cover image It Ain't as Easy as It Looks: Ted Turner's Amazing Story

It Ain't as Easy as It Looks: Ted Turner's Amazing Story

Porter Bibb. Crown Publishers, $25 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-517-59322-6

When the family billboard business faltered, he advertised his newly bought minor radio stations on the unrented billboards; he bought hapless UHF TV stations to create a satellite-cable superstation and CNN; and, hoping to outperform the major networks, he accepted tough terms in a deal for MGM, knowing that the film library alone ( Casablanca , The Wizard of Oz , etc.) would be worth it. He fostered the Goodwill Games in Moscow, a world environmental conference and the conversion of 150,000 Montana cattle-ranching acres into a free range for buffalo. He also skippered an America's Cup sailing victory, went duck-hunting with Fidel Castro, brought the low-ranking Atlanta Braves to a World Series and married Jane Fonda. Analyzed as manic-depressive and known for titanic drinking sprees, world-class womanizing, nude cavorting, competitiveness with an abusive suicidal father, alternately charming and moody, he has been calmed down with lithium in time to run for President in 1996, ``if it was the only way'' to save the country. Such are the highlights, but far from the entirety, of this intensely detailed and absorbing portrait of Atlanta's Robert Edward Turner III by a former Newsweek White House correspondent. (Nov.)