Paxman’s autobiog – Reviewed

A Life in QuestionsA Life in Questions by Jeremy Paxman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An entertaining read. Written in a conventional linear style, Paxman’s lifestory is more surprising 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 seems…

In 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.

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