From the category archives:


Every now and then you can come across a book that is so startling that it changes your view of the world. I found such a book this week. It is one of the great love stories of all time and it concerns Queen Victoria, Empress of India, and a humble Muslim man from Agra, […]


The First Casualty (2004)

September 1, 2004 · 13 comments

in Books

The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist and Myth-Maker is recognised as the definitive book on war reporting and war propaganda.

From William Howard Russell who blew the whistle on the appalling conditions of the British forces in the Crimea, to the correspondents who lifted the lid on the reality of the Vietnam War, through to the modern day, it is a story of heroism and manipulation, censorship and espionage.

Buy The First CasualtyUK | US

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Alexander Orlov was a masterspy born in Russia just before the turn of the 20th century. Spotted by the founder of the Soviet secret police, Orlov was behind the creation of the notorious Cambridge network of British spies of Philby, Burgess, Maclean and Blunt, and recruited a large number of moles across Europe for the Russians.

Buy Alexander Orlov – The March of TimeUK | US

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The Second Oldest Profession: The Spy as Bureaucrat, Patriot, Fantasist and Whore, Andre Deutsch (London) and as The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the Twentieth Century, W. W. Norton (New York) is a comprehensive and controversial history of espionage in our times.

The first permanent intelligence agency was created in 1909, and within a few years all the great powers had similar agencies. Concentrating on Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States, the book reveals why these services are not worth the enormous sums they cost, are not effective in predicting enemy actions, and cause more trouble than they prevent.

Buy The Second Oldest ProfessionUK | US

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Philby, the agent, double agent, traitor and enigma revealed all to Knightley just before his death. Few knew the real man that for years fooled British Intelligence, the CIA and the FBI and was simultaneously head of the British Intelligence Service’s anti-Soviet section and a long-time KGB agent.

After he defected to Russia in 1963, he maintained a code of silence for 25 years – until a few weeks before his death. He invited Phillip Knightley to his Moscow apartment and in six days of conversation bared his soul.

Buy The Master Spy: The Story of Kim PhilbyUK | US |

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Part history, part travelogue, part memoir, this book tells the inspiring story of how a one-time British colony with only two sorts of citizens, convicts and gaolers, turned itself into a proud, prosperous and confident country, the greatest sporting nation on earth, where the citizens of its high-leisure cities enjoy a lifestyle that is the envy of the world.

Despite the appalling bloodshed of two world wars, the horror of the great depression, strikes, riots, secret armies and near civil wars, out of this amazing mix grew a new and unique character – the Australian. Through the eyes of ordinary people struggling with their passions, hopes, dreams and ambitions, Phillip Knightley describes the journey that has taken the Great South Land from a dark, racist and often murderous past to a working multi-cultural society.

Buy Australia: A Biography of a NationUK | US

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A Hack’s Progress (1997)

November 5, 1998 · 1 comment

in Books

In this revealing and very funny account of his career in journalism, Phillip Knightley tells the real story of a reporter’s life. From inauspicious beginnings as a seaman, vacuum cleaner salesman and South Sea Island trader, he went on to work for the notorious, foul-mouthed Australian newspaper magnate Ezra Norton, whose lurid tabloid became the model for the Sun and the New York Post.

Eventually, Knightley moved to England and wriggled his way on to the staff of the Sunday Times just as it entered its golden years. Twice winner of the Journalist of the Year award, he covered some of the most dramatic and ground-breaking stories of his time – exposing the cynical double-dealing of Thalidomide, reporting on the shadowy machinations of the Profumo scandal and unravelling the Hitler Diaries fiasco. Knightley’s investigations into the world of espionage led to an extraordinary correspondence with Kim Philby – the spy who betrayed a generation – and he became one of the few journalists to get access to Philby in Russia.

Buy A Hack’s ProgressUK | US

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An Affair of State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward examines the scandal that shook the British government in 1963 and tells how the establishment tried to hush it up by framing a society osteopath on procuring charges.

The book presents new evidence to clear Stephen Ward, who committed suicide following his involvement in the scandal, of espionage. Based on Ward’s own tapes and writings, numerous interviews and previously classified FBI documents, this fast-paced book brings one of the most fascinating scandals of the 20th century back to life.

Buy An Affair of State: The Profumo CaseUK | US

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The Rise and Fall of the House of Vestey: The True Story of How Britain’s Richest Family Beat the Taxman – and Came to Grief. Until 1991, the Vestey family had virtually disappeared from the news – from being Britain’s wealthiest family they had slipped out of the top ten.

Then they made the headlines again, as the older generation, Sam and Edmund, were kicked out and replaced by 30-year-old Tim. The City said that their old-fashioned ways had cost them their share of the meat market. The House of Vestey looked as though it could go under – a case of “clogs to clogs” in two generations.

Buy The Rise and Fall of the House of VesteyUK | US

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