Colin Smith (journalist)

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Colin Smith is a British foreign-affairs journalist and military historian.

Life and Career[edit]

Smith was born in Birmingham, England in 1944. For 26 years he worked for The Observer newspaper, of which he was an Assistant Editor, mainly reporting on wars and trouble spots from all over the world starting, in 1971, with the Bengali uprising in what was then East Pakistan. He visited Cambodia and Vietnam during the closing stages of American withdrawal and remained in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) after Vietnamese communist forces entered the city. Later he mainly covered the Middle East, based first in Nicosia, then Cairo and Jerusalem and spending a considerable amount of time (1975–84) in Lebanon.

He reported on the first Gulf War, entering Kuwait City with the US Marines, the siege of Sarajevo, and the massacres in Rwanda. He has twice been named International Reporter of the Year in the British press awards and once runner up. His books include fiction and non-fiction among them "The Last Crusade", a novel set against the backcloth of General Allenby's 1917 campaign against the Ottoman Turks in Palestine which resulted in the capture of Jerusalem.

In 2005, Viking Penguin published his "Singapore Burning". It is an unusual account of the fall of Singapore to Japan's General Tomoyuki Yamashita in February 1942 in that it concentrates on the bitter rearguard actions Australians, UK British and British Indian Army troops fought down the Malayan peninsula in the two months that preceded the surrender and takes a more sympathetic view of the British commander Arthur Percival than is usually the case. It was generally well received, with some lavish praise for its writing and research. However, some Australian critics took issue with his allegations that the speed with which Yamashita overran Singapore itself - it took exactly a week - can be explained by the mass desertion of Australian troops.

His next book was also inspired by World War Two. 'England's Last War Against France", which was published in 2009, is a history of the British (and ultimately the Anglo-American) campaigns against the Vichy French between 1940–42. It includes an entertaining account of the little-known invasion of Vichy Madagascar and in Britain received enthusiastic reviews from historians Andrew Roberts and Sir Max Hastings.

See also[edit]


  • Carlos - Portrait of a Terrorist. 1976, revised edition 1995.[1]
  • Cut Out (novel). 1979. [2]
  • The Last Crusade (novel). 1990.[3]
  • Fire in the Night: Wingate of Burma, Ethiopia and Zion (with John Bierman). 1999.[4]
  • Alamein - War Without Hate (with John Bierman). 2002.[5]
  • Singapore Burning - Heroism and Surrender in World War Two. Viking Penguin, London, 2005. ISBN 0-14-101036-3. [6]
  • England's Last War Against France - Fighting Vichy 1940-42, Weidenfeld,2009 [7][7]

About Colin Smith