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Light and Shadow Updated Edition: Memoirs of a Spy's son

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  693 ratings  ·  89 reviews
The fascinating memoir of a broadcasting legend.

"Light and Shadow is the incredible story of a father waging a secret war against communism during the Cold War, while his son comes of age as a journalist and embarks on the risky career of a foreign correspondent. Mark covered local and global events for the ABC for more than four decades, reporting on wars, royal weddings
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Kindle Edition, 277 pages
Published October 30th 2017 by Melbourne University Press Digital (first published 2016)
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PattyMacDotComma
With all the spies in the news, this is a timely update by a spy's son (and so much more).

UPDATE March 2018. Melbourne University Press has issued an updated edition (with a new cover) and a wonderful piece at the end "In Memory of Mark Colvin" by his great friend and colleague, Tony Jones. Tony tells of Mark's broadcast that inspired him to set his sights above the local newspaper and get into foreign correspondence work.

Tony shares a bit of their long history together and his own insights int
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Richard
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So vivid - whether it's London, Canberra or Outer Mongolia. An enthralling memoir for anyone interested in global politics, being a reporter in places like Iran, the world of spying or just the back story of that great radio voice.
Claire Preston
So much of interest in this book that I think I will read it again to take in all the facts. But I thought that was part of its problem, it was too dense in information to really enjoy. I liked the second half of the book more when the story turned to Mark Colvin's career than that of his childhood and his father's role as a spy. But I was left wanting to know more about his later years, which aren't really covered. I feel a sequel coming on!
Sunita
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Overall very good. Fascinating insights into the Iranian revolution and the logistics of being a foreign correspondent (and broadcasting generally) in the 80s
Dawnie
*Thanks to NetGalley, the publishers and the author, for providing me with a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my free and honest review!*


Mark Colvin has a great voice and makes the entire book very entertaining and enjoyable to read and at the same time manages to make you feel as if everything he talks about is something that is happening -kind of like watching a movie! which is something not many authors manage to do!
So kudos to Colvin for really bringing a lively story into book forma
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Helen
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant autobiography of a highly respected Australian journalist, with insight into why he was so good at what he did. His account of his English prep school was sad but honest, and his insight into so many parts of the world is amazing. I heard it on an audiobook, with Mark himself reading. I recommend hearing it this way. Mark died recently, of complications of an illness contracted in his travels as a foreign correspondent. He will be missed.
Pip Jennings
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book immensely. Mark Colvin writes a wonderful memoir of his parents and his journalistic adventures. I found it exceedingly interesting.
Helen O'Toole
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Upon hearing of the death of Mark Colvin's death at age 65 after twenty years of dreadful ill health, his fellow ABC Radio friend, Richard Fidler wrote this: He had this beautiful mind, full of history & literature & Music, it swam around in his head all the time, and informed everything he did, but he wore his Education very lightly.”
I used to listen to Mark Colvin every weekday afternoon as he presented the ABC Radio PM Current Affairs program for twenty years. I respected him as a jou
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Diane Morter
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoyed hearing Mark Colvin on PM and The World Today (ABC 774), so when I heard he had written a book, I went into the Wheeler Centre to hear him talk. Really enjoyed the talk and bought the book which I have just finished. I found it fascinating as he was a bit younger than me, so has lived through the same historical events, e.g. Whitlam and Fraser years, Iranian hostage crisis and the genocide in Rwanda. Being a journalist he wrote extremely well and for such a brilliant man he was ...more
Helen Ginbey
What a diverse range of experiences Mark had, he seemed perpetually interested & clearly a fascinating man. I enjoyed the history tour & world events interpreted through his lens. I admire his voracious love of 'telling the story' & the last two words of the memoir made me smile, curious to the very end of his days.
Liz
I loved this book wholeheartedly. Such an in depth history, from Mark's first memories at the age of 2. It was a wonderful insight into machinations around the world. I could feel it filling in the missing jigsaw pieces for me, for example in Australia politics and the Cold War.
TomFairman
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mark Colvin truly lived an amazing life and this book provides a brief insight into some of it, covering the early years of his life to the early 1990s. His writing is engaging and the stories compelling. It really is a shame he died so young - a second volume of his life from the 1990s onwards would also be a great read, and may have remedied the only downside I found to this book, which there was not much insight into his children and immediate family (which was odd because the theme of the bo ...more
Rod Hunt
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read. An eloquent, intelligent description of a marvellous life set in a well explained context. If you are interested in the media, Australian or world politics, espionage or the Cold War, this is a must read. One of those books that makes you want to read more.
Anthea Mills
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mark Colvin was the epitome of Australian journalism. This book records his amazing childhood and career, while juxtaposing his vocation with his father's life as an MI6 agent. Art, literature, music,
major world events and political change set the scene for this compelling and well written memoir.
Stephanie
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this - learnt stuff - love Colvin’s voice
Mandy
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the book, but would have liked more about the man himself and less about the historical events. Dates and names gloss over me!
Ron Brown
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I clearly remember an early 1980s report by Mark Colvin on 2JJ from the streets of Kabul and him describing the stench of human death and how it adheres to your nasal passages. It was an example of the quality journalism that this man practised his whole life.
Reading Light and Shadow was like holding up a mirror to my life. Colvin was six months younger than me. He lived and experienced so many of the events that have made up the story of the last half century. I particularly identify with his t
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Peter Lees
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mark Colvin's memoir provides a fascinating insight into the world of radio journalism, and later, as a foreign correspondent. This is particularly so as Mark was reporting from foreign shores well before the role of a foreign correspondent was popularised, and the advent of television programs such as Foreign Correspondent and the like. This was a time of limited digital technology which has revolutionised journalism and the media.

Mark's intellect and knowledge of world affairs is stunning. His
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Sue
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio, zzmy-a
I didn’t know anything about Mark Colvin before reading this book, but thoroughly enjoyed finding out about his life as a broadcaster.

He talks of a happy childhood, living in several countries. He remembers staying in his grandmother’s house in England one winter. His grandfather had been a Navy man and the house was decorated with portraits of Nelson and there was a display case full of medals. His grandmother sounds like a big character, very well-spoken and old-school. His father was largely
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Sally Edsall
A wonderful book. You can hear Colvin's distinctive voice throughout. Melds stories of his journalistic career with his relationship with his father & father's career as a Cold War MI6 spy.

Colvin was part of my life from my teenage years listening to Double Jay through to PM most recently. He, like John Clarke, was one of those public figures whom you invite into your home, whose presence you look forward to, and for whom you join with others, also unknown to you, in grief.,

Plus: we had sim
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Amanda
This was a fascinating story of a father and son, by one of Australia's best loved journalists who unfortunately died a couple of weeks ago. I listened to the audiobook which Mark read himself so it made it even more personal. It was a bit disjointed at times, but then so was his life. I am the same age as Mark Colvin, but his experience of growing up in "Swinging London" is a world apart from my own growing up in what was then rather dull Melbourne and this adds to the enjoyment. I also saw som ...more
Christopher Bounds
I miss Mark Colvin's precise voice and insightful journalism: he was the epitome of professional ABC journalism and stood out like a giant above the self-indulgent crap that poses as journalism in much of Australian commercial media. What a well-written memoir and how sad that such a pioneer is now silent.
Jo Hyde
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant

Well done Mark !
An incredibly interesting read of world affairs from one inquisitive mind.
Both Mark's and his father's careers provide a really engaging view of world politics in our life time.
Dilly Dalley
I'm not sure where to start with this book. It is such a rich, detailed, fascinating, entertaining and sad book that it is hard to sum up in a review. I'm struggling to put my impressions into words. Perhaps I'll start with something that Mark Colvin mentions at the end of the book - gratitude to Louise Adler, his publisher, for encouraging him to write his memoir. What a loss to the world it would have been if he hadn't put his life experience into words for us. What an amazing life he led. Wha ...more
Ernest
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mark Colvin died on 11 May 2017, days after I finished reading this book. The outpouring of grief and memories from journalist colleagues that worked with him, political figures that admired and appreciated his integrity and rigour amongst a culture of superficiality, and his audience both through the media and via his Twitter feed was both genuine and a testament to the outsized impact he had as a broadcast legend. It is to our lasting benefit that we have his memoir, which tells not only of bo ...more
Kim Wingerei
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even if you don't know the name, you will remember the mellifluous soothing voice of the late Mark Colvin - ABC foreign correspondent for decades, including presenter on Four Corners, Lateline and many more. A legend of good old fashioned journalism at its best. He sadly passed away far too early in 2017. His autobiography - 'Lights ad Shadow: Memoirs of a Spy's Son' is a terrific read.
From covering the American hostage crisis in Tehran in 1979 to the Rwanda genocides in 1992, Colvin reported fi
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Bronwyn Mcloughlin
A generous memoir, reminiscing on a life lived straddling tradition and the impact of the internet, not judgementally, but with insight and gratitude. Particularly enjoyed the story about being last to the undertaker's looking after Robert Trimbole's obsequies, because of the need to fulfil the ABC's commitment to report on the OECD meeting, only to see the commercial networks disappearing into the distance, having already completed their interviews. But the preparedness to take time and seek a ...more
Ashley Ng
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most treasured books in my possession, thanks in no small part to Aptronym whose generosity as always came to the fore when she gifted an inscribed tome to me as well as to Bob, obtained when she attended the book launch.

I was very much looking forward to the next instalment. Mark was quite chuffed at the title he had come up with, “Seven Circles” in which he was going to write about Murdoch, the veracity and influence of media, and his illness. The reference of course being to Dante’
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Elizabeth
Fascinating journey through a significant arc of modern history from the cold war through to 9/11. Well written and told by Colvin - an English-Australia scion of an English male-line entrenched in that class system - his grandfather an Admiral, his father a naval officer turned MI6 spy. We follow Mark's childhood of foreign postings and English boarding schools and then his career as an ABC journalist from cadet-ship through to 'Four Corners' correspondent with all manner of things in between. ...more
Flexnib
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The journalist's classic question - what makes you tick? Where's the money? Who really runs this town? Cui bono? (who benefits?) What lies behind what you're telling me? How will this actually work in practice? Why are you lying to me? Who are you loyal to and who would you betray, and for what? - have become second nature, to the extent that the greatest temptation and danger is cynicism. They also, again, almost uncannily, mimic the mindset of the spy."

A touching memoir of a son and his relat
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“In fact, my real interest was, had always been, in the opinions and perspectives of others: in walking around a subject, as one walks around a building or a sculpture in a museum, trying to see it from every possible angle.” 0 likes
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