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 .
Coventry, UK City of Culture 2021 Some people seem to be scratching their heads, asking themselves why Coventry has been chosen as UK City of Culture 2021. British people that is. What doesn’t seem to be realised is that Coventry is an international city, its name resonating with people around the world. Its message of peace and reconciliation is heard by thousands in other countries and has done so since the building of the inspirational new cathedral consecrated in 1962. Community of the Cross of Nails People and organisations are linked through the Coventry based Community of the Cross of … Read more …
Paul Oestreicher has played a significant role in my life every since I first went to East Germany in the 1960s to take part in the Coventry Cathedral project of reconciliation in Dresden. At that time, I did not know him, or know of the behind the scenes role he had played in enabling this project to take place between Britain and East Germany – two countries on the opposite side of the Iron Curtain. Paul was a leading Cold War peace campaigner and has continued to espouse this cause, renewing his call for a peaceful world in a speech … Read more …
The other weekend I met up with an eclectic group of people who had one thing in common – Exmoor ponies. Given the chance many of them would have spent the whole day sitting there chatting about Exmoor ponies, telling their personal stories about this fascinating breed. We were there because a woman who shares this Exmoor pony passion in spades has spent the past few years collecting some of these stories together and has just published them in a book – The Exmoor Pony Chronicles. Sue Baker has been deeply involved with Exmoor ponies for much of her life. She caught the bug when she researched the ecology of free-living Exmoor ponies for her PhD in the late 1970s.Read more ...
It is a traumatic moment for most of us when friends or family are diagnosed with cancer. Very often, one of the first things we will ask is this: what type of cancer do you have? By this we mean is it breast cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer and so on. But sometimes the answer to that questions is: I don’t know. For the last ten years a small charity has focussed its efforts on making people aware of a type of a cancer where it proves difficult and sometimes impossible to identify the site of the primary tumour. That’s when the answer to the question is: I don’t know. Why does this matter? It matters because …Read more ...