Originally a newspaper historian (funded projects at the University of Kent on the Daily Herald, the cartoonist David Low, and The New Statesman Portrait of a Political Weekly 1913-31), in due course my research shifted to a focus on civil-military relations, and on the impact of ‘industrial war’ on twentieth-century British society. There followed a management study of defence decision-making in Whitehall from Churchill to Thatcher (1996), and later a two volume biography of Admiral Lord Mountbatten: Mountbatten Apprentice War Lord (2010) and Mountbatten, Cold War and Empire, 1945-79 (2022).
My two other biographies focus upon scientific and technological change in time of war and peace, with specific reference to the British aircraft industry: Mick Mannock, Fight Pilot: Myth, Life and Politics (2000), and The Man Who Built The Swordfish The Life of Sir Richard Fairey (2018). Both books challenge the ‘declinist’ view of British industry in the last century, as did my award-winning article on the making of David Lean’s The Sound Barrier (HJFRT, 2010)
An interest in popular culture is reflected in a collection of essays The City of Coventry A Twentieth Century Icon (2006), and a 2020 book and podcast on music and progressive politics in the United States: Slouching Towards Big Pink Essays on Bob Dylan and The Band, Woody Guthrie, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. My work as a sport historian has included two co-edited books – Amateurs and Professionals in Post-War British Sport (2000) and Sport and National Identity in the Post-war World (2004) – and numerous essays and articles on rugby union in both the northern and the southern hemispheres.
In addition, I write for the New Statesman, Progressive Review, and specialist magazines such as History Today and The Historian.