David James Smith is the author of five acclaimed non-fiction books and is an award-wining journalist for The Sunday Times Magazine of London. Read More

Photo of author, David James Smith

Latest TweetsDavid James Smith's Twitter page

Judges are (not yet) us. Fascinating and informed reflections here on the slow, bumpy road to judicial diversity of… https://t.co/043nWdspL8

“... he later realised the “genie” was actually just one of the men in disguise.” https://t.co/7KC1hJ8TDI

The Sleep Of Reason – The James Bulger Case

“The most harrowing, heartbreaking and defining account of the murder, its aftermath and legacy” – David Peace.

Buy the book and read the latest customer reviews at Amazon UK

The Sleep of Reason by David James Smith

James Bulger – The New Revelations documentary

Consultant and contributor

November 2018


Commissioner at the Criminal Cases Review Commission

www.ccrc.gov.uk     @ccrcupdate


Feature Writer of the Year
British Press Awards 2012

David James Smith accepts his award for Feature Writer of the Year at the British Press, 2012Awarding 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…”

2012 Orwell Prize

Shortlisted in the 2012 Orwell Prize for Journalism.


Feature Writer of the Year
British Press Awards 2011

“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”

Full list of awards

Foreign Press Association award

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

The Sleep Of Reason reissued

Book jacket for The Sleep of Reason by David james Smith reissueBuy from Amazon

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

Young Mandela released in paperback in the UK

Young Mandela UK paperback cover

Buy from Amazon

‘From the beginning, I was encouraged by those around Mandela to write about him as a human being. Don’t write about the icon, came the plea, he knows he is not a saint, he has flaws and weaknesses just like everyone else.’

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

Young Mandela: The Revolutionary Years

The US book jacket for Young Mandela - The Revolutionary Years

The US launch of the controversial human story behind the makings of the icon.

Available  from:
Barnes and Noble

Pre-Publication US Reviews…

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.


Latest News

  • 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.

Latest Review

    New York Times – J. M. Ledgard
  • 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

See David James Smith…

Jon Venables: What Went Wrong
BBC 1, 10.35
Thursday, April 21st, 2011