In the 170-page book, Hard Pressed, John Marquis looks back on a career which took him from cub reporter on the Northampton Chronicle and Echo to being the managing editor of the Bahamas’ leading daily, The Tribune.
John, left, who is a former editor of Packet Newspapers in Cornwall, also covers his time as an award-winning investigative reporter, an international sports writer, and a sub-editor at Reuters.
He also became the subject of a national Sunday tabloid splash, successfully sued a rival newspaper for libel, and won a British Press Award for exposing a child neglect scandal at two major hospitals.
“Mine wasn’t the most glorious career in journalism, but I reckon I scored highly when it came to variety, ” said John, who admits to never having a clear plan during his half-century as a journalist.
“Being a journalist was enough in itself. Everything else was the clotted cream and fruit conserve of life, the delicious extras.”
John also worked for the Nottingham Post and Guardian Journal before moving to the Bahamas, where he was a political reporter in the 1960s.
Towards the end of his career, at the age of 63, he was credited with bringing down the Bahamas government after a group of cabinet ministers had campaigned for his deportation, having described him as a ‘journalistic terrorist’ and a ‘political assassin.’
One hostile website described him as ‘the greatest crapslinger in the world.’
“None of this was part of any strategy on my part – it just happened,” added John.
“I was drawn into the eddies and whirlpools of journalistic life largely because my ambition was so ill-defined.
“I hated the corporate culture, was hopeless at office politics, and never deferred to superiors because it never occurred to me that I had any.
“As an editor, I echoed the philosophy of my journalistic hero, H L Mencken – a journalist is to a politician what a dog is to a lamp-post.’”
In the self-deprecating book, John admits fluffing an interview with boxer Randolph Turpin, his boyhood hero, and turning down an offer to go sky diving with British heavyweight champion Richard Dunn.
He also maintains that ‘naivete, pure and simple’ earned him an interview with Papa Doc – the Haitian dictator rated the most fearsome tyrant of the age.
John, who turned 70 last year, has published several other books. His first book, Blood and Fire, appeared to critical acclaim in 2005.
His second, Papa Doc – about Haitian dictator Francois Duvalier – came out in 2007.
After more than 50 years as a writer, John concedes that he will probably be best remembered by fellow journalists – if at all – for his involvement with the notorious American sex-in-chains girl Joyce McKinney – a story which ran for days after being splashed in the Sunday Mirror in 1980.
“All in all, though, it’s been an eventful life,” added John.
“And I can’t think of any other journalist whose career I would have swapped for my own. That’s something, I suppose.”
Hard Pressed: A Journalist’s Memoir is published by First Edition Press at www.firsteditionpress.co.uk