7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive and excellent. Power certainly corrupts, absolutely.
I grew up with Jimmy Savile. Not literally, thankfully, but he was always 'there'. He was never off TV. It's difficult to imagine now, but he was part of the very fabric of the country; whether presenting Top of the Pops, Jim'll Fix It, cavorting with politicians or royalty, raising funds for charity, advertising trains, seat belts, cross channel travel, children's...
Published 3 months ago by Bookie
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Bag
.A strange book about a strange man. It can'r decide whether it is a summary of the BBC's difficulties over the posthumous revelations or an anecdotal biography, drawn primarily from published materials and the memory of (as the author admits) shifty and uncertain comments Savile made to him during their periodic acquaintance. What impedes the book, though, is the...
Published 1 month ago by NewHouse
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive and excellent. Power certainly corrupts, absolutely.,
I grew up with Jimmy Savile. Not literally, thankfully, but he was always 'there'. He was never off TV. It's difficult to imagine now, but he was part of the very fabric of the country; whether presenting Top of the Pops, Jim'll Fix It, cavorting with politicians or royalty, raising funds for charity, advertising trains, seat belts, cross channel travel, children's shoes. The list is endless and I remember particularly because I loathed him. I didn't like the way he tried to be everyone's friend and he always seemed full of false bonhomie.
But in my wildest dreams, I would never have imagined the extent of his depravity and manipulation. In Plain Sight is a truly shocking account. Well written and meticulously researched, supported by documented references and personal interview, this book gives a frightening account of a twisted individual ( and others) whose activities over many years have been actively supported and often encouraged by the Establishment. And he often laughed in their ( and our) face knowing the truth behind the facade.
More shocking than Savile's behaviour is the extent to which those in a position to protect the vulnerable were complicit. It's a searing indictment of the moral corruption inherent in so many organisations. The BBC, Broadmoor, Stoke Mandeville,children's homes, various police forces. The list is seemingly endless. Never was so little given by so many; they were always happy to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to those who had the temerity to complain or seek support. They let down the most vulnerable in our society, children, the sick, the elderly, the less able. There is absolutely no doubt that this man was a predatory and dangerous sex offender. He got away with it for the whole of his life and was clearly continuing to offend right up until shortly before his death. Those responsible for ignoring pleas for help should be brought to account for their failings. Even within recent months, there's evidence that damage limitation is seen as the best action. Sweep whatever you can under the carpet, manipulate the truth and continue to fool a gullible public.
I hope the tide is turning and Mr Davies's informed and intelligent account will lead to people not only expecting, but demanding better from those who know better. This book made me angry for all the right reasons. It's a brilliant, although often uncomfortable read and he handles an emotive subject with sensitivity and compassion.
My thanks to the publisher for a review copy though Netgalley.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An utterly brilliant masterpiece portraying a villain of monstrous proportions,
This review is from: In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile (Hardcover)
When this book arrived I started reading it instantly. I did not move from my chair for two hours and over the next two days I read it with as few disruptions as possible. In short, it had the same effect as a compelling novel. Dan Davies has written a brilliantly compelling study. It has two parallel narratives. One is the biography of Savile's life made up of descriptive sections and accounts of his interviews with Savile himself. The other is the gradually accumulating firestorm as the BBC Newsnight investigation was begun, abandoned and then picked up by ITV. Davies switches from each narrative to the other throughout the book.
The truly overwhelming issue of this book is the fixation so many people have with fame. Savile was a malicious, psychopathic arch-manipulator but it takes two to tango and the other criminals in this remarkable story are the, literally, hundreds of people who facilitated his access to patients, children and teenagers, or by whose negligence allowed him to access them. Some even actively encouraged his victims into his arms, and amazingly this includes the parents of some of the girls involved, as well as police, town councillors, and medical staff. Some were unspeakably naïve, others were cowards or did so wilfully in the hope that his 'friendship' would make them seem more important or accrue them some personal advantage. Whatever has happened since with Operation Yewtree there must still be many people around alive who know that they helped Savile commit his crimes, and helped him get away with them. They must be cringing. Either that, or they must be riven with denial.
The next overwhelming issue is the process of saving face. All institutions seem susceptible to the grubby and demeaning way in which lies, cover-ups, denials and downright crookery are deployed to save face. This was how the BBC behaved decades ago when the first stories about Savile began to surface and it was no different when the journalist Meirion Jones, whose own aunt had been one of the persons in authority Savile had wilfully exploited, began his investigation for Newsnight. This is not unique. Hospitals and schools do this, and so do governments. But it always ends in tears, eventually, and so it did for the Savile saga. The fallout has been gigantic and it will echo down future years though I've no doubt similar sorry sagas will ensue nonetheless. Davies recounts this meticulously, with detailed references to phone calls, meetings and emails.
The book is a genuine masterwork. This is an enormous contemporary drama and tragedy. Dan Davies has produced an immensely powerful and vivid piece of writing. His descriptive powers are on a par with Dickens. The description of a crepuscular Savile slumped in his chair, shrouded in cigar smoke, while in the distance the Scarborough seafront glimmers through the window, or him dancing around the cruise ship QE2 ingratiating himself with passengers, left me feeling as if I was in the room or cabin with him. On every page Savile's monumental ego, his shell suits, and menacing asides leap from the pages and put him in the room with the reader, lurking like some macabre spectre. The book is also extremely balanced. Davies fully acknowledges and describes the benefits accrued from Savile's charitable works and occasional gestures of enormous generosity, but this side to the man only serves to emphasize his brooding malevolence and his systematic exploitation of others.
To read this book is to see Savile's whole life played out before oneself, surrounded by a vast crowd of the credulous acolytes like a picture of a dictator waving to a mob of adoring believers. If Savile had not existed for real, only someone like Dickens could have created him. In that sense Savile is almost a Fagin for our times, a character of such enormous power that he outgrew the novel Oliver Twist. Savile emerges from this book in the same way, a character of such hypnotic skills, grotesque charisma and evil charm that all the other players and events in his ghastly story are almost entirely subsumed into a stage set for his life. One feels that in a curious way Savile would have been delighted by the book; indeed, his active support of Davies' interviews in his latter years suggests that he was even at least partly in control of the account that eventually appeared and which even Davies cannot have fully anticipated when he started out.
The book is an absolute must, and a warning.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Plain Sight,
If you’re afraid to read this book because you think it will contain a lot of graphic details of the sexual abuse of minors then rest assured – it doesn’t. The details of offences are kept to a minimum and there is no salaciousness in the reporting of them. In fact the book is all the more powerful because it doesn’t dwell on the details. It is a harrowing book to read because it paints an all too vivid picture of how celebrity rules and how too many of us are unwilling to challenge anyone in the public eye.
Reading this book made me realise how many signs were there that something untoward was happening and yet none of the allegations made to the police and others in a position to act on them were ever properly investigated. Nurses told patients to ‘pretend to be asleep’ and to forget about it and not make a fuss because ‘no one will believe you.’ Many knew of the rumours throughout Jimmy Savile’s long career and yet they were just accepted as something which happened and because it was JS nothing could ever be done about it because he had friends in high places and did so much for charity.
I thought the book well written and researched and it has clearly been the author’s life’s work to collect up all the information from such diverse sources. He freely admits that even as a child he didn’t like JS though found himself falling under the man’s charismatic spell during their many conversations. There are plenty of sources quoted to back up the author’s text as well as bibliography.
What came over to me most strongly from reading this book was that JS was a hugely manipulative individual – cultivating the parents of young teenage girls so that they thought nothing of it when he went off on his own with their daughters. When the girls subsequently told their parents of the assaults they were not believed because JS was a friend and wouldn’t do anything like that.
I found it disturbing, though unsurprising, that police officers to whom allegations of assault were made were quietly told to drop the investigations. Often no reason was given but equally often it was hinted that higher authority had decreed the cases should not be pursued. It seems JS’s friends in high places were always keeping an eye out for him. Hopefully current investigations into those who are still alive will root out the corruption and protect innocents from abuse in the future. Meanwhile we should all remember ‘If there is something wrong with society then there is something wrong with me.’ How often have you turned a blind eye to something which could and should have been reported?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening portrait of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.,
This review is from: In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile (Hardcover)
If you ever wondered how an individual, who’s abused prolifically, in all manners of situations, could not only evade any kind of serious legal prosecution, but actually maintain an almost saint-like public image, this is the book which goes some way to explain it. It is extensively researched and well written. The author spent an extended amount of time with Savile so is well placed to unpick the story.
There have been individuals throughout history who have done what Jimmy Savile is now known to have done. Gilles de Rais, for example (though obviously he was a murderer to boot). And it has to be said prolific abusers do tend to have very similar personality profiles. Ostentatious/unconventional ways of dressing, carefully constructed eccentric personality traits, contrived way of talking, an entourage which is paid off, money, power and some kind of philosophical/spiritual justification feature. Savile felt he had some kind of special connection with the Divine. Most specifically he hoped that doing lots of good works on earth would earn him credit and somehow counteract for all the sin. Exactly the same for Gilles de Rais with regards to Joan of Arc.
Savile carefully built a wall of protection around himself. This is why, despite constantly self-referencing his own abusive behaviour publically, there was never a significant challenge on him whilst he was alive. He was a rich, powerful, violent and ruthless man.
There is also a question of whether he used hypnotism as an agent of influence. Which is interesting to me, because I am wondering why those who witnessed the abuse at first hand - friends and colleagues, the nurses in the hospitals - just stood by and took no notice. Did not one of these people have a thought in their head to go straight to the police? Or was he just so persuasive and powerful that to cross him was just unthinkable? He even managed to get his victims’ parents on side at times. And this is despite openly, and repeatedly, stating his predilection for young girls. So yes, I think he was a brilliant influence technician. The thing that he said was not the thing that the audience heard, or something like that, diverting attention from himself, by diverting attention to himself. I can’t quite describe it. But he was obviously very successful at it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Apocalypse Now then.,
This review is from: In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile (Paperback)
This is a worthy, well-written book, meticulously researched, and long overdue. Without re-hashing what's already been said in other excellent reviews on 'Amazon', I would like to add a few opinions of my own.
This book could almost be used on first year undergraduate Law Studies or as Training Manual for Police Officers on how not to run a Police Force.
Davies quite rightly castigates senior managers at the BBC for trying to keep the wraps on Saville..a life-long employee. The West Yorkshire Police Force are at best grossly negligent or at worst, elements were part and parcel of Saville's offending.Someone within WYP may have even 'disinfected' police records and wiped all evidence away. Margaret Thatcher seemed besotted with 'Opportunity Saville' the 'very best in entrepreneurship'. Lady Thatcher fought for ten years to get Jimmy Knighted.The Royal Family were not immune. Prince Phillip and Prince Charles and some of 'The Firm' even went to Savile for advice.
In other words Saville had The Establishment in his pocket and was free to offend wherever he liked, whenever he liked, with whoever he liked.
How's about that then?
The major criticsm I have of this book is that I didn't know any more about Savile after I'd read it than before I started. I would have thought that given the amount of time Davies' spent with Savile, in his flat, on board cruises, in restaurants and cafe's etc he would have been able to provide far more (or even a little) insight. Overall, Davies seems almost sympathetic of Savile, appearing to pour more scorn on the systems that failed to stop Savile's 60 year offending cycle, than on Jimmy Savile himself.
The most significant event in this book,in my opinion, that might offer the reader some insight was the letter, written anonymously, and sent to The Metropolitan Police in 1998. This letter urged the police to investigate Savile (there were other letters sent to the police by the same person saying similar things) who, it was claimed was a homosexual and practising paedophile. The letter names other individuals (redacted) and states prophetically that 'when Savile falls other celebrities and politicians will fall with him'.
The question is; Was Savile a practicising Homosexual? Why didn't Davies pursue this? A lot of people coming forward claiming Savile had raped them are male. My view is that Savile didn't really differentiate between male and female he just enjoyed raping and abusing children.
When off-duty police officers in restaurants told Savile to "Cut it out" they weren't referring to unhealthy eating habits. Police Officers visited Savile in the 1950s at his Leeds Club to berate him for going in and out of public toilets all the time. These were male toilets. Did Davies ever ask Savile about his 'sexual-orientation?' or is that not allowed in these politically correct days (see Rotherham Child Abuse Scandal for further evidence of poltical correctness destroying children's lives).
Homosexuality is not a crime but if you use it as a base-line to assess Savile's offending you reach a different conclusion than Davies reached.The 'Secret about Savile' as Sir Jimmy was fond of saying..was that there was 'No Secret'.Well,the secret about Savile was that he had been homosexual all his life and didn't want anyone to know. It would destroy the 'macho' image. Alongside this he also developed a sexual interest in children, not just an interest in young girls.By focussing almost exclusively on young girls you are ignoring the needs of a lot of young males that Savile must have abused. Men are notoriously less open about this subject than women and the greatest tragedy about this book is that it didn't blow Savile's sexuality wide open, in my opinion.
He would have also been involved with other celebrities, as both this book and the letter point out. Just who else was involved and in what capacity and on what scale we will probably never know. But celebrities and politicians there were and some are just waiting for that knock on the door.
Perhap's Davies next book could address these issues.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prince Charles's mentor and adored by Thatcher.,
Mandatory reading for anyone who grew up in the midst of the acclaimed Jim'll Fix it. The apostrophe was Savile's idea as the original title suggested by the BBC producer was the rather clunky ' Jim will fix it ' . On their cruise together on the QE2 (beautifully described...you feel as if you're on the luxury liner)Dan Davies points out moments of genuine warmth and yet on the whole one comes away with a feeling of few redeeming features and is left perplexed as to why the establishment turned a blind eye to his horrific behaviour. Post-Savile I hope people like this will be less untouchable from accusations.
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing, gripping, and disturbing,
When I was a child Jimmy Savile was all over the media, from "Jim'll Fix It" on Saturday evenings, through his radio shows, to his annual appearances at the London Marathon and occasional stories about charity work in the media. I remember some members of my family commenting that he made their skin crawl but personally I thought he seemed fine - a man who helped people to realise their dreams while doing so much good work for charity. Of course, as the years went by there were always rumours, whispers in the media and in more recent times online, and then the Louis Theroux documentary finally painted him as a rather unnerving and sinister character, and my opinion of him changed.
This is a superb book, incredibly harrowing in places, but utterly unputdownable. The author spent a great deal of time with Savile over the years, recording conversations and seeing the man behind the public image. From the outset it's a horrifying tale as we read of so many incidents where people knew what he was doing but let him continue, sometimes out of fear due to his litigious nature, sometimes because of his connections in high places, and sometimes because of his charity work - something of an "if we tell he'll stop raising money for us." I found the chapter "Your Porter Hurt Me" almost unbearably hard to read, but there are mind-boggling sections of the book where he appears at local fêtes and the like and asks for six young girls to be his bodyguards, and the local councils actually audition girls for the roles. All the way through I kept expecting each chapter to end with him getting caught, but of course we know this only happened after his death.
One of the best, if most disturbing, books I've read all year.
5.0 out of 5 stars Want to know about Jimmy Savile this is the book to read.( also liked the other autobiography) Open mind may help!,
Author is honest about his position that from time of as a young child he assumed a position of "the presumption of guilt" and has maintained this position of “presumption of guilt”-[reviewers words not the ones used by the author] throughout the writing of the book. I have given fives stars not for the Amazon note of "loving the book" per se. But for the depth, research, end notes, author's layout and opinions plus opinions of others and testimony of those who were close to Jimmy Savile. Those who are what I call "true believers" in his guilt on the hearsay of others or their own non-corroborated and tested story. The testimony of those who worked and associated with JS for years is documented here, who in the main. I think all of them but will need to re read to be sure could not point to any explicit wrong doing of the sexual context. That is knowingly having sex with an underage girl and any sex not been consensual. Myself, I am now in the process of writing my new book in the series [Name] “Why I Believe ... Is Innocent,” on Jimmy Savile and this book will help me immensely. I “ummed and arred” over buying the book due to the title and reading various reviews. I expected a totally biased book. I must say it is not biased in spite of the author's position. I personally suggest to any future reader that this is an excellent book on the life of Jimmy Savile and issues of death, media and so forth raised will challenge you. Whatever one thinks of Jimmy Savile, Dan Davies certainly shows JS thought about things. And also take note that Jimmy Savile main Nemesis “the media” are now here and there starting to publish the odd question mark to post “Exposure ...” version of history. In any event it does not matter if history changes again as the author has done one hell of a job presenting what is known and what has been presumed to be known. The book even has a quote from Anna Raccoon a blogger and former student of Duncroft who holds that “Exposure ...” may of presented a distorted version and the witnesses provided may well have given testimony that now appears very suspect. Just to aid any future readers. No one who states both in “Exposure ...” or elsewhere the provision of documentation that clearly for example says the person that Sue Thompson saw was 14. This is an example of what is missing. Remember 20 year olds can look 14 and 14 year old's can look 20. I highly recommend this book for any reader “true believer” , cynic or other. Forgot to say I found the book annoyed me at times. That also adds to it been a great book!!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Disturbing... A Must Read,
When an author draws me in after the first couple of paragraphs of a book, then I know it's going to be good. I have to say that this book captivated me and whilst the subject matter is not to everyone's taste, I had some kind of morbid curiosity to delve in and discover the secrets behind this notorious character. Like other reviewers, I was astounded that he went undiscovered for so long but now understand the reasons why and there must be many people out there who now feel deeply ashamed that they remained quiet and/or just let things go because they felt intimidated by Saville. Like others, I, too grew up with Jim'll Fix It and ToTP but was obviously too young and naive to even pick up on anything dubious that may have been going on right in front of my eyes. Dan Davies has written an extraordinarily powerful and insightful book and I was hooked from page 1. It stirred up all kinds of emotions, mainly of anger and disgust but you also cannot help wondering how his family felt, having once had a relative who was a national treasure to being ashamed by the revelations after his death. This was answered for me in the final chapter, although I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the book. I had no idea how manipulative Saville was and I was disturbed by one particular incident whereby he invited Frank Bruno along to Broadmoor to open a new gym. Again, I won't mention anything, but if I could have reached into the book and grabbed Saville by the neck, I would have done. Which brings me onto my next question. Considering the many years he spent working at Broadmoor, surrounded by psychiatrists who were treating the most notorious and disturbed of patients, why did none of them pick up on any unusual personality disorder in Saville? Surely there must have been signs; just some of the things he used to say, throw-away remarks would start alarm bells? I am aware that there are some reviewers on here that refuse to believe the allegations against Saville and are actively campaigning for justice, but surely, having read this book, the facts and evidence speak for themselves - he was an evil psychopath who destroyed lives and got away with it. I hope he rots in hell...
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing but recommended reading.,
I found this book extremely easy to read because it gave deep insight into the life and times of the monster that was Jimmy Savile. Even as a kid I'd heard rumours about him, but at 10 or 12 years old, it doesn't really mean much (bear in mind that was in the 70's when "such things" weren't spoken about in public).
The things I found the most disturbing about this book, was the number of people who knew exactly what was going on and just stood by and let it happen. I'm sick to the back teeth of people using the excuse that "things were different then". That may have been the case, but surely to God if your child told you that they had been molested/abused, you would believe them over any celebrity ?
I volunteered for a while with a rape crisis and sexual abuse line and one of the fundamental things that we learned was that these sorts of paedophile rings reach the upper echelons of society so that these "secrets" can be kept under wraps by the people in high places - because they are party to the goings on by also being a part of it.
I also found the book interesting from a psychological aspect too, because it gives some insight into how relatively easy it was (and maybe still can be) to groom a child AND it's parents.
Uncomfortable reading at times, but well written and highly recommended read.
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In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile by Dan Davies (Paperback - 17 July 2014)
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