Saturday, May 26, 2018

Humphrey Hawksley

Humphrey Hawksley is a BBC foreign correspondent who has reported from the world’s hot spots for more than thirty years. He works in both non-fiction and fiction and his latest thriller, Man on Ice is set on the remote and wild US-Russian border in the Bering Strait. Action bounces and twists between the White House and the little-known Diomede islands of which one is American and the other Russian. A closed, unmarked, unmanned border runs between.

Asked what he is currently reading, Hawksley answered:
I have several paper and e-books going at once, some for ideas, some for research and some for a hinterland to take me away from work which whether fiction or non-fiction focuses on global politics and shifting balances of power.

Top of the pile of my research is Super Highway: Sea Power in the 21st Century by Admiral Chris Parry (Rtd) which is a brilliant layman’s read of how we are going to use the seas for war, trade and pleasure in the coming years. I am working on a sequel to Man on Ice set in the North Atlantic because this is becoming a new Cold War battleground between Russia and Europe. The international thriller often carries a Dystopian backdrop so I have with me Collapse: Europe After the European Union by Ian Kearns which lays out scenarios for upheavals in Europe. We’ve been there before with the Balkans and two world wars and those of us who live in Europe have a deep sense of foreboding at what is unfolding now. Finally, the new Tim Marshall geopolitical Divided: Why We Are Living In An Age of Walls, a sequel to his best-selling Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics. Few authors cut through to the chase as well as Marshall does.

For thriller ideas I have with me the spy maestro Adrian Magson’s Close Quarters which moves between Ukraine and Washington with an edge-of-the-seat opening in Tehran; and the brilliant Redeployment by Phil Klay, a series of agonizing fictional short stories of troops returning from Iraq. I covered Iraq and in Klay’s words and dialogue could smell the sand, sweat and insoluble human frustration.

On my hinterland, I am in the middle of Things to Leave Behind by Namita Gokhale, a novel on how the dreadful Indian caste system destroys human spirit. The opening line – “First the sky, a pure, clear blue with clouds shaped like elephants and sheep...” Beautiful. My other hinterland book is of similar vein, Good Children of the Flower by best-selling Chinese author, Hong Ying. She tells of her journey from a rugged village childhood to international literary stardom. Both have stopped me dead with horror as the authors show us a human spirit of hope and love with which we are all familiar and set it against the violent cruelty that poverty and hardship creates -- a state that so few of us understand.
Visit Humphrey Hawksley's website.

The Page 69 Test: The History Book.

My Book, The Movie: Security Breach.

My Book, The Movie: Man on Ice.

--Marshal Zeringue