By Sandra Hall
Ezra Norton was one of Australia's most powerful men in the first half of the twentieth century. Yet for someone who profited from others' scandals, he was unusually scrupulous about keeping himself out of the limelight. In 1922 he inherited the newspaper Truth from his father, John Norton, a fiery polemicist and fierce drinker, who used it to indulge his biases and castigate his enemies. (In 1915, the paper also published an account of John Norton's own divorce.) Truth and its stablemate The Daily Mirror made Ezra Norton one of the key media figures of his day. His notorious feud with Frank Packer led to a fist fight at Randwick racecourse. And his newspapers practised tabloid journalism with gusto. Sandra Hall's thoroughly researched and lively account of Ezra Norton's life is a significant work. It not only sheds new light on an influential and individualistic character, it traces tabloid journalism's evolution and offers revealing insights into the Australia in which the Nortons thrived.