profound desire never to read about him again.
... very entertaining ... Preston comes to his subject with the advantage both of hindsight and his great skill at exposing hypocrisy and subterfuge ... Preston has an eye for the telling detail and an ear for the revealing quote.
The life of the disgraced media baron and pension thief Robert Maxwell was certainly not banal. It was epic on a scale no sane screenwriter would attempt to boil into a single script. Such is the sheer volume of events in Maxwell’s life that John Preston’s engaging account, Fall:, sometimes has only a few paragraphs to deal with episodes that would justify a book on their own ... If this lively and fascinating book has a flaw, it is the lack of pause for reflection on the bewildering pace and proportion of Maxwell’s life. But that may be entirely appropriate, because the life itself was lived as a relentless narrative of spectacle and self-invention, with scarcely time for self-examination, even if Maxwell himself had been so inclined.