Book Reviews: Punching out the Points; Shooting History: A Personal Journey, by Jon Snow, HarperCollins, Pounds 20

Article excerpt

I t was an unusual experience to meet and interview Jon Snow while I was still only threequarters of the way through Shooting History. I had warmed to his writing style, which seemed a little at odds with his broadcasting persona. Quite rightly lauded as one of the most incisive and watchable television journalists of his generation, I was intrigued to meet Snow in person to see whether the pen or the microphone provided the bigger clue to what type of man he is.

The truth is, they both do. He is the serious-minded, hard-nosed journalist and interviewer who has headed Channel 4 News for almost two decades. But he is also the witty, mildly eccentric and utterly engaging writer who shines through in this book.

When I met up with him, he was keen to emphasise the fact that this is not an autobiography - at least not in the traditional sense. He needn't have worried, as I had gathered that fairly early on.

But it does need to be clarified. Rather than being the story of a journalist's eventful life and career, it is an agenda-setting work that might not sit very easily with many. Yet, equally, it is one which will find a large and receptive audience, a bit like the man himself and the news programme he presents.

He cleverly uses his own personal experiences and insights gained while being present at some of the major events in modern world history to argue a particular point - basically, we are currently in one unholy mess and unless something happens soon to sort it out we're in big trouble.

Hailing from an ultraEstablishment background - his father was a bishop and a bit of a snob by the sound of things - the boy Snow harboured ambitions to be a Tory MP. This might cause consternation among those more familiar with the image he has nurtured with Channel 4, as a caring, sharing, snarling Rottweiler of an interviewer when needs be. …