Reading the book should cure any delusion you have that these events are in any way controversial. Using court and police records, it shows in great detail that elements within News Corporation have bought police, put politicians on the payroll, intimidated regulators, invaded privacy and routinely smeared critics to get its way.
Here in Australia, the defence is that News Ltd, the local operating company, is a far different beast to News International, the UK arm of the corporation and an organisation that in Watson's book is shown to behave in a way that makes Tony Soprano's fictional gang look like pink jump-suited Eurovision song entrants.
But what's striking from a reading of Dial M is that much of what you see in the UK - the high-minded editorialising about 'freedom', the Sicilian-style vendettas, the wagon-circling tribalism, the smearing of critics, the self-interested attacks on public broadcasting, the backroom deals, the courting and anointing of favoured politicians - is evident in Australia.
What's clear from Watson (a British Labour MP himself hacked and smeared by News International) is the perfectly inverse correlation between the high-mindedness of the corporation's editorial rhetoric (the sacred trust of the Fourth Estate in holding the powerful to account) and the sheer grubbiness of their editorial tactics.
The most eye-opening chapter in the book is the well-researched account of the murder of Daniel Morgan, a private investigator who had become concerned at the close links between his partner Jonathon Rees, a former policeman on the News payroll and mixed up with bent coppers.
Morgan was murdered by a contract killer who cleaved his face with an axe in an underground carpark. After repeated stymied enquiries into the killing, a senior metropolitan police offer went on BBC TV's Crimewatch program to appeal to the public for information. News responded by putting a surveillance team on the policeman in an attempt to smear him and put him off the scent.
Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World and News International boss subsequently charged over the phone hacking scandal, went into bat for the editor that ordered the surveillance, saying he was merely trying to discover whether the policeman was having an affair.
Of course, News Corp in Australia is a different beast and one can safely say that the worst excesses of the Murdoch modus operandi are not evident here. But it is fair to say that elements of the whatever-it-takes, tribal and self-aggrandising culture are very similar.
This is a company that controls 70 per cent of our print media, has a monopoly in pay television, owns half our national news agency, a third of our major cable news provider and whose proprietor is sufficiently powerful that he can beckon would-be prime ministers half way around the world before he will give them his imprimatur.
The fact is that for all the tub-thumbing about editorial freedom and the virtues of a vigilant press, News Corporation is a company that is about amassing power and influence. In the UK, we have seen that those commercial and ideological ambitions can sometimes trump the law. The common factor in all of it is Murdoch himself, as Watson summarises:
"From the start of his career in 1950s Australia, Murdoch manipulated politicians and broke rules and promises to accumulate money and power. It may not be possible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he knew about the wrongdoing in Britain. Many, including the authors, think he is, at best, guilty of wilful blindness. As the head of the company, he shaped its culture. While he depicted phone hacking as an anomaly ... seasoned Murdoch-watchers identified the wrongdoing as part of a pattern - the greatest manifestation of a win-at-all-costs diktat which bent and broke the rules at will."