Max Hastings

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Max Hastings

Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings.jpg
Hastings in 2013
Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings

(1945-12-28) 28 December 1945 (age 77)
Lambeth, London, England
EducationUniversity College, Oxford
Occupation(s)Journalist, editor, author
  • Patricia Edmondson
    (m. 1972; div. 1994)
  • Penelope Levinson
    (m. 1999)
RelativesClare Hastings (sister)

Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings FRSL FRHistS (/ˈhstɪŋz/; born 28 December 1945)[1] is a British journalist and military historian,[2] who has worked as a foreign correspondent for the BBC, editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph, and editor of the Evening Standard. He is also the author of thirty books, most significantly histories, which have won several major awards. Hastings currently writes a bimonthly column for Bloomberg Opinion and contributes to The Times and The Sunday Times.

Early life[edit]

Hastings' parents were Macdonald Hastings, a journalist and correspondent, and Anne Scott-James, sometime editor of Harper's Bazaar.[3] He was educated at Charterhouse and University College, Oxford, which he left after a year.


Hastings moved to the United States, spending a year (1967–68) as a Fellow of the World Press Institute, following which he published his first book, America, 1968: The Fire This Time, an account of the US in its tumultuous election year. He became a foreign correspondent and reported from more than sixty countries and eleven wars for BBC1's Twenty-Four Hours current affairs programme and for the Evening Standard in London.

Hastings was the first person accompanying the British Task Force to enter Port Stanley on the last day of the 1982 Falklands War. After ten years as editor and then editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph, he returned to the Evening Standard as editor in 1996 and remained there until his retirement in 2002.[4] Hastings was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2002 Birthday Honours for services to journalism.[5] He was elected a member of the political dining society known as The Other Club in 1993.[6]

He has presented historical documentaries for the BBC and is the author of many books, including Bomber Command, which earned the Somerset Maugham Award for non-fiction in 1980. Both Overlord and The Battle for the Falklands won the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year prize. He was named Journalist of the Year and Reporter of the Year at the 1982 British Press Awards, and Editor of the Year in 1988. In 2010 he received the Royal United Services Institute's Westminster Medal for his "lifelong contribution to military literature", and the same year the Edgar Wallace Award from the London Press Club.[4]

In 2012, he was awarded the US$100,000 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award, a lifetime achievement award for military writing, which includes an honorarium, citation and medallion, sponsored by the Chicago-based Tawani Foundation.[7] Hastings is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and the Royal Historical Society. He was President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England from 2002 to 2007.

In his 2007 book Nemesis: The Battle for Japan, 1944–45 (known as Retribution in the United States), the chapter on Australia's role in the last year of the Pacific War was criticised by the chief of the Returned and Services League of Australia and one of the historians at the Australian War Memorial, for allegedly exaggerating discontent in the Australian Army.[8] Dan van der Vat in The Guardian called it "even-handed", "refreshing" and "sensitive" and praised the language used.[9] The Spectator called it "brilliant" and praised his telling of the human side of the story.[10]

Hastings wrote a column for the Daily Mail between 2002 and 2008 and often contributes articles to other publications such as The Guardian, and The Sunday Times. He also currently writes a bimonthly column for Bloomberg Opinion.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Hastings lives near Hungerford, Berkshire,[12] with his second wife, Penelope (née Levinson), whom he married in 1999. Hastings has a surviving son and daughter by his first wife, Patricia Edmondson, to whom he was married from 1972 until 1994.[3] In 2000, his 27-year-old first son, Charles, died by suicide in Ningbo, China.[12][13] He dedicated his book Nemesis: The Battle for Japan 1944–45, which was published in 2007, to Charles's memory.[14]

Political views[edit]

Hastings has at different times voted for all three major British political parties. He announced his support for the Conservative Party at the 2010 general election, having previously voted for the Labour Party at the 1997 and 2001 general elections. He said that "four terms are too many for any government" and described Gordon Brown as "wholly psychologically unfit to be Prime Minister".[15] At elections since he has voted for the Liberal Democrats.

In August 2014, Hastings was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[16]

In June 2019, Hastings described Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party leadership candidate, as "unfit for national office, because it seems he cares for no interest save his own fame and gratification ... [his] premiership will almost certainly reveal a contempt for rules, precedent, order and stability ... If the price of Johnson proves to be Corbyn, blame will rest with the Conservative party, which is about to foist a tasteless joke upon the British people – who will not find it funny for long."[17] He has continued along this line of argument throughout the Johnson premiership and he said that "the experiment in celebrity government to which the Conservative Party committed us has failed, and is seen by the world to have failed. The foremost task for a successor is to restore Britain's reputation as a serious country."[18]

In his Bloomberg column on 14 February 2021, Hastings wrote that the United Kingdom's future was unlikely to be long-term. He advocated a United Ireland but said he was against Scottish and Welsh independence.[19] Hastings was widely criticised for stating in the article that the Welsh language was of "marginal value" and that Wales could not succeed as an independent country because it was "dependent on English largesse". Huw Edwards said there were several factual errors in Hastings' points, while Fergus Llewelyn Turtle responded: "For the non-English part of the UK that is ... the most integrated with England, it's pretty astonishing how many English commentators have exactly zero political clue about Wales."[20]

In March 2021, Hastings wrote that the prospect of a showdown between the United States and China over Taiwan was becoming increasingly likely.[21]

Select bibliography[edit]


  • America 1968: The Fire this Time (Gollancz, 1969) ISBN 0-575-00234-4
  • Ulster 1969: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Northern Ireland (Gollancz, 1970) ISBN 0-575-00482-7
  • The Battle for the Falklands (with Simon Jenkins) (W W Norton, 1983) ISBN 0-393-01761-3, (Michael Joseph, 1983) ISBN 0-7181-2228-3




Countryside writing[edit]




See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hastings, Sir Max (Macdonald), (born 28 Dec. 1945), author and journalist". Who's Who. Who's Who & Who Was Who. Oxford University Press. 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U19444. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  2. ^ "Max Hastings", The Times
  3. ^ a b "Hastings, Sir Max (Macdonald), (born 28 Dec. 1945), author and journalist". Who's Who. 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.19444.
  4. ^ a b "Biography". Max Hastings. 18 January 2013. Archived from the original on 7 September 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  5. ^ "No. 56595". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 2002. p. 1.
  6. ^ Lloyd, John (29 July 1997). "Secret members of the Other Club". The Times. p. 13.
  7. ^ "Britain's Max Hastings wins $100K military writing prize". CBC News. 19 June 2012.
  8. ^ Walker, Frank (2 December 2007). "Mutinous jibe angers veterans". The Age. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
  9. ^ van der Vat, Dan (13 October 2007). "Review: Nemesis by Max Hastings". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  10. ^ Howard, Michael (3 October 2007). "The worst of friends". The Spectator. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Max Hastings - Bloomberg". Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  12. ^ a b Grice, Elizabeth (30 September 2011). "What makes military historian Max Hastings keep on writing about the Second World War?". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 1 June 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  13. ^ Guardian Staff (26 May 2000). "Son of Evening Standard editor dies in China". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  14. ^ Hastings, Max (2007). Nemesis: The Battle for Japan 1944–45. HarperPress. ISBN 978-0-00-721982-7. In memory of my son CHARLES HASTINGS 1973–2000
  15. ^ Hastings, Max (11 April 2010). "My vote". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories". The Guardian. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  17. ^ Hastings, Max (24 June 2019). I was Boris Johnson's boss: he is utterly unfit to be prime minister The Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  18. ^ Hastings, Max (6 February 2022). "Has this experiment in celebrity government given us the most disreputable leader in history?". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 6 May 2022.
  19. ^ Hastings, Max (14 February 2021). "There Will Always Be an England, But Not a U.K." Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  20. ^ "Huw Edwards slams former Telegraph editor for anti-Welsh language article". Nation Cymru. 15 February 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  21. ^ "America Is Headed to a Showdown Over Taiwan, and China Might Win". 14 March 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  22. ^ Steele, Jonathan (22 September 2018). "Vietnam by Max Hastings review – an effort to exonerate the US military". The Guardian.
  23. ^ "BBC Two - The Necessary War". BBC. Retrieved 19 December 2021.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by Editor of The Daily Telegraph
Succeeded by
Preceded by Editor of the Evening Standard
Succeeded by
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England
Succeeded by