The Viney Agency


Ian CobainIan Cobain was born in Liverpool in 1960. He has been a journalist since the early 1980s and is currently an investigative reporter with the Guardian. His inquiries into the UK's involvement in torture since 9/11 have won a number of major awards, including the Martha Gellhorn Prize and the Paul Foot Award for investigative journalism. He has also won several Amnesty International media awards. Cobain lives in London with his wife and two children. (Photo: The Guardian).

His first book, Cruel Britannia (Portobello, 2012), won the Paddy Power Total Politics Award for Debut Political Book of the Year and was widely critically acclaimed including:

Peter Oborne in Spectator: “Carefully researched and well written... [Cobain] should be congratulated for addressing a subject which much of the rest of Fleet Street has been determined to ignore.”

David Hare: “Cobain details not just British complicity in torture... but the longstanding practice of the thing itself...Shocking and persuasive.”


Ian Cobain
'engrossing' Ian Jack, The Guardian

'An important book which deserves to change the way we see out recent past.' Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

'This is dizzying, disturbing stuff.' Jeanette Winterson, Guardian Books of the Year

Essential reading in the age of Snowden and Assange' Charles Cumming, author of A Divided Spy

'An importand and highly readable book' Geoffrey Robertson QC

In 1889, the first Official Secrets Act was passed and created offences of ‘disclosure of information’ and ‘breach of official trust’. It limited and monitored what the public could and should be told.  Since then, Britain’s governments and civil service have been engaged in the greatest identityfraud of all time - the dishonest and manufactured creation of our understanding of the British nation, our history and our culture. 

In this important new book, Ian Cobain offers a fresh appraisal of British history since the end of WWII, exploring among other issues: the measures taken to conceal the existence of Bletchley Park and its successor GCHQ for three decades; the unreported wars fought during the 1960s and 1970s; the hidden links with terrorist cells during the Troubles: the opaque workings of the criminal justice system; and the state’s peacetime surveillance techniques.

The History Thieves is a story that reveals the development of a complex bureaucratic machine – from the vast paper archives amassed during the colonial era to the electronic data captured and stored today – that enables the government to operate unchecked and ensure that its secrets remain hidden.  It is a powerful indictment of a political system which defrauds us daily, even as it promises us all the freedom and transparency of a liberal democracy in the Western world.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: The History Thieves, Portobello Books, 2016; Cruel Britannia: A Secret History of Torture, Portobello Books, 2012. Counterpoint, USA, 2013.