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A Day Like Today

Memoirs
Narrated by: John Humphrys
Length: 13 hrs and 2 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (100 ratings)

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Summary

Read by John Humphrys, with extracts from his fiercest on-air interviews.

For more than three decades, millions of Britons have woken to the sound of John Humphrys’s voice.

As presenter of Radio 4’s Today, the nation’s most popular news programme, he is famed for his tough interviewing, his deep misgivings about authority in its many forms, and his passionate commitment to a variety of causes.

A Day Like Today charts John’s journey from the poverty of his post-war childhood in Cardiff, leaving school at 15, to the summits of broadcasting. Humphrys was the BBC’s youngest foreign correspondent, the first reporter at the catastrophe of Aberfan, an experience that marked him for ever; he was in the White House when Richard Nixon became the first American president to resign, in South Africa during the dying years of apartheid, and in war zones around the globe throughout his career. John was also the first journalist to present the Nine O’Clock News on television.

Humphrys pulls no punches and now, freed from the restrictions of being a BBC journalist, he reflects on the politicians he has interrogated and the controversies he has reported on and been involved in, including the interview that forced the resignation of his own boss, the director general. In typically candid style, he also weighs in on the role the BBC itself has played in our national life – for good and ill – and the broader health of the political system today.

A Day Like Today is both a sharp, shrewd memoir and a backstage account of the great newsworthy moments in recent history – from the voice behind the country’s most authoritative microphone.

©2019 John Humphreys (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Offers readers the best bits of an extraordinary – and lucky – life that canters through key moments of recent history...Humphrys even offers us glimpses of his human side off-mic." (Sunday Times, Best Books of the Year 2019)

"This is one of the best books ever written about our industry." (Piers Morgan)  

What listeners say about A Day Like Today

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Bloody fantastic

Wasn't sure when I first started listening and nearly returned it. So glad I didn't. Very interesting. The author narrates the book very well. well worth the listen

7 people found this helpful

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Gnarled old hack with a ringside seat to history

John Humphrys does not fit the mould of the majority of BBC newsmen. He is from a working class background in South Wales and did not go to university. Instead he worked his way up being a reporter on a local paper to eventually being the kingpin on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, a position that he held for 33 years. In this fascinating book he tells his story with his customary grumpy old man delivery; he becomes most animated in the chapters describing his days as a reporter, his description of the Aberfan tragedy is particularly poignant. He talks in depth of his days as a foreign correspondent for the BBC in Bangladesh and later the USA during the Watergate scandal and South Africa during apartheid and the Zimbabwean independence. John Humphrys can truly claim to have had a ringside seat to history during these times. On his return to London he did not take too well to being a BBC newsreader and it was his transition to radio where he really made his name. John Humphries talks about his deep seated mistrust of those in authority and his cynicism of the establishment and he relished his role as inquisitor in chief of politicians for three decades and this is the job for which he will be most remembered. I have always found there is a tendency for the Today programme to fall into the trap of wanting to create the news rather than reporting it and John Humphries does little to confound this, describing the show (and it IS just a radio show) as the "flagship current affairs programme on the BBC" and "the most prestigious radio programme in the country". Its listeners are notoriously both vociferous and loyal and the show has itself become part of established political regime that a young John Humphrys may well have detested.

4 people found this helpful

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revelatory

John Humphries: a name and a demeanour that a nation lived with for decades. Harrumphing and interrupting his way to be the nation's cynical consciousness, but with no obvious sign of conscience. He is angry and will always be angry. This book changed all that. It is a revelation, but not because Humphries wants it to be. He has his revenge on enemies (and some friends) and shows more reflection on his style, role and impact than most autobiographical works manage. He starts by parodying an interview with himself, which is a bit lame, but by the end he has roamed across journalism at home and abroad, the inner workings of the mighty BBC from foreign correspondent to Today host. He is clear eyed and critical of those in power, and reveals himself to be a man weighed down by a mighty chip on his shoulder about his origins, and a mission to tilt at every pompous windmill that comes his way. He sees himself as an aggressive voice of the underdog, but recognises that in doing so he became the voice of the establishment that he never felt he was from. I did not expect to like John Humphries - I once stood in a taxi queue behind him at Euston Station and he was impatient to the point of rudeness - but after hearing this, I did. I suspect that I ended up liking him quite a bit more than he likes himself.

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Very interesting read

A very good book, made even better because the author read it. He tells the story of some pivotal moments in history which kept me intrigued to the end.

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a great read

an interesting and thought provoking book. if you enjoy listening to today you will enjoy the many insights and questions that john humphrys shares and raises. Looking forward to his next book

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Brilliant

An enjoyable frank listen. Most informative from a man with morals, I wish there were more like him around today.

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excellent. entertaining & informative

content was very good; delivery unparalleled. John Humphreys is the man at the BBC and the conscience of the nation.

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  • rm
  • 25-04-20

Honest and brilliant

Many years ago, I read Moab is My Washpot by Stephen Fry.. Perhaps odd to say about an autobiography but its honesty and quality of writing actually made me want to go out and read more and more. Not necessarily by the same author. I'm no scholar but what I can say, as way of praise for A Day Like Today is that I hold it in the same regard as Fry's book: Candour and quality of writing as well as telling the author's story - especially their ups and downs make this an excellent listen. I detest reviews that drag on and on so I'll simply say that, whether you are a fan of the author or not, any fan of the BBC's Today programme, or anyone who believes power should be held to account will love this book. Beautifully written - and as you would expect - beautifully narrated as well.

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An amazing insight in to people & politics

An amazing insight in to the BBC, politics and people and what makes them all tick. John Humphrys takes us on a thoroughly absorbing guide behind the scenes at the BBC and it doesn't disappoint. The detail is amazing as is the slow sharpening of the butcher's knife as he prepares to fillet several high profile targets. The surgical precision is so silky that the poor sap in question has been cut in to a thousand microscopic pieces before you even realise what is going on. A superb book and one I'd thoroughly recommend.

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Great book

I listen to 4 or 5 books a month and this is the best one I’ve listened to in years. Well written, entertaining and well read by John too. An excellent book.