16 June 2007

Publishing the Falklands

For a brief time in 1986, I worked on a partwork that at the time was notorious in the UK, The Elite. However, I had been working in the publisher's offices for about two years before that, including the time of its launch in 1985. At this stage, the first wave of books about the Falkands War had already been released. The non-official "official" history, by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, had been out for about two years. Martin Middlebrook's book had been released after The Elite. A number of other volumes had also come out.

The mastermind of The Elite was Ashley Brown, who still runs his own publishing company; together with Adrian Gilbert, who did a lot of the commissioning of the initial issues; and a nervous wreck named Jonathan Reed, who was in direct control of the project, and threw himself into it with tremendous enthusiasm. They assembled between them an excellent set of authors for all the articles, among them Nick Vaux, a Royal Marine colonel who was writing his own account of the campaign.

At the time, we had a picture researcher working for us who had some claim to being the most attractive woman in the whole company. So, having read in the Hastings and Jenkins work that in his younger days Nick Vaux had "enthusiasm for high living and female company", I can report that in the prime of his life he still did - he always brought her a rose and treated her in a charming way that she noticed and appreciated. It was also generally agreed that he had written the best account of all the battalion commanders who wrote for The Elite.

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