Come the Revolution is journalist Alex Mitchell’s account of life in newspapers and in revolutionary politics. It begins with a vivid portrait of life in far north Queensland where his reporting career began, and of joining Rupert Murdoch’s Daily Mirror in the cut-throat era of Sydney tabloids. Moving to London, Mitchell chronicles the highs and lows of Fleet Street journalism, where he joined the Sunday Times in 1967 during the halcyon days of the Insight investigative team, taking part in exhaustive probes into Soviet double agent Kim Philby and corporate fraudsters Bernie Cornfeld and Robert Maxwell, and witnessing the devastation of the Biafran civil war. He recounts the high drama of working for Granada Television’s World in Action, where he exposed British Home Secretary Reginald Maudling’s links with a crooked offshore funds operator, Jerome D Hoffman, and became the first TV reporter to interview President Idi Amin after his military coup in Uganda in January 1971.
These were heady days, and this was no ordinary career in journalism. Under the impact of world events from the Vietnam war to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the British army’s occupation of the north of Ireland, Mitchell was propelled towards socialism. In May 1971, at the age of 29, he walked away from the capitalist media to be a full-time Trotskyist with the Socialist Labour League, later to become the Workers Revolutionary Party. A former member of the party’s central committee and political committee and editor of its daily paper, in Come the Revolution he gives an unprecedented insight into its short-lived success and turbulent inner life. The book gives a riveting account of how the organisation was targeted after the paper exposed the CIA’s presence in Britain. It tells of Mitchell’s travels to build links with national liberation movements, meeting Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat and Muammar Gaddafi in company with fellow revolutionary Vanessa Redgrave, and gives the first full account of the dramatic 1985 split that tore the organisation apart.
The two constant themes in the book are the role of journalism and the growing crisis of the capitalist order. Mitchell makes clear his commitment to the reporter’s duty to tell the world what powerful interests want hidden, and shows how the Murdoch empire, which started so promisingly, traduces that duty. And he gives an unassailable account of the early development of the current crisis of capitalism, with a warts-and-all examination of the brave attempt, by revolutionaries of the 1970s and 1980s, to address it – a task that remains on the agenda today.
Come the Revolution lays bare Mitchell’s life and loves, his past and politics, with the flair of a born storyteller unafraid to ask hard questions about the world, and himself.
“A terrific book about journalism… a rattling good read.”
The Walkley Magazine – more
“A great journalist’s recollection of the colour and horror of history on the run … one of those rare acts of autobiography where someone allows his experience and his mistakes to speak for themselves with something like the voice of truth.”
Peter Craven in The Australian
“Mitchell has produced perhaps the finest Australian memoir in a decade.”
Andrew West in Justinian – more
“He writes with immense passion and great humour about his childhood in Queensland and his long, eventful life as a journalist – and Trotskyist – in Australia and Britain… Come the Revolution will be required reading for my first-year journalism students.”
Canberra Times – more
“One of the pleasures of Mitchell’s memoir comes from the very different culture of the near past, an era both joltingly familiar and impossibly foreign. Few Australians journalists would be brave enough to end their memoirs with a denunciation of the market and a call for revolution.”
Jeff Sparrow in the Australian Book Review
“Alex Mitchell is perhaps best known as a commentator on NSW politics with a
racy, hard-hitting style. Some may have heard hints of an adventurous past as an
investigative journalist and radical activist. Mitchell now reveals all in this
forthright and engaging memoir.”
David Clune, former NSW Parliament historian – more
“[Mitchell] clearly is a writer of the first rank. At the very least, this book will stand as a great chronicle of the times from a radical left-wing perspective. For that, the politically savvy reading public in this country and the UK is in his debt.”
Jeffrey Phillips in Workplace Review
More opinions from leading commentators:
A gripping account of a young Australian journalist’s adventures in
intrigue-ridden London as he fights to change the world.
Phillip Knightley AM, author and espionage expert
For 20 years Alex Mitchell, one of the country’s finest and most experienced journalists, has threatened to write and publish his memoir … Publication day has finally arrived… It promises to be one of the books of the year.
Matthew Condon, author and editor
Alex Mitchell’s adventures in journalism and politics make for a wonderfully entertaining memoir, which also yields rare insights into some mysterious corners and personalities of the last century… told with the gift of comedy and a sincere good heart.
Ian Jack, Guardian columnist
Alex Mitchell’s impassioned memoir of a fifty-year, unique career in reporting politics takes us on an exciting and challenging journey from a North Queensland country newspaper to leading newspapers and current affairs television in the UK.
Brian Johns AO, former MD, Penguin, ABC & SBS
Alex Mitchell belongs to that small group of great Australian journalists who helped change the face of investigative journalism… Mitchell adds two special qualities to a fabulous life: a great heart, and a magical pen.
Carmen Callil, founder of Virago Press