After leaving Oxford University, Max Hastings became a foreign correspondent, and reported from more than sixty countries and eleven wars for BBC TV and the London Evening Standard.
After ten years as editor and then editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph, he became editor of the Evening Standard in 1996. He has won many awards for his journalism, including Journalist of The Year and What the Papers Say Reporter of the Year for his work in the South Atlantic in 1982, and Editor of the Year in 1988.
He stood down as editor of the Evening Standard in 2001 and was knighted in 2002. His monumental work of military history, Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944-1945 was published in 2005. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
His latest book on espionage in WWII was published by HarperCollins in September 2015.
11th September – Chiswick Book Festival
22nd September – Times+ lecture, London
27th September – Kew Festival
30th September – How To Academy, London
1st October – City Books, Brighton Pavilion
3rd October – Henley Festival
4th October – Ilkley Literary Festival
8th October – National Army Museum @ Army & Navy Club, London
10th October – Cheltenham Literary Festival
11th October – Wimbledon Literary Festival
13th October – Daunt Books, Marylebone High Street
15th October – Electric Theatre, Guildford
16th October – Theatre Royal, Bath
16th October – Topping Bookshop, Bath
17th October – Hungerford Literary Festival
18th October – BBC History Magazine Festival, Malmesbury
22nd October – David’s Bookshop, Letchworth
29th October – Stratford Artshouse
1st November – Yeovil Octagon Theatre
17th November – Jarrolds, Norwich
19th November – London History Festival, Kensington Central Library
11th December – Aldeburgh Bookshop
THE SECRET WAR — Buy it here
Examining the espionage and intelligence stories of World War II, on a global basis, bringing together the British, American, German, Russian and Japanese histories.
In ‘The Secret War’, Max Hastings examines the espionage and intelligence machines of all sides in World War II, and the impact of spies, code-breakers and partisan operations on events. Written on a global scale, the book brings together accounts from British, American, German, Russian and Japanese sources to tell the story of a secret war waged unceasingly by men and women often far from the battlefields but whose actions profoundly influenced the outcome.
Returning to the Second World War for the first time since his best-selling ‘All Hell Let Loose’, Hastings weaves into a ‘big picture’ framework, the human stories of spies and intelligence officers who served their respective masters. Told through a series of snapshots of key moments, the book looks closely at Soviet espionage operations which dwarfed those of every other belligerent in scale, as well as the code-breaking operation at Bletchley Park – the greatest intelligence achievement of the conflict – with many more surprising and unfamiliar tales of treachery, deception, betrayal and incompetence by spies of Axis, Allied or indeterminate loyalty.
‘As gripping as any spy thriller, Max Hastings’s account of the critical role of intelligence in the Second World War is the best yet on the subject’ The Sunday Times.
‘Hastings is on form. He has set out to provoke thought and discussion and, with his familiar robustness, shotgun at side, he has succeeded’ The Times.
‘Authoritative and exciting’ The Telegraph
‘This compendious, crisply argued and witty assessment of the intelligence operations of the major powers’ Financial Times
PUBLICATION DATE: 10th September 2015
CATASTROPHE: EUROPE GOES TO WAR 1914 – Buy it here
From the best-selling author of All Hell Let Loose comes a magisterial chronicle of the calamity that befell Europe in 1914 as the continent shifted from the glamour of the Edwardian era to the tragedy of total war.
In 1914, Europe plunged into the 20th century’s first terrible act of self-immolation- what was then called The Great War. On the eve of its centenary, Max Hastings seeks to explain both how the conflict came about and what befell millions of men and women during the first months of strife.
He finds the evidence overwhelming, that Austria and Germany must accept principal blame for the outbreak. While what followed was a vast tragedy, he argues passionately against the ‘poets’ view’, that the war was not worth winning. It was vital to the freedom of Europe, he says, that the Kaiser’s Germany should be defeated.
His narrative of the early battles will astonish those whose images of the war are simply of mud, wire, trenches and steel helmets. Hastings describes how the French Army marched into action amid virgin rural landscapes, in uniforms of red and blue, led by mounted officers, with flags flying and bands playing. The bloodiest day of the entire Western war fell on 22 August 1914, when the French lost 27,000 dead. Four days later, at Le Cateau the British fought an extraordinary action against the oncoming Germans, one of the last of its kind in history. In October, at terrible cost they held the allied line against massive German assaults in the first battle of Ypres.
The author also describes the brutal struggles in Serbia, East Prussia and Galicia, where by Christmas the Germans, Austrians, Russians and Serbs had inflicted on each other three million casualties.
This book offers answers to the huge and fascinating question ‘what happened to Europe in 1914?’, through Max Hastings’s accustomed blend of top-down and bottom-up accounts from a multitude of statesmen and generals, peasants, housewives and private soldiers of seven nations. His narrative pricks myths and offers some striking and controversial judgements. For a host of readers gripped by the author’s last international best-seller All Hell Let Loose, this will seem a worthy successor.
“This is a magnificent and deeply moving book, and with Max Hastings as our guide we are in the hands of a master”. Nigel Jones, The Sunday Telegraph
“Hastings writes with an enviable grasp of pace and balance, as well as an acute eye for human details. Even for readers who care nothing for the difference between a battalion and a division, his book is at once moving, provocative and utterly engrossing”. Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times.
“Hastings is a master of the pen portrait and the quirky fact. Yet his greatness as a historian – never shown to better in this excellent book – lies in his willingness to challenge entrenched opinion and say what needs to be said.” Saul David, Evening Standard.
“This is history-writing at its best, scholarly and fluent, relating with equal verve the attitudes and experiences of crowned heads and peasants, generals and privates, the handful of statesmen in seven countries whose decisions started the war, and the millions of ordinary people who fought it.” Ben Macintyre, The Times.
“If you are looking for a humane and compelling interpretative chronicle of the formative months of this horrible conflict, you will find none better.” Christopher Clark, Mail on Sunday
PUBLICATION DATE: 12th September 2013
RIGHTS CONTROLLED: Translation
BATTLE OF BRITAIN — Buy it here.
(With Len Deighton)
This book was first published in 1980 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. It is now being reissued to commemorate the 50th anniversary. Max Hastings has written a new introduction to set it into modern perspective. In a series of vivid snapshots, the author shows us the reality of the most crucial battle of the World War II as it was enacted in flesh and blood by those on both sides who participated in the air, on the ground, in the planning rooms and in the homes.
PUBLISHER: Diane Publishing Co.
PUBLICATION DATE: July 1980
WARRIORS: EXTRAORDINARY TALES FROM THE BATTLEFIELD
What makes some warriors perform extraordinary deeds on the battlefield? For this study of courage, fame and their consequences, the bestselling military historian Max Hastings has chosen fourteen men and one woman whose lives illustrate a wide variety of battlefield experience by land, sea and air in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of his subjects succeeded triumphantly, others failed. Some found happiness and others only melancholy. All their stories are fascinating. WARRIORS is an exhilarating study of human behaviour, rather than military tactics; its gallery of striking – sometimes startling – portraits will fascinate any reader who wishes to contrast the romance and reality of battle.
Publication date: March 2005
ARMAGEDDON: THE BATTLE FOR GERMANY 1944-1945 – Buy it here.
The climactic final months of the Second World War in Europe; the destruction of Hitler’s Germany. Hastings has mined the archives and interviewed over 170 witnesses in five countries to piece together a saga that is at once fascinating military history and one of the great human tragedies of the twentieth century. An awesome achievement and an amazing work of history from the author of the acclaimed Overlord, Bomber Command and Das Reich.
PUBLICATION DATE: October 2004
THE KOREAN WAR — Buy it here
On 25 June 1950, the invasion of South Korea by the communist north launched one of the bloodiest and most devastating conflicts of this century. The seemingly limitless power of the Chinese-backed North was thrown against the ferocious firepower of the UN-backed South in a war that can be seen today as the stark prelude to Vietnam. This study draws on first-hand accounts of those who fought on both sides to produce this reassessment of the Korean War.
PUBLICATION DATE: January 2000
SCATTERED SHOTS – Buy it here.
This is a celebration of the countryside, and fishing and shooting, in particular. The author relates experiences of shooting pheasants in Yorkshire and seeking salmon in Scotland, alongside essays on some of the major issues facing Britain’s rural areas.
PUBLICATION DATE: 26th November 1999
BOMBER COMMAND — Buy it here.
Bomber Command’s offensive against the cities of Germany was one of the epic campaigns of the Second World War. More than 56,000 British and Commonwealth aircrew and 600,000 Germans died in the course of the RAF’s attempt to win the war by bombing. The struggle began in 1939 with a few score primitive Whitleys, Hampdens and Wellingtons, and ended six years later with 1,600 Lancasters, Halifaxes and Mosquitoes razing whole cities in a single night.
Max Hastings traced the developments of area bombing using a wealth of documnets, letters, diaries and interviews with key surviving witnesses. Bomber Command is his classic account of one of the most controversial struggles of the war.
PUBLICATION DATE: November 1999
THE BATTLE FOR THE FALKLANDS (with Simon Jenkins)
A chronicle of the call to arms and an informed analysis of the Falklands War.
Buy it here.
PUBLICATION DATE: August 1997
EDITOR: AN INSIDE STORY OF NEWSPAPERS- Buy it here
In February 2002 Max Hastings retired from his position as a ‘Fleet Street’ Editor. His is an enormously illustrious career which started in 1985, when he was offered the Editorship of a national institution – the Daily Telegraph – in a surprise move by its owners. This candid memoir tells the story of what happened to him, and to a great newspaper, over the next decade.It is all here: the rows with prime ministers, the coverage of great events, the daily routine. Max Hastings describes his complex relationship with his proprietor, Conrad Black. He offers an extraordinary perspective on the decline of John Major, the troubles of the Royal Family, the difficulties of dealing with lawyers and celebrities, statesmen and stars. It is above all the story of the excitement and exhilaration of almost 10 years at the helm of one of the greatest newspapers in the world.
“Much excellent gossip, some of it wildly indiscreet.Hastings is a brilliant reporter”- Sunday Telegraph
”The acuity of his insights make this book a wholly compelling read’ –Observer
“An important as well as an enjoyable book” – Roy Hattersley, Daily Mail
PUBLICATION DATE: 5th September 2003
GOING TO THE WARS
PUBLICATION DATE: April 2000
OUTSIDE DAYS: SOME ADVENTURES WITH ROD AND GUN – Buy it here
Max Hastings is best known as an acclaimed journalist and military historian. But what is perhaps less well known is his love of the countryside and its pursuits, above all fishing and shooting, which he indulges as often as he can escape his urban working environment. In this classic selection of gentle, contemplative musings, Max Hastings shares some of his favourite rural moments; tramping the snipe bogs of Waterford; dogging hedges in Hampshire and moors in Sutherland; casting a fly from Scotland to Iceland and Alaska; and shooting in India and the west of Ireland. Combining a journalist’s knack for storytelling with the enthusiasm of the dedicated amateur, Outside Days is the perfect companion for anyone who revels in the freedom of the outdoors.
PUBLICATION DATE: 20th August 2010
THE OXFORD BOOK OF MILITARY ANECDOTES — Buy it here
If anecdotes are marginal notes on the pages of history, these will delight any reader who has ever been moved or entertained by the condition of the soldier. Few fields of human endeavor have inspired so many memorable anecdotes as warfare, from the Bible and Livy through Gibbon and Froissart, to the imperial wars of the nineteenth century and the world conflicts of the twentieth.
This collection of is principally concerned with American and British conflicts, with, as the author says, “occasional forays among the ranks of foreign armies”―notably the Greeks, the Romans, and Napoleon’s veterans. Hastings has sought stories that illustrate the military condition through the ages, both on the battlefield and in barracks: comic, eccentric, heroic, tragic. Here are Caesar at the Rubicon and the revolt of the Praetorian Guard; Alexander’s horse and Prince Rupert’s dog; the legendary Mother Ross enlisting in search of her lost husband in 1693; Evelyn Waugh as the least plausible of commandos; General Douglas MacArthur’s good luck charm “Charlie,” a lump of lava rock carved into a Hawaiian warrior; and much more. Some of the stories will be familiar to students of military history while others are less well known, but all provide fascinating sidelights to history.
“An outstanding book…in a class by itself. It’s a work of literature. One can’t simply browse: The quality of the writing casts the spell of poetry. Although historical, the stories take on the universality of art.”―Christian Science Monitor
“Hastings is…aware of a good story. [He] succeeds in illustrating the soldiers’ experience in both unusual and specific aspects.”―Library Journal
BL”[A] fascinating collection of military stories…the sort of book that can be picked up at intervals…[but] once tasted, is hard to put down.”―Washington Post Book World
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press
PUBLICATION DATE: October 1985
NEMESIS: THE BATTLE FOR JAPAN, 1944-45 – Buy it here
The battle for Japan that ended many months after the battle for Europe involved enormous naval, military and air operations from the borders of India to the most distant regions of China. There is no finer chronicler of these events than the great military historian Max Hastings, whose gripping account explores not just the global strategic objectives of the USA, Japan and Britain but also the first-hand experiences of the airmen, sailors and soldiers of all the countries who participated in the Far East and the war in the Pacific.
The big moments in the story are chosen to reflect a wide variety of human experience: the great naval battle of Leyte Gulf; the under-reported war in China; the re-conquest of Burma by the British Army under General Slim; MacArthur’s follies in the Philippines; the Marines on Iwo Jima and Okinawa; LeMay’s fire-raising Super-fortress assaults on Japan; the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the kamikaze pilots of Japan; the almost unknown Soviet blitzkrieg in Manchuria in the last days of the war, as Stalin hastened to gather the spoils; and the terrible final acts across Japanese-occupied Asia.
This is classic, epic history – both in the content and the manner of telling.
PUBLICATION DATE: 16th October 2007
COUNTRY FAIR: TALES OF THE COUNTRYSIDE, SHOOTING AND FISHING – Buy it here
Country Fair is a bedside book for everyone who loves the British countryside, and especially fishing and shooting. Max Hastings describes himself as ‘an eager duffer’ at both. He writes of all manner of experiences with rod, gun and dogs in every corner of this island, creating a portrait of field sports that will summon happy memories for everyone who shares his passions. He also reflects about the future of the countryside amid all the pressures it faces today – political, social, and environmental. The Labour government’s ban on hunting has created bitter tensions between town and country which will not go away. A struggle has begun to preserve rural traditions from urban political intolerance, which is likely to continue for decades to come.
Yet the author remains optimistic that we can sustain the great heritage of the countryside, if we are willing to fight for it. The challenge is to persuade Britain’s city-dwellers that those who live amid the streams, woodlands and green fields are their best custodians. Much of this book is based upon Max Hastings’s writings in The Field. It should delight not only fishers and shooters, but everyone who cherishes Britain’s countryside. It offers lyrical tales of rural life, and some hard words about the battle to preserve it.
PUBLICATION DATE: October 2005
ALL HELL LET LOOSE: THE WORLD AT WAR 1939 – 1945 – Buy it here.
The seminal narrative history of the Second World War from one of our finest historians. A book which depicts what the war was like to live through – whether you were a starving child in Leningrad, a soldier in North Africa, or a civilian in Dresden. Truly global, Max Hasting’s book is the definitive account.
With its battlefields dispersed across the globe, the vastness of the Second World War was unparalleled. This was a time when nearly everything which civilised people took for granted in peace time was destroyed. Between 1939 and 1945, around 27,000 people died, every single day – most of them on the Eastern Front. Many men and women who lived through this catastrophe struggled to find the words to describe what they witnessed daily. Many turned to a phrase, which although a cliché, summed things up: “All Hell’s Let Loose!”
In this definitive, single-volume history of a war that continues to fascinate and horrify us in equal measure, Max Hastings brings together many different human stories, and touches on almost every country in the world. Hastings stresses that it is impossible to compare the suffering of people during WWII – it would have seemed monstrous to a British soldier facing a mortar barrage, with his comrades dying around him, to be told that Russian casualties were many thousand times greater. However, there were some aspects of wartime experience that were universal: fear and grief; the conscription of young men and women sent to new lives remote from their choice, genocide and mass migration. All Hell Let Loose charts these experiences, along with the numerous battles on land, at sea and in the air, all over the world, that formed the greatest conflict in human history.
Using a huge range of sources, including new material from Russia, Italy and Poland, All Hell Let Loose is not only a magnificent and movingly written book; it is arguably one of the most important books on the Second World War ever published.
“Capturing both epic sweep and human detail, this magnificent history is the definitive single-volume account of the Second World War … This is the book he was born to write: a work of staggering scope and erudition, narrated with supreme fluency and insight, it is unquestionably the best single-volume history of the war ever written” Sunday Times
“Max Hastings’ majestic account of the Second World War in which the human stories come alive … Each minature drama gives a glimpse of the vast galaxy of misery, heroism and endurance that lies beyond it.” Sunday Telegraph
” Hastings has an extraordinary ability to throw a bucket into the ocean of wartime papers, diaries, letters and documents of every kind, and bring up something fascinating and worthwhile every time.” Financial Times.
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins
PUBLICATION DATE: 26th April 2012
DID YOU REALLY SHOOT THE TELEVISION?– Order it here
The extraordinary story of the eccentric family of Britain’s most outstanding military historian, Max Hastings.
The author is the son of broadcaster and adventurer Macdonald Hastings and journalist and gardening writer Anne Scott-James. One of his grandfathers was a literary editor while the other wrote plays and essays, and penned an enchanting memoir of his own Victorian childhood. His great-uncle was an African hunter who wrote poetry and became one of Max’s heroes. The author tells a richly picaresque story, featuring guest appearances by a host of celebrities from Thomas Hardy and Joseph Conrad to John Betjeman and Osbert Lancaster, who became Anne Scott-James’s third husband. ‘All families are dysfunctional’, Anne asserted impenitently to Max, but the Hastingses managed to be more dysfunctional than most. His father roamed the world for newspapers and as a presenter for BBC TV’s legendary Tonight programme, while his mother edited ‘Harper’s Bazaar’, became a famous columnist and wrote best-selling gardening books.
Here, the author brings together this remarkable cast of forebears, ‘a tribe of eccentrics’, as he himself characterises them. By turns moving, dramatic and comic, the book portrays Max’s own childhood fraught with rows and explosions, in which the sudden death of a television set was only one highlight. His story will make a lot of people laugh and perhaps a few cry. It helps to explain why Max Hastings, whose family has produced more than eighty books over three generations, felt bound to follow their path of high adventure and popular journalism.
‘Richly rewarding…a minor masterpiece…the book is extremely funny in places, extremely poignant in others and extremely well-written throughout – in fact, I haven’t enjoyed anything so much in ages’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Family histories can often be pretty deadly and journalists memoirs doubly so. Few of them, however, are written with as much skill and sensitivity as this one. Moving without being mawkish, Hastings’s book is a trove of marvellous stories’ Sunday Times
‘This brave and poignant book is the self-portrait of a supremely talented outsider who has spent his life trying to live up to his father’s achievements…what is beyond doubt is that Sir Max has exceeded the pinnacle of his parents’ aspirations for themselves’ Daily Telegraph
‘Regretful, wise and forthright…deals with unnecessary cruelties and self delusions and ends with a sense of completion and understanding’ Andrew Marr, Financial Times
‘Elegiac, reflective and very funny, Did You Really Shoot the Television is both a ceasefire and a reminder that families are rarely safe places for children to be’ Times Literary Supplement
‘Highly engaging’ Independent ‘[A] rollicking memoir’ Mail on Sunday
‘It’s a brilliantly entertaining book, full of funny well-told stories about his talented, eccentric, sometimes rackety predecessors’ Scotsman
‘Deeply moving…an intimate portrait of two people who made [Max Hastings] the great man he is’ Private Eye
‘This is Max Hastings’ most personal book to date, and for all his war reporting and newspaper reporting, it is his bravest…[he] tells his family’s story with great candour and a real newsman’s detail’ Country Life
PUBLICATION DATE: 28th April 2011
FINEST YEARS: CHURCHILL AS WARLORD 1940-1945
Pre-eminent military historian Max Hastings presents Winston Churchill as he has never been seen before. Winston Churchill was the greatest war leader Britain ever had. In 1940, the nation rallied behind him in an extraordinary fashion. But thereafter, argues Max Hastings, there was a deep divide between what Churchill wanted from the British people and their army, and what they were capable of delivering. Himself a hero, he expected others to show themselves heroes also, and was often disappointed. It is little understood how low his popularity fell in 1942, amid an unbroken succession of battlefield defeats. Some of his closest colleagues joined a clamour for him to abandon his role directing the war machine. Hastings paints a wonderfully vivid image of the Prime Minister in triumph and tragedy. He describes the ‘second Dunkirk’ in 1940, when Churchill’s impulsiveness threatened to lose Britain almost as many troops in north-west France as had been saved from the beaches; his wooing of the Americans, and struggles with the Russians. British wartime unity was increasingly tarnished by workers’ unrest, with many strikes in mines and key industries. By looking at Churchill from the outside in, through the eyes of British soldiers, civilians and newspapers, and also those of Russians and Americans, Hastings provides new perspectives on the greatest Englishman. He condemns as folly Churchill’s attempt to promote mass uprisings in occupied Europe, and details ‘Unthinkable’, his amazing 1945 plan for an Allied offensive against the Russians to liberate Poland. Here is an intimate and affectionate portrait of Churchill as Britain’s saviour, but also an unsparing examination of the wartime nation which he led and the performance of its armed forces.
“Hastings himself turns in a magnificent performance. This is one of the best books ever written about Churchill” Sunday Times
PUBLICATION DATE: September 2009
RIGHTS CONTROLLED: Translation
RIGHTS SOLD: Finnish, Portuguese, Spanish
DAS REICH- Buy it here
Within days of the D-Day landings, the ‘Das Reich’ 2nd SS Panzer Division marched north through France to reinforce the front-line defenders of Hitler’s Fortress Europe. Veterans of the bloodiest fighting of the Russian Front, 15,000 men with their tanks and artillery, they were hounded for every mile of their march by saboteurs of the Resistance and agents of the Allied Special Forces.
Along their route they took reprisals so savage they will live for ever in the chronicles of the most appalling atrocities of war. Max Hasting’s powerful account of their progress is a true military classic.
A gripping blend of narrative and investigation.’ The Evening Standard
PUBLISHER: Pan Macmillan
PUBLICATION DATE: June 1993
OVERLORD – Buy it here
On 6th June 1944, the British and American forces staged the greatest amphibious landing in history to begin operation Overlord, the battle for the liberation of Europe. In this book Max Hastings overturns a host of popular misconceptions about the invasion.
PUBLISHER: Pan; Main Market
PUBLICATION DATE: 26th February 2015