Hutchinson, Robert 1948-
Hutchinson, Robert 1948-
Born October 2, 1948.
Agent—Andrew Lownie Literary Agency, Ltd., 36 Great Smith St., London SW1P 3BU, England.
Reporter for regional newspapers; night subeditor for the Press Association; defense correspondent; affiliated with Jane's Publishing Group, beginning 1983, Jane's Information Group, publishing director, 1987-97. Chairman of media section of Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee. Lecturer and broadcaster. Associate tutor in church archaeology, University of Sussex's Centre for Continuing Education.
Society of Antiquaries (elected fellow).
(Editor) Keith Faulkner, Jane's Warship Recognition Guide, 2nd edition, revised by Hutchinson, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
Jane's Submarines: War beneath the Waves: From 1776 to the Present Day, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.
Weapons of Mass Destruction: The No-Nonsense Guide to Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Weapons Today, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2003.
The Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracies, Treason, and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.
Elizabeth's Spymaster: Francis Walsingham and the Secret War That Saved England, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Robert Hutchinson began his career as a reporter, working first for regional newspapers, then for the Press Association, a news agency serving the media of Ireland and the United Kingdom. In time, he became a defense correspondent. Later, he moved away from journalism to join the staff of Jane's Publishing, and he eventually became the director of the company's information group. In that capacity, he was responsible for its books, magazines, digital content and other publications. After leaving the company's staff, he went on to edit and revise Jane's Warship Recognition Guide, and he also wrote Jane's Submarines: War beneath the Waves: From 1776 to the Present Day.
Hutchinson continued publishing on military topics with Weapons of Mass Destruction: The No-Nonsense Guide to Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Weapons Today. In the book, he details the very real threats posed by the existence of weapons of mass destruction. These threats include nuclear devices, terrorist attacks on nuclear energy facilities, and chemical and biological weapons. He views the devastation of a major city by nuclear warhead as an eventual certainty, feels it is likely that terrorists will create and detonate some sort of nuclear device in the near future, and rates the possibility of sabotage on a nuclear facility, with resulting widespread contamination, as also quite possible. He also discusses the possibilities of devastating attacks on large computer databases, or contamination of large food and water supplies. Reviewing this book for the National Observer—Australia and World Affairs, R.M. Pearce commented that it is "well-researched and contains extensive information about the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the past. It is also well-written, so that it can be read easily and with interest."
Hutchinson turned his attention to the sixteenth century and one of its most prominent people with his book The Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracies, Treason, and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant. The book focuses on the last five years of Henry VIII's life, from 1543 until 1547. At the close of his life, Henry was in constant pain from various physical complaints, and he was also ruthless, vengeful, and aggressive. According to Hutchinson, the king's illness did affect his mind, but he was also corrupted by the absolute power he wielded. Furthermore, he was surrounded by people who were as greedy and brutal as their king. The book is "level-headed and carefully researched," stated Spectator reviewer Jonathan Keates, who noted that the author's portrayal of Henry's last wife, Katherine Parr, shows her to have been one of the few "genuinely principled and tender-hearted" people in Henry's circle.
Henry VIII's chief minister is the subject of Hutchinson's book Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister. Cromwell is known for confiscating and destroying the property of the Catholic Church in England, turning the profits of his raids over to his king. Yet despite his evident greed and corruption, some of Cromwell's actions laid the foundation for modern governments. In presenting a balanced picture of the man, "the author has done a considerable amount of work and has written a good and thoroughly readable book," stated a writer for the Contemporary Review.
Henry VIII's daughter, Elizabeth I, also lived in violent times. Her reign continued the Protestantism begun by her father's break with the Roman Catholic Church, and she had to contend with a great deal of Catholic resistance to her rule. She was greatly threatened by Mary, Queen of Scots, who contested Elizabeth's right to the throne, and by the power of Spain. Both Spain and Mary were Catholic, while Elizabeth adhered to the Church of England established by her father. In 1570, Elizabeth was excommunicated by the Pope, who also absolved her subjects from any allegiance to her, thereby giving tacit approval to any conspiracies against her. In her war against Catholic resistance, Elizabeth enlisted the help of Francis Walsingham, a rather obscure figure who had a major historical impact. Walsingham served as Elizabeth I's chief spy. "In a career marked by extraordinary deviousness and ruthlessness, he set about foiling and undermining a host of threats against the English crown, real or imagined, competent or bumbling," stated Sam Leith in a Spectator review of Hutchinson's biography Elizabeth's Spymaster: Francis Walsingham and the Secret War That Saved England. Walsingham's Catholic-hunting was ruthless, and the terrible methods of torture he and the chief executioner, Richard Topcliffe, used against their captives became the subject of grim legend. Although Topcliffe was known to be a vicious sadist, Walsingham was not. The author portrays him as "a fanatically hard-working Protestant sobersides, a man dedicated above all else to the preservation of his religion, and, since their interests so closely coincided, to the survival of his queen," stated Leith. He found that Elizabeth's Spymaster serves as a portrait of the times in which Walsingham lived as well as a biography of the man himself. A Kirkus Reviews writer found the book "informative," but warned that "some may wince at Walsingham's bloody tactics."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Review, June 1, 2003, review of Weapons of Mass Destruction: The No-Nonsense Guide to Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Weapons Today, p. 383; July 1, 2005, review of The Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracies, Treason, and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant, p. 60; December 22, 2006, review of Elizabeth's Spymaster: Francis Walsingham and the Secret War That Saved England, p. 542; December 22, 2007, review of Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister, p. 536.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2007, review of Elizabeth's Spymaster.
National Observer—Australia and World Affairs, March 22, 2004, R.M. Pearce, review of Weapons of Mass Destruction, p. 70.
Reference & Research Book News, May 1, 2002, review of Jane's Submarines: War beneath the Waves: From 1776 to the Present Day, p. 226; February 1, 2006, review of The Last Days of Henry VIII.
Spectator, April 23, 2005, Jonathan Keates, review of The Last Days of Henry VIII, p. 41; April 1, 2006, Sam Leith, review of Elizabeth's Spymaster, p. 49.
Andrew Lownie Literary Agency,http://www.andrewlownie.co.uk/ (May 21, 2008), biographical information about Robert Hutchinson.