CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Kelly, Russell.

Vancouver, New Star Books, c1986. 263pp, paper, $5.95, ISBN 0-919573-55-X. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Joan M. Payzant

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

Pattison: Portrait of a Capitalist Superstar is as gripping as a murder mystery, and just as chilling. The author, Russell Kelly, whose name readers will recognize because of his work with the CBC, traces Pattison's rise to financial power from his childhood, when he sold magazines on street corners, to his chairmanship of Expo 86. Now his conglomerate empire includes many companies known throughout North America, most of them based in British Columbia.

With American backing in 1967, Pattison gained control of Neon Products {the sign makers) and went on from there to enlarge his conglomerate, so that by 1984 revenues were $1,022,985,000. Much of Pattison's success lies in his ruthlessness, according to author Kelly, who writes that in the 1950s, when Pattison owned a car dealership, "each month he fired the salesman wilh the worst sales record," He also discouraged unions in his companies, but where there were existing unions, "the expertise Pattison brought to the bargaining table was his finely honed practise of winning, no matter what the cost to his opponents." Despite his claims to be a devout Christian, one of Pattison's companies, Mainland Magazine has been distributing pornographic material for years.

Kelly has painted a frightening portrait of a powerful man. lt is essentially a business biography and the reader learns very little of Pattison as a human being. But then Kelly portrays him as a not very likeable superhuman. In all fairness to the man, I would like to read a biography written by an admirer of Jimmy Pattison, if such a person exists. Those who had not heard of the man before reading Kelly's biography will never forget him after reading it, and will follow Pattison's future years with intense interest.

Joan M. Payzant, Dartmouth, N.S.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works