John Sutherland - Author

About the Author

John Sutherland is a father of three, who lives with his wife and children in south London. For the best part of twenty-five years, he has served as a Metropolitan Police Officer. He won the Baton of Honour as the outstanding recruit in his training school intake and rose through the ranks to become a highly respected senior officer. Over the course of his career, in which he has been awarded several commendations, he has worked in seven different London boroughs, in a variety of different ranks and roles, and he has also been posted to Scotland Yard on three separate occasions. His most recent operational job was as the Borough C ommander for Southwark. John can be found on Twitter and Wordpress as 'policecommander'. Blue is his first book.

Author photo © Zac Crawley

Read our Q&A with John Sutherland.

Featured books by John Sutherland

Crossing the Line

Crossing the Line

Author: John Sutherland Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/05/2021

An incredibly thoughtful, eloquent, and revealing book about policing by John Sutherland. Not only is it absolutely fascinating, there are also a whole heap of lessons that can and should be learned within its pages. John spent 25 years with the Metropolitan Police, during that time working his way to Borough Commander, leading teams as they dealt with some of the most sad and incredibly damaging aspects facing our society. Now retired on medical grounds, John is a sought-after public speaker and commentator, he regularly speaks on TV and radio, and writes for major newspapers. I can highly recommend his first book, Blue: A Memoir, this new book goes a step further. John issues an invitation to walk with him and witness the scenes behind the blue and white cordon tape. He talks about ten issues we face in the modern world, from domestic violence through to terrorism. He still cares about and loves policing, he also has huge compassion, this, linked with his ability to see the reality of policing, means he can open our eyes. Accessible, considered, meaningful, shocking, inspiring… Crossing the Line has been chosen as LoveReading Star Book, Book of the Month, and a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month. It really is the most crucially important piece of writing for the whole of our society to absorb, all I can say is, read it! Read our Q&A with John Sutherland.

Star Books
Blue: A Memoir

Blue: A Memoir

Author: John Sutherland Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/04/2018

April 2018 Book of the Month A searingly honest memoir of the uplifting highs and crushing lows of a life spent policing on the front line. A Sunday Times top-five bestseller 'This is a remarkable book . . . profound and deeply moving . . . It has as much to tell us about mental illness as it does about policing' Alastair Stewart  A candid, objective, cooly passionate, and often unsettling account of policing from a police officer. John Sutherland joined the Met in 1992 aged 22, we see snapshots of his life as an officer, as he progresses up the career ladder, as he deals with all the horrors and glory a life in blue has to offer. From the very first page my attention was sucked in whole, I come from a family of blue, married blue, and spent 20 years as a member of police support staff. Even then, I was on the edge of understanding, I didn't ever have to run towards danger, tell someone a loved one had died, sit with death, experience the bitter lows, the jubilant highs of being a police officer, yet John Sutherland takes you there. As we read we step in and out of a series of events that have all added up to create this man, it isn’t a glittery or gory descriptive feast, but it doesn't have to be, he simply and clearly gives you a connection, and an understanding that under that uniform is flesh and blood and feelings. One thing is abundantly clear, this man loves his job, he feels the continued effort is worth it, and yet it very nearly broke him. It is truly captivating, whether you nod, smile wryly, and wish he could have been your boss, or feel the shock and admiration as you learn what our police are exposed to day after day. ‘Blue A Memoir’ is a worthwhile and fascinating read, I really do recommend it with my heart and soul. John has written an epilogue to his story, which has been included in the paperback of ‘Blue A Memoir’. He speaks with his normal good sense, and he has the remarkable ability to put into words the thoughts and feelings so many officers struggle to properly articulate. He speaks from the heart, and his words made me cry. I wish him every success in his future, and whatever path he decides to explore, I’m quite sure to the many who know him, follow him on twitter, and read his blog, he will forever remain a true inspiration.  Liz visited the Chiddingstone Castle Literary Fesitval where John Sutherland gave a talk. To read more about the festival, head over to her Blog Post. Read our Q&A with John Sutherland.

eBooks of the Month
Blue A Memoir - Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces

Blue A Memoir - Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces

Author: John Sutherland Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/05/2017

One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | June 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. A candid, objective, cooly passionate, and often unsettling account of policing from a police officer. John Sutherland joined the Met in 1992 aged 22, we see snapshots of his life as an officer, as he progresses up the career ladder, as he deals with all the horrors and glory a life in blue has to offer. From the very first page my attention was sucked in whole, I come from a family of blue, married blue, and spent 20 years as a member of police support staff. Even then, I was on the edge of understanding, I didn't ever have to run towards danger, tell someone a loved one had died, sit with death, experience the bitter lows, the jubilant highs of being a police officer, yet John Sutherland takes you there. As we read we step in and out of a series of events that have all added up to create this man, it isn’t a glittery or gory descriptive feast, but it doesn't have to be, he simply and clearly gives you a connection, and an understanding that under that uniform is flesh and blood and feelings. One thing is abundantly clear, this man loves his job, he feels the continued effort is worth it, and yet it very nearly broke him. It is truly captivating, whether you nod, smile wryly, and wish he could have been your boss, or feel the shock and admiration as you learn what our police are exposed to day after day. ‘Blue A Memoir’ is a worthwhile and fascinating read, I really do recommend it with my heart and soul. ~ Liz Robinson   Author, former police officer, and fan of Lovereading Matt Johnson has very kindly sent us the following review: I was already an inspector at Stoke Newington in North London when John Sutherland joined the police. The subtitle to John's first book - 'Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces' - was something I was starting to experience just as he entered the world of London policing. And so, for reasons that may be apparent, I approached this book with some trepidation. I've followed John's @policecommander twitter feed and his blog for some time and we have been in touch many times. His blog, in particular, is simply brilliant. Eighteen months ago, he came to the London launch of my debut novel and was kind enough to bring me a present. It was a simple gift, but full of meaning. John brought me a tie, a Hostage Negotiator tie, from the Hendon course that he and I had both attended. Me, in 1991, John many years later. My original tie was lost, something I had mentioned to him and, without being asked, John sourced a replacement. That thoughtful side to John's character comes across clearly in this, his first book. He is a man who cares, a man who builds bridges.'Blue' is John's account of his 25-year policing career in the Metropolis, of his experiences and the challenges he faced, and of the eventual toll it took on his mental health. Reading 'Blue' took me back, long-forgotten memories returned and I felt a sense of re-connecting with my past. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Much of 'Blue' is written in the form of anecdotes, short stories of incidents, of people and of issues facing the police service. The writing style is that of a narrator, and it very quickly draws you in, to the point where you are soon fully engaged. For me, it felt like a warm blanket, comforting and, at the same time, reassuring that our police service is being run by people like John, who clearly care a great deal for the public they serve.'Blue' made me smile, it made me laugh. It made me cry out in frustration and sympathy and, just near the end, it brought a tear to my eye. I won't tell you where, but I suspect you will recognise the moment when you read it for yourself. And, I use that word 'when' quite deliberately, because I feel this book is essential reading for anyone interested in policing, whether it be as a serving or retired officer, or as a person who is interested in what happens behind the scenes of an organisation charged with preserving peace in our society. 'Blue' is a memoir, a one-off account of one man's police career. But it is far more than that. It is an insight into how the pressures and stresses of the high-paced career-focussed lives of our senior executives can place unacceptable and unsustainable responsibilities upon them. A 'must read', if ever there was one. - Matt Johnson

Books of the Month

Other books by John Sutherland

Monica Jones, Philip Larkin and Me

Monica Jones, Philip Larkin and Me

Author: John Sutherland Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/04/2021

'A brilliant biography - John Sutherland has brought Monica Jones to life as she deserves.' Claire Tomalin 'I couldn't put it down. Vivid and penetrating, it's a brilliant portrait of a confounding, complex woman.' Cressida Connolly Monica Jones was Philip Larkin's partner for more than four decades, and was arguably the most important woman in his life. She was cruelly immortalised as Margaret Peel in Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim and widely vilified for destroying Larkin's diaries and works in progress after his death. She was opinionated and outspoken, widely disliked by his friends and Philip himself was routinely unfaithful to her. But Monica Jones was also a brilliant academic and an inspiring teacher in her own right. She wrote more than 2,000 letters to Larkin, and he in turn poured out his heart to her. In this revealing biography John Sutherland explores the question: who was the real Monica? The calm and collected friend and teacher? The witty conversationalist and inspirational lecturer? Or the private Monica, writing desperate, sometimes furious, occasionally libellous, drunken letters to the only man, to the absent man, whom she could love? Was Monica's life - one of total sacrifice to a great poet - worthwhile? Through his careful reading of Monica's never-before-seen letters, and his own recollections, John Sutherland shows us a new side to Larkin's story, and allows Monica to finally step out from behind the poet's shadow.

Victorian Fiction and Victorian Publishing

Victorian Fiction and Victorian Publishing

Author: John Sutherland Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/06/2019

Victorian Fiction and Victorian Publishing by John Sutherland

Who Is Dracula's Father?

Who Is Dracula's Father?

Author: John Sutherland Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/10/2018

When it was first published in 1897 - 120 years ago - Irish author Bram Stoker's Dracula was ranked by the Daily Mail above work by Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe, as well as Wuthering Heights. Yet it never made Stoker any money. Since 1931's film Nosferatu the Vampire, however, it has never been out of print and is legendary among fans of the dark, macabre and mysterious . Critic John Sutherland, a Dracula fan since childhood - and author of the literary puzzle classics Is Heathcliff a Murderer? and Can Jane Eyre be Happy? explores the enigmas and puzzles of this towering giant of gothic novels, such as: Who was Dracula's father? Why does the Count come to England? Does the Count actually give Jonathan a 'love bite'? Why does every country we know of have a vampire legend? And finally - how long is it before we're all vampires? The book also includes 'Dracula Digested' by John Crace, author of the Guardian's Digested Reads column.

Frankenstein's Brain

Frankenstein's Brain

Author: John Sutherland Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/10/2018

200 years on from the first publication of Frankenstein, John Sutherland delves into the deepest, darkest corners of Mary Shelley's gothic masterpiece to see what strange and terrifying secrets lie within. Is Victor Frankenstein a member of the Illuminati? Was Mary Shelley really inspired by spaghetti? Whoever heard of a vegan monster? Exploring the lesser-known byways of both the original tale and its myriad film and pop culture spinoffs, from the bolts on Boris Karloff's neck to the role of Igor in Young Frankenstein, Frankenstein's Brain is a fascinating journey behind the scenes of this seminal work of literature and imagination. Includes a unique digest by the Guardian's John Crace.

The Secret Trollope

The Secret Trollope

Author: John Sutherland Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/2018

The Secret Trollope by John Sutherland

The War on the Young

The War on the Young

Author: John Sutherland Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/01/2018

Intergenerational conflict is a perennial feature of society and capitalism. One side has the youth, the other side has the lion's share of the wealth, and the good things wealth can bring. In the last few years that friction has reached to dangerous heights. Call it war. And, like all war, it has the risk of doing severe damage. In this fiery polemic the author of the best-selling The War on the Old has switched sides, and now examines the conflict as it must appear to the young. For the first time since the Second World War, younger generations can expect less fulfilled lives than their elders. They may not be their `betters', but in the second decade of the twenty-first century they surely are better heeled. Traditionally society's way of controlling the young has been to send them off to war, or conscript them. They would either die, or learn `duty'. Now we send as many as 50% to university, from which they emerge encumbered with debt. As Orwell observed, there is nothing like debt for extinguishing the political fire in your belly. The War on the Young is lively, provocative and ranges wittily, and at times angrily, over many casus belli from the standpoint of the nation's young people. Things are not getting better. This is a timely and highly readable look at a ticking generational time-bomb.

Can Jane Eyre Be Happy?

Can Jane Eyre Be Happy?

Author: John Sutherland Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/11/2017

'Wonderful...concise, witty, effortlessly learned.' Sunday Times How does Magwitch swim to shore with a great iron on his leg? Where does Fanny Hill keep her contraceptives? Whose side is Hawkeye on? And how does Clarissa Dalloway get home so quickly? In this new edition sequel to the enormously successful Is Heathcliff a Murderer?, John Sutherland plays literary detective and investigates 32 literary conundrums, ranging from Daniel Defoe to Virginia Woolf. As in its universally loved predecessor, the questions and answers are ingenious and convincing, and return the reader with new respect to the great novels that inspire them.

Is Heathcliff a Murderer?

Is Heathcliff a Murderer?

Author: John Sutherland Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/11/2017

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER IN A BRAND NEW EDITION 'Enchanting...the most engagingly boffiny book imaginable.' Spectator Does Becky kill Jos at the end of Vanity Fair? Why does no one notice that Hetty is pregnant in Adam Bede? How, exactly, does Victor Frankenstein make his monster? Readers of Victorian fiction often find themselves tripping up on seeming anomalies, enigmas and mysteries in their favourite novels. In Is Heathcliff a Murderer? John Sutherland investigates 34 conundrums of nineteenth-century fiction, paying homage to the most rewarding of critical activities: close reading and the pleasures of good-natured pedantry

Orwell's Nose

Orwell's Nose

Author: John Sutherland Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/09/2017

Orwell's Nose, now available in paperback, is an original and imaginative account of the life and work of George Orwell, exploring the 'scent narratives' that abound in Orwell's fiction and non-fiction. This illuminating and irreverent book provides a new understanding of one of our most iconic and influential writers.

The War on The Old

The War on The Old

Author: John Sutherland Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/11/2016

The war on the old has been declared.In the post-Brexit world, intergenerational conflict has become a visible phenomenon. There is an overwhelming sense of blame from younger generations: it was 'the wrinklies', the grey-haired plutocracy, who voted Leave; who are overburdening hospitals, shutting the youth out of the housing market and hoarding accumulated wealth.By 2020, we are told, one in five Britons will be pensioners, and living a longer retirement than ever before. 'A good thing', politicians add, through gritted teeth. The truth is that for them, 'the old' are a social, economic and political inconvenience.John Sutherland (age 78, and feeling keenly what he writes about) examines this intergenerational combat as a new kind of war in which institutional neglect and universal indifference to the old has reached aggressive, and routinely lethal, levels. This is a book which sets out to provoke but in the process tells some deep and inconvenient truths, revealing something British society would rather not think about.

How Good Is Your Grammar?

How Good Is Your Grammar?

Author: John Sutherland Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/10/2016

The ultimate test of grammar rules - the grammar book serialised in the Times feature 'Grammar for Grown-ups'.

iGuerilla

iGuerilla

Author: John Sutherland Format: Ebook Release Date: 25/06/2015

iGuerilla: Reshaping the Face of War in the 21st Century, is a book in the tradition of Thomas Paine's Common Sense and Winston Churchill's The Gathering Storm. Like Paine, author John Sutherland alerts those in the large populace of the United States and Western Europe that an international war is underway. And like Churchill, he traces the trails of war to the present to bring an understanding of the changing nature of war and the psychology and goals of those who conduct it, and why they conduct it. The book is a projection of the future and delves into the manner in which the future will unveil. It is an illustration too, of how the war is being conducted, by those known as jihadists and the manner in which they use technology to return modern society to a dark age they call the Caliphate. The author describes in detail the weaknesses of those jihadists and how they can be defeated, and the manner that will quiet them for decades to come.

Last Drink to LA

Last Drink to LA

Author: John Sutherland Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/01/2015

Thirty-one years ago John Sutherland nearly lost everything to drink. It was time to sober up. Or die. Last Drink To LA is part reportage, part confession - not a temperance tale (told to terrify, inform and instruct), not what AA calls a 'drunkalog', but a moving and thought-provoking meditation - some thinking about drinking.

A Little History of Literature

A Little History of Literature

Author: John Sutherland Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/08/2014

An enjoyable account of a lifelong involvement with literature. -John Vukmirovich, Times Literary Supplement This little history takes on a very big subject: the glorious span of literature from Greek myth to graphic novels, from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Harry Potter. Beloved author, John Sutherland, who has researched, taught, and written on virtually every area of literature, guides both young readers and the adults in their lives on an entertaining journey through the wardrobe to show how literature from across the world can transport us and help us to make sense of what it means to be human. Along the way he introduces us to a wide range of works, enlivening his offerings with humor as well as learning-from Beowulf and Shakespeare to T. S. Eliot and George Orwell, and from the rude jests of Anglo-Saxon runes to The Da Vinci Code. For younger readers, Sutherland offers a proper introduction to literature, promising to interest as much as instruct. For more experienced readers, he promises just the same.

How to be Well Read A Guide to 567 Essential Novels

How to be Well Read A Guide to 567 Essential Novels

Author: John Sutherland Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/05/2014

His taste is impressively catholic: an appreciation of The Ambassadors is immediately followed by a consideration of American Psycho. War and Peace, Heat and Dust and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory all make an appearance. There are imposing Victorian novels, entertaining contemporary thrillers and everything in between, from spy novels to romance. In each case a sense of the flavour of the novel is brilliantly evoked and a compelling case made for why it should be a candidate for the bookshelf or bedside table. The end result is both a wonderful dip-in book and a virtual history of the novel.

eBooks of the Month
Lives of the Novelists

Lives of the Novelists

Author: John Sutherland Format: Ebook Release Date: 27/03/2012

No previous author has attempted a book such as this: a complete history of novels written in the English language, from the genre's seventeenth-century origins to the present day. In the spirit of Dr. Johnson’s Lives of the Poets, acclaimed critic and scholar John Sutherland selects 294 writers whose works illustrate the best of every kind of fiction—from gothic, penny dreadful, and pornography to fantasy, romance, and high literature. Each author was chosen, Professor Sutherland explains, because his or her books are well worth reading and are likely to remain so for at least another century. Sutherland presents these authors in chronological order, in each case deftly combining a lively and informative biographical sketch with an opinionated assessment of the writer's work. Taken together, these novelists provide both a history of the novel and a guide to its rich variety. Always entertaining, and sometimes shocking, Sutherland considers writers as diverse as Daniel Defoe, Henry James, James Joyce, Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Woolf, Michael Crichton, Jeffrey Archer, and Jacqueline Susann.Written for all lovers of fiction, Lives of the Novelists succeeds both as introduction and re-introduction, as Sutherland presents favorite and familiar novelists in new ways and transforms the less favored and less familiar through his relentlessly fascinating readings.

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