About me

I’m a writer and journalist, living in Derbyshire England.  I’m the author of five non-fiction books: My Father’s House (Penguin 1997);  The Infernal Machine: a History of Terrorism (New Press 2007), also published in the UK as The Infernal Machine: an Alternative History of Terrorism (Hurst & Co 2011);  Blood and Faith: the Purging of Muslim Spain (New Press 2009, Hurst 2010);  Sherman’s Ghosts: Soldiers, Civilians, and the American War of War (New Press 2015), and  Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent (New Press), available in the UK in paperback as Fortress Europe: Inside the War Against the Immigration (Hurst 2015).

My first novel The Devils of Cardona, is due to be published in June by Penguin Random House in the US.  For publicity, contact:

Glory Plata
Riverhead Books
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
[email protected]

As a journalist, I’ve written for various print publications including The Observer, The Guardian, The New York Times, History Today, Race & Class,  Geographical magazine, Red Pepper and New Politics.  I have been a regular contributor to The First Post online magazine and the IPS news agency.

I’ve also appeared on British, American and Canadian radio as a guest contributor, usually on terrorism-related issues.  I’ve lectured and given seminars in a number of British universities, schools and cultural and educational institutions, including Derby, Newcastle and Nottingham universities and the Cervantes Institute in London.

I blog about politics, books, history, cinema, music and other things that interest me.

64 thoughts on “About me

  1. Hi, Matt. I just found your site because your fabulous review of Rami Zurayk’s book came up in my Google Alert. Thanks for penning a truly moving and smart review!

    I’d love to be in touch, if you could send me your email address. Including, to ask how you found out about Rami’s book. Angry Arab’s mention, maybe?

    Thanks! ~ Helena.

  2. Matt,
    If there is any way you can help Aziz Hussini there are many people who would be grateful. Sometimes writers can help to get an appeal as in the case of Lydia Besong and Bernard Bateyfrom Cameroons. Juliet Stephenson and Michael Morpurgo managed to get a judicial review for them. Aziz should stay in the UK and marry Gemma (I guess you know the distressing circumstances of his arrest).

    • Hi Janet. I would love to, but I’m not nearly as famous as the people you mention and I don’t think I would have that kind of clout. I have written to UKBA and apart from the blog post I’ve already written, I don’t know what else I can do.

  3. Great piece on Glenda Jackson with the reminder on the Beanfield. Here in the colonies it’s a steady stream of ARSLIKHAN for Maggie. Thanks for keeping it real.

  4. Matt I’m sure you’ll have seen it but just in case… The Daily Mail is currently running a campaign in support of that murdering bastard Sgt Blackman (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2519606/Alexander-Blackman-Royal-Marine-murdered-Taliban-fighter-jailed-life.html). They even have the gall to present him as a Casualty of War!!! Well, I suppose that’s what they mean by bringing civilised values to Afghanistan….

    This, and the whole Facebook/Twitter campaign in support of Blackman might make for a good post by you? I hope so!

    • LOL. No, it was me Nik. Much as I liked the old Max Ernst image, I felt like a new look, with a more reader-friendly font and layout. So I’ve balanced a dystopian header with anarcho-syndicalist red and black, sort of ying and yang. Hope you like it, and that GCHQ do too!

  5. Hi Matthew,
    I am writing in the hope that you are the same Matthew Carr who wrote about Palestinian education during the Intifada for the anti-racist teachers group ALTARF with Graham Usher. We published it in our newsletter in November 1989. I have been asked to write something about Graham following his death and would like to use some paragraphs from the article. Could you let me know if this is okay.

    Martin Francis

  6. Matt, I’m currently reading “The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI” by Betty Medsger. It’s the story of the break-in at an FBI office by a group of anti-Vietnam war protesters in 1971 and how it revealed that he FBI had secretly been spying on dissidents and, apart from being a good read, it has very striking parallels with the Edward Snowden affair. Absolutely fascinating!

  7. Hello Matt!
    I was wondering what your take on the developments in the Ukraine is. Do you think McCain et al. are also going to rush in support to Syntagma-Square in Athens once it is properly occupied and defended with catapults, molotov cocktails and folks dressed in improvised riotgear shouting right wing slogans? 😉

    • You and I both know the answer to that question Nik. I’ve been thinking of writing about Ukraine, but I’ve been really busy on other stuff the last week or so. I might get round to it.

  8. Hi Matt! I am doing my bachelors degree at Oslo University College on migration, mainly from North Africa to the EU. I already read your book “Fortress Europe”, but I have some questions and was wondering if there were any chance connect with you on e-mail or so? Sunniva

  9. Hi Matt, Good to see you in November at Graham’s memorial. I got ‘The Infernal Machine’ and bought it as a Christmas present for a number of people (so if there was a sudden improvement in your standard of living, probably down to me). Just wanted to say it was brilliant.

  10. Hi Matt, really enjoying your book Fortress Europe which I’m just getting round too. Had to write to tell you about From the Island, which is trying to link space exploration and migration in order to change attitudes. It’s another angle inspired by being in the canary islands, where space and migration collide! Would be great if you like it. Best wishes.

    • Hi Bren. I’m not sure how to do this from my end. Most subscribers simply write in their details on the ‘subscribe by email’ button, or add their details to the RSS feed by clicking on that button. Why don’t you try that and see how it works out. If it doesn’t let me know.

  11. Dear Mr Carr,

    I have just read your article In the Country of the Blind and find it inspiring to read your thoughts. Though I do not have an in-depth understanding of politics I have seen that the state of this country, and the general public views of migrants becoming worse and worse. I actually find it quite scary and contradictory to the fact that when my parents came to this country in the 70s they were actually invited by the UK government to work for the NHS, did their exams in their home country and were given loans to start off in the UK (which they eventually paid off because the wages and work allowed them to do so back then). And now look at the situation on migration and work in the UK…

    As a visual communicator (I am a photographer) I have always had a fascination with creatives who make their work with words. Inspired by your writing, I would like to take your portrait. This would help me to build on my portfolio of portraits (as much of my work is based on land and architecture) and you would get a print for personal use.

    I hope that you will consider my proposal and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind regards


    • Hi Shameela, Thank you for your kind words about my piece. Regarding you portrait request, I would be very happy to do it. I’m away in Spain for the next week, so let’s talk about it when I get back, shall we?

  12. Agree with your point on violence associated with settler colonialism. the context in which events take place, e.g. the killings in occupied Palestine, is often omitted

  13. Hi Matt!

    My name is Alicia, and I work with the National Writers Union as website admin. A cursory look at our website, nwuat-large.org, provides a basic idea of what we’re about. Your important article, ‘Israel, Censorship and The Huffington Post,’ appeared in our Daily Links section for today, July 9th.

    Here’s the link: http://nwuat-large.org/daily-links-and-news/. Here’s our FaceBook page: http://www.facebook.com/solidarityforevernwuatlarge.

    We are in the process both of building an organization that can contribute to ongoing struggles for social justice and people power, as well as creating a union that serves as widely diverse a group of progressive communicators as anyone could imagine. In that context, developing relationships and having conversations is essential. In any case, I or the At Large Chapter chair, Jim Hickey, (spindoctorjimbo AT gmail.com), hope to hear from you.

  14. Dear Matt
    I am currently writing my undergraduate dissertation, focusing on migrants in Calais. I was hoping to interview migrants in Calais directly, and I wondered if you had any pointers as to how I can make contact with them in a professional and dignified way.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Kind regards

  15. what did you think of Russell Brand’s book?
    quite like it so far – he comes across as someone who seems pretty honest and genuine – and that goes a LONG way in today’s world I think.

  16. Hi Matt, would you be interested in having a Skype talk with our school in Prague on some of the issues which you write about? We spoke to Noam Chomsky in December which, naturally, was thought-provoking and proved successful with our students. Alternatively, if you happen to plan a visit to Prague it would be great to speak with you in person. If you’re interested, could you please write to [email protected]? Thank you kindly, Patrick

  17. Hi Matt,

    I don’t know if you’ve come across Frank Ledwidge’s “Investment in Blood: The True Cost of Britain’s Afghan war,” but it’s a terrible indictment of the whole shambles – and that from a military (well, naval) man. Loads and loads of quotable material, but I thought this was one of the most striking. It’s from a former NATO spokesman there:

    “[The Taliban] pose no threat to Britain and *not one Afghan* has ever been involved in any terror attack in Europe or the US. It is simply rubbish to assert that British soldiers are fighting impoverished opium farmers and low grade US$10 a day gun-for-hire insurgents in Helmand province to protect the British people from terror attacks. These Afghans are fighting our soldiers because they just don’t like foreigners and infidels. They never have and they never will.”

    Strongly recommended!

    • That’s one of the books Meek reviews and it does sound good Richard. Have you read An Intimate War? I reviewed it last year and it is brilliant and revelatory.

  18. Hi Matthew
    I am a script editor working on a development for a drama series that examines the murky world of immigration in Europe. Myself and the writer would love the opportunity to talk to you – it would be great to hear from you so I can explain further.

    Many thanks

  19. Good stuff. Your take would certainly apply in the good ole USA if money and ignorance should allow the GOP to buy our 2016 so called election.

  20. Hi Matt,

    I came across your blog whilst helping research an article on the current refugee crisis. Really enjoyed “Save a Refugee – Bomb ’em all to Hell” – great analysis of the current situation and how the government is trying to spin it.

    I also liked your Corbyn analysis, and agree that we need a new politics of (dare we say) hope.
    I currently work for Scenes of Reason (www.scenesofreason.com) a new media start-up explaining the news. We’re currently released a series of content about the refugee crisis and the UK’s immigration debate.

    I’d love to have a chat to you about how we could potentially collaborate in the future. For now, here’s our piece on why the debate about Immigration in the UK is rigged from the start:


    Would love to chat so do get in touch.


  21. Hi Matt, really liked your book, The Infernal Machine. Feel it’s still the best book on state and group terrorism. Curious, came across a Cocteau play by same title; were you aware of this at the time?

    • Hi Dan. Thanks very much. Yes I was aware of the Cocteau title,but I named my own book in reference to the nineteenth century century description of bombs as ‘infernal machines’.

  22. Hey Matt, hoping to get in touch with you about a possible interview – our number for you seems out of date. Perhaps you could email me back on the email I entered, thanks

  23. Matt, Having heard an odious bloke called Brendan O’Neill on “Any Questions” today, I did a websearch and came to your excellent blog posting on this fellow back in 2012. His behaviour was exactly as you describe. Here it was leftists “putting down the working class”, saying they shouldn’t “drive nice cars or live in nice houses”. No names or organisations given of course. Also saying that the dominance of the privately educated having being due to the “dumbing down” of state education, and people should stop criticising public schools.

    O’Neill is in a libertarian “think” tank, called, with ineffable pretentiousness, “The Institute of Ideas. The funding for this organisation is opaque, but I’m sure being a shill for the rich wouldn’t go amiss when attracting money.

    • That sounds like O’Neill’s schtick Bill. Glad I didn’t hear it. Even your summary is annoying. He did do one thing I admired him for some years back, when he wrote a piece about a Saudi sheikh who had sued me and various other writers. He was pretty much the only writer in the Uk who mentioned this case. Apart from that, the same shallow, calculated and well-remunerated contrarianism.

  24. Hi Matt,
    I’ve been reading your work for some time now, and I was wondering if you’ve ever written anything about your research and writing process? Let’s just say i’m a curious recent graduate interested in learning how the process comes together outside of academia.


    • Hi Alanna, Nice to hear from you. No I haven’t written anything about this. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have though. All best, Matt

  25. Hi Matt,

    I am a student at the Royal College of Art, studying in the School of Communication. I am part of the team heading ‘Red Tape’ this year, a platform that aims to actively engage and open up channels of debate surrounding culture, politics and society.

    The aim for this platform is to explore and question how we, as creative practitioners, can influence and address the contemporary world through our creative practice. For this event we will look at today’s cultural context (Brexit, the rise of nationalism and the effects of the global movement of people) and how this is shaping tomorrow’s society. We realise that it can be an intimate and difficult topic, but this is why it matters to us.

    I read about the protest ‘one day without us’ that you are leading in reaction to the Brexit vote and thought you would be an interesting addition to our debate as you have subverted Facebook from a social to a political context. We would also be interested in hearing your research from your book ‘Fortress Europe’ and discussing the effects of a hard Brexit (and border) in relation to society, culture and the creative opportunities and problems that this presents us all.

    The details of the event are below, we have also created a PDF if you would like to read more about our intentions and we can email this to you.

    Date: November 3rd
    Time: 6pm – 9pm
    Location: Art Bar, Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU.

    As we are a student lead forum we have a small budget, if you are interested we are willing to discuss payment for your time.

    Kind regards,

    Jon Halls
    Red Tape team.

  26. Dear Mr. Carr,

    Doing research for a 47 TV documentary dedicated to the process of ‘externalisation’ of EU borders, we were bound to end up reading your wonderful ‘Fortress Europe’. Could we have a phone call about a possible TV interview? We are based in Hilversum the Netherlands and would be filming between November 17th and Christmas this year. Broadcast scheduled for Sunday Feb 5th 2017, channel 2 Netherlands TV.
    Thank you in advance for a brief reply

  27. Hi Matt,

    I’m a student at the University of Melbourne studying Criminology and Sociology with a particular interest in terrorism. I was wondering if I would be able to contact you by email to discuss some of the ideas presented in your work in greater depth.

  28. Dear Matt,
    We are a London based Production company constructing a film examining the British refugee policy and immigration removal camps. Currently, we are aiming to find experts to interview who have a thorough understanding of the area, and after having read your work in Huffington Post and on this blog we are keen to engender a dialogue with the hopes of an interview.
    We look forward to your reply,

  29. More than a month without the Infernal Machine. There are so many things I’d like to get your take on… Aleppo, Mosul, DNC-Hacking, new McCarthyism …

    Hope you are ok, you old Shock worker of Communist Labour! 🙂

  30. Dear Matt,

    Your words mean more than you know. Your intelligent, insightful and often inspirational commentary on the world in which we live, have (and hopefully will continue to have) a hugely positive impact on the lives of myself and surely countless others.

    With great interest, and no small amount of concern, I read your comments on how your opinions on the left have changed. It is now scarily familiar to me. Friends, family and various media voices in my ‘bubble’, have similarly echoed your changed perspective on what constitutes the ‘left’. Just for the record, I personally emailed Lindsey German after STW completely changed their website after the brigades episode, almost destroying what was once an amazing platform for intelligent and compassionate dissent. She actually responded, (something about changing direction), but I’ve always felt uneasy at how those events played out. Luckily, I quickly found the infernal machine and added it as a favourite for my habitual perusal.

    Trump, Brexit, Syria and Yemen, or more accurately, the ‘left’s’ responses to these events, has altered people’s opinions on what the ‘left’ is. Jonathan Pie talked about how self-declared liberals were offending him with the post Brexit/Trump comments, altering his perspective on what constitutes the left, or what it means to represent that side of the political argument. I know family who are now disgusted at large parts of what they once claimed to represent. I know friends, people who have spent large parts of their life engaging in progressive, liberal politics, now talking about issues exclusively in terms of virtue-signalling and SJWs.

    I guess my point is, all kinds of individuals are responding to the hatred, bile and vindictiveness that some sections of the ‘left’ have unleashed, and decided, that’s not me, that is not what I represent. That the actions and words of these people have shaken many people’s political philosophies to the core is now, seemingly, commonplace.

    Despite all this, I remain hopeful. There is clearly an issue with ‘hatred’ being proliferated on social media. But this happens on both sides (and no sides.) I read a James Delingpole article yesterday, (which of course, always leaves one feeling morally and spiritually bereft!) but it reminded me of the kind of hatred and negativity that occurs across the spectrum. I’ve also read, like you, left wing commentators seemingly using the same horrid tactics to vilify or discredit people who disagree with them. But the reality for me is that these people or views don’t constitute what defines being left wing.

    I have loved reading your blog. I appreciate your views on the world. I will continue to check this website on a regular basis and hope to learn as much from you in the next two years as I have in the previous two.

    Don’t be disheartened by the anger and misguided resentment of some ‘leftists’. Don’t let their volume and spite alter the progressive perspective you have always made so relatable and reassuring to your many readers.

    If we are truly to rise in unvanquishable number, it’s voices like yours that will bring that about. Please, never forget that.

    Many thanks.


    • Hi Jesus. Thanks very much for such a generous and thoughtful message. Your points about the mutual vindictiveness amongst both left and right are well-taken, and I don’t intend to stop writing because of it. I never really wrote for or on behalf of such people anyway. Time permitting, I will continue to write, both on this blog and elsewhere, and responses like yours remind me why it’s still worth doing so. All best, Matt

  31. Dear Matt,
    I very much liked your book „Blood and faith“ and will recommend it to our German readers in our coming “Spiegel Geschichte”- Magazine on Islam and Europe (pity the book hasn’t been translated yet).

    Still, I do have questions about the last paragraph: Where can I find what the Morisco-descendants-historian in Tetuan wrote when King Juan Carlos should have come? How can I get the proof that the King was expected in March 2005 – since the Queen, Sofia, did come? Why wouldn’t the Morisco-descendants mention their quest to her?

    Thankyou so much for answering me these questions – preferrably via email.

    Best, Annette

    • Hi Mark. Thanks for your concern. I’m fine thanks, just been extraordinarily busy with the One Day Without Us campaign. It’s over now, so I should have more time available for blogging. Hope you’re well too!

      • Matt, it’s good to hear that your activity rather than something sinister has kept you from blogging.

        Like many of us, I’m looking forward to your getting behind the keyboard again.

  32. Dear Matt,

    My name is Tristan and I’m a film-maker from London. I’m currently working on a documentary exploring the securitisation of asylum/migration in Europe and the workings of its growing ‘migration industry’. The topic is one I am deeply attached to, and its message is one I believe has great power and validity in offering an alternative understanding of Europe’s current circumstances, and one meriting being voiced more loudly in our public and political debate. The goal of the documentary is to explore which actors are profiting (financially and otherwise) from current European discourses around security and migration, and how these actors have a hand in shaping such narratives.

    In researching the project (it was the topic of my MSc thesis), I was inspired by Fortress Europe and your blog. As such, I am writing to ask if you’d be willing to contribute to the documentary, by sharing your ideas with me in a filmed interview. If this is something you are interested in, I would love to meet you or arrange a time to discuss the project further.

    Many thanks, and looking forward to hearing back from you,


  33. Your comment in the Huffpost article ‘One Day Without Us: Let’s Have A Different Conversation About Migration’ quote ‘We believe that such actions do not reflect the best traditions of this country’ needs to also reflect that we are the people who for example invented the concentration camp and the behavior mentioned in your article is consistent with the standard English attitude over time.
    Your site ‘www.1daywithoutus.org’ and the list of events seem to perpetuate the Brexit voting pattern of concentrating the events in areas where support already exists. If you really want to improve the discussion plan an event at eg. Boston, not in an area that will act as little more than an echo chamber. Incidentally Boston does have a high immigrant population, having an event there is appropriate for your organization. Be brave and move out of your comfort zone and really tackle the conversation, don’t refuse to engage with others because its too much like hard work.

    • Hi John. I am aware of British (English) imperialism, thank you, and I do specify the ‘best traditions’ of this country. Whether we are ‘brave’ or not is for others to decide, but we did not organise events in Remain areas. We did not think of this as a Leave versus Remain issue, in fact, and we certainly did not form ‘safe’ groups to speak to the converted. We invited people to form groups, and some people came forward in Leave areas such as Peterborough and Hampshire and Sheffield – where I live. The decision was theirs not ours. We would be perfectly happy to see 1DWU groups in Boston and other places, but that requires people to come forward and set them up

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