Carr, Matthew 1955-

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Carr, Matthew 1955-


Born 1955, in London, England; son of William Carr (an educator); children: one daughter.


Home—Matlock, Derbyshire, England.


Broadcaster, journalist, and author. Has worked as a building laborer, postman, sign writer, English teacher, bookshop assistant, house painter, and bike messenger.


My Father's House, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1998.

Unknown Soldiers: How Terrorism Transformed the Modern World, Profile (London, England), 2006, published as The Infernal Machine: A History of Terrorism, New Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including the London Observer, Guardian, New Statesman, and First Post Online; also a contributor to BBC Radio.


British journalist and radio broadcaster Matthew Carr's first book, My Father's House, recounts his childhood and his difficult relationship with his father, who died in 1992. Carr's father was an English lecturer who spent about thirty years living in the West Indies. When Carr was a child, the family spent a year together in Guyana before his father sent them all back to England without him. Looking back on his childhood, Carr found that his memories revealed his father as a drunk who beat his wife and cheated on her, but as an adult he understood that a child's memories are not always the entire picture. Carr therefore set out to learn more about his father through the various people he associated with in Guyana over the years. He learned that his father was a popular, well-liked man, even though some of his childhood memories were accurate. Writing for the New Statesman, Ferdinand Dennis noted that the book makes for a poor travelogue despite Carr's intentions, but concluded that "where it does succeed … is in its portrait of a son calling his wayward father to account."

Carr's interest in conflict and terrorism is the subject of his next book, Unknown Soldiers: How Terrorism Transformed the Modern World, which was published in the United States as The Infernal Machine: A History of Terrorism. The book offers a history of terrorism that dates back to the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1881, when anarchists threw a bomb that succeeded in killing the Russian leader; it then continues up through the events of September 11, 2001. Carr includes terrorists organizations from around the world, such as the IRA, Mau Mau, Red Brigades, Basque separatists, FLN, PLO, and Hezbollah. The author goes into depth regarding the increase in the use of terrorist acts as a means of gaining attention on the global political theater and as a bargaining ploy. In a review for the San Diego Union Tribune, Branislav L. Slantchev wrote that "if Carr wanted to counter the myth that people who engage in political violence against civilians are uniformly evil, irrational and incomprehensible to a civilized society, he has succeeded…. But if he wanted to argue that understanding must lead to peace, then he has failed." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that while the book's "analysis of Middle East politics is open to debate, Carr presents an impressive compendium of terrorist violence and government response."



Carr, Matthew, My Father's House, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1998.


Mother Jones, May 1, 2007, "The Terrorist's Apprentice: Mistakes Were Made in the War on Terror, None of Them New," p. 79.

New Statesman, March 13, 1998, Ferdinand Dennis, review of My Father's House, p. 55.

Publishers Weekly, March 5, 2007, review of The Infernal Machine: A History of Terrorism, p. 55.

Race and Class, April 1999, Barbara Harlow, review of My Father's House, p. 91.


Blogging Authors, (June 18, 2007), "A Shocking Interview with Matthew Carr about The Infernal Machine: The History of Terrorism," interview with Matthew Carr.

San Diego Union Tribune Online, (April 29, 2007), Branislav L. Slantchev, "Apocalypse Then, Apocalypse Now," review of The Infernal Machine

Toward Freedom, (June 19, 2007), Robert Ovetz, review of The Infernal Machine.