Book Review: A-Z of Hell by Ross Kemp

It’s been kinda weird seeing Ross Kemp’s career develop, from Eastenders‘ hard man Grant Mitchell to a documentary presenter who has travelled to some of the world’s most dangerous places and covered some pretty grim subjects, like war, crime and extreme poverty.

Given the harsh background of his travels, it’s a little bit surprising that this book is largely good fun, with Kemp sharing a selection of anecdotes and misadventures from the making of his documentaries.

kemp atoz

Kemp’s writing has a no frills approach which works well and he has a real flair for some pretty stark imagery along the way. But the main thing that shines through is his sense of humour, with Kemp telling the stories with warmth and humour, and a willingness to poke fun at himself which is quite nice. Given his background for playing tough guys, and the slightly macho marketing for his shows, it’s quite nice to see him ‘fess up to being a softy actor, and being open about his fears and discomfort.

Kemp comes across well, as a regular guy who gets the mixed blessing of getting to see things most never will. Some of the things he talks about are extremely dark and distressing, and Kemp talks about the challenge of being a documentary filmmaker who can’t intervene and who has to refrain from judging, even when dealing with people who have committed heinous acts. It’s clear at times it’s a difficult thing for Kemp to do, but he shows compassion, empathy and way background and upbringing can shape or warp people’s behaviour and values.

It’s a great read, made up of short, entertaining stories and Kemp is a pleasant guide on the trip. An interesting and entertaining collection of stories, memories and survival tips from a man who has been in plenty of interesting situations.

Verdict: 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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