A selection of Ian Jack's incisive and thought-provoking writing and reporting, taken from his twenty years working as a journalist at Granta, the Guardian, the Independent and the Sunday Times
In this selection from over twenty years of reporting and writing, Ian Jack sets out to deal with contemporary Britain – from national disasters to football matches to obesity – but is always drawn back in time, vexed by the question of what came first. In ‘Women and Children First’, watching the film Titanic leads into an investigation into the legend of Wallace Henry Hartley, the famous band leader of the doomed liner, while ‘The 12.10 to Leeds’, a magnificent report on the Hatfield rail crash, begins its hunt for clues in the eighteenth century in the search for those responsible. Further afield, he finds vestiges of a vanished Britain in the Indian subcontinent, meeting characters like maverick English missionary and linguist William Carey, credited with importing India's first steam engine.
Full of the style, knowledge and intimacy that makes his work so special, this collection is the perfect introduction to the work of one of the country’s finest writers.
About the Author
After working on a weekly newspaper in Scotland in the 1960s, Ian Jack worked from 1970 to 1986 at the Sunday Times as a reporter, editor, feature writer and foreign correspondent. He was a co-founder of the Independent on Sunday in 1989 and edited the paper from 1991 to 1995. Having been editor since 1995, he left Granta in 2007 and now writes regularly for the Guardian. He is the author of two books of non-fiction - Before the Oil Ran Out: Britian 1977-86 (1987) and The Crash That Stopped Britain (2001).
"Jack's eye for precise detail, his curiosity and his luminous intelligence shine through every piece. His is a kind of writing we are lucky to still have around" -- Jackie Kay * Scotsman *
"Elegiac rather than nostalgic... At the heart of the book are three magnificent essays" * The Economist *
"Superb" -- Alexander Chancellor * Spectator *
"Wonderful... Jack is a superb and diverse writer, with a mind and eyes and a nose for virtually everything... He's smart, proportionate, discerning and (rarest of rarities) decent. To me, this book is indispensable" -- Richard Ford * Guardian, Books of the Year *
"Ian Jack's superbly evocative essays are the ideal advertisement for the virtues of print journalism... superbly evocative" -- Rachel Cooke * The Observer *