I am a historian, writer and mother.
Those are the three things that really matter to me. I wear several hats. Wearing my historian hat, I write about the Cold War. But this means more to me than ‘just’ history. The Cold War is a part of my life, it is my personal history too.
I have written about many subjects over the years. One that has been with me for a long time now is the use of the death penalty, particularly in the USA. I wrote a book about that more than 25 years ago, about one young black man who was executed in Mississippi. His story continues today.
Then there is my role as a mother and, these days, grandmother as well. I write about that too, about loss, and have done so since my elder daughter died of cancer aged 32. It’s another part of my personal history and one which links me to all those who have lost loved ones and grieve.
Writing is an essential part of me. For most of my life, I have earned my living by writing in books, newspapers, magazines and journals. Now I am also writing through my website.
My books are more than just words on a page. They are the story of my life. And they have lives of their own. They make things happen. I will tell you more about that on other pages, about the impact of writing on the world around us.
The Cold War: A Beginner's Guide
We continue to talk about the Cold War, more than 25 years after it was supposed to have ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. But what exactly was the Cold War? How did it happen, why did it end and what has been its impact? This short book aimed at the general reader throws light on some Cold War myths created during a conflict in which propaganda and deception were powerful weapons. Understanding the Cold War will help us to understand the world we live in today.
Communing With The Enemy
In this book I examine the little known secret role of British and German Christians in the Cold War. I have delved through the Stasi archives in the former East Germany and talked to some of those involved. Religion was used as a tool of psychological warfare with Christians tunnelling their way beneath the ideological barriers of the Cold War in the name of reconciliation.
Stepping Off The Map
This is one of the hidden stories of the Cold War, one in which I was directly involved. Four years after the building of the Berlin Wall, a group of young British men and women crossed through the Iron Curtain. Their mission was to help rebuild a war bombed hospital in Dresden, East Germany. The project was organised by a man with a vision, the then Provost of Coventry Cathedral. I was one of those who took part. The book recalls the experiences of the young British volunteers and describes the way in which taking part in the project has influenced the rest of their lives.
Life On Death Row
Foreword by Clive Stafford Smith
This is the story of a young British lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, and his fight to save the life of a young black man, Edward Johnson, in Mississippi. Edward was sentenced to death for killing a white law officer and was executed in 1987 after eight years on Death Row. Clive and many others believed Edward was innocent. Clive went on to defend others on Death Row in the USA. He is currently head of the human rights organisation Reprieve which he founded.
Wordsmith: The Gift of a Soul
My daughter Megan Young died from cancer aged 32. She was an equine veterinary surgeon and also a poet. In this book, I have used her poems to create an account of her life. Megan's poetry is powerful and profound. It speaks of those things that are common to us all - life and death, joy and pain, eternity and the soul. Her talent is to express these deep and complex thoughts in a language that is both beautiful and simple. Her writing is suffused with an awareness of the spirit yet it is grounded in the reality of her life as a scientist and equine vet.
Recent blog posts
Here are some blogs I have written recently. To see the complete collection of posts, see the blog .
Young people’s desire for peace and reconciliation remains as strong as it did sixty years ago when the German organisation Aktion Sühnezeichen was founded. At that time the aim was to send young volunteers to work in countries that had suffered during the Second World War. Today the organisation sends volunteers around the world and has broadened its mission to include fighting racism, discrimination and social exclusion.Read more ...
When my daughter Megan was dying of terminal cancer, she was adamant that at her funeral no-one should talk about her brave fight or use phrases such as ‘she died after a long battle with cancer’. This is not a battle, she told me. I am dying. A cancer charity says that the perceived idea that people need to fight cancer can have a negative effect.Read more ...
Invisible borders are everywhere. They divide not only different ethnic communities but those of differing social class as well. The anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King reminds me of the time I unwittingly crossed one such invisible border in Atlanta, Georgia.Read more ...
This week marks the 73rd anniversary of the British and US Second World War bombing raid on the German city of Dresden. The attack was controversial at the time and has remained so throughout the decades. Thousands of civilians died in a firestorm. There are questions about the morality of targeting civilians and about the need for the attack in February 1945 when the war was almost at an end. Soviet troops were only a few miles from the city which was crowded with refugees.Read more ...