Leo Varadkar

  • October 29, 2017 22:00
  • Biteback


Biteback has acquired world rights to the first biography of new Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. The book, written by journalists Philip Ryan and Niall O’Connor, will tell the inside story of how the son of an Indian immigrant battled against adversity and with his own sexuality to become the youngest, and first openly gay, Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland.

This will be the definitive account of how an outspoken young politician has shaped Ireland’s future by coming out as gay in full view of the public before going on to orchestrate a secret two-year campaign which saw him become the leader of the country.

Along the way, he put his political career on the line to defend police whistleblowers and survived an internal party purge after he backed the loser in a failed leadership heave against former Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.

In the book, family, friends and colleagues have for the first time provided an exclusive behind-the-scenes account of Mr Varadkar’s meteoric rise to power. Ryan and O’Connor, both prominent political correspondents working for Ireland’s biggest newspaper group, Independent News and Media, have spent months analysing in detail Mr Varadkar’s personal and political background to comprehensively tell the story of the most talked-about Irish politician in decades.

Iain Dale said: ‘The incredible life journey of Leo Varadkar is an inspiring tale of personal struggle and political intrigue. We are thrilled to be publishing the first biography of this extraordinary statesman.’

Leo: A Very Modern Taoiseach will be published in July 2018


The Greatest Comeback shortlisted for William Hill Sports Book of the Year

  • October 24, 2017 12:00
  • Biteback

Biteback is delighted to announce that The Greatest Comeback: From Genocide to Football Glory by David Bolchover has been shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2017. The book tells the story of Béla Guttmann, who survived the Holocaust and went on to become the world’s first superstar football coach.

Having narrowly dodged death by hiding for months in an attic near Budapest as thousands of fellow Jews in the neighbourhood were dragged off to be murdered, Guttmann later escaped from a slave labour camp. His father, sister and wider family perished at the hands of the Nazis.

But by 1961, as coach of Benfica, he had lifted one of football’s greatest prizes: the European Cup – a feat he repeated the following year. Rising from the death pits of Europe to become its champion in just over sixteen years, Guttmann performed the single greatest comeback in football history.


Praise for The Greatest Comeback:

“David Bolchover has produced a remarkable work: as a history book alone, it carries the reader through a hideous chunk of the twentieth century in the most deft and compelling way, while as a biography of a great football coach it is both original and definitive.” Patrick Barclay

“Moving, original, full of insight, this is a gripping tale told by a skilled storyteller.” Daniel Finkelstein

“David Bolchover has expertly woven one huge, tragic strand of twentieth-century history together with a great footballing story.” Henry Winter

“A remarkable life has the thoughtful, passionate biography it has long deserved."  When Saturday Comes



If the state provides less, who will provide more?

  • October 20, 2017 15:59
  • John Nickson

Cover 9781849548038If the state provides less, who will provide more?

This is an important question because the answer has implications for everyone.

Initially, my concern was for the voluntary sector and civil society.

How can our voluntary sector meet more demand as the state retreats?  Government support for charities is falling and some local authorities are losing 50% of their funding. According to the Charities Aid Foundation, charitable giving has not grown in real terms for decades despite a colossal increase in personal wealth.

Community Foundations ARE bucking the trend by increasing their endowments.  This, together with Big Lottery support for communities, is vital as nearly half of all small local charities say they may not exist within 5 years.  No doubt Dawn Austwick will comment on this.

BREXIT, the election of Trump, terrorism, record numbers of refugees, political extremism and the Grenfell Tower fire are forcing us to think beyond the needs of civil society and to the prospects for our democracy. 

We face serious challenges. For example;

There IS a growing wealth gap between rich and poor, between generations and between regions. This undermines communities and social cohesion.

Unaffordable housing threatens to become a catastrophe for the young.

There is rising incidence of mental illness, particularly amongst the young.

These are symptoms of political failure.

If we are serious about finding solutions, we should look to the beyond profit sector which has been a source of progressive change for centuries.

Today, the contribution made by philanthropy and social enterprise benefits everyone.

The ability of the NHS to look after us rests upon a bedrock of academic medicine and research that is almost entirely funded by charitable giving, note the Wolfson Foundation £20m grant for research into Alzheimers.

Pioneering research into the growing mental health problems of young people is being led by a new charity MQ, entirely funded by charitable giving.

The role of philanthropy in tertiary education is increasingly important, particularly for research and for those pursuing a vocational career. How else are we to create the intellectual capital needed to invest in our knowledge economy so that we can compete internationally with countries who invest far more than we do?

Our creative industries are one of the fastest growing parts of the economy yet our cultural achievements would be impossible without philanthropy and sponsorship.

Charity and philanthropy are addressing a particular aspect of inequality by empowering those from minorities, as Rushanara Ali will testify.

Charities are leading the way, as Chris Wright will remind us, in the reform of public services and their delivery by working in partnership with communities and the public and private sectors.

Philanthropy gave birth to social housing and we need more of both now.  Philanthropists have invested in academies because they understand the importance of education and the need to invest in it. We need new 21st century Peabodys to recreate the same sense of mission and legacy in terms of housing.

There are other ways to solve the housing crisis and to regenerate communities:  by social enterprise and community ownership. Look at east London.

 A community owned company was created in Poplar in the 1980’s that now has 9000 properties and runs a £1.7 billion regeneration programme by bringing housing, health and education all together.  Profits are returned to and reinvested in the community.

Following cuts to youth services, a philanthropic initiative in the north of England has led to a charitable enterprise in which local authorities are in partnership with local and national donors and volunteers.   Onside Youth Zones combat unemployment and deprivation, and empower 30,000 youngsters in some of our poorest towns. 

Philanthropy is convening public and private resources at a local level to meet local need and to unite communities.

Moreover, local authority money is committed without the ticking of boxes. This is real partnership between the sectors.

In conclusion, the key lessons I have learned are these:

The change we need is most likely to come from the bottom up rather than top down.

Philanthropy and social enterprise are not only for the rich and have the power to connect people to society and to their communities.

Neither the state nor any of the other sectors are able, on their own, to create the social, cultural and intellectual capital needed to sustain our society and economy.

Governments of both main parties have unrealistic expectations about the role of philanthropists and charities.

Politicians (present company excepted) need to understand that the state’s commitment to the common good is a prerequisite for philanthropists who WILL support the public sector but only within a genuine partnership.

Politicians also need to understand the limitations of the state and that the social investment we need is more likely to be generated by collaboration between all the sectors.

Of course philanthropy cannot solve everything but in partnership with the state and others, philanthropy can be a catalyst to generate positive social change.  We need more of it.

Our world is changing. Economically, politically and socially, this is a defining moment for Britain.  We must adapt.

If the state does less, we need an initiative that encourages more citizens to participate and do more, to empower communities and to heal division and disengagement.

Can we recreate a concept of the Common Good that inspires more of us and thereby ensures that future generations inherit a thriving, healthy society and liberal democracy?

And if so, how?

What do you think?


Our Common Good here for £20! 


The Man Who Was George Smiley

  • September 08, 2017 15:01
  • Biteback

John le Carré’s new book A Legacy of Spies, published this week, reintroduces his most celebrated character, and indeed one of the most iconic characters in the history of espionage fiction, George Smiley.

Le Carré revealed shortly before the Iraq War that the model for Smiley was the author and MI5 officer John Bingham, the 7th Baron Clanmorris. The Man Who Was George Smiley, Michael Jago’s brilliant account of Bingham’s life is not just the story of a perfect spy, it is also of a writer whose thrillers transcended the genre, exploring the emotions behind the darkest human behaviour.

As an intelligence officer the bespectacled Bingham had a deep influence on Le Carré, then a junior colleague in MI5. Like Smiley, Bingham was an expert interrogator. His understanding of the human psyche, demonstrated so brilliantly in his seventeen novels, persuaded his subjects to give up the intelligence they were holding deep inside.

He took part in many of MI5’s greatest wartime and Cold War operations, from the Double Cross operation that ensured the success of D-Day, through the tracking of Soviet spies in Cold War Britain to the monitoring of Lord Lucan and others planning a right-wing coup in the 1970s. As Le Carré said, ‘Nobody who knew John and the work he was doing could have missed the description of Smiley in my first novel.’

Buy the paperback edition here at special price £5.99




A Nightmare Called North Korea

  • September 04, 2017 14:19
  • Biteback Publishing


When JP Floru tags along with three friends running the marathon in Pyongyang, little could have prepared him for what he witnessed.

Shown by two minders what the regime wants them to see during their nine-day trip, the group is astounded when witnessing people bowing to their leaders' statues; being told not to take photos of the leaders' feet; and hearing the hushed reverence with which people recite the history invented by the regime to keep itself in power.

Often, the group did not understand what they were seeing: from the empty five-lane motorway to the missing fifth floor of their Yanggakdo Hotel on an island in the Pudong River; many answers only came through extensive research of the few sources that exist about this hermit country.

Shocking and scary, The Sun Tyrant uncovers the oddities and tragedies at the heart of the world's most secretive regime, and shows what happens when a population is reduced to near-slavery in the twenty-first century.


by J.P. FLORU. Buy it here with 30% off RRP