I have no interest in Frank Lowy, soccer or how to build a shopping centre empire. I picked up this book thinking I would gloss over the first few pages and then put it back on the shelves. Before long, I was hooked.
Journalist and biographer Jill Margo has penned a tour de force with her second biography of shopping centre magnate Frank Lowy. Margo’s first biography Pushing the Limits was released when Lowy was 70.
But he has packed so much into the last 15 years – global expansion, the transformation of soccer in Australia, the development of foreign policy think tank The Lowy Institute, inroads into medical research, to name a few – that a second tome is certainly necessary.
Even if you have no interest in Lowy’s life, Margo’s writing will keep you riveted. She brings complex corporate finance deals to life and unfolds the story, in some chapters, like a page-turning thriller.
No doubt, Lowy is a good talent. But he’s not a gazillionaire that boasts fast cars, Grammy award-winning girlfriends and a string of glamorous ex-wives to glitz up the story. At the heart of this book is a story about family – and the bonds Lowy has developed to both his past (as Jewish immigrant from Budapest to his first business as co-owner of a deli in Sydney’s west) and present (with his three sons also major players in the world of business and the dominance of Westfield).
Ultimately, it’s a very complex story. But Margo has managed to corral mountains of research into a story that is perfectly structured and brilliantly written.
I spoke to Margo recently about this feat and she confessed to having a house full of boxes of research material. She also said: “I think that business writing is somewhat of a hidden secret. The stories are incredible.”
I interviewed Jill Margo on my podcast “So you want to be a writer”. You can listen to the full interview here.