In writing his autobiography, media veteran Les Hinton faced an unusual handicap: being the supporting act in his own life story.
It wasn't his character that would pique the interest of readers, but rather that of his long-time boss, the much-maligned Rupert Murdoch.
This became apparent early in the process, with publishers in New York and London showing interest in the project — then promptly asking him for 100,000 words on Murdoch.
"I wasn't willing to do that," Hinton tells the Weekend Herald, saying there are already dozens of books about the media magnate.
This was going to be Hinton's story — and that's a point he drives home by not mentioning Murdoch at all until the sixth chapter.
One of the first real glimpses we're given of Murdoch comes in the form of an anecdote Hinton recalls from his first job as a copy boy at Adelaide tabloid The News.
On quiet Saturday nights, younger staff would often watch Westerns on the television in Murdoch's office.
On one such night, Hinton, 15 at the time, was alone, sitting on the floor behind a leather sofa when Murdoch, then 28, walked into the room.
Terrified, the teenager hid quietly and remained undetected as Murdoch completed his errand and turned off the TV. Years later when they spoke about this moment, Murdoch didn't disagree that yes, he would've fired Hinton on the spot if he'd discovered him.
This knack of not getting fired saw Hinton work his way up the ranks of the ever-growing media empire to eventually become one of Murdoch's most trusted confidantes.
As his career progressed, Hinton at times seemed to be something of a journalistic Forrest Gump, appearing as an almost anonymous player in significant historical events.
For example, while lying in a hospital bed after having surgery on his detached retina, he finds himself next to an affable Italian immigrant named Guglielmo Proietti, whose name he would later see on the list of 94 crew and passengers who went down on Alitalia flight 771 destined for Rome from Sydney.
Later, there's a story about partying Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, who plays a practical joke by photographing Hinton passed out on a bed alongside two sex dolls. And there's also a strange, if fleeting, encounter with Harvey Weinstein, who makes a foreboding joke about appearing on page 6 of the New York Post — the page dedicated to celebrity gossip.
Hinton's regular travels on both sides of the Atlantic also saw him rub shoulders with numerous political leaders, eager to win his favour.
"Politicians are very good at seeming to be your friend, but if ever you become radioactive they evaporate very quickly," he says today.
Hinton laughs at the comparison with the character played by Tom Hanks, saying he feels a stronger affinity with Woody Allen's character Zelig, from the 1983 movie of the same name, described as a "human chameleon" equally capable of blending in with the gentry or kitchen staff.
It's a skill Hinton learned in his working class youth, travelling to various colonial outposts with his military father. He may have been born in the Liverpool suburb of Bootle in 1944, but his identity is more of a collage of postage stamps from around the world.
"My rootless youth had equipped me to be a rootless adult," says Hinton.
"When you find yourself moving from school to school, suffering from bully to bully, you work out how to arrive in a new place and get along with people."
Time and again, Hinton was moved into new companies that had been acquired, each time calling on him to manage the transition — and this played a big role in his being dubbed the big boss' hitman.
He doesn't try to hide the blood on his hands, describing dismissals as an ugly — but often necessary — part of any acquisition.
"You can't be a boss without firing people, and you can't be a good boss if you ever get used to it," he reflects as he sips on his chamomile tea.
The chapter on Murdoch's takeover of the Wall Street Journal, which fell under the Dow Jones US$5 billion acquisition, reads almost like the confessions of a repentant mobster, with Hinton admitting that during his career he had asked dozens of senior people to resign and that hundreds more departed because of decisions he had made or enforced for Murdoch.
"Rupert's best friend is the business and, above all, his over-riding loyalty has been to his success," says Hinton in explaining Murdoch's reputation for being callous.
"He had a lot of enemies and he earned a lot of them. He had heavy boots and he was tough. He was terrible to be a 50-50 partner with. He outwitted people. He was relentless, because he was always looking after his best friend."
Not always, but mostly, the decisions to close publications or let staff go were ones that Hinton would have made himself. But the pair didn't always see eye to eye — and disagreeing with a man like Murdoch requires a special strategy.
Hinton uses another story from the Wall Street Journal to illustrate this point, recalling how Murdoch wanted to remove the publication's paywall because of his belief that journalism should be freely available online.
The problem, however, was that no-one within the Wall Street Journal thought it was a good idea to kill a cash cow making US$60 million a year for the company.
They arranged a meeting during which the team could discuss the merits of the paywall, but once Murdoch got going, no one in the room dared disagree.
By the end of the proceedings, even the head of digital, the most ardent paywall supporter, sheepishly nodded in agreement with his new boss.
Over the years, says Hinton, he learned that the way to deal with a prickly boss was not to challenge him but rather to make him listen.
"Unless you ask me to kill someone, I'm going to do what you ask. But my job is to make sure you are fully equipped with my point of view before you make the decision. That's how you make people listen," he says.
During a later private conversation, Hinton made Murdoch listen and within a year the pair would kick off a worldwide campaign aimed at convincing news publishers to again make readers pay for their content.
"We let the bloody tiger out the gate in the mid-90s," says Hinton, looking back at the impact of making all their content freely available on the internet.
"I was as blind as everyone else. I did it as well. I can't claim any superior knowledge. It was a great error newspapers made."
On the topic of cataclysmic errors, there's one that is inextricably linked to Murdoch's company and everyone involved with it. No-one more so than Hinton.
In 2007, during his tenure as the executive chairman of News Corp, Hinton found himself shift from being the man behind the news to the man in the news as the story broke that News of the World journalists had been hacking phones in pursuit of stories.
At first it seemed the hacking scandal had been limited to politicians, celebrities and royals, but then in 2011 the Guardian ran a story claiming that reporters had hacked into the phone of 13-year-old murder victim Milly Dowler. The outrage was instant and the media began baying for executive heads.
Hinton's book provides a play-by-play of political manoeuvrings that took place at News Corp in the aftermath of the story breaking, in particular numerous internal leaks to journalists claiming that Hinton would be sacrificed as the fall guy.
"There was no mistaking that senior people inside the company were going to a lot of trouble to stitch me up," Hinton writes in his book.
He maintains that Murdoch was not behind any of this spin, saying it wasn't his style.
"When Rupert wanted to fire people, he sat them down and did it."
Hinton has long denied any knowledge of the phone hacks — a position backed by a 2016 parliamentary report exonerating him of any involvement — but the scandal would eventually claim his scalp (through his resignation) and that of the News of the World, which ceased publication after 168 years.
Hinton has always believed it was a stupid move to sacrifice the paper and the hundreds of jobs that it created because that would do little to mitigate the outrage at Murdoch and his businesses.
The clarity of hindsight has proven this to be accurate as Murdoch's name has remained afflicted by these transgressions, despite the gesture of closing the paper.
The fallout from the scandal has also given Murdoch's critics additional ammunition, as they take aim at his hyper-partisan TV channel Fox News, which is frequently blamed for giving Donald Trump a platform to express his views.
Speaking with the freedom of someone who is no longer under the iron grip of a media magnate, Hinton admits that he finds many of the views expressed on Fox News detestable, saying he's "very uncomfortable with their attitude" toward Trump.
That discomfort is something Hinton will just have to get used to living with, now that his days of making Murdoch listen are well behind him.
Born: Bootle, Merseyside
Job: Former executive roles at News Corp, ex-CEO of Dow Jones
Years working with Rupert Murdoch: 52
Year of resignation: 2011
Family: Twice married with five children
Autobiography: The Bootle Boy: An Untidy Life in News (Scribe Publications)