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A Life in Questions [BOOKS] ⚡ A Life in Questions Author Jeremy Paxman – Thomashillier.co.uk During years as BBC Newsnight s supreme inquisitor, Jeremy Paxman proved himself as the master of the political intervview From John Major to Theresa May and Tony Blair to Ed Miliband, he has them qu Duringyears as BBC Newsnight s supreme inquisitor, Jeremy Paxman proved himself as the master of the political intervview From John Major to Theresa May and Tony Blair to Ed Miliband, he has them quaking in A Life Kindle - their boots But it wasn t just politicians Paxman s interviews with Dizzee Rascal, David Bowie, Russell Brand and Vivienne Westwood are legendary He discussed belief with religious leaders and philosophers, economics with CEOs and bankers, books with writers, and art and theatre with artists Afteryears on University Challenge, Paxman is also the longest serving active quizmaster on British televisionIn A Life in Questions, the tables are turned the quizmaster answers our burning questions, telling terrifying stories and laughing at much of the silliness in the world These are the long awaited memoirs of the greatest political interviewer of our time.


10 thoughts on “A Life in Questions

  1. Jonathan Pool Jonathan Pool says:

    A few books come my way as Christmas presents from family and friends.These books tend to be different from the ones I self select, and those recommended by the Goodreads community.Jeremy Paxman s autobiography A Life in Questions was a Christmas gift for 2016.Is it possible to enjoy a book, while feeling that much of it reads poorly and is badly structured That how I felt about A Life in Questions.Paxman s reputation was, and remains, that of the feared inquisitor He was lead interviewer o A few books come my way as Christmas presents from family and friends.These books tend to be different from the ones I self select, and those recommended by the Goodreads community.Jeremy Paxman s autobiography A Life in Questions was a Christmas gift for 2016.Is it possible to enjoy a book, while feeling that much of it reads poorly and is badly structured That how I felt about A Life in Questions.Paxman s reputation was, and remains, that of the feared inquisitor He was lead interviewer of the mainstream, UK politicians for twenty five years Having watched a number of his TV interviews I wonder, on reflection, and highlighted by this autobiography, whether Paxman has any enduring journalistic legacy.Paxman, in his book, plays down any claim to personal high intellect Most of his best remembered interviews rest on the fact that his demeanour was less obsequious than most of his journalist peers Little of substance or insight about his interviewee seems to have resulted Why else would the famous Michael Howard a lesser known politician interview continue to be so associated with Paxman and he includes this in the book I thought it particularly telling that Paxman devotes space to Russell Brand a narcissist and self publicist Paxman says of BrandWhat on earth has he got to say that the world needs to hearand Brand s idea struck me as just stupid p264However Paxman then goes on to sayI thought it might be fun to make a film about the looming 2015 election.I emailed Brand did he fancy the ideaSurprise, surprise, Brand gave up responding to emails But I fear this says something about both Brand, and Paxman.The most disappointing reflection was that on the subject of Jimmy Savile Paxman worked at the BBC for thirty years contemporaneously with Savile Also Paxman s Newsnight team were drawn directly into the Savile scandal and outrage after his death and a botched, compromised, investigation Paxman s summary of Savile at the time of his deaththe rumours about Jimmy Savile s appetite for young flesh had been around for years, and I cannot have been unusual in preferring to file him in a box marked shallow, vulgar and distasteful .I had hoped for, and expected, a carefully and deeply considered appraisal of the most awful oversight in the BBC s history Paxman s seven pages on the subject did not deliver.So, enjoyable as a Christmas gift, and describing many interviews and events that I remember well , then yes For those reading this in five years time A Life in Questions s lack of intellectual heft will consign it to the shelves of celebrity writers so well represented on the book shelves in the high street charity shops


  2. Tariq Mahmood Tariq Mahmood says:

    The book was interesting as it kept me intrigued but failed to captivate because he left far too many questions unanswered Not only is the book an autobiography but also doubles as BBC s biography Jeremy manages a very spartan and apologetic view of the BBC, conceding at the same time how much of an effect BBC s unbiased opinions have on its unsuspecting viewership And this very biased presentation left me with only one deduction, that our noble Mr Paxman doesn t want to burn any bridges wit The book was interesting as it kept me intrigued but failed to captivate because he left far too many questions unanswered Not only is the book an autobiography but also doubles as BBC s biography Jeremy manages a very spartan and apologetic view of the BBC, conceding at the same time how much of an effect BBC s unbiased opinions have on its unsuspecting viewership And this very biased presentation left me with only one deduction, that our noble Mr Paxman doesn t want to burn any bridges with the lucrative employer like BBC The book also assumes that the readers have to know the context of each story, politician or event mentioned Preferably the reader should have lived in the UK for the past 30 years at least and should have watched BBC news and current affairs from 5 6 nights per week So if you don t happen to be one of the correct type, you will find it a tough reading experience


  3. Diocletian Diocletian says:

    An entertaining read Written in a conventional linear style, Paxman s lifestory issurprising than you d think For one, he was quite a rebel in his younger days, even as a fag in public school he often disobeyed his superiors resulting in thrashings His school years were full of amusing events like being flung into a boxing match, getting decked, then in his stupor connecting punches after the bell All in all, he did come from humble beginnings and is an example of social mobility, to a An entertaining read Written in a conventional linear style, Paxman s lifestory issurprising than you d think For one, he was quite a rebel in his younger days, even as a fag in public school he often disobeyed his superiors resulting in thrashings His school years were full of amusing events like being flung into a boxing match, getting decked, then in his stupor connecting punches after the bell All in all, he did come from humble beginnings and is an example of social mobility, to a certain extent.Some of the most interesting sections were, when he was talking about his early years of broadcast journalism in Northern Ireland and Yugoslavia For once, actual valid criticisms of the EU, it supported a doomed Slavic state which was tearing itself apart with civil war, along ethnic boundaries Insights into the Northern Irish conflict without the lens of British state propaganda Paxman touches on a number of themes, such as the unbalanced power distribution of elderly voters who are pandered to by the political parties He says an idea is to limit votes to tax payers only, which is a novel solution He talks about the decline in religion and the subsequent rise in celebrity idolatry We ll always believe in something be it God or someone who was the runner up to X factor 7 years ago, it seemsIn terms of the EU referendum Paxman sums it up beautifully, paraphrasing Cameron thought he could stamp out vociferous eurosceptics, in his own party, by putting one of the most important foreign policy decisions of our lifetimes, into the hands of the British public.A line I found profound about journalism is thus It s about putting as many of the editors prejudices into the newspaper without offending the advertisers This review can t do it justice, read it yourself, it s well worth it


  4. Chris Kelly Chris Kelly says:

    I really wasn t expecting to like this book as much as I did In truth I only picked it up off of my bookshelf to tide me over until payday and my next trip to the bookshop OK, .I had always thought of Jeremy Paxman as a presenter rather than a bone fide journalist How wrong I was it turns out that Mr Paxman has had quite the life A Life in Questions is a witty, insightful and compulsively readable review of Paxman s career from his days as the editor of the student newspaper at Ca I really wasn t expecting to like this book as much as I did In truth I only picked it up off of my bookshelf to tide me over until payday and my next trip to the bookshop OK, .I had always thought of Jeremy Paxman as a presenter rather than a bone fide journalist How wrong I was it turns out that Mr Paxman has had quite the life A Life in Questions is a witty, insightful and compulsively readable review of Paxman s career from his days as the editor of the student newspaper at Cambridge, through his BBC training at the height of The Troubles in 1970s Belfast, and culminating in his role as the face of BBC s Newsnight If you have even a passing interest in Journalism, or, in fact, anything newsworthy that has happened in the UK over the past 25 years, this book hasthan enough to keep you thoroughly entertained.A surprisingly engaging 4 stars out of 5


  5. James A-Trill James A-Trill says:

    Listened to the audio book copy of this over the last few weeks, and was left largely bored by it Perhaps unsurprisingly considering his persona, he takes quite a detached view from his anecdotes and simply recounts past meetings without much explanation of his inner workings The most interesting parts were his coverage of the Troubles in Ireland, the BBC and his interview with Brand Not particularly insightful.


  6. Keen Keen says:

    At the time I became a journalist, the trade was held in very low esteem, which is probably where it belongs To judge from the false glamour now sprayed on the media, you d think that journalists, disc jockeys, reality show contestants and associated low life performed a useful social function, equivalent in value to the life saving skills of paramedics or the discoveries of Nobel Prize winners They do not So says Paxman, and you don t spend forty odd years at the BBC without learning a thin At the time I became a journalist, the trade was held in very low esteem, which is probably where it belongs To judge from the false glamour now sprayed on the media, you d think that journalists, disc jockeys, reality show contestants and associated low life performed a useful social function, equivalent in value to the life saving skills of paramedics or the discoveries of Nobel Prize winners They do not So says Paxman, and you don t spend forty odd years at the BBC without learning a thing or two about the media journalism game Whether he s grilling politicians or scaring under graduates on a TV quiz show, I have always been a big fan of the man The fact that at least two of the 21st Century s prime ministers have said they didn t like him and went to some lengths not to be interviewed by him, is clearly a huge compliment to him I thought this actually started off a little slow and was a tad dry in the opening stages, his time at preparatory school sounds truly awful, at one point, as he is being prepared for his latest beating he was told, The purpose of a public school education, Paxman, is to teach you to respect people you don t respect Take off your dressing gown and bend over the chair Which may or may not explain a lot about the British establishment When he leaves university and starts to work for the BBC the quality and depth really starts to show His experiences of Belfast and the troubles painted a grim and honest portrayal of the horrendous situation at the time His recollection of his first book signing was pretty funny He describes sitting all alone at a London University book shop, beside the Beverley Sisters, who were also doing a signing The queue was out the door for them, and one curious elderly woman asked him what he was doing there I ve written a book What s it about Central America Sold many copies None Ah, bless, she said I ll take one I suppose I might find someone I can give it to What really came through here for me was Paxman s ability to tell things like they are unlike most of the people he interviews He delivers his opinions in clear, accessible language, showing that he has a sound understanding of how politics works and where it fails He never shies away from having a pop at his own profession with statements like, Those who work in the media are overwhelmingly middle class, and have little first hand experience of the lives of many of those they report upon I plead guilty and The truth is that most news doesn t matter, and most political controversies are neither controversial nor even, sometimes truly political He enjoys calling out politicians on their shenanigans, The annual conferences have become commercial ventures at which the parties sell space for lobbyists, companies and pressure groups, who set up stands in the anterooms effectively buying access to those who make, or want to make, policy But he is also happy enough to praise them in other areas, seemingly quite impressed by Clinton s various talents and Blair s ability to think on his feet etc, but we don t have to look too far to find another compelling quote, like, Britain s mainstream media devote most of their energy to reporting upon mainstream issues as seen by mainstream institutions like reports by committees of MPs on how the government has handled the country s housing shortage They do not see how immensely remote MPs and the government are from the lives of great numbers of people, and that affordable housing is unfindable in many areas of the country Those who report upon politics and those who practise politics inhabit the same social world It is not the world lived in by most voters This was a damn good read with some genuinely compelling insights into the dubious world of media, politics and the news with some surprising and colourful results along the way Paxman is excellent company, he isn t afraid to laugh at himself and his, at times, blunt honesty is wonderfully refreshing in a world of increasing PC madness


  7. Sid Nuncius Sid Nuncius says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book I don t read many autobiographies or memoirs because, frankly, so many of them are so dreadful, but I found this very readable, absorbing, witty and insightful.The opening is OK, if not hugely inspiring, being a well written but fairly standard recitation of Paxman s early life and education Things begin to get really good as he almost falls into journalism, and especially his time in Northern Ireland during the Troubles He is incisive and fair minded and sc I thoroughly enjoyed this book I don t read many autobiographies or memoirs because, frankly, so many of them are so dreadful, but I found this very readable, absorbing, witty and insightful.The opening is OK, if not hugely inspiring, being a well written but fairly standard recitation of Paxman s early life and education Things begin to get really good as he almost falls into journalism, and especially his time in Northern Ireland during the Troubles He is incisive and fair minded and scathing about some of the political cynicism and incompetence, but also generous to others whom he saw attempting to do their best in tough times This is true throughout the book Paxman dishes very little dirt in the way of revelation about individuals but he leaves the reader in no doubt about his opinion of some people and groups of people, nor of his contempt for management bull excreta The book is peppered with pithy phrases like they talked about a mission to explain, which was apparently something farimportant than telling people what had happened that day, or those shuffling oxymorons, media academics But he isn t waspish for the sake of it and is almost equally often generous about people, too, describing Min Campbell as the nicest man in politics, for example It is plain that, at bottom, he likes most people who behave acceptably, which gives the book an engaging underpinning of humanity.It s beautifully written, and I found it a pleasure to read Part of this is the overriding sense that, while Paxman takes many of the things he talks about very seriously indeed, he has a healthy scepticism about journalists taking them selves too seriously and an excellent line in self deprecation and mockery Very unusually, it is worth reading the bit on the dustjacket headed Praise For Jeremy Paxman, for example, which includes Stay well away from me, you sanctimonious, spineless little toad Piers Morgan.I found this as entertaining, interesting and absorbing as a good novel I enjoyed it farthan I expected to and I can recommend it very warmly


  8. Jeff Howells Jeff Howells says:

    Jeremy Paxman wrote the rule book on modern day political interviewing A snarling, attack dog with the cynicism turned up to 11 He s also that generation of newsmen Jon Snow John Simpson most notably of his near contemporary who have moved between the studio the field, reporting the news often in dangerous places Although the sense of world weariness permeates this memoir, its dialled down a lot It s certainly not the snarky caricature that dominated his later years on Newsnight.If any Jeremy Paxman wrote the rule book on modern day political interviewing A snarling, attack dog with the cynicism turned up to 11 He s also that generation of newsmen Jon Snow John Simpson most notably of his near contemporary who have moved between the studio the field, reporting the news often in dangerous places Although the sense of world weariness permeates this memoir, its dialled down a lot It s certainly not the snarky caricature that dominated his later years on Newsnight.If anything this memoir is too short You never get the sense that he telling us the whole story His childhood is touched upon and clearly he had to deal with a father who was distant both emotionally eventually geographically and his early years as a reporter in Ireland are rattled off quickly, as is his time back at the BBC in London Reporters employed there at that time seem to be a mixture of rogues, cavaliers mavericks, who were left to get on with it.Inevitably the most interesting part is his description of his time on Newsnight It s certainly not a rose tinted reminiscence, in fact you wonder how it ever got on air He really has drawn back the curtains to see how it works behind the scenes It s clear that he stayed presenting it longer than he wanted to, mainly because he felt he had to the Jimmy Saville debacle meant he didn t want to be seen to be deserting a ship that for a time appeared to have been fatally holed below the waterline.Most surprisingly is that the work he appears to be most proud of is University Challenge The thing that strikes me after getting to the end of this book is that I have no idea if he s married, has kids, what his politics are or any other personal insight you might have expected You can t even guess his politics He admits to reluctantly voting Remain in the EU referendum yet disliking the bureaucracy of Brussels I m left with the impression that he s loner who prefers to plough his own furrow, although this might be far from the truth He s still largely an enigma but perhaps a slightlylikeable one than he appears to be on TV


  9. Christine Ottaway Christine Ottaway says:

    I found this book very interesting, though the long awaited memoirs from the blurb is overstating things a bit Jeremy Paxman writes as he speaks, rather dismissively and certainly he doesn t suffer fools gladly though he is gracious enough to concede his own mistakes and he does bring some insights into the change of Britain in the post war years His writing style is full of witty observations and I enjoyed this about Chris Patten who having served as a minister, Chairman of the Conservative I found this book very interesting, though the long awaited memoirs from the blurb is overstating things a bit Jeremy Paxman writes as he speaks, rather dismissively and certainly he doesn t suffer fools gladly though he is gracious enough to concede his own mistakes and he does bring some insights into the change of Britain in the post war years His writing style is full of witty observations and I enjoyed this about Chris Patten who having served as a minister, Chairman of the Conservative Party, last Governor of the Bank of England, European Commissioner and chairman of the BBC finally emptied the dressing up box by becoming Chancellor of Oxford University Jeremy Paxman certainly had an interesting childhood with a rather dysfunctional father and was sent to twothan slightly odd schools His early career where he chose to travel to many of the world s trouble spots brought insights into the conflicts of 1970 s and 1980 s as well as life working for BBC The section covering his time presenting Newsnight reinforced why I never watched the programme if I could help it Haranguing politicians and executing the lambs they sometimes sent in their place do not make the kind of viewing I enjoy Being a fly fisherman, I would have thought he would enjoy tempting politicians and others he interviewed to fall for his fly with a few innocent sounding questions before going in for the kill Some of his interviews with people like Daniel Barenboim or Tim Peake would have been farinteresting if I had not given up on the programme by then.Finally I found Mr Paxman s view on Brexit and old age pensioners about whom he has a very low opinion though he has joined the club himself To Brexit he raised all the questions about EU that made me a firm Brexiteer undemocratic, wasteful, unaccountable and so and yet he voted to remain He then blamed the Leave vote on stupid old pensioners who know nothing I believe he even suggested that in order to make politicsappealing to the younger generation who don t vote, the vote should only be given to tax payers and therefore disenfranchise those pensioners who know nothing and empower the younger generation to get the politicians and government they want Unfortunately most pensioners are taxpayers and the one thing they do is vote so I m not sure that idea will float


  10. Andrew Bentley Andrew Bentley says:

    Everyone who has watched TV in the UK must be familiar with Paxman I had very fixed opinions about him, many of which were negative, but this autobiography helped me appreciate some of the nuances of the man Being Paxman, there is plenty of of opinion and logical thought I warmed to his ruminations about fly fishing and his descriptions of gillies with an awe equal to his most famous interviewees I appreciate how unimpressed he is with celebrity culture and simply sees people as people, and Everyone who has watched TV in the UK must be familiar with Paxman I had very fixed opinions about him, many of which were negative, but this autobiography helped me appreciate some of the nuances of the man Being Paxman, there is plenty of of opinion and logical thought I warmed to his ruminations about fly fishing and his descriptions of gillies with an awe equal to his most famous interviewees I appreciate how unimpressed he is with celebrity culture and simply sees people as people, and his claim to understanding very little about politics, but just asking the questions which everybody is thinking It certainly explains some of his rudeness Missing were descriptions of his first times of reporting, being on air or handling important assignments He obviously is unfazed by such things, but they are necessary in a biography A very enjoyable read


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