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Blue A Memoir - Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces by John Sutherland

Blue A Memoir - Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces

Biography / Autobiography   Books of the Month   Books of the Year 2017   The Real World   eBook Favourites   
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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

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel  were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Police Sergeant CL - 'Sutherland leads the reader through the significant events in his private and professional life that have shaped him...This book provides a glimpse of what police officers go through on a daily basis and the personal sacrifices that they make.'
  • Phyl Smythson - 'Wonderfully motivational and moving non-fiction...Humbling read which made me appreciate the enormous demands life in the police has on the lives of those who bravely enter into the service.'
  • Retired police officer Joe - 'a frank and honest reflection on life as a police officer, one of which I enjoyed and could relate to.'
  • Alfred Nobile - 'This is a memoir, of one man's experience, is very personal and at times immensely moving...It was very easy to read but at the same time thought provoking.'
  • Sue Burton - 'Hopefully this book will change the mind sets of people that are always criticizing the good work that the police actually do.'
  • Sarah Musk - 'An eye-opening memoir about the career of a Met. Police officer which unfortunately ends with a nervous breakdown. His compassion and common sense though shine throughout this admirable book.'
  • Ray Orgill - 'The police story he narrates does not tell us a great deal about the everyday aspects of the job but shows some of the highs and lows of policing, dealing with uniformed officers and the criminal.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'This really makes you see people differently, those who make it their job to protect and take care of those in need and what goes through their head when they leave home every day not knowing what will face them.'
  • Richard Hamlin 'It's an honest and sincere account.  I was impressed at the bravery he showed in facing up to this and sharing his darkest moments with the reader. '
  • Joe - 'The book is a frank and honest reflection on life as a police officer, one of which I enjoyed and could relate to.'

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Blue A Memoir - Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces by John Sutherland

A searingly honest memoir of life, policing and falling apart 'Every contact leaves a trace' John Sutherland joined the Met in 1992, having dreamed of being a police officer since his teens. Rising quickly through the ranks, and compelled by the opportunity to make a real difference to people's lives, he worked across the capital, experiencing first-hand the enormous satisfaction as well as the endless trauma that a life in blue can bring. There were remarkable, career-defining moments: commanding armed sieges, saving lives and helping to take dangerous people off the streets. But for every case with a happy ending, there were others that ended in desperate sadness. In early 2013, John suffered a major breakdown and consequent battle with crippling depression. After a career spent racing to be the first at the scene of crimes and catastrophes, he found himself in pieces, unable to put one foot in front of the other. Blue is a memoir of crime and calamity, of adventure and achievement, of friendship and failure, of laughter and loss, of the best and the worst of humanity, of serious illness and slow recovery. With searing honesty, it offers an immensely moving and personal insight into what it is to be a police officer in Britain today.


'A gripping book . . . moving and really powerful . . . I highly recommend it'
Jumoke Fashola, BBC London

'It is rare for an officer to reveal such deep, personal experiences about the effect policing has had on his life as does John Sutherland. His memoir will expand people's understanding of what it means to be a police officer in Britain today, revealing the truth about the toll that a career in policing can have on those tasked with the responsibility of tackling crime. This is a brave and compelling account of policing from a very senior officer in the most renowned police force in the world'
Colin Taylor, author of

Life of a Scilly Sergeant 'Brave and very honest
Bear Grylls

'A superb book by a superb police officer'
Charles Cumming

'John Sutherland lays out the human cost of working as a police officer in simple, devastating terms'
Jack Sommers

* HuffPost * 'A fascinating, powerful and beautifully written insight into the life of a police officer
Dan Walker, journalist and broadcaster

'Admirably honest and movingly human . . . Sutherland asks us to look behind the faceless blue and see the individual people - human and humane . . . the everyday heroes and heroines who police our streets'

.F. King * The Spectator * 'Courageous and moving
Tom Harper

, Sunday Times Home Affairs Correspondent 'Blue is a remarkable, revealing and inspiring insight into the worlds of the police and the policed. The stories told are by turns heart-warming and saddening, moving and maddening - it is an account of the very best and the very worst of our society. It is a book which should be required reading for all who aspire to public office, in any sector and at every level
John Nichol, bestselling author of

Tornado Down 'A remarkable, honest account of twenty years in policing
Sophy Ridge, journalist and broadcaster

'The effect of this honesty is to leave us both more appreciative of police officers and more concerned for their well-being, as well as encouraged that such a compassionate man was promoted so vertiginously. He describes police work as fulfilling, humbling, inspiring, daunting, shattering, rewarding and soul-stirring which is also a fair description of his book'
Josh Raymond

* Times Literary Supplement * 'An honest look at the vulnerability that comes with bravery' * the i * 'This is a remarkable book: a diary which became a magnum opus on belief and success, on depression and despair. It is well written and intellectually demanding, profound and deeply moving. In places, it is funny; everywhere, it is thoughtful. It has as much to tell us about mental illness as it does about policing. And there is much love in it: for friends, for family, for life
Alastair Stewart

'I read Blue more or less in one sitting. I thought it was wonderful - very powerful, deeply moving and utterly honest'
Henry Marsh, bestselling author of

Do No Harm and Admissions 'A stark account of a talented police officer's breakdown . . . This is a startlingly honest book and the final two chapters are heartbreaking
Richard Morrison

* The Times *

About the Author

John Sutherland

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

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Book Info

Publication date

25th May 2017


John Sutherland

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Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co


288 pages


Biography / Autobiography
Books of the Month
Books of the Year 2017
The Real World
eBook Favourites

True crime
True stories of heroism, endurance & survival



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