Hang on a minute Graun, is this a book review I see before me, or a book you can’t sell?

I wrote a month ago that Luke Harding’s “A Very Expensive Poison” was basically a hack job. Totally bogus and based on no provable facts whatsoever, in other words a fiction and a rehash of previously peddled lies and miss information. Now it appears that someone at the Graun actually agrees!

However they aren’t quite so up front about it with the splash headline which boasts…

“A Very Expensive Poison by Luke Harding – a dramatic account of Litvinenko’s murder” – Book Plug

Sub headed,

“When Alexander Litvinenko died in a London hospital in 2006, the suggestion that Putin ordered his murder seemed outlandish. Now it appears probable. This book tells a racy story”

– Up front prominently placed Putin slur and a further book plug

The Graun’s own Troll Factory?

Hmm Graun what’s going on because the author of the piece actually doesn’t like the book. Are you not breaching your own guidelines here Graun, by trolling the facts and misrepresenting the truth? It would appear so! As you read through the rather confused piece it takes on a love Luke, hate Luke angle, mirroring the increasingly schizoid approach to all things Russian in the “mag-rag” per ce. The first half appears to have been given the treatment by a sub to plug Harding’s book, with the authors actual critical piece tagged on the end! Maybe by mistake, it could appear so, either way it makes for terrible journalism, what is a reader expected to believe?  Obviously nothing printed at the Graun.

When the author finally gets to critique the book we find a rather scathing account emerging of Master Luke, referring to him as “Harding” and daring to criticise his penmanship.

“Instead of a diabolical plot, it has a mess of intentions and delegated responsibilities; instead of villains, it features buffoons; instead of master plans, it has muck, which Harding calls “improvisation”.

She clearly thinks his style is rather, well, melodramatic and accuses him of trying to pump up the tale.

“Translated into less racy language, this passage would read: “Radioactive evidence tells us that there was an unsuccessful attempt at murder by polonium.”

Then she reveals that Harding’s book is really a hotchpotch of the discredited Owen Inquiry plus the addition of something akin to Hardianesque outtakes.

“The first half of the book is based on evidence and testimony presented during last year’s inquiry. But around page 240, Harding runs out of material culled from the inquiry and turns to other stories, ones he appears to have reported on for the Guardian in the last few years.”

I’m left wondering why this actually appeared; many have had their accounts suspended at the Graun for less!


By the way it’s still a heavily discounted book which appears not to be selling. I wonder why?

I don’t recommend reading Masha Geesen’s stuff if you want a balanced view on Russia, but was intrigued by her negativity towards Harding in this piece.