About the book

I asked a chum who had written a book before – ‘How do you decide where to start?’ – as I was determined not to write the story from the beginning to the end – that would be very predictable and boring, I thought. After all, I was a filmmaker and filmmakers don’t tell stories in chronological order. Also I’m dyslexic and I’ve never written anything before and I read very seldom as it’s a very big chore for me. Anyhow, he told me to think of what was the most important thing that ever happened in my life. Was it the moment I was waving goodbye to my friends off the deck of a massive ocean liner the Oriana on my way to an uncertain world in Australia at the tender age of 17? Was it the moment the police came to my front door one Sunday evening to tell me that my son, Orlando, was dead? Was it the day I discovered that my father was a spy? Was it the day I directed my first movie? Or was it the day I died and miraculously returned to life again after 19 days in a coma? No…none of these. I think the most memorable event of my life was when I walked out of a pawn shop in Sydney in 1963, having hocked the old Leica camera my father gave me before I left England, and with the proceeds bought a saddle – which was now over my shoulder looking to hitch a ride out of town to the Outback, to find a horse, to become a cowboy and realise my childhood dream. What was I doing? Was I completely mad?


Press release


Book reviews

Jim Lee’s strengths are in his powerful movement and his supercharging narrative that is highly theatrical and very gripping.

Martin Barnes, Head of Photography, V&A


Overwhelming! A very personal encounter with the real spy world.

Nigel West, author and intelligence historian


Jim Lee brings a distinctive viewpoint and profound empathy to everything he does – to photography, to lm, and now to writing. On his first page he seduces us with the promise of “a strange mix of things: some quite grand and lavish, others rather austere and simple” – and he fulfils the promise again and again.

Barry Schwabsky, art critic and historian


Jim Lee has lived more lives than most of the luckiest neighbourhood cats.

Colin Vaines, Film producer (Coriolanus, Gangs of New York, The Young Victoria)


The last word book review


The Oxford Literary Book Festival

Date: Friday 8th April 2016
Time: 12:00hrs
Duration: 1h
Venue: Weston Lecture Theatre, Weston Library, Bodleian Libraries, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG
Price: £12

Gibraltar book festival

Date: Saturday 14th November 2015
Time: 16:00hrs
Venue: City Hall, John Mackintosh Square, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA
Price: £12

Memoir includes personal photography

Date: Thursday 27 August 2015
Publisher: Quartet Books
Price: £20
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780704373891


Date: Monday 7 September 2015
Time: 1830hrs
Venue: The Groucho cCub
With: Q&A @ 1930hrs