Is Anything Happening? Former journalist and BBC Radio 4 presenter Robin Lustig to speak and sign copies of book in Letchworth

Robin Lustig is to sign copies of his book at David's Bookshop in Letchworth. Photo: Mark Bassett

Robin Lustig is to sign copies of his book at David's Bookshop in Letchworth. Photo: Mark Bassett - Credit: Archant

Former BBC Radio 4 presenter Robin Lustig will discuss his life in journalism when he comes to Letchworth later this month.

The former presenter of The World Tonight, Newsstand, Stop Press, Newshour and Talking Point – later renamed Have Your Say – will also sign copies of his book, Is Anything Happening? My Life as a Newsman.

In the days before mobile phones, the worldwide web and 24-hours news, the easiest way for a British foreign correspondent to find out what was going on was to call the Reuters news agency and ask ‘Is anything happening?’

And that’s how Robin Lustig started in journalism, working as an agency man for Reuters before later joining The Observer, reporting from every continent except Antarctica over 45 years.

In the book, Lustig describes growing up as the son of refugees from Nazi Germany – the fact that his father’s family were confirmed Lutherans making no difference to the Nazis, who still considered them Jews.

Lustig retraces the journeys of his immigrant forebears to find the exact spot in Lithuania where his grandmother was murdered by a Nazi death squad in 1941.

And after more than 30 years of reporting from and about the Middle East, including three years based in Jerusalem for The Observer, he reflects on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and concludes that Israel’s formation in 1948 may have been a mistake.

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Writing in the Jewish Chronicle in January, he explained: “This does not mean that I think Israel should be wiped off the face of the map, or that the Jews who live there should be expelled. But to me, the Zionist dream of a homeland in which Jews could live in safety has turned out to be a chimera.”

He suggests the starting point for reconciliation might be for each side to recognise the trauma that has been caused to the other.

Former BBC News director Richard Sambrook said of the book: “This memoir is everything you would expect from its author – intelligent, shrewd, witty, civilised and great company.

“He lifts the lid on life within BBC newsrooms and captures the fun of touring the world’s trouble spots. Along the way, he reminds us why serious journalism still matters.”

Robin Lustig will be at David’s Bookshop from 7.30pm on Tuesday, April 25. Tickets are £5, deductible from the cost of the £20 book if bought on the night. Reserve a place on 01462 684631

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