Eddie Jones Biography Wins Rugby Book of the Year
Eddie Jones Autobiography

Eddie Jones and I won the rugby book of the year today for his autobiography. Here he is - kindly foisting the credit onto the publishers Macmillan and me.

This was a real team effort over three years – and an interesting book for me to write with Eddie Jones.

Eddie Jones Autobiography published today
Eddie Jones Autobiography published today

Eddie Jones's autobiography is published today. We began working on the book in late 2016 and it covers the tumultuous story of Eddie Jones’s life and career – from the internment camps endured by his mother in World War II to his early years in Sydney to his playing career and then the last 23 years of working as a professional coach in Australia, Japan, South Africa and England and taking us all the way up to the November 2019 World Cup final in Yokohama. Published by Macmillan, the book has already been serialised in The Times and the Sunday Times.

William Hill Sports Book of the Year Shortlist
William Hill Sports Book of the Year Shortlist

My book In Sunshine or in Shadow is on the shortlist for the 2019 William Hill Sports Book of the Year. It’s the fifth sports book I have written under my name – following Dark Trade, Winter Colours, In Black & White and A Man’s World. Over the course of 23 years all five books have made the William Hill shortlist – with Dark Trade and In Black & White going on to win. It means a lot to make the shortlist again alongside some very good books.

Eddie Jones Autobiography
Eddie Jones Autobiography

I have spent the last three years working with Eddie Jones on his autobiography. The book will be published on 21 November 2019 by Macmillan.

Jones is one of the world's great rugby coaches. He has won World Cup and Super Rugby finals – and the Grand Slam with England. In 2003 he was coach of the Australia team that lost the World Cup final to England in the last minute of extra time. Four years later he was the main assistant coach to Jake White as South Africa won the World Cup by beating England in Paris. He created a new style of rugby with the ACT Brumbies in the early years of professionalism and inspired the greatest shock in World Cup history when he coached Japan to victory over South Africa in 2015.

The book is not an ordinary sporting biography. The narrative is driven by a layered story which begins with his mother, Nellie, who was separated from her father for four years in a World War II internment camp. As Japanese-American citizens they were sent to different 'Relocation Centres' after Pearl Harbor. President Franklin D Roosevelt called them concentration camps. Nellie and her family moved to Japan after the war and settled near Hiroshima soon after the city had been devastated by the atomic bomb. She met Ted Jones, an Australian soldier, who was part of the occupation forces and they eventually married and went to Tasmania.

Eddie Jones grew up with his family in a working-class suburb of Sydney. His best friends throughout his primary and high school years were the three Ella brothers – Mark, Glen and Gary. They were Aborigines and all went on to play for Australia. Jones' pain at missing out on international selection as a player drove him on to become one of the world's leading coaches over the last 25 years.

His career has been as tumultuous as it has been successful, with many highs and lows. He is one of the brightest and most demanding coaches in world sport – and the book examines the psychology of elite sport as well as the challenges and pleasures of such consuming work.

Jones will coach England in the 2019 World Cup in Japan. The tournament runs from 20 September to 2 November. The book's final chapter will be set in Japan – a country which has meant so much to Jones and his family.

New Book:
In Sunshine Or In Shadow
New Book: In Sunshine Or In Shadow

My eleventh book, In Sunshine or in Shadow: How Boxing Brought Hope in the Troubles, will be published this month, on 30 May 2019.

Simon & Schuster have sent out this press release:

Multi-award-winning author Donald McRae's stunning new book is a powerful tale of hope and redemption across the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland - thanks to boxing.

At the height of the Troubles, Gerry Storey ran the Holy Family gym from the IRA's heartland territory of New Lodge in Belfast. Despite coming from a family steeped in the Republican movement, he insisted that it would be open to all. He ensured that his boxers were given a free pass by paramilitary forces on both Republican and Loyalist sides, so they could find a way out of the province's desperate situation. In the immediate aftermath of the 1981 Hunger Strikes, Storey would also visit the Maze prison twice a week to train the inmates from each community, separately.

In itself, this would be a heroic story, but Storey went further than that: he became the trainer for world champion Barry McGuigan and Olympian Hugh Russell, who became one of the most famous photographers to document the Troubles. Even with all his success and the support of both sides, Storey still found himself subjected to three bomb attacks from those who were implacably hostile to any form of reconciliation. He also worked with the Protestant boxer Davy Larmour, who fought two bloody battles in the ring against Russell, his Catholic friend. At the same time, in Derry, the British and European lightweight champion Charlie Nash fought without bitterness after his brother was killed and his father was shot on Bloody Sunday – the most infamous day of the conflict.

Now, Donald McRae reveals the extraordinary tale of those troubled times. After years of research and intimate interviews with the key characters in this story, he shows us how the violent business of boxing became a haven of peace and hope for these remarkable and compassionate men. In Sunshine or in Shadow is an inspirational story of triumph over adversity and celebrates the reconciliation that can take place when two fighters meet each other in the ring, rather than outside it.

Sports Feature Writer of the Year
Sports Feature Writer of the Year

Last night I won the Sports Feature Writer of the Year for the second year in a row at the Sports Journalists’ Association Awards in London. The judges were kind enough to highlight "elegant writing, drawing the reader along effortlessly, keeping us engaged about subjects we thought we had little interest in." This is my sixth SJA award - with three Feature Writer of the Year awards matching my three earlier Interviewer of the Year wins in a category that no longer exists. Thanks to everyone who helps me so much at The Guardian and The Observer and to all the people who grant me interviews and allow me to write about them.

Dark Trade: US Publication
Dark Trade: US Publication

Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing is published in America for the first time today. The original book was published in the UK in 1996 and, 22½ years later, it means a great deal to me that Hamilcar Publications, in Boston, are releasing Dark Trade in the US. It has taken a long time to reach this point, and numerous other editions of the book have been published over the years in the UK. Much thanks to Kyle Sarofeen and Andy Komack of Hannibal/Hamilar for their belief in Dark Trade.

This new US edition includes a 20,000 word update.

Featuring a new cover, with a painting of James Toney by the renowned boxing artist Amanda Kelley, and with support from Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Hauser and Steve Kim on the back, I hope that Dark Trade will enjoy a new and long life in America - where so much of the book is set.

Sports Feature Writer of the Year
Sports Feature Writer of the Year

Earlier this week I won the Sports Feature Writer of the Year at the Sports Journalists' Association Awards in London. The judges were kind enough to say: "As a profile writer he is without peer," and that my work shows "a rare sensitivity as well as writing style across areas as diverse as MMA, being gay in sport and mental health issues... he is an incredibly warm and empathetic interviewer who writes with verve and bite." This is my fifth SJA award – and thanks go to all the people who grant me interviews and allow me to write about them.

More In Common at number one
Jo Cox: More In Common

More In Common is at number one in the Sunday Times Best-Sellers List this week.

The publication of Jo Cox: More In Common
Jo Cox: More In Common

Today marks the publication of More In Common – a memoir of Jo Cox. It has been an unforgettable experience to co-write the book with Brendan Cox, Jo’s husband. As sad and distressing as some of our interviews have been we have also shared laughter and amazement at many of their adventures while Jo was still alive. I would also like to thank Jo’s family and friends for all the help they gave us. It was very special for me to get to know Gordon and Jean Leadbeater, Jo's sister Kim, as well as Brendan’s parents Gordon and Sheila.

'A desperately tender account ... part love story, part grief memoir ... resolutely uplifting' [Decca Aitkenhead, The Guardian]

'Jo’s selfless service to others made the world a better place.' [Barack Obama]

Twelve translations so far
Book translations

It had to be written in an almost impossible twelve weeks but, so far, there have been twelve translations of Steven Gerrard's book in languages ranging from Japanese to Russian, Thai to Finnish, Indonesian to Norwegian, Korean to Bulgarian. Some of the diverse editions are seen above.

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Thanks to Brian Strahan for interviewing me for his website today.

Talking On The Job: Donald McRae
The Con

"Talk less, unlike me here, and write more, as often as you can." In our latest interview with established journalists, Donald McRae speaks about his path to becoming one of the world's finest sports writers.

Read the article in full here:

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On 10 September Simon & Schuster published A Man’s World: The Double Life of Emile Griffith. Michael Joseph/Penguin publish Steven Gerrard’s autobiography on 24 September. This will be, I am sure, the first and only time in my writing life that two books I’ve written are published in the same month.

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It’s been a pleasure and a privilege working with Steven Gerrard on his autobiography. I am writing the book but Gerrard leads us through every exhilarating high and bruising low of his 27 years at Liverpool. It is a career full of contrast and drama.

There is depth and pathos, too, because Steven Gerrard is a one-club man who joined the Liverpool academy at the age of eight. While English football has turned itself inside out, undergoing enormous upheaval, often fuelled by greed and selfishness, Gerrard has stayed constant. He played 710 games for Liverpool and earned 114 caps for England.

Many of the goals are incredible while the biggest games are riveting. His very public long goodbye is often painful, always moving. But the grittier, far more private details are the most powerful. The cast of characters offer intriguing and revealing insights into the addictive soap-opera of modern football – from Luis Suárez to Brendan Rogers, José Mourinho to Rafa Benítez, Paolo Maldini to Andea Pirlo, Fernando Torres to Raheem Sterling, the list is richly varied.

Gerrard’s connection to Liverpool is marked by the tragedy of Hillsborough and the fact that his cousin, 10 year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley, was the youngest of the 96 Liverpool fans who died on 15 April 1989. After all the lies and cover-ups, Justice for the 96 has moved closer over the last 18 months.

There is plenty of laughter too, especially in Gerrard’s days as a YTS apprentice at Liverpool. In the end the biggest days and the grandest nights hold sway. Two Champions League finals, World Cups and European Championships, FA Cup winning goals and games against AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Olympiakos and Everton come to life all over again.

The Steven Gerrard autobiography will be published by Penguin Random House on 24 September 2015.

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A MAN’S WORLD: The Double Life Of Emile Griffith to be published by Simon & Schuster on 10 September 2015

On 24 March 1962, when Emile Griffith stepped into the ring at Madison Square Garden to defend his world welterweight title against Benny Paret, he was filled with rage. During the weigh-in, the Cuban challenger had denounced Griffith as a ‘faggot’. In boxing’s macho world there could be no greater insult. At a time when homosexuality was illegal and officially classified as a serious mental illness, Paret’s insinuation could have had dangerous consequences for Griffith – especially as it was true.

Griffith had once dreamed of becoming a milliner who made pretty hats for ladies. But, in the infamous fight, he pounded Paret into unconsciousness.

The Cuban would die soon afterwards, leaving Griffith haunted by what he had done. Despite this, he went on to become a five-time world champion – and fought more world championship rounds than any other boxer in history in a career that lasted for almost 20 years. 

He also lived a double life as he visited New York’s gay bars and clubs. Griffith was black, so doubly damned by contemporary society, but he refused to cower away. Muhammad Ali, Frank Sinatra, Sugar Ray Robinson, Bob Dylan, Joe Frazier and others were fascinated by Griffith’s dark nights in the ring – while gay men and transvestites celebrated their secret hero.

Written in elegant and gripping prose, and intricately researched by the award-winning author Donald McRae, A Man’s World tells the unforgettable, deeply moving story of Emile Griffith’s life in and outside the ring. It is a true story made uplifting by its courage, humour and daring. In his first sports book in more than a decade, McRae weaves a compelling tale of triumph over prejudice.

‘Hey, maricón,’ Paret said in a cooing lisp, ‘I’m gonna get you and your husband.’

The Cuban’s corner roared. They had seen how the words hurt Griffith.

Emile was about to hit Paret harder than he had hit anyone before when Clancy dived between the fighters. He wrapped his wiry Rockaway Beach arms tightly around Emile.

‘Save it for tonight, Emile,' he hissed.

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Donald McRae returns to the boxing world

Almost twenty years on since his classic account of boxing, Dark Trade, was published, Donald McRae is returning to the sport that helped make his reputation. His new book, due to be published in 2015, is called A Man’s World: The Double Life of Emile Griffith. It tells the extraordinary story of Griffith, a six-time world champion boxer in the 1960s and ’70s, who lived a double life as a gay man in the macho world of boxing. Before his most notorious fight, against Benny Paret, Griffith was taunted about his hidden sexuality, and in the ring he knocked the Cuban into unconsciousness after a ferocious assault. Ten days later, Paret died and Griffith always felt terrible guilt about the fate of his opponent. The death haunted him the rest of his life.

Ian Marshall, Head of Sport at Simon & Schuster, who acquired UK & Commonwealth Volume rights from Jonny Geller of Curtis Brown, commented: ‘I have known Don for many years, but never managed to be his primary publisher until now, and I am delighted finally to have the privilege to work with him on his new book. Don is justifiably rated one of the best sports writers in the business, with two William Hill prizes to his name, but in fact that does not do full justice to the range of his talent. I could not be more proud that we will have Don’s new book on the Simon & Schuster sports list.’

Don McRae added: ‘I’m thrilled that Simon & Schuster will be publishing my next book – and that Ian Marshall will be editing it. I have been working on A Man’s World: The Double Life of Emile Griffith for a few years now and, deep in the actual writing of it, I think it’s the most intriguing and complex subject I’ve ever researched. I first became aware of Emile Griffith when he visited South Africa, and stood up to apartheid, in 1975 – but the more I have researched his life the more I have been convinced that this is a story like little else in sport. This is a book framed by tragedy, and death, but it’s also inspired by courage, daring and exhilaration. I’ve met some incredible people while working on Emile’s story and I hope it will be the best book I have ever written.’

Ahead of publication of his new book, Simon & Schuster have acquired two backlist titles from Mainstream, Dark Trade and Winter Colours. Along with three other books, they have all been re-issued with stunning new cover designs. McRae’s three previous sports books, including In Black & White, have all been updated while his biography of Clarence Darrow, The Old Devil, comes out at the same time as a new play at the Old Vic, where Kevin Spacey plays the famous lawyer. Every Second Counts, McRae’s groundbreaking story of the race to transplant the first human heart, is also re-released this week.

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On 5 June 2014 Simon & Schuster will publish new editions of five books from my backlist:

• DARK TRADE: Lost in Boxing
• WINTER COLOURS: The Changing Seasons of Rugby
• IN BLACK & WHITE: The Untold Story of Joe Louis & Jesse Owens
• EVERY SECOND COUNTS: The Extraordinary Race to Transplant the First Human Heart
• THE OLD DEVIL: Clarence Darrow, The World’s Greatest Trial Lawyer

Dark Trade, Winter Colours and In Black & White have all been updated – each with an extensive new chapter.

The first two books, originally published in 1996 and 1998, have been bought from Mainstream Publishing – while the remaining three have been published in various past editions by Simon & Schuster.

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The first London Sports Writing Festival will be held at Lord's Cricket Ground from 17-20 October. At the opening event, from 6.30-7.30pm on Thursday 17 October, Duncan Hamilton and I are due to talk about "great sports-writing" as two-time winners of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award. Duncan won in 2007 for Provided You Don't Kiss Me, his evocative book about Brian Clough, and two years later for his powerful biography of Harold Larwood. I'm obviously more long-in-the-tooth and won for Dark Trade in 1996 and In Black & White in 2002. Alyson Rudd, an excellent writer from The Times, who has also been a judge of the William Hill award in recent years, joins us. Mike Atherton, who has moved seamlessly from being a great cricketer to a great sportswriter of real authority and insight, will chair this session and hopefully curb any redundant rambling from me.

The question we're meant to answer on 17 October is…What Makes Great Sports Writing? I think, in short, I'll be saying the answer is very similar, and as intriguing, if you remove the word "sports" from the question.

A couple of days later, on Saturday 19 October, from 5-6pm, I'll join Ben Dirs, the BBC journalist whose compelling new book, The Hate Game, features a violently-riveting series of British fights from the 1990's, and Kevin Mitchell, my best ally in boxing at The Guardian. Kevin knows much more about boxing than me and his War, Baby is one of the definitive books to have emerged from our favourite red-light district of sports-writing. We'll be talking about the drama and hysteria of the rivalry between two contrasting fighters – Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn – and I'm sure, also, of Michael Watson and Gerald McClellan. Mike Costello, the BBC's venerable boxing and athletics commentator, will be in charge of an undoubtedly passionate but well-mannered chat.

And, beyond us, there is much, much more at the first London Sports Writing Festival…hats off to David Luxton and all those who have arranged it.

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Simon & Schuster Buy book rights

Simon & Schuster have just bought the rights to two of my books – Dark Trade and Winter Colours – from my old publishers Mainstream. Six of my eight books, from next year, will now be published by Simon & Schuster who will re-launch much of my back catalogue in 2014.

I have also begun a new book which, at the outset, feels like it might be the best I have ever written. It's mainly set in the past but the last section will be rooted in the present. The book will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2015 as over two years of research are required for this one. More details to follow in the coming months...