A debut novel in the vein of Greene and le Carré, A Dying Breed is a brilliant and gripping story of the politics of news reporting, intrigue and blood set between the dark halls of Whitehall, the shadowy corridors of the BBC and the perilous streets of Kabul, in the shadowy le Carré-esque world of foreign correspondents reporting from war zones around the world.
Carver, an old BBC hack, is warned off a story when a bomb goes off, killing a local official in Kabul, but his instincts tell him something isn't quite right, and he won't give up until he finds the truth. A junior producer sent out from London to control him is kidnapped, and as the story unravels it looks like there's collusion between the local consul, Whitehall and someone in the BBC to ensure the real story never sees the light of day.
©2016 Peter Hanington (P)2016 Hodder & Stoughton
"A tremendous novel - shot-through with great authenticity and insider knowledge - wholly compelling and shrewdly wise." (William Boyd)
"A Dying Breed is a deeply insightful, humane, funny and furious novel. This is both a timely reflection on how Britain does business and a belting good read." (A. L. Kennedy)
"A compelling read, and a great insider's view of life in broadcast journalism. I'm disappointed I am not to feature in the book: it is a brilliant read." (Evan Davis)
"Buy this book. Find a quiet place. Switch off your phone and devour it. Hanington's ability to wrap a story around the ghosts of truth is superb. He spins his tale with a true writer's gift. I loved every minute in this book's company." (Fi Glover, BBC Radio 4 presenter)
"Peter is that rare commodity in the journalistic fraternity...a natural storyteller. You really want to turn the pages. And that's what matters." (John Humphrys)
"A deeply intelligent, beautifully constructed story." (Will Gompertz, BBC arts editor)
"All journalists seem to think they can write great novels about journalism and 99% of those who try make a hash of it. Hanington is in the 1%. Having created believable characters caught up in the hell that is Afghanistan, he weaves a story that manages to excite, appall and instruct in equal measure. And it reveals one of the trade's most important differences: the chasm that exists between horizontal journalism and vertical journalism." (Roy Greenslade, Guardian and Evening Standard columnist and commentator)
"A Dying Breed is a gripping, fast-moving tale of shifting loyalties and creeping betrayal.... Hanington connects the inner-workings and skullduggery of the BBC's London headquarters to the quiet, menacing stillness of the deserts of Central Asia, where the story turns dramatically and violently in a heartbeat and builds to its tempestuous, thrilling conclusion.... A page turner from the first line - and full of insights, some chilling, some hilariously well-observed - into the murky worlds of the war on terror, the secret intelligence services, and the mainstream British news media." (Allan Little, former BBC foreign correspondent and chair of the Edinburgh International Book Festival)
A man with a child in his ears
An excellent debut from Peter Hanington. This is a book of gritty realism pitching characters who are built carefully into strong personalities without being imbued with unrealistic talents or capabilities. The main protagonist William Carver is as cynical an old hack as you can imagine. A man who knows the ropes, a solid journalist but with his significant weaknesses too, especially when he's had a few and women are involved! The other characters are likewise built into well-rounded individuals with conflicting motivations and often not quite enough talent to achieve all they would want to. Hanington avoids the usual clichés of having clever young thing trying to outwit older character and vice versa in a joint smugness contest. We've all read far too many of those!
The story is not a sentimental one. It's about how money and politics dominate foreign policy and the behaviour of those in power. However, it's told with what I felt was a genuine and warm affinity to the region and its troubles. I am certainly no expert but throughout the book seemed to ooze authenticity whether it was scenes within the hallowed halls of British institutions like the BBC or the shadowy underworld of Kabul. I particularly enjoyed Baba and his fountain!
The narration by Jonathan Keeble captures the essence of the book with real aplomb. His William Carver is as perfect as I could imagine and he carries the tension and excitement expertly to the book's very satisfying conclusion. His down to earth delivery re-enforces the realism of the characters Hanington has crafted for this story.
This is one of those rare books. It promised a lot and it delivered what it promised. If the description of the story from the publisher appeals to you then I have high confidence you'll enjoy this one.
Kildonan by the sea
“In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” George Orwell
A book about a country that is 99.8% islamic and has grown some of the most violent islamist groups, was involved and is involved on the global islamist struggle, but without a single mention of Islam, has to be a kind of achievement. The taliban is but a mention, a book that mentions every invasion but the most significant one in the seventh century the Rashidun Caliphate Arabs that propagated the islamic religion that rules the afghanistan today. This book has all the marks of BBC approved tale where were the words islam or islamist are taboo if not a complete crime thought.
Let's start with the character in this book all the english or western men are morally weak if not totally devoid of morality, militaristic buffoons, drug dependant if not addicted or devoid of humanity, the only westerners with some redemption are two old reporter that drink too much and are ready to commit suicide, for their past sins. On the other hand the afghan men are loyal, wise, good nature, peace loving warriors forced into conflict by evil westerners. The western women fair a little better because they are powerless hores, frigid wifes, or devout girlfriends, now the afghan women span the spectrum from beautiful to handsome, loyal, good cooks, even creators of beautiful english gardens, or managers of businesses; no mention is made of the inequities between the sexes in this society, if anything this women are as free western women. The worst character of the afghanistan men is the general he sells heroin by the tons to the decadent west but justifiably so. He loved his wife and some taliban men not connected to the larger organisation raped and killed her, we know this because he tells a westerner he castrated them and burned them alive but they never gave up the larger org, and so the taliban is not guilty; but even this brutal crime is justified by his love of a woman that was beautiful and saintly good, and the drug trafficking is justified because it is good business and it creates jobs among the poor peasants; no mention is made of the practice of warlords to enslave peasants or their children to produce the opiate or the larger problem it brings to the entire region.
This is a world where the west is inherently evil and the other people are good; no intelligent discussions of politics can be had because the reason for the west presence are presented without a realistic history background or geopolitical realities and complex motivations that exist in the region, this is because of the Voldemort rule (never mention islam or islamist) that eliminates the possibility of creating a complex rich story, where people not caricatures can develop.
The only reason I have given this review the length it has is because it is being reviewed as a good book, when in reality it is entertaining propaganda that in some cases I felt was verging on racist. I say this without being a member of any of the ethnic groups in the book, but based on the world I inhabit and the history I have witnessed and the one we share in books with all its imperfections. This is not a fair representation or a realistic representation of our world but a skewed Regressive Left point of view.
“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
― George Orwell
Absolutely brilliant, I could not stop listening. As always, beautifully narrated by one of the finest readers of audio books, Jonathan Keeble who enhances the story to define and bring to life each character for the listener. After this listen the author will definitely be in my favourites list.
I'm so glad I was not put off by one of the reviewers who made a biased and in my opinion a needless unwarranted attack on the contents, characters and storyline. When I finished listening I actually read the negative review again and reached the conclusion that the person had been listening to a different book to the one I and the other reviewers had been listening to.
Please do not be deterred from listening to 'A Dying Breed' you will not be disappointed. I can highly recommend it and look forward to another Peter Hanington story, especially if it is read by Jonathan Keeble.
I am an ardent fan of Audible and have hundreds in my library not all in the same league as this one. So for anyone who may be hesitating, download, put your feet up, have a coffee and enjoy.
This just didn't do it for me. It was a struggle to finish it actually. Not very thrilling and the characters were very simplistic.
The characters. I didn't really care about any of them and some were verging on the caricature.
After reading so many positive reviews I was rather dismayed at how disappointed I was with this book.
Retired lady who loves books, now unable to read them I have found the magic world of audio and love listening to them whenever I can:)
Not my normal choice of reading material but have to say that this was really good - varied, exciting, and nail biting chapters, historical
facts and an insight into the world today and the dangers of reporting events -
First class storyline with outstanding narration (how does he do all those different and convincing voices without getting them mixed up?)
It's hard to believe this is a first novel but given Hanington's experience and background he is clearly adept at telling a story. To any radio 4 fan and especially Today fans this also provides an entertaining insight into the inner workings of the BBC with believable characters and a somewhat cynical humour. I hope there are many more to follow.
Born and named Che Linton Palk in Andover Hospital, Hampshire, one cold January morning 1976.
Very well thought out story of modern journalism and espionage crossing swords. A great listen
"Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene Return"
It has been a long time since I read or listened to a novel that conjures a sense of waning Empire (British). The foci of this novel is a not-quite-burntout BBC radio journalist (of the old school). He stumbles upon a plot to extract profit in a war-torn region through nefarious means. Since the plotters are Brits, and he is BBC, there is tension revolving around which side of the politico-economic coin each character resides.
A great deal of classic literature written by Conrad, Greene, W. Somerset Maugham, and George Orwell (Burma years) expose' similar themes. Peter Hanington reawakens our questions about Empire, contemporarily known as "economic interests," by setting us in the heart of a former minor (but failed) jewel in the crown, Afghanistan.
This is not an "in your face" dissertation of capitalism run-amok. It is a story, well-told, of opportunism and malefactors that do the bidding of corporations.
I give this novel two Khyber Rifles up!
"A gripping story, I just could not put it away."
I would recommend this book because it portrays the middle east as a complicated area with cultural and economic aspects that perhaps we westerners are not capable of understanding. We seem arrogant when we try to manage or make what we call improvement to Afghanistan when we have little in common historically,culturally and spiritually.
The Afghanistan Warlord,has a story and a point of view that is understandable, that while it
doesn't make him a sympathetic person or justify his activities, I could see that he too has a
humanity. For example the Warlord was concerned about a young relative that he was helping. When the young man was killed, the Warlord wanted to know how and by whom.
The Americans and English thought that the Warlord had economic issues the Warlord was
trying to advance. The Americans and the English and the Warlord were working at cross purposes.
I have heard his name before, but I can't remember anything of his that I have listened to
before. He is excellent.
I had a very difficult tine, setting this book aside,so I get ready for work, sleep or other duties. I still finished it in 2 days.
A really great listen; engaging, with plenty of characters you could picture in your head while cheering or cursing them.
I felt like this was a good story set in Afghanistan, rather than a mediocre story dressed up in a foreign locale. I look forward to listening to other stories by the author.
"Undying Breed Of Writing"
To a friend who loves the writing of certain authors, this would be like discovering Graham Greene at his best is still with us. Totally unexpected. Despite the many rave reviews for other contemporary writers who work in "spy-espionage-intrigue," I honestly thought writing with this depth of character and love of language was gone. So...to the lover of Greene, Le Carre, and Cruz Smith at their finest, this is for you.
I like all kinds of stories, but in this, no one was left behind. It was Chekov's Gun done beautifully.
See my answer above. Every character was believable and loved - as much as we hated them. Jonathan Keeble was perfectly matched to the text. I loved listening. He gave the book a fantastic performance.
William Carver went from despicable to heroic. The rogue Afghan commander was terrifically complex. The housekeeper for the British Embassy... I found them all memorable. I know how that sounds...
Two things: when the story became exciting, the narrator became excited and it was sometimes difficult to stay in the narrative dream. Also, the British black ops "villain" was a bit too thinly drawn when compared to all the other characters.
I debated putting up a review for a few weeks, but I find I still feel strongly this is a very remarkable audio book.
"worth every penny"
A great story filled with complex and compelling characters brought to life by a phenomenal narrator.
I'll wait in anticipation for another story from Peter Hanington. I really enjoyed this debut novel for the quality of the story, and the colour of the characters: Babar the wedding venue host, and Donny the BBC cleaner being two examples highly enjoyable bit-players to the central story.
Jonathan Keeble is a fine narrator, but I invite him to spend a little time in Australia to polish his Australian Special Forces officer accent ;-)
Grab this and listen with pleasure.
"Five Star Story"
Well developed characters. Interesting story. Great setting--Afghanistan. A page turner. The reader makes the characters come alive.
"Espionage a la John Le Carre"
If you like your espionage at a pace and with the depth of John Le Carre you will love this debut novel. Terrific characters, current issues and great narration by one of the best. Afghanistan is the setting hand Hannington puts you right there as well as some background surrounding the conflicts that have occurred there. Just didn't want this novel to end.
"excellent narration, good story"
I enjoyed the book, though it was slow-going at times. The narration, though, was extraordinary, perhaps the best I have heard. I will look for more work by this narrator.
"Engaging story on so many levels"
The story is exciting and informative. Interesting characters, descriptive geography, detailed current events. Hooray for journalists and journalism!!
The narrator is fabulous.
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