The Man Who Never Sleeps

(45 customer reviews)

£12.99

  • Author Name: David Walker, Tom Bell
  • Publication Date: 28/03/2019
  • Format: Paperback

In stock

ISBN: 9781912881000

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When media mogul Rupert Murdoch wanted to revolutionise Britain’s national newspaper industry, he turned to the indefatigable Tom Bell.

The infamous Wapping Dispute of the mid-1980s represented the biggest gamble of Murdoch’s career. He was hell-bent on freeing his News International business from the stranglehold of left wing activists. Success hinged on whether he could get tens of millions of newspapers past thousands of militant pickets. Tom Bell made it happen and earned himself the nickname ‘The Man Who Never Sleeps’.

It was the end of Fleet Street and another chapter in the remarkable rise of a man born into poverty, but destined for the top. Based on a mantra of ‘work hard, play hard’, Tom Bell’s story is an inspirational tale of rags to riches and of a man who always delivered.

David Walker is an award-winning ex-news journalist who moved into the world of corporate communications, holding senior in-house roles at a number of FTSE 100 companies. His writing talents have won recognition, including Business Continuity Media Relations awards, a double win from the Institute of Internal Communications and a commendation for business strategy from Harvard Business School.

David worked alongside Tom Bell for more than seven years as Head of Communications for TNT UK & Ireland. He is presently Communications Director at Right Word Comms. This is his first book.

45 reviews for The Man Who Never Sleeps

  1. Hughesy (verified owner)

    Excellent read a true story of what old fashion hard work can get you also had some light hearted moments in which having worked in the same organisation as the author I can relate to .
    The book was written with great factual detail especially around the issues relating to Wapping and I can honestly say for the first book to be written in the style it is a great credit to the Author

  2. Val Waring (verified owner)

    In an age where there are so many biographies of “celebrities” it’s winderfully refreshing to read one based on the life of “a normal working man”.

    Loved the style of writing – I felt at times like I was in the rooms with Bell,Murdoch et al or even on the trips to Australia!

    It’s an excellent read all round. I remember the Wapping scenario playing out but it was interesting reading the story from the TNT side of things.

    The work ethic of Tom Bell is emphasised throughout – and quite rightly so in my opinion.

    I loved the chapters relating to his charity work and am it ashamed to say I read parts of it through blurred vision.

    If you enjoyed the biographies of Duncan Bannantyne,John Bird and the like then this one will certainly be up your street.

  3. Val Waring (verified owner)

    In an age when every other book on the biographies shelf seems to be about s “celebrity” – what a refreshing change to read about “a real person”.

    From his more than humble beginnings in Scotland Tom Bell decided he wanted more from life and wanted to make something of himself – and didn’t he just.

    I well remember the Wapping scenario playing out – but it’s very interesting to read it from the other side of the coin as it were.

    I loved the style of writing throughout the book – just the right amount of humour injected into a full on career in one of the most cut throat industries.

    Tom Bell seems to be a remarkable man – in terms of his work ethics, his achievements within his industries but also within his charitable work.

    If you read biographies and you’ve read and enjoyed the likes of Duncan Bannantyne and John Bird this will be right up your street.

  4. Scott Bell (verified owner)

    Having just finished the book, it feels like it gets Tom’s personality across and is written in a quick witted style. The historical events of a period of huge growth for TNT Express with Tom at the helm are accurately portrayed and shows the humility of Tom in recognising the effort of (nearly) all that worked for him in making both the business a success and also the success of the fund raising for the Wooden Spoon Charity.

  5. Chris Atkinson (verified owner)

    Extremely well written and obviously from the heart of “The Man Who Never Sleeps”. The book reminds me so much of my own happy upbringing in the 1950s – painting pictures in my mind of the frost on the inside of the windows, a tin bath in front of the fire and coats on the bed in the cold winters. Tom Bell spells out what can be achieved by pure hard work, bringing like minded people together with a single focus of being the best and sheer bloody mindedness. A great read and so emotional, a blue print and inspiration for what young people can achieve with the right attitude.

  6. Rona Tosh

    Having just read this book so intriguing and emotional of a hard working man, to achieve everything to where it got him in his working life. Very emotional last chapter. Well done Tom.

  7. Natasha Curtis

    Couldn’t put this down.
    The style of writing was perfect, giving you a glimpse of Tom’s humour, wit and softer side.
    In an age of people being handed things on a plate, the book reminds you that it’s hard work, determination and sacrafice that really get you to the top.

  8. Debi Walker

    Utterly absorbing! A superb insight into the life and times of Tom Bell.

    Genuinely inspiring, with ‘laugh out loud’ moments, as well as some very emotional elements, especially in respect of Tom’s charitable exploits and observations when helping disadvantaged children.

    I loved the pacy, conversational writing style. The only disappointment was in actually finishing reading the book – I wished it could have gone on and on.

    Highly recommended.

  9. Edna Walker

    What a great read.

    From having little, or no, knowledge of Tom Bell at the outset, I could only admire his drive and work ethic to achieve what he did from such humble beginnings. Money seems to be a major motivator thoughout his life – totally understandable, given he had so little in the earlier part of his life.

    If you gave Tom Bell a problem he’d give you a solution. He didn’t suffer fools gladly and woe betide those who crossed swords with him.

    As a prolific book reader, especially of autobiographies, I really enjoyed The Man Who Never Sleeps. Although nowhere near as famous as Sir Alan Sugar, Tom Bell’s book is far more enjoyable. It just shows you don’t have to be a household name to have an interesting story to tell.

    Very well written and very enjoyable.

  10. Peter Leatham (verified owner)

    I was genuinely disappointed, only because I finished after two nights !
    The book gives a great insight into the top level workings of big business and also its ruthless side.
    The rise of Tom Bell from humble beginnings in Kirkcaldy to Buckingham Palace just serves to show where enthusiasm, commitment and common business sense can take you.
    The style engages the reader from the get go and certainly keeps you on the hook, page after page.
    Hopefully it’s the first of many from a very talented wordsmith .

  11. Evelyn

    Isn’t it hard sometimes to make time to read a book? It has to be something exceptional in a busy life. This book was easy to make time for, biographies are my favourite genre and each night I looked forward to reading more.

    I know this author’s writing from our shared love of a certain football club so I was interested to read his début and compare styles of writing.

    I didn’t have long to wait, laughing to myself as I read the first sentence: ‘Tom Bell is the sort of bloke you’d want in your trench when the proverbial hits the fan’!

    I feel that Mr Walker, however, takes a step back, allowing this fascinating story of an extraordinary life to be relayed in an easy going, calm and accomplished manner.

    From the very first paragraph, ‘The Man Who Never Sleeps’ draws you in. I was immediately invested in the young child Tom and the heart rending hardships he was enduring. I felt myself relating to the tiny, everyday details of growing up in a less well off but at the same time a large, loving family in Scotland. I felt sad when he had to leave.

    You cannot help but admire Tom Bell’s rise in the face of adversity and poverty; his undoubted strength, resilience, determination and sheer hard work. It would take a special kind of person to rise in a cut throat and competitive industry, no doubt.

    To me, however, the charm of this book, moreover, was the sprinkling of beautiful and moving touches. I had an overwhelming sense of admiration for a man who, after succeeding, goes on to achieve such a profound legacy to charity and for a family he’s obviously devoted to. A very touching, human story with the most emotional and stunningly beautiful of endings.

    The author has a way with words and a knack of bringing out emotions. I reached the end and it had finished too soon. A début to be proud of and I look forward to the next…..

  12. Kevin Ashton

    I had a brilliant 30 year career working all over the world with TNT . This book is a well written and exhilarating ‘page turner’ and I read it from cover to cover in 4 hours. I was a General Manager working under Tom Bell during his tenure in charge of Express Parcels and he was definitely a ‘tour de force’. Although I met Tom on numerous occasions, I didn’t really know him or what motivated him. This booked helped tremendously in ‘filling in the gaps’ from his early years that made him into the business leader he became. It was fascinating to hear Tom’s views on executives that I had heard of that shaped TNT as a company over the decades and allowed me understand more of the high level strategies I had to implement as a General Manager during that time. All of this is relayed in a confident, galloping and easy to read manner by the author.

  13. Amazon customer

    Great story, brilliantly told. Highly recommended if you want a fly on the wall view of the revolution of the print industry and an insight into the battles which re-shaped the world of journalism with far-reaching implications.

  14. A Jackson

    I’m not sure why I wanted to read this book, given I’d never heard of Tom Bell, but I’m so glad I did. I was intrigued about the Rupert Murdoch angle, with the TNT / Wapping connection , and I hoped for an insight into what makes the man tick. I wasn’t disappointed. In Tom Bell we have a classic ‘boy done good’ scenario, from humble beginnings in Scotland to obvious richer pickings later in life, down to hard graft, determination and a will to succeed basically. In my opinion his character is flawed at times, but what a story. I must also pay due respect to the author, who wrote this account of Bell’s life with aplomb, class, and a writing style that keeps the reader interested. I don’t usually do reviews, but felt this book deserved one. Highly recommended.

  15. A. Lopez-Valenzuela

    While I haven’t had the opportunity to meet Mr. Bell, by the time I finished reading the book I felt I knew rather well this very charismatic, self-made man with a big heart for those he loved. Mr. Walker has a gift for straight and honest writing without falling in the “preachy” trap that many other authors fall into. Mr. Walker portrays with a great level of detail key events that shaped the tabloid industry for the years to come and does it with gusto and class. Highly recommended.

  16. Geoff Morris

    I had the pleasure to work alongside Tom for six years, albeit in a parallel universe! I was CEO of a children’s charity – Wooden Spoon and TNT were the charity’s biggest most consistent and loyal supporters. Quite rightly, the relationship had a cautious start as we built relations between the two organisations. On the final public occasion we met to reveal that year’s level of donation, Tom simply said: “I know you’ll spend it wisely” (‘It’ was a significant six figure sum).

    Reading the book brought back many fond memories of working together but also gave me an insight into Tom that I did not know: his early money-spinning ventures displayed a drive to succeed as a young man as well as an adept business acumen. But what struck me most of all was his strong sense of family and loyalty to those around him that truly mattered. When you read the book, you will find that Tom has strong opinions on many subjects and while you may not agree with his perspective, you know it comes from a place of honesty and integrity. Dave Walker, like a portrait artist, captures the true likeness of a man who was an Olympic Champ to me – in spirit if not body!

  17. Anne Marie Orrell

    A well written book about an ordinary man striving for success and achieving it. A great story of a brilliant hardworking man with a big heart . Well worth reading .
    Well done Tom . It will be greatly appreciated by all .

  18. Greg Birt

    An excellent read which captures the very ethos of Tom and the TNT family…’Work hard and play hard’. I was fortunate enough to work with and for TNT over a 24 year period and can totally relate to the long hours to transform a company. As a General Manager for the last six of my years of my time I got to meet Tom on several occasions, he would test you as he was tested in the past, know your numbers ! Great character but more importantly a great leader. Well done Dave.

  19. Karen Bissell

    I could not put this book down once I’d started reading it. Thought provoking and well written, it achieves a balance of all that is required
    for this genre of non fiction.

    The only knowledge I had about the Wapping dispute before hand was from the telelvision coverage at the time. I worked in a Job Centre in the West Midlands from the mid ninteen seventies to the mid eighties. I saw at first hand the fear of unemployment amongst workers and the crushed empty shells that mass redundancies at places like British Steel created. Technology was moving on a pace and firms were having to move with the times to stay in the game however painful the ensuing results. Thatcherism was in full swing and sadly what happened at Wapping was possibly by then the only radical solution for the situation. Management and unions had continued to “kick the can down the road” on modernisation for far too long for the good of the business – a bit like Brexit really (possibly another book in that for Mr Walker and a warning to the government). Tom Bell’s hard work had put him in the right place at the right time and whatever anyone thinks of his actions this is the story of how he got the job done.

  20. Alan Jones (aka The Jones)

    Tom Bell is a profit maker and we enjoyed lots of adventures while working well together to make TNT the most profitable company in the British express delivery industry.

    By providing the fastest and most reliable service Tom trounced the opposition which enabled TNT to become the undisputed leader in lots of transport market segments.

    In this amusing well written book ‘The Man Who Never Sleeps‘ Tom tells the fascinating story of his life and how he worked his socks off to achieve outstanding success.

    David Walker has done an excellent job in ghost writing the book and Tom gives well deserved credit to the many thousands of hard working TNT people who helped to make it all happen.

  21. John W

    I knew the people in the book and met them at board meetings which makes this book an even better read (Alan Jones, what an inspiration). I was with TNT for over 18 years and the people were so positive and great pioneers……….and then came the Dutch! I read this book in one sitting it was that interesting, it is well written and an easy read, I just wish it was longer and had more detail after the takeover and after Tom retired.

  22. Heather

    What a fantastic book I could not put it down it was just brilliant. I would highly recommend it you will not be disappointed. I laughed I cried I just loved it – was very disappointed when it finished I just wanted it to carry on. One of my all time favourite books.

  23. Colin

    A bloody good read could not put down

  24. Martin Rantle

    Great book for those who lived it with Tom as I did, brought back some fond memories. Not sure the criticism of certain individuals was necessary. Enjoyed the read.

  25. Andrew Bissell

    I am a bit of a plodder when it comes to books. Steady and slow. With this book however I couldn’t put it down from start to finish, only breaking for a good night’s sleep. It flows beautifully.

    It is not just a fascinating tale of modern day history about the Wapping dispute, but also charts the life of a young boy who was brought up in a world of poverty, and through his own endeavours and ability, became a well recognised successful business man, to the current day where he has developed a charity for disabled children into a wonderful success.

    Tom Bell’s CV shows him to have taken so many different roles, and always been successful, taking the business forward with growth. His success comes from having mentors who themselves are dynamic and model professionals, committed to their trade as well as those early days as a child of poor parents. Ruthless? Occasionally perhaps. Dynamic? Absolutely.

    My favourite part of the book is when Tom Bell and the TNT team meet with Rupert Murdoch before agreeing a contract to deal with the issues around newspapers at that time. Murdoch got answers to his questions from Tom Bell when others were not too keen to ‘put their heads above the parapet’. Fighting fire with fire. Speaking the same language to secure the deal. Fascinating also, was the record of that meeting that was kept by Murdoch.

    The Wapping events took place during my lifetime. Reading this book has changed my take on events from that period.

    This is a truly enlightening book, well written in a free flowing style, at a pace that keeps the reader engrossed.

    I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it.

  26. Pete Murtha

    What a great and interesting read this was, very well written by the writer that makes you see it from us normal mans shoes, pulls no punches , loved it

  27. Barrie Nunn

    Being old enough to have lived through the media-storm which broke out around Wapping, and understand the seismic shift this brought about within the newspaper industry, and beyond, I found David’s interpretation and expression of the very human elements which came into play, up to, during and beyond the primary actions themselves, insightful and inspiring – a shining example of “can do” against all the odds, as a lesson to all would-be challengers of the status quo.
    I found the conversational tone, and effortless incorporation of often very significant life changes and chance encounters into the discourse, both revelatory and irrsesitible (I read the book in the course of flights to and from France over the weekend, reaching the last page as we landed at Stansted!).
    A fascinating story, giving me insights into events I knew only from the media coverage, and of a man who was, and is, clearly so much more than just the one who engineered the transport phenomenon which helped Rupert Murdoch “break” the Unions. A recommended read every day of the week.

  28. Stuart Pettigrew

    I’m one of the fortunate people who saw and lived through this period in TNT’s history. I remember seeing the White Mice parked up during the day at TNT Durham. I witnessed first hand the logistics and strategy that were implemented by The Man Who Never Sleeps and his team to get the papers through. This is a well written captivating book that tells a factual story about the best of times and the worst of times. Well done to Tom and David for creating a piece of history that will weather the passage of time extremely well !

  29. Pete Taylor

    This book is beautifully written and an easy read. The Subject Tom Bell would clearly have you believe that he is a great leader, generous to a fault and hard working. These may indeed be his character traits but the more you read the more you question this synopsis. You are left with a feeling of somebody quite different. This would make an ideal holiday read; you can then sit and ponder the true character of the man.

  30. Naida White

    This book is an excellent read. An incredible story of a man who worked so hard to keep the lorries rolling despite union actions especially during the Wapping Saga. Tom Bell was a dedicated man to his position at T.N.T.
    Author David Walker has made this book extremely readable from beginning to end. It kept you wanting to know what the next page and chapter would bring Unmissable.

  31. David Kelly

    As a keen reader of David Walker’s excellent ‘Read But Never Red’ Manchester City football blog, I was already familiar with his writing style, but I was curious how it would translate to his debut as an author. My curiosity was well rewarded!

    ‘The Man Who Never Sleeps’ is a well paced, often humorous and entertaining read. It’s a book I didn’t want to put down, but my hectic work schedule meant I had to, on numerous occasions. It made picking it back up all the more enjoyable.

    Tom Bell is undoubtedly an interesting character. From such humble, poverty stricken, beginnings, he more than made his mark in the world as his career progressed and kept on progressing. You can’t always make it to the top, without making enemies – I get the impression Tom Bell was no exception.

    One can but admire his drive, determination and achievements, but I can’t say I warmed to him as a person. Not necessarily liking the central ‘character’ didn’t detract from my enjoyment of a brilliant read. David Walker’s first book comes highly recommended. I look forward to news of his second!

  32. Bagebric

    An excellent reflection of the career and life of the author with whom I had the privilege to know and work with. I was able to relate to many aspects of the work elements but I found the personal reflections most interesting. Whether you have an interest in TNT or not this is a compelling read.

  33. John Batten

    The man is an icon and greatly admired by the people who worked with and for him.

  34. Phil Budd

    If they made a film out of a group of women who took on the unions at Dagenham, then we should see a film about a man who took on the unions of Fleet Street. A well written, candid and accurate account of what one man did to change the landscape of Fleet Street, the trade union movement and the Express Parcels Industry.

  35. Sean Dooley

    I thought the book was very impressive and brought to life a story that can be enjoyed and appreciated by people with no connection to the UK newspaper industry or transport sectors – no mean feat. The real triumph for me was that David Walker resisted the temptation to bowdlerise the voice and dialogue which would have milked the vibrancy out of the story. The author has done a cracking job with ‘The Man Who Never Sleeps’. Both he and Tom Bell must be delighted with the end result.

  36. Anne Marie Orrell

    It is well-written autobiography of an ordinary man who has worked very hard from bottom to the top. He life story is very interesting and he has done a lot for charity.

  37. Mr. E. Debaes

    Having met Tom I can vouch that this book captures his spirit and what a career and charitable achievements. A very enjoyable read.

  38. Jonty

    Absolutely fantastic read. Once picked it up didn’t put it down until I finished it. Thoroughly recommend this book.

  39. Jonathan Northcroft, The Sunday Times

    David Walker has done a great job with the book and made it an engaging read on a figure who had a big role to play at a key and controversial moment in UK newspaper industry history.

    As a journalist but also someone who lived through those times as a kid, I was most interested in the inside view it provided on Rupert Murdoch and his thinking when fighting the print unions. There’s some great detail and drama in those scenes.

    Tom Bell was the logistics guy who delivered for Murdoch, before going on to be a very successful corporate beast himself.

    I certainly don’t share Tom Bell’s worldview – I didn’t end up particularly liking him – but the author makes him appealing by drawing out the fun side, the escapades and plenty of football bits.

  40. Andrew mclelland

    Got the book ,never put down till finished ,real good story ,well wrote ,a very displined man tom was & is today ,the story of man from Scotland from nothing to main man to bust a picket line break the union ,take no prisoners,dave walker took his words and put in the truth ,fabulously wrote .

  41. Nigel J L Rothband

    A great friend of mine had been a printer and had spent a lot of time on the picket line during the Wapping dispute. I didn’t know much about Tom Bell and was fascinated to understand more about the man. I started to read the book one afternoon and by the next day I had finished it – I simply couldn’t put it down. It is well constructed and well written and gives a fascinating insight into so many aspects of Mr Bell’s life. I highly recommend it.

  42. Mark Tillotson

    Great read, couldn’t put it down from start to finish!

  43. Kinswah

    After reading The Man Who Never Sleeps, you’ll wonder how Tom Bell isn’t better known. It’s clear he played a pinnacle role in helping Rupert Murdoch establish his media empire in the UK. He didn’t do this working directly for the Australian, rather, he helped mastermind a plan that took newspaper distribution out of the unions’ hands while working at TNT.
    The section of the book that plays this part of his life story out is undoubtedly the section they’d focus on in a movie of Tom Bell’s story. The author, David Walker, helps bring to life what could easily have been a bland by-the-numbers outing in the hands of a lesser skilled writer.
    Kudos to Tom Bell for not labouring his rags to riches story. The telling of his humble beginnings is there, he just doesn’t hit you over the head with it like others do in their memoirs. He lets his hard work talk for itself.
    There are moments where what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander. Murdoch is a genius, where others are devious but it’s worth recalling this is an autobiography. By their very nature, they are one-sided. That does mean you can enjoy the account regardless of political persuasion, views of trade unions or thoughts on Murdoch.

  44. Gerry

    What a great book . A story of Tom’s journey from humble beginnings to a well deserved OBE!! Very well written with a lot of laugh out loud moments. He certainly knew the meaning of hard work and didn’t suffer fools gladly. Anyone who wasn’t prepared to pull their weight was out! His story certainly portrays the message that hard work pays dividends. A real page turner that I didn’t want to put down. A great read.

  45. Brian Entwistle

    I was just a kid when Britain was in the grip of industrial unrest – first the miners’ strike and then the infamous Wapping Dispute. I was fascinated by the detailed insight given by ‘The Man Who Never Sleeps’, into Rupert Murdoch’s thoughts and actions. Of course the book is the autobiography of Tom Bell, himself a heavy hitter in his own right. It’s a tome littered with humour and, as a football man, I was drawn to the anecdotes about Spurs, Raith Rovers, and Gillingham, but especially my team, Manchester City. David Walker has created a pacy, accessible and entertaining read, one that I found tremendously engaging. I actually saw a lot of myself in Tom Bell, in that he had a steely-eyed determination to get things done – and woe betide anybody who stood in his way! Highly recommended.

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