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Christian Wolmar

Christian Wolmar
Christian Wolmar (BA Economics 1967-71) is a writer and broadcaster specialising in transport. He has spent nearly all of his working life as a journalist, and was at The Independent from 1989 to 1997, mostly as transport correspondent. His latest book, Engines of War: How Wars Were Won and Lost on the Railways, is published this month.

Christian has also contributed an article to the Warwick Knowledge Centre on the ways in which railways have changed the nature of war since the nineteenth century.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A journalist… though I also thought of being a hippy, but found it too boring.
What was the best careers advice you were given?
I was never given any…
Describe yourself in three words
Driven, extrovert, happy
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Working on my own, combining all the elements from bureaucracy to creativity. Writing books does not come any easier even though I have written 10 so far. I love virtually all aspects of my work, from writing quickfire news stories and comment pieces, to appearing on TV and labouring over books
What have you done that you are most proud of?
I wrote a book called Down the Tube about the Public Private Partnership for the London Underground which exposed much of what is wrong with 21st century capitalism. Unfortunately, the subject was too obscure and not many people have read it. I am pleased, too, to have managed to have written a series of books about the railways focusing on their importance in history, something few people today now understand. And being a good dad, I hope
What drives you?
Trying to change the world, my desire not to be a wastrel like some members of my family, having my work recognised publicly, and the fact I find myself in the position of being paid quite well for doing a job I love.
What single thing would most improve the quality of your life?
A more equal society.
What three objects would you take with you to a desert island?
I am really uninterested in objects. But I would get jolly bored without books…
Where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?
Alive and in good health, and still producing books.
How would you like to be remembered?
My books which I hoped have changed some perceptions of history.
What are your favourite memories of your university years at Warwick?
Editing Campus, the weekly newspaper, and winding up the authorities. I grew up at Warwick and it was a very intense time. I was the first person to drop out and be allowed back to complete my degree, and hope others were able to follow in my footsteps. We were the sixties generation and we did make things better, though failed in our overall objective of really making a permanent change. Indeed, while socially we won, politically and economically we lost. But we tried and hopefully other generations will, too.
Do you have any advice for new graduates and undergraduates?
Do what you want to do, and don’t think of the money. Try to think that when you are on your death bed, you will have no regrets about wasting your life on trivia and moneygrabbing, but will be able to look back with pride. Above all, take risks!
Anything else you would like to add?

My career has been a bizarre mix of luck and hard work – not a bad combination.

Christian Wolmar: the facts
Age
61
Lives
Islington, London
Education BA Economics (1967-71)
Career Journalist, writer
Interests Politics, history, keeping fit, running, sport,

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You can read more about Christian on his website
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