Ecclestone invites Bower spotlight

Tom Bower, famous for unearthing dark secrets in the corridors of politics and business, is turning his attention to sport for the second time in his career.
The renowned investigative journalist, who won a William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for Broken Dreams, his study of corruption in football, has been working on an authorised biography of Formula One motor racing supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
The UK and Commonwealth rights to No Angel: The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone have been bought by Faber, who plan to publish in March 2011 to coincide with the start of the 2011 F1 season.
Bower, 64, has earned a fearsome reputation for doggedly uncovering every aspect of his subjects’ lives, favourable or otherwise. He focused his attentions on spies and Nazis in the early part of his literary career before finding fame with his exposé of Robert Maxwell, the now disgraced and deceased former owner of the Daily Mirror.
He went on to get his teeth into former Lonhro businessman Tiny Rowland and Mohamed al-Fayed before moving on to tackle Virgin boss Richard Branson, the controversial New Labour sponsor Geoffrey Robinson, then-chancellor Gordon Brown and another fallen newspaper tycoon, Conrad Black.
But if Bower seems entirely the wrong man to tackle a project to which the subject has given his full approval, do not be fooled.
When Ecclestone, who will be 80 later this month, gave Bower the go-ahead to speak to friends and business contacts, the author warned him not to expect a frothy tribute.  "I’ll accept your facilities, but if I find evidence of wrongdoing or hear any criticism, it will be published,” Bower told him.
Ecclestone replied “Tom, I’m no angel” and instructed everyone in his circle to “tell him the truth, good or bad.”
We should expect, then, that every story in Ecclestone’s journey from used car salesman to billionaire F1 boss -- his personal highs and lows, his marriages, his deals in Downing Street and his successes and failures on the track -- will be told in unpolished rawness.
If it makes Ecclestone look less than saintly at times, Bower’s subject is clearly prepared.  Indeed, as a figure who has not exactly shied away from notoriety, he may well enjoy seeing himself portrayed in that way.

Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football won the William Hill prize in 2003.

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