Murdered in Mongolia in 1935 on the orders of Stalin, the Welsh investigative journalist Gareth Jones is a national hero in Ukraine for reporting the truth about the Holodomor (the Soviet Union’s politically-driven famine that killed millions) and is widely believed to be the inspiration for the character Mr Jones in George Orwell's Animal Farm.
A graduate of Aberystwyth, Strasbourg and Cambridge universities, Jones - who spoke five languages - was talented, well-connected and determined to discover the truth behind the momentous political events of the post-war period. He travelled widely to report on Mussolini's Italy, the fledgling Irish Free State, the Depression-ravaged United States, and was the first foreign journalist to travel with Hitler and Goebbels after the Nazis had taken power in Germany.
Jones' quest for truth also drew him to the Soviet Union in 1934 where his reporting of the Holodomor incurred the wrath of Stalin. The following year, on the eve of his 30th birthday, Jones was shot dead by Chinese communist bandits with links to the NKVD, the Soviet Union's secret police, and is buried in his hometown of Barry in Wales.
Now the subject of Mr Jones, a feature film that depicts his battle against the Kremlin's 'fake news' agenda of famine denial, The Man Who Knew Too Much, is the first biography of Gareth Jones and reveals the remarkable yet tragically short life of this fascinating and iconic character who pioneered the role of investigative journalism.
Martin Shipton is Chief Reporter of the Western Mail. His previous books include Political Chameleon - In Search of George Thomas (Welsh Academic Press, 2017).