Friday, 30 July 2010

Counting my blessings!

This week, Creative Content director Ali Muirden talks about friends, colleagues and contacts...

There have been many, many times over the last couple of years when I’ve given thanks to my career at Macmillan and the way in which it has given me such great friends, colleagues and contacts in the publishing industry.

However, it was never more apparent this week when we recorded our latest history title, “The Lowdown: A Short History of the First Gulf War,” with none other than the BBC’s World Affairs Editor, John Simpson reading it.

A few months back I was lucky enough to be producing the audio edition of John’s book “Unreliable Sources,“ an entertaining and witty look at the history of journalism, published by Macmillan.

I’ve produced many of John’s audio books, so it was great to be back in the studio with him. He is such a fluent reader with his own inimitable style, that it’s always a treat to work with him.

During one of our tea breaks we were chatting about what we had both been up to in recent months and I explained how Creative Content had come into being and the kind of books we were publishing.

John was hugely encouraging and very kindly offered there and then to read something for us. He said he really enjoys recording audio books and would love to be part of one of our projects.

So I carefully filed this piece of information away in the back of my mind, ready to take him up on his kind, if rash, offer when the time was right.

It turned out we didn’t have to wait long as we had already commissioned “The Lowdown: A Short History of the First Gulf War” for publication this summer. It’s been written by Dr Rob Johnson, who is Lecturer in the History of War at the University of Oxford. Rob’s primary research interests are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, and his work includes conventional military operations, irregular warfare and counter-insurgency, as well as intelligence and strategy.

He lectures on the History of War in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century, and is a specialist on Afghanistan. Rob Johnson's recent publications include: The Iran-Iraq War (Palgrave, 2010); How to Win on the Battlefield (Thames and Hudson, 2010), and Oil, Islam and Conflict (Reaktion, 2008).

We wanted to publish a book which explained clearly and concisely how the First Gulf War came about and what events led up to it.

Clearly Rob was the ideal person to write this book for us.

Even more so, John was clearly the right person to read it!

In a BBC career spanning more than 30 years, John has earned a reputation as one of the world's most experienced and authoritative journalists. He has reported from more than 100 countries across the globe, from 30 war zones, and has interviewed numerous world leaders.

He has also worked as a correspondent in South Africa, Brussels and Dublin. He has received numerous awards including a CBE in the Gulf War Honours in 1991, not to mention three Baftas and an International Emmy award for News Coverage for his report on the fall of Kabul for the BBC Ten O'Clock News.

And who can forget that iconic moment during the missile attacks of the First Gulf War in Baghdad in January 1991, when one whooshed past his hotel window just as he was reporting on the attacks on the telephone to the BBC.

We can’t thank John enough for taking time out of an incredibly busy schedule to come and read this for us. We’re very proud to add his name to our growing list of superb audio book readers - and I can’t thank him (and Macmillan!) enough for providing the opportunity to do so. - AM

"The Lowdown: A Short History of the First Gulf War" publishes on 6th August.

Photo by bootload

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