David James Smith has been a journalist all his working life. He now writes for the Sunday Times Magazine and lives on the English south coast. He has four children, Sitira, Kitty, Orealla and Mackenzie.
"You feel terrible, but you still shoot" - Julian Wasser who photographed Polanski at scene of Sharon Tate's murder http://t.co/bknqX3B0Fl
"Leon Brittan's faulty memory... " http://t.co/FdvHSvlREX
"...when you ask someone old, tired questions you are apt to receive old, tired answers." Hemingway, Havana 1958 http://t.co/oQD7Vi8GsN
Awarding David the title for the second consecutive year, the judges said: “His pieces have an unrivalled scope and ambition. He gets to the heart of difficult subjects and consistently provides a definitive account…”
Shortlisted in the 2012 Orwell Prize for Journalism.
“Thoroughly researched and stylishly written like an un-putdownable novel. “The Fallen”, his article on the forgotten ‘jumpers’ of 9/11, was a haunting and original piece of journalism that went viral in pirated form despite the restrictions of News International’s paywall”
The Sunday Times Magazine writer David James Smith has won the prestigious Foreign Press Association award for Best Feature (print/web) for his cover story on the people who jumped from the Twin Towers on 9/11. His article was commended by the judges as “an exceptionally moving and compelling piece of reporting which offered a very different and fascinating take on 9/11”. The award category attracted a record number of entrants — among them the Sunday Times Moscow correspondent, Mark Franchetti, who was commended for his magazine feature revealing the diary of a Russian special forces killer in Chechnya
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Friday, February 12 1993. Two outwardly unremarkable ten-year-old boys, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, began their day playing truant and ended it running an errand for a local video shop. In between they abducted and killed the toddler James Bulger. The Sleep of Reason is the harrowing, sensitive, definitive account of this terrible crime and its consequences.
In a new Preface (which considers the re-arrest of Jon Venables in February 2010) David James Smith writes: ‘It is as true now as it was then that the murder has never really been explained and the motive for the crime remains a mystery. This book, the result of considerable research and a painstaking, sometimes distressing assembly of the facts, was my attempt to offer some insight and understanding.’
‘Surprisingly evocative, even moving … immensely valuable.’ The Times
‘Dramatic and disturbing.’ Anita Brookner, Observer
‘Compelling and compassionate.’ Times Educational Supplement
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Nelson Mandela is the world’s greatest idol, universally recognised as a leader who symbolises moral authority. He has been mythologised as a flawless hero of the liberation struggle. But how exactly did his early personal and political life shape the triumphs to come? Read more
What sets this biography apart is its author’s emphasis on Mandela’s character and associations in the development of his political career, from boyhood through the Rivonia Trial of 1963–1964; as well as the impact of politics on his personal life, from first wife Evelyn Mase–heretofore neglected in the historical record–to the “woman of his dreams,” Winnie Madikizela. No hagiography, Smith’s measured study qualifies, lends nuance to, and even contradicts the mythology around Mandela’s background and formative influences.
A biography shepherded by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and written by an English journalist attains distance from and clarity on the life of the near-sainted South African leader…In this readable, well-calibrated account of Mandela’s early life, Smith attempts to get at the making of the revolutionary and leader, from an impoverished young law student to his rise through the ANC ranks, military training and authoring of “How to Be a Good Communist”…Smith vivifies the personalities and marshals the revolutionary events without overwhelming the reader.
On the cover of The Sunday Times Magazine…
The Sleep Of Reason – The James Bulger Case by David James Smith:
Faber Finds edition with new preface, available September 15th, 2011.
Young Mandela the movie – in development.
From The Guardian
Read the article
In the Diary column of The Independent, April 13th, 2011
More on my previously unsubstantiated claim that the writer-director Peter Kosminsky, creator of The Promise, is working on a drama about Nelson Mandela. I’ve now learnt that the project is a feature film, in development with Film 4, about the young Mandela. Kosminsky is currently at work on the script and, given the complaints about the anti-Jewish bias of The Promise, it is unlikely to be a standard bland portrait of the former South African president.
Nelson Mandela was circumcised as a 16-year-old boy alongside a flowing river in the Eastern Cape. The ceremony was similar to those of other Bantu peoples. An elder moved through the line making ring-like cuts, and foreskins fell away. The boys could not so much as blink; it was a rite of passage that took you beyond pain. read full review
Jon Venables: What Went Wrong
BBC 1, 10.35
Thursday, April 21st, 2011