John Kampfner

John Kampfner is a British author, broadcaster and commentator. He was Founder Chief Executive of the Creative Industries Federation[1] and Founder Chair of Turner Contemporary. He is now a Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and has contributed columns to The Times and The New European. His sixth book Why The Germans Do It Better, Notes From A Grown-Up Country, was published in August 2020.[2]

John Kampfner
John Kampfner, Creative Industries Federation in London.jpg
Kampfner in 2014
EducationThe Hall School, Hampstead
Westminster School
Alma materThe Queen's College, Oxford
OccupationJournalist, author, broadcaster, commentator, book reviewer
Lucy Ash
(m. 1992)

Early life and educationEdit

Kampfner was born in Singapore to a Jewish father from Bratislava and a Protestant mother from Chatham-Kent. He was educated at Westminster School. He went to The Queen's College, Oxford where he received a BA degree in Modern History and Russian.


Kampfner began his career as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Moscow and Bonn. He moved to The Daily Telegraph, first in East Berlin where he reported on the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany, and then as Bureau Chief in Moscow at the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He went on to become chief political correspondent at the Financial Times (1995-1998) and political commentator for the BBC's Today radio programme and political correspondent on Newsnight (1998-2000).[3]

In 2002 Kampfner won the Foreign Press Association awards for Film of the Year and Journalist of the Year for The Ugly War,[4] a two-part BBC film on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. His film War Spin,[5] exposing the propaganda behind the rescue of Jessica Lynch, received considerable publicity in the US and UK.

Kampfner was editor of the New Statesman from 2005-2008.[6] He was the British Society of Magazine Editors Current Affairs Editor of the Year in 2006.[7]

He was named one of the 1000 most influential Londoners in the Evening Standard Progress 1000 survey in 2015, 2016 and 2017.[8] In October 2015, he also won the Art and Design category at the HClub 100 awards.

In 2008 he was Founder Chair of Turner Contemporary, an art gallery in Margate designed by architect Sir David Chipperfield which has been seen as a model of arts-based regeneration. During his time, he welcomed the Queen and the Duchess of Cambridge on visits. In December 2015 he stepped down after seven and a half years.

Kampfner was chair of the Clore Social Leadership Programme between 2014–18, a charity which nurtures leaders in the charity sectors. He was also a member of the Council of King's College London for three years.

He was Chief Executive of the freedom of expression organisation Index on Censorship between 2008 and 2012.[9] From 2012 to 2014, he was an external consultant for Google on freedom of expression and culture.

In 2014, he established the Creative Industries Federation, a national organisation to represent the arts, creative industries and cultural education.

In 2019 he became a Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI[10] and a columnist at the Times and New European newspapers. He is also an adviser to the Frankfurt Book Fair and Chair of the House of Illustration.

In 2019, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Bath Spa University for services to arts education and the creative industries.[11]


Kampfner has written six books. These include: Inside Yeltsin's Russia: Corruption, Conflict, Capitalism (1994),[12] an account of the early years of post-Communism; a 1998 biography of former Labour Foreign Secretary Robin Cook,[13] and a study of Tony Blair's interventionist foreign policy Blair's Wars (2003), which gave one of the first authoritative accounts of the Iraq war and used in subsequent Whitehall enquiries, as well as school and university texts.[14] His book Freedom For Sale: How We Made Money And Lost Our Liberty (2009) is an analysis of the seeming abandonment of liberty in the names of democracy and capitalism.[15] The book was shortlisted for the Orwell Book prize in April 2010.[16] The Rich, a 2000-year history, from slaves to super-yachts,[17] is a historical comparison between contemporary oligarchs and those down the ages.

His latest book, Why The Germans Do It Better, Notes From A Grown-Up Country, was published by Atlantic in August 2020.[18] A Sunday Times bestseller in its first week, the book received positive reviews and coverage in The Guardian,[19] The Times,[20] The Sunday Times,[21] The Economist,[22] New Statesman,[23] TLS[24] and Literary Review.[25]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1992, Kampfner married BBC journalist Lucy Ash. The couple have two daughters and live in London.[26]


  1. ^ "John Kampfner | The Guardian". the Guardian. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  2. ^ "John Kampfner". David Higham Associates (in American English). Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  3. ^ Guardian Staff (23 July 2006). "My week: John Kampfner". The Guardian (in British English). ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  4. ^ The Ugly War: Children of Vengeance, retrieved 21 May 2020
  5. ^ "Saving Private Lynch story 'flawed'" (in British English). 15 May 2003. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  6. ^ Wilby, Peter (18 February 2008). "The Statesman staggers on". The Guardian (in British English). ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  7. ^ Plunkett, John (15 November 2006). "British Society of Magazine Editors awards winners". The Guardian (in British English). ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  8. ^ "The Progress 1000: Artists and Curators". Evening Standard. 7 September 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  9. ^ Twitter, Press Gazette (5 August 2008). "John Kampfner heads up Index on Censorship". Press Gazette (in American English). Retrieved 21 May 2020. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  10. ^ "Kampfner". RUSI. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  11. ^ VC, Bath Spa (25 July 2019). "A warm welcome to @johnkampfner, acclaimed author, broadcaster and founder of the Creative Industries Federation- our Honorary Grad at the 1.00pm @BathSpaUni Graduation ceremony - well done to all students graduating alongside him". @BathSpaVC. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  12. ^ Kampfner, John (1994). Inside Yeltsin's Russia : corruption, conflict, capitalism. London : Cassell. ISBN 978-0-304-34463-5.
  13. ^ "The Saturday Profile: Labour's falling star". The Independent. 26 September 1998. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  14. ^ Sands, Philippe (28 September 2003). "Observer review: Blair's Wars by John Kampfner". The Observer (in British English). ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Freedom for Sale by John Kampfner | Book review". the Guardian. 12 September 2009. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  16. ^ Flood, Alison (22 April 2015). "Orwell prize shortlists non-fiction by novelists". The Guardian (in British English). ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  17. ^ Kampfner, John (30 January 2019). The Rich (in American English). ISBN 9781408704264.
  18. ^ "Why the Germans Do It Better". David Higham Associates (in American English). Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  19. ^ "Why the Germans Do It Better by John Kampfner review – notes from a grown-up country". the Guardian. 22 August 2020. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  20. ^ Moody, Oliver. "Why the Germans do it Better by John Kampfner review — Germany, almost a normal nation". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  21. ^ Hastings, Max. "Why the Germans Do It Better: Notes From a Grown‑Up Country by John Kampfner, review". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  22. ^ "Whatever the question, the answer is Germany". The Economist. 29 August 2020. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  23. ^ "To understand Germany's successes, we must concentrate less on Angela Merkel". 2 September 2020. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  24. ^ "Why the Germans Do It Better by John Kampfner book review | The TLS". TLS (in British English). Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  25. ^ "Thomas Kielinger - Mutti Knows Best". Literary Review. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  26. ^ Guardian Staff (23 July 2006). "My week: John Kampfner". the Guardian. Retrieved 21 May 2020.

External linksEdit

Media offices
Preceded by Editor of the New Statesman
Succeeded by