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Matthew Sweet - Author

About the Author

Matthew Sweet presents Night Waves and Freethinking on BBC Radio 3, and is the summer presenter of The Film Programme on Radio Four. He is the author of Inventing the Victorians and Shepperton Babylon, which he adapted as a film for BBC Four. His TV programmes include Silent Britain, A Brief History of Fun, The Age of Excess, Truly, Madly, Cheaply and The Rules of Film Noir.

 

Author photo © Lisa Bowerman

Featured books by Matthew Sweet

The West End Front The Wartime Secrets of London's Grand Hotels

The West End Front The Wartime Secrets of London's Grand Hotels

Author: Matthew Sweet Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/11/2011

The Ritz, the Savoy, the Dorchester and Claridge's - during the Second World War they teemed with spies, con-artists, deposed royals and the exiled governments of Europe. Meet the girl from MI5 who had the gravy browning licked from her legs by Dylan Thomas; the barman who was appointed the keeper of Churchill's private bottle of whisky; the East End Communist who marched with his comrades into the air-raid shelter of the Savoy; and, the throneless prince born in a suite at Claridge's declared Yugoslav territory for one night only. Matthew Sweet has interviewed them all for this account of the extraordinary events that unfolded under the reinforced ceilings of London's grand hotels. Using the memories of first-hand witnesses, the contents of newly declassified government files and a wealth of previously unpublished letters, memoirs and photographs, he has reconstructed a lost world of scandal, intrigue and fortitude.

Other books by Matthew Sweet

Operation Chaos The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers, and Themselves

Operation Chaos The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers, and Themselves

Author: Matthew Sweet Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/03/2018

From a political cult to the heart of the Washington establishment - the bizarre and untold story of how the CIA tried to infiltrate a radical group of US military deserters during the Cold War. Stockholm, 1968. A thousand American deserters and draft-resisters are arriving to escape the war in Vietnam. They're young, they're radical, and they want to start a revolution. The Swedes treat them like pop stars - but the CIA is determined to stop all that. It's a job for the deep-cover men of Operation Chaos and their allies - agents who know how to infiltrate organizations and destroy them from inside. Within months, the GIs have turned their fire on one another, and the group dissolves into interrogations and recriminations. When Matthew Sweet began investigating this story, he thought the madness was over. He was wrong. Instead, he became the confidant of an eccentric and traumatized group of survivors - each with his own intricate theory about the traitors in their midst. All Sweet has to do is discover the truth . . . and stay sane. Reminiscent of Jon Ronson's The Men who Stare at Goats and as compelling as Ben McIntyre's Agent Zigzag, in Operation Chaos Matthew Sweet's fascinating journey of discovery sheds new light on one of the great untold tales of the Cold War, where the facts are wilder than any work of fiction.

Operation Chaos The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers, and Themselves

Operation Chaos The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers, and Themselves

Author: Matthew Sweet Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/02/2018

October 1967 during the height of the Vietnam War Craig Anderson, John Barilla, Michael Lindner and Rick Bailey, deserted the US Intrepid; smuggled from Tokyo to Sweden via Moscow with the help of a Japanese anti-war group, a draft-card-burning Buddhist priest from Nebraska, and the staff of the Russian Embassy in Tokyo. Their act of defiance made them headline news around the world as the Intrepid Four, and inspired other disillusioned young conscripted soldiers to follow their escape to Sweden. Operation Chaos tells the true story of this group of U.S. military deserters who found asylum in Sweden during the Vietnam War and how in falling in league with the American Deserters Committee and its mysterious founder Michael Vale they became a thorn in the side of the US government during the Cold War. Travelling widely to Paris, Stockholm, North Carolina, Washington and New York visiting protected archives and meeting with the original agents and dissidents Matthew Sweet here uncovers their life underground, how the US government waged a determined campaign to discredit deserting soldiers, the story behind the secret scheme code named Operation Chaos, how the CIA tried to infiltrate this radical political group, an international game of cat and mouse and spiraling series of events winding all the way to the Manchurian Candidate scare of 1973/4, and the hunt for the victims of the brainwashing institutes of Sweden . Sweet's fascinating journey of discovery sheds new light on one of the great untold tales of the Cold War, where the facts are wilder than any work of fiction.

Inventing the Victorians

Inventing the Victorians

Author: Matthew Sweet Format: eBook Release Date: 03/06/2014

"e;Suppose that everything we think we know about the Victorians is wrong."e; So begins Inventing the Victorians by Matthew Sweet, a compact and mind-bending whirlwind tour through the soul of the nineteenth century, and a round debunking of our assumptions about it. The Victorians have been victims of the "e;the enormous condescension of posterity,"e; in the historian E. P. Thompson's phrase. Locked in the drawing room, theirs was an age when, supposedly, existence was stultifying, dank, and over-furnished, and when behavior conformed so rigorously to proprieties that the repressed results put Freud into business. We think we have the Victorians pegged--as self-righteous, imperialist, racist, materialist, hypocritical and, worst of all, earnest.Oh how wrong we are, argues Matthew Sweet in this highly entertaining, provocative, and illuminating look at our great, and great-great, grandparents. One hundred years after Queen Victoria's death, Sweet forces us to think again about her century, entombed in our minds by Dickens, the Elephant Man, Sweeney Todd, and by images of unfettered capitalism and grinding poverty. Sweet believes not only that we're wrong about the Victorians but profoundly indebted to them. In ways we have been slow to acknowledge, their age and our own remain closely intertwined. The Victorians invented the theme park, the shopping mall, the movies, the penny arcade, the roller coaster, the crime novel, and the sensational newspaper story. Sweet also argues that our twenty-first century smugness about how far we have evolved is misplaced. The Victorians were less racist than we are, less religious, less violent, and less intolerant. Far from being an outcast, Oscar Wilde was a fairly typical Victorian man; the love that dared not speak its name was declared itself fairly openly. In 1868 the first international cricket match was played between an English team and an Australian team composed entirely of aborigines. The Victorians loved sensation, novelty, scandal, weekend getaways, and the latest conveniences (by 1869, there were image-capable telegraphs; in 1873 a store had a machine that dispensed milk to after-hours' shoppers). Does all this sound familiar?As Sweet proves in this fascinating, eye-opening book, the reflection we find in the mirror of the nineteenth century is our own. We inhabit buildings built by the Victorians; some of us use their sewer system and ride on the railways they built. We dismiss them because they are the age against whom we have defined our own. In brilliant style, Inventing the Victorians shows how much we have been missing.

Voyage to the New World

Voyage to the New World

Author: Matthew Sweet Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 31/12/2012

Shepperton Babylon

Shepperton Babylon

Author: Matthew Sweet Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 16/02/2006

This is a wonderful secret history of British movies that includes the scandals, the suicides, the immolations and the contract killings - the product of thousands of conversations with veteran film-makers. Here you'll meet, among many others, the 20s film idols snorting cocaine from an illuminated glass dance floor on the bank of the Thames, the model who escaped Soho's gangsters to become the queen of the nudie flicks and the genteel Scottish comedienne who, at the age of fifty-five, reinvented herself as a star of exploitation cinema, and fondly remembers 'the one where I drilled in people's heads and ate their brains'. Welcome to the lost worlds of British cinema.

Inventing the Victorians

Inventing the Victorians

Author: Matthew Sweet Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/11/2002

Suppose that everything we think we know about 'The Victorians' is wrong? That we have persistently misrepresented the culture of the Victorian era, perhaps to make ourselves feel more satisfyingly liberal and sophisticated? What if they were much more fun than we ever suspected? Matthew Sweet's Inventing the Victorians has some revelatory - and entertaining - answers for us. As Sweet shows us in this brilliant study, many of the concepts that strike us as terrifically new - political spin-doctoring, extravagant publicity stunts, hardcore pornography, anxieties about the impact of popular culture upon children - are Victorian inventions. Most of the pleasures that we imagine to be our own, the Victorians enjoyed first: the theme park, the shopping mall, the movies, the amusement arcade, the crime novel and the sensational newspaper report. They were engaged in a well-nigh continuous search for bigger and better thrills. If Queen Victoria wasn't amused, then she was in a very small minority . . . Matthew Sweet's book is an attempt to re-imagine the Victorians; to suggest new ways of looking at received ideas about their culture; to distinguish myth from reality; to generate the possibility of a new relationship between the lives of nineteenth-century people and our own.