Love him or loathe him, Richard Branson has drive, guts, and enough ambition to sink a battleship--or perhaps that should be a jumbo jet--or even a whole company of jumbos if the Virgin Atlantic/British Airways debacle is anything to go by. Branson's autobiography makes immensely fascinating reading. You may snort at descriptions of his "poor" childhood--spent eating bread and dripping while living in a house the majority of British citizens visit on Bank Holidays, and attending a "minor" public school. You may groan at memories of early initiative tests: how about being ejected from the family car and told by his mother to find his way home--at the age of four? You may flinch at accounts of his early business days as an unwashed, unshod, hippy magazine publisher living "en famille" with his staff in the crypt of a West London church. But, all in all, you'll get to understand where the guy's coming from, and, like the man himself, this account is no holds barred. Richard bares his soul, from childhood, school days (cheating at exams), loves and losses (lost one wife when a spot of wife-swapping went drastically wrong for him), death-defying adventures (yes, the balloons are all there), to the rise and rise of the Virgin empire. His interviews for "Student" magazine and the early days of Virgin Music read like a chronicle of popular music and culture in the late 20th century. Prepare to be enthralled by the life and times of a walking publicity machine.