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Blue: A Memoir - Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces

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A searingly honest memoir of life, policing and falling apart 'Every contact leaves a trace' John Sutherland joined the Met in 1992, having dreamed of being a police officer since his teens. Rising quickly through the ranks, and compelled by the opportunity to make a real difference to people's lives, he worked across the capital, experiencing first-hand the enormous A searingly honest memoir of life, policing and falling apart 'Every contact leaves a trace' John Sutherland joined the Met in 1992, having dreamed of being a police officer since his teens. Rising quickly through the ranks, and compelled by the opportunity to make a real difference to people's lives, he worked across the capital, experiencing first-hand the enormous satisfaction as well as the endless trauma that a life in blue can bring.There were remarkable, career-defining moments: commanding armed sieges, saving lives and helping to take dangerous people off the streets. But for every case with a happy ending, there were others that ended in desperate sadness.In early 2013, John suffered a major breakdown and consequent battle with crippling depression. After a career spent racing to be the first at the scene of crimes and catastrophes, he found himself in pieces, unable to put one foot in front of the other.Blue is a memoir of crime and calamity, of adventure and achievement, of friendship and failure, of laughter and loss, of the best and the worst of humanity, of serious illness and slow recovery. With searing honesty, it offers an immensely moving and personal insight into what it is to be a police officer in Britain today.


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A searingly honest memoir of life, policing and falling apart 'Every contact leaves a trace' John Sutherland joined the Met in 1992, having dreamed of being a police officer since his teens. Rising quickly through the ranks, and compelled by the opportunity to make a real difference to people's lives, he worked across the capital, experiencing first-hand the enormous A searingly honest memoir of life, policing and falling apart 'Every contact leaves a trace' John Sutherland joined the Met in 1992, having dreamed of being a police officer since his teens. Rising quickly through the ranks, and compelled by the opportunity to make a real difference to people's lives, he worked across the capital, experiencing first-hand the enormous satisfaction as well as the endless trauma that a life in blue can bring.There were remarkable, career-defining moments: commanding armed sieges, saving lives and helping to take dangerous people off the streets. But for every case with a happy ending, there were others that ended in desperate sadness.In early 2013, John suffered a major breakdown and consequent battle with crippling depression. After a career spent racing to be the first at the scene of crimes and catastrophes, he found himself in pieces, unable to put one foot in front of the other.Blue is a memoir of crime and calamity, of adventure and achievement, of friendship and failure, of laughter and loss, of the best and the worst of humanity, of serious illness and slow recovery. With searing honesty, it offers an immensely moving and personal insight into what it is to be a police officer in Britain today.

30 review for Blue: A Memoir - Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Disclaimer: I won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. 3.5 rounded up A solid memoir detailing the career of a former Met policeman whose career ended when he had a breakdown, the culmination of 20+ years on the job and repeatedly seeing all kinds of awful things most of us will never encounter. It took me a little while to get used to the style - the book is made up of short anecdotes scaling John Sutherland's career, most of which are only a page or two long - but once I was engaged I found Disclaimer: I won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. 3.5 rounded up A solid memoir detailing the career of a former Met policeman whose career ended when he had a breakdown, the culmination of 20+ years on the job and repeatedly seeing all kinds of awful things most of us will never encounter. It took me a little while to get used to the style - the book is made up of short anecdotes scaling John Sutherland's career, most of which are only a page or two long - but once I was engaged I found this hard to put down. I really appreciated John's honesty, and the insights his memoir afforded into aspects of the Met and the police in general that I had no idea about.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mousie

    A truly honest book full of mini snippets into various points of John's Policing career and how it can also cause the black dog to arrive which is something those who are Police, family of Police and friends of Police to relate to. When I read the little stories of domestic violence, attending crime scenes, witnessing dead bodies I can picture dad attending these. The description of the black dog at the start of the book and parts towards the end are also similar to my dad. My dad only tells me A truly honest book full of mini snippets into various points of John's Policing career and how it can also cause the black dog to arrive which is something those who are Police, family of Police and friends of Police to relate to. When I read the little stories of domestic violence, attending crime scenes, witnessing dead bodies I can picture dad attending these. The description of the black dog at the start of the book and parts towards the end are also similar to my dad. My dad only tells me the funny stories of his Policing career. Having been on a observer shift during my time volunteering with my local force and seeing a dead body, makes me appreciate why dad never tells me the bad parts (still like to know) & why he talked me out joining (my life regret). John's book also gives a good insight of Policing for those who have no or little knowledge of the horrors, joys and mixed emotions being a Police Officer can entail. To give your all to protect people til the body breaks. Thank you John for sharing your memoirs and thank you for all you have done to protect us.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    Sutherland joined the police force in the 1990s; this is his story. He talks about some of the cases he's dealt with, his rise through the ranks and the depression that changed his life and career. This is very honest but he's also modest about his successes. Sutherland comes across as the honest copper you hope to deal with when life brings you into contact with the long arm of the law.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mandie

    I dare anyone not to have a new and refreshed respect for those serving in the Police Force after reading this book. We think that we know what they have to deal with based on what we see on the TV or read in books but it doesn’t even come close. Throughout his career the author witnessed both the best and the worst in human nature and at the same time go home to his family and deal with the same issues as everyone else. We are given an honest insight into the man behind the uniform. Showing how I dare anyone not to have a new and refreshed respect for those serving in the Police Force after reading this book. We think that we know what they have to deal with based on what we see on the TV or read in books but it doesn’t even come close. Throughout his career the author witnessed both the best and the worst in human nature and at the same time go home to his family and deal with the same issues as everyone else. We are given an honest insight into the man behind the uniform. Showing how things in his childhood led him to wanting to join the police right through to the point where it all finally became too much and his slow road to recovery you are left in no doubt of what he went through every day in an effort to do his job and serve his community. There are moments in this book that made me smile but a lot of the time I realised what a sheltered life I lead. What I consider to be a bad day would probably be seen as a very good day. It was only when I was about half way through the book and I read a certain passage that I realised that this was a man who is the same age as me but has seen and experienced way more than I ever will or ever want to. We always read about how the families of the victims are affected by the violent death of a loved one but we never stop to consider the impact and effect it has on the people who have to investigate these crimes. The fact that even now he is unwilling to talk about a hostage negotiation that did not end well is in itself very telling. For all the ones that ended well it will always be the ones that don’t that stay with them. For me though there are 2 moments that stand out as the bravest things he did in his career. The first is realising that his mental health was suffering and that he needed help. Knowing that this would affect the career he loved but realising for not just himself but for his family he needs to do this. The second thing was actually writing this memoir. Laying bare the highs and the lows, the daily paperwork, targets and statistics that he faced and the reality of how the job he loved had affected him. Showing the world that having mental health issues are not something to be ashamed of but something that needs to be addressed is probably the greatest service he has ever provided. To say that I enjoyed this book although it may be the truth just sounds so wrong. Its honesty is compelling and there are events that you will remember although some of it will really bring home what people are capable of. For me this was an insight into what it really means to be a police officer and the price they can pay when they put on that uniform.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rachael Cox

    I read this as part of The Motherload Book Club’s January monthly read along - it’s not a book I would have picked up otherwise. Yet I’ve rated it a solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ It’s so well written: heartbreaking, harrowing and so so compelling. I really didn’t know what being a police officer entailed until I read this book. It’s so so brutally honest. Witnessing things a person shouldn’t ever witness. It isn’t a book just about being a policeman, it’s about his life: before becoming an officer, he explai I read this as part of The Motherload Book Club’s January monthly read along - it’s not a book I would have picked up otherwise. Yet I’ve rated it a solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ It’s so well written: heartbreaking, harrowing and so so compelling. I really didn’t know what being a police officer entailed until I read this book. It’s so so brutally honest. Witnessing things a person shouldn’t ever witness. It isn’t a book just about being a policeman, it’s about his life: before becoming an officer, he explains why he wanted to, his life during: family breakdowns, death, getting married, becoming a father and in 2013 when he noticed his mental health was suffering, I felt like I was watching a successful young man falling to pieces in front of me and then witnessing his slow road to recovery. Sharing his experiences of what he had witnessed and how it affects family of victims but nobody ever thinks of the professionals dealing with this and how badly it affects them. I will never look at police officers in the same light again. I have always looked up to them but I have a new found respect for them after reading this. This book will stay with me and even though it was only my 5th book of 2020, it was remain one of my favourites.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alfred Nobile

    A memoir of a senior police officer, John Sutherland. It tells of his time in The Metropolitan police force. It is told with humour and pathos. Told in short soundbites it tells the story of a man desperate to make a difference to the world we live in. The way he throws himself into his police career, rapid rise through the ranks and the sights he sees and the way he deals with it all. He also is realistic enough to admit that despite his best intentions he really can make little difference. But A memoir of a senior police officer, John Sutherland. It tells of his time in The Metropolitan police force. It is told with humour and pathos. Told in short soundbites it tells the story of a man desperate to make a difference to the world we live in. The way he throws himself into his police career, rapid rise through the ranks and the sights he sees and the way he deals with it all. He also is realistic enough to admit that despite his best intentions he really can make little difference. But he tries and his attempts, long and unsociable hours put a strain on his psyche and plunges him into mental illness. Putting him ironically in the position off many people he has attempted to help in the past This is a memoir, of one man's experience, is very personal and at times immensely moving. It was very easy to read but at the same time thought provoking. A book I'm glad I got the chance to read and for this my thanks goes to Lovereading for the ARC.

  7. 4 out of 5

    miss claire mcnish

    A real life description of life as a police officer. Easy to identify with the authors thoughts and feelings. Not your typical police biography, a true insight to the pressures of the job and where that can lead any one of us. Loved John Sutherland’s gentle and enthusiastic nature which shone throughout.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chris Damant

    A compelling read. Grateful for his honesty.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karan

    Being an A&E doctor for the past year, I saw eye-to-eye with this man's exasperation with the current working patterns at the frontline service and the sheer emotional and psychic load of solving other people's issues and sometimes participate in saving their lives. Not surprised at all, that despite all the love this man had for his terribly challenging, dynamic and infinitely rewarding job, he couldn't sustain it forever and will not be returning to it. The pages of this memoir are alive with Being an A&E doctor for the past year, I saw eye-to-eye with this man's exasperation with the current working patterns at the frontline service and the sheer emotional and psychic load of solving other people's issues and sometimes participate in saving their lives. Not surprised at all, that despite all the love this man had for his terribly challenging, dynamic and infinitely rewarding job, he couldn't sustain it forever and will not be returning to it. The pages of this memoir are alive with summaries of the hundreds of life-missions he's been on, year on year and the terse snapshots, together form a veritable montage of a superhero that no comic book caped-crusader can rival. Like Sutherland, I sometimes, inspite of my just-begun tenure, revel on the drive home at the sheer magnitude of decisions and interactions the day just past contained, but if someone had to stop me and ask me to articulate it, I'd offer nothing more than monosyllables and skeletal case details while my head reels with the unsaid and the deeply felt. We work till we drop, we sleep, and then we climb the Sisyphisean hill the day after, absolutely afresh (with caffeine, if not sleep), with only the littlest of recollection grain of the previous day for the first few minutes until the tsunami of interactions of the new day take over. And in a weird way, this high-wired way of deep interaction with strangers you'd never meet, participating or wholly undertaking big decisions and continuous new learning can be strangely addictive. It takes about a day or two for me to wean off a six day run when I am just ambling about semi-invested at home (though I have found a cheat or two in quickly switching to a book universe to help pad the fall to daily non-A&E civilian existence). I love it and I hate what it does to me: and Sutherland captures that moth-to-the-flame quality so well. Other than making one fully aware at the work that the police does in your average city, for me the person shone through more with his passion, his work-ethos and the eventual resilience in trying to recover from a mental illness. The bit about domestic violence and broken homes being at the root of much of street violence is something I have now seen being reiterated twice in my this week's readings (last time it was Grayson Perry who was exploring contemporary boyhood/manhood in the excellent Descent of Man) and the bit about Every Contact Matters really ran deep as I was reminded of that fierce Dylan Thomas poem Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night seeing this man recollect honestly a string of events that required courage. I work everyday with men and women who, like Sutherland, invest their work with such deep care for the people and community around them that their good work and good words scatter inspiration and goodness to all the rest of us humbler mortals. They all go "raging into the night" even as the imperfect system and the indifferent wider society shrugs off their everyday achievements. This memoir made me remember all these quiet angels grafting everyday amidst us and how we need to recognise them and care for them a bit more.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ellesse

    Having read a few books of this type from other officers both in the UK and around the world, I had high hopes for this one, I certainly wasn’t disappointed. John Sutherland takes us from his childhood through his policing career and to a point where his mind can’t deal with everything it has seen and dealt with over the years. Joining the force John threw himself into the work required of him, quickly rising through the ranks. We get a fascinating insight into how incidents such as London terror Having read a few books of this type from other officers both in the UK and around the world, I had high hopes for this one, I certainly wasn’t disappointed. John Sutherland takes us from his childhood through his policing career and to a point where his mind can’t deal with everything it has seen and dealt with over the years. Joining the force John threw himself into the work required of him, quickly rising through the ranks. We get a fascinating insight into how incidents such as London terrorist attacks and a number of high profile murders are dealt with on a number different levels and the responsibility that come with the roles undertaken by John, while recognising the ability and bravery of the officers around him. The book is so honest, not claiming police are perfect and never sugar-coating the police service in London, instead showing what the people in the police service really are. Humans. Humans with emotions and the ability to feel the pain of people, trying their best to find the best way to deal with crime and make the area they work and live a better place. There were so many chapters throughout the book I wanted to know more on, one of these was how hostage negations work, the training that has to be undertaken for the role and then the raw emotional affects the job can have. The negotiator is attempting to save lives, but it’s not always as simple as that. Another the riots of 2011, while I know about them from my own memory and how they affected myself personally, I would have loved to know more about the response from the policing force affected the community and if any changes were made within the forces around the UK.   One chapter I’m very glad he decided to include a list of officers who lost their lives in his force from the time he served, by the public these people are sometimes forgotten and the book is a fitting reminder. In the final two chapters John discusses the end of his operational policing career after he developed overwhelming anxiety leading to depression, the chapters are refreshingly open about mental health from someone in a high pressured environment.   On a final note, at the back it states ‘the first book’ I will be defiantly following the author to look out for more!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Pierce

    I served 30+ years in a mainly rural force facing many similar issues but with substantially less volume (and resources - had to get that in!) but this accounts resonates to the extent that it left me in tears on several occasions. There's food for thought in these pages, particularly for senior cops and those aspiring to such positions. Policy-makers would also do well to read it and (if their minds are open) gain some sort of understanding of the strange world of the cop. As one who also has ex I served 30+ years in a mainly rural force facing many similar issues but with substantially less volume (and resources - had to get that in!) but this accounts resonates to the extent that it left me in tears on several occasions. There's food for thought in these pages, particularly for senior cops and those aspiring to such positions. Policy-makers would also do well to read it and (if their minds are open) gain some sort of understanding of the strange world of the cop. As one who also has experience of the dark hole of depression associated factors ring true, especially the question: as to "how much of my identity is found in being a police officer" - ouch! I'm sure, however, this feature doesn't just apply to our (past) profession.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This is the story of John Sutherland, a man who in seemingly the blink of an eye (in my mind at least) rose through the ranks from Probationary PC through to the role of Commander of one of the largest London Police boroughs. It is a completely open account of his life from an unsuccessful and extremely short-lived foray into the world of the criminal, his absolute certainty that he wanted to be a Police Officer, and through to the position which would ultimately be one of the last he held in th This is the story of John Sutherland, a man who in seemingly the blink of an eye (in my mind at least) rose through the ranks from Probationary PC through to the role of Commander of one of the largest London Police boroughs. It is a completely open account of his life from an unsuccessful and extremely short-lived foray into the world of the criminal, his absolute certainty that he wanted to be a Police Officer, and through to the position which would ultimately be one of the last he held in the Police. We relive the highs, the lows, the joys and the devastation that John Sutherland experienced in his career, and the events which ultimately led to his eventual decline in mental health and the breakdown which ended his time with the Police. Now this book will not be unique, not because of the subject matter and not because of what John Sutherland did for a living. It won’t be unique in the completely honest way in which he has depicted his life and his illness and he has certainly done that. There are many books which handle the subject of mental health and do so well, as John Sutherland has also done. For me, what made this book a compelling, if somewhat heartbreaking read, is that many of the experiences he talks about, the crimes which he had to attend, the devastation he witnessed around him, were cases which were sadly very familiar to me. All too often a name would be mentioned that I had heard upon the news and which gave me that extra reason to pause and reflect. Because people (me included) always consider the victim when they hear a news report. We often feel sympathy toward the family and perhaps consider how we might cope in similar circumstances. Seldom do we look to the man or woman sat just to the side of the bereaved family member we see in televised appeals, the person, or persons, tasked with bringing justice for the family, and wonder how it is affecting them. Well – that is this book in a nutshell, although to simplify it that way would be to do it an injustice. But this book does take us on a journey, John Sutherland’s journey, one which I don’t think I could have coped with for as well and as long as he did before it would have taken its toll. It is not just about his time in the Police Service, the book also covers his family life, one which in itself was not without drama. He shows us both the harder elements of his family life such as his father’s unexpected departure from the family home, coping with family illness and through to the happier times when he met his wife and started a family of his own. And it is a truly beautiful thing the way in which he has shown the love he has for his family, and his openness about his father’s death was perhaps one of the most moving parts of the book for me. Don’t for one minute think that this book is all doom and gloom. There are so many moments which will make you smile, giving you that well needed dose of humour to break the tension or the downbeat nature of some of the stories John Sutherland has to tell. His constant desire to get involved in a decent car chase, often thwarted before they really begin, did bring a smile to my face. And there is one scene, completely cringe inducing, which typifies that kind of gallows humour you associate with the emergency services, and while I’m not going to elaborate here, it is safe to say you will not look at a rotisserie chicken in quite the same way again … Even if you are not a Police Officer or linked to the Emergency Services in any way, and I am so very, very not, I would still recommend that you read this book. It is written in fluent and engaging style which is accessible to all. It is not simply about a career in the Service but also about the way in which those hidden stresses and pressures can slowly build to a point of total mental breakdown. Mental health still has such a stigma attached to it in all walks of life but especially in a service like the Police where it was once anticipated that they would just ‘suck it up’, and that high divorce rates were just part of the job. There is a reason that a lot of crime writers in the eighties, nineties (and even now) fell back on the old cliché of the world-weary, moderate/high functioning alcoholic, divorced Detective after all … Thankfully things like PTSD and depression are being taken far more seriously than they once were amongst all of the Emergency Services, but there is still a long way to go to fully understand and support the impact that the pressure of the job can have on the very people we all rely upon and often take for granted. The wonderful folk off all of the Emergency Services deal in the most extreme of circumstances, much of which we general Joe Public cannot begin to fathom, but they are not alone in suffering from issues relating to mental health and so much of this book, especially the final few chapters, resonated with me. John Sutherland has written so eloquently on how his breakdown affected him, of the crippling impact it had upon his health, but also about how the acceptance of his condition and the support he received from those who loved him made the journey back to health slow but achievable. I wish I could be half as eloquent in telling you why you should read this book because you really should. Funny, moving, candid and often heartbreaking, this is the story of one man in thousands, who sacrificed so much of himself to keep our streets safe and is now finding a way to put himself back together. Much respect felt here and such a well written, absorbing and engaging style of writing that I couldn’t put the book down. If you are a serving Officer yourself, if you are struggling with life in general, if you have mental health issues yourself or you know someone who is one or all of the above, then I’d recommend you read this. You may learn a little about yourself along the way too.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rich

    Quite possibly the best memoir I have read in a long long time. Being in "the job" myself, I can totally relate to how Mr Sutherland is feeling. It portrays how much the public can take our force for granted and it really highlights the magnitude of Police responsibilities. It's a tough job, but one that we have chosen and someone has to do it. Interested in this as a career? Must read. Interested just in Policing? Must read. Interested in the effects devastation on a single person? Must read. Hig Quite possibly the best memoir I have read in a long long time. Being in "the job" myself, I can totally relate to how Mr Sutherland is feeling. It portrays how much the public can take our force for granted and it really highlights the magnitude of Police responsibilities. It's a tough job, but one that we have chosen and someone has to do it. Interested in this as a career? Must read. Interested just in Policing? Must read. Interested in the effects devastation on a single person? Must read. Highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    John Balderson

    A read all cops can relate to, and perhaps others can gain an understanding from. A job like no other, and yet so hard to explain to those who have not experienced it. This book I think will give some kind of explanation. An honest and compelling account that goes beyond the practicalities of, “the job”, it’s excitements and frustrations and touches on the toll it takes on the human beings inside the uniform. Well done Sir! I have nothing but respect for the author, someone who recognises the impor A read all cops can relate to, and perhaps others can gain an understanding from. A job like no other, and yet so hard to explain to those who have not experienced it. This book I think will give some kind of explanation. An honest and compelling account that goes beyond the practicalities of, “the job”, it’s excitements and frustrations and touches on the toll it takes on the human beings inside the uniform. Well done Sir! I have nothing but respect for the author, someone who recognises the importance of people and has shown commendable bravery and resilience.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mike Farley

    Superb and heartbreaking This is precisely the book we need in the midst of austerity, cuts, and the endless press criticism of our police force. In truth, the men and women on the front line of policing are everyday heroes in the most difficult and deeply needed of roles. John Sutherland's account of life in the force is compelling and shockingly moving, and deserves a far wider readership than it will probable achieve. Do read it!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    This is a memoir full of short fragments and to begin with I found this frustrating. Not having any policing background/family connections I wanted more details about these cases so that I could understand the context and I found that this format created a patchy narrative. But this section of the book is largely there to explain the second part, in which the author finally suffers a nervous breakdown after many years of these pressures and strains. The pressure he was under is something I strug This is a memoir full of short fragments and to begin with I found this frustrating. Not having any policing background/family connections I wanted more details about these cases so that I could understand the context and I found that this format created a patchy narrative. But this section of the book is largely there to explain the second part, in which the author finally suffers a nervous breakdown after many years of these pressures and strains. The pressure he was under is something I struggle to imagine. I’ve never been the sort of person who runs into unpredictable situations and so I admire those who do and I’m immensely grateful for their courage in the face of danger and uncertainty. When his father left home he felt responsible for his mother and two younger sisters. When he joined the police he felt responsible for the citizens in his care. It was partly this level of accountability that made him a good policeman and he was promoted again and again over the years and trained for specialist roles such as that of hostage negotiator. He talks honestly of the adrenaline rush and the excitement of being in the middle of the action but also how this is balanced by the strain of having to deal with some horrific incidents and having to tell families that a loved one had died. One issue that seems central to his narrative is youth crime and its roots in domestic violence. He talks of the various initiatives to deal with this, and the importance of community policing. He covers the impact austerity has had in recent years on police funding and on their ability to carry out their duties. In one anecdote he fights against a police station being opened up in his London borough and clearly explains his view that this was a political goal rather than a policing one. Local MPs wanted to win votes but they knew nothing (or perhaps just cared nothing) about what the police really needed and how many other ways the money could more effectively have been spent. He talks in quite lyrical terms of the admiration he has for his colleagues and the pride he felt in being part of the Met. He comes across as an idealist and uses the language of a visionary in describing his role and that of the police in the life of the city of London. Perhaps it was his high ideals that caused him to work up to and beyond his own breaking point. He writes in very moving terms about his breakdown and about how useless and helpless he felt under the weight of the depression that followed. It may sound extreme for him to say that he would rather have had both legs amputated that have this illness, but I think anyone who has gone through something similar will recognise the authenticity and strength of his frustration at falling from being a capable man, proactively making a difference at a high level of seniority, to being able only to lie on the sofa watching cricket all day. He acknowledges the stigma surrounding mental illness and the challenge of going back to work when all his colleagues and associates knew of his illness. Also he mentions how people are sometimes embarrassed to admit that they are on anti-depressants, but doesn’t think they should feel bad about it. To illustrate this point, he talks of a friend who had their thyroid removed and consequently could no longer manufacture for themselves a vital chemical in their system. They would have to take Thyroxine for the rest of their lives. He argues that if a person is missing some other chemical in their system, that causes mental symptoms rather than physical ones, what’s wrong with taking tablets that will replace that chemical and to do so forever if appropriate. I agree that there is a sense of shame, especially for men, in failing to live up to the stereotypical image of strength and capability. I would hope that some people might draw comfort from the fact that this man, who was demonstrably strong and capable, was knocked sideways by this illness but ultimately overcame it. I just looked up John Sutherland and he is retired now, but still actively talking about police issues. Just this morning, in the light of recent events in Salisbury, he tweeted "Somewhere out there this week, a police officer went to the aid of a stranger in distress… Now that officer is very seriously ill in hospital. God forbid we ever take our Coppers for granted… " I always did admire our police force but have even more reason to do so after reading this book. Although this is a negative point, I’m hiding it here at the end: this book was spoiled for me by the dreary and stilted audio narration and it’s a testament to how interesting the book was that I got to the end of it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Rawlings

    It is all too easy to take our police force for granted. With most of what they do on a daily basis unpublicised by the media, the difficult and dangerous situations they perpetually have to deal with quite often go unnoticed. It is this simple fact that makes John Sutherland's memoir such an important book to read. Written in chronological order, every chapter is broken up into a series of individual blocks of text. Each depicts a different incident in the author's life and career, and together It is all too easy to take our police force for granted. With most of what they do on a daily basis unpublicised by the media, the difficult and dangerous situations they perpetually have to deal with quite often go unnoticed. It is this simple fact that makes John Sutherland's memoir such an important book to read. Written in chronological order, every chapter is broken up into a series of individual blocks of text. Each depicts a different incident in the author's life and career, and together they read like diary entries. This device gives the book a sense of urgency, as well as making it easier to read. As it is not always convenient to read a book all in one sitting, it also allows the reader to occasionally pause, without spoiling the impact. Unlike a lot of autobiographies, this one is far from mundane. It is compelling reading and moves at an incredibly fast pace. Throughout the book, Sutherland is completely honest, cataloguing not only his successes but also his failures. Given his background, and non-aggressive personality, policing seems at first to be a strange vocation for Sutherland to have chosen. However, the more you read, the more obvious it becomes it is his deep religious faith – together with the love and support of his wife and children – that provide the strength for him do the job. It is also evident he is a person of high morals, with a strong sense of justice and genuine desire to help people His amusing accounts of mistakes made as a rookie copper will make you laugh. Equally, however, his heartfelt despair at the death of a man on his watch – while working as a hostage negotiator – will just as easily pull at your heartstrings. However, one thing it will not do is bore you. From the moment Sutherland joined the police force, his rise through the ranks was somewhat meteoric, but it did not come without its fair share of heartache and, at times, life-threatening incidents. However, far from over-dramatising the part he played, he relates each episode with a quiet modesty that underplays the immense bravery required to do the job. But everyone has their limits, and the effects of all the trauma and daily encounters with the underbelly of human life, finally took their toll. As with many police officers and emergency servicemen and women, it eventually became too much to cope with and depression claimed him. As a result, he was reluctantly forced to re-evaluate his career. Churchill used to refer to his depression as his 'Black Dog', while Spike Milligan maintained it was like trying to unsuccessfully struggle your way out from beneath an enormously heavy duvet. Whichever way you look at it, it is all-consuming and devastating. Unlike physical wounds, psychological illnesses are far harder to deal with, and depression is no exception. John's open and honest account of his particular emotional battle – and the effect it had on those closest to him – pulls no punches. Those readers who have also suffered from this hidden monster will empathise with how he felt, while those who have not will benefit from the insight into this debilitating illness. Sutherland's book is powerful and informative without resorting to sensationalism. Coinciding with the recent wave of terrorist attacks, it is a poignant reminder of how reliant we are on the police.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Em Yarnell

    I can't really write a review that does any justice to this book or to the life that John has shared. I met him at a book event in Middlesex where he spoke very openly and pssionately. I left with a copy of his book and an immediate desire to read it. I have never in my life truly understood the effort, selfless dedication and trauma involved in being a police officer, or any emergency service. I really liked the way the book is laid out. When I first started reading it I thought it would be gre I can't really write a review that does any justice to this book or to the life that John has shared. I met him at a book event in Middlesex where he spoke very openly and pssionately. I left with a copy of his book and an immediate desire to read it. I have never in my life truly understood the effort, selfless dedication and trauma involved in being a police officer, or any emergency service. I really liked the way the book is laid out. When I first started reading it I thought it would be great to be bale to read a little and put it down and go back to inbetween everything else that I had to do. What I found was that his storytelling was so incredibly honest, emotional and powerful that I simply couldn't put it down and I read it in just under 2 days. I have always had a huge respect for the police, always taught children that they are to be seen as a force of good and someone you can rely on no matter what. I had never thought about the long term effects of government cuts, funding or the insurmountable trauma that they face on a rergular basis. These people are there to help and support us, to keep us safe and I now have an even bigger respect and desire to support them than ever before. I taught my kids to hi-5 police officers and other emergency responders as it's less formal than a handshake, less intimidating but the physical contact provides a huge boost to both people involved. It shows my kids that they are approachable and safe. We ALWAYS ask them for a Hi-5 and respect if the answer is no, becuase I want my children to be lead and to lead by example. This book and Johns story of the lady in Church is a prime example of how we can show our appreciation and give back in little ways. How the simple gestures can really help boost morale and Johns tales of humour show us how human these people really are. It's incredible, it's one of my top 5 books this year and will stay with me, no doubt, for many years to come. I will say no matter what your profession, or what you do in life, this book will open your eyes to the impact of Trauma and the humanity of the boys in blue (and all the emergency services). It's a window to discussions about mental health and stigma, to incredible strength and motivation. This book has changed me. I don't believe it would be possible to read it and not be changed by the inspiration and events that unfold. I can't reccomend it highly enough, though you may want to check for potential triggers if you have experienced trauma yourself. I cannot thank John enough for the bravery of his years serving and portecting us, but more recently in sharing his story and continuing to advocate for the Police who are working to protect us now. Hi-5 John, Hi-5!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    A compelling memoir of policing and breakdown (and recovery) which I am delighted to have shared with my father, a retired police officer and have recommended to a relative just starting out in his police career. It has the air of something written from the heart and not overly managed by an editor. I usually regret this but here I feel that overall it works better - it is a little like a series of memories and reflections as notes, gathered together, so there's repetition. This means that stron A compelling memoir of policing and breakdown (and recovery) which I am delighted to have shared with my father, a retired police officer and have recommended to a relative just starting out in his police career. It has the air of something written from the heart and not overly managed by an editor. I usually regret this but here I feel that overall it works better - it is a little like a series of memories and reflections as notes, gathered together, so there's repetition. This means that strong themes are allowed to run through - the main one being Sutherland's conviction that growing up with violence in the home underpins so very much of what the police are eventually called to deal with. I thought the relentless stream of paragraphs, little more sometimes, about individual cases conveyed the realities of policing - get in, do the job, move on... but with the 'contact leaving a trace' (the names, he doesn't forget the names, my Dad doesn't forget the names, they are not important to the listeners but they are to the teller... I believe they are a placeholder for the real impact on the individual police officer.) It is very much the account of a Metropolitan police officer... I have been keenly aware of the difference between the Met and to a lesser extent other big city policing and the rest of the UK all my life. And it brought home to me that I am really not an adrenalin junkie (as he can no longer be either) His account of growing up as the son of a vicar who had bipolar disorder is fascinating (and the account of his parents' later years tremendously moving). I'd've liked more on the impact of his degree subject on his attitudes to policing (he may not know it is there, I think it is) I'd also have liked more on his faith and his church going (which may well from the odd hint be quite different things) I take careful note (because I was waiting for it) of his wife's occupation (in contrast to his statement that officers often marry within the police or A&E staff) She holds the fort although he writes about the pace of London life even outside work and how his family suggest he slows that down but I needed examples of what he meant. There was also not enough to flesh out the personalities of his colleagues (perhaps he was being delicate). A particularly timely read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Judy Ford

    This is the best book that I have read for a long, long time. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in policing, the challenges of modern society, or simply our common humanity. It is both moving and inspiring and gives wonderful insight into the life of a London policeman. I bought this book as background reading to inform my own crime-writing. It did serve that purpose. I am now considerably more knowledgeable about many aspects of police procedure and the variety of specialist roles withi This is the best book that I have read for a long, long time. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in policing, the challenges of modern society, or simply our common humanity. It is both moving and inspiring and gives wonderful insight into the life of a London policeman. I bought this book as background reading to inform my own crime-writing. It did serve that purpose. I am now considerably more knowledgeable about many aspects of police procedure and the variety of specialist roles within the police service. However, this book is much more than a simple police memoir. After only a few chapters, it has provided me with an idea for a sermon. It was not long before my copy was bristling with bookmarks and annotated to highlight key phrases and paragraphs, which I intend to draw on in my work as a Methodist Local Preacher. That is not to say that it is “preachy” or attempts to promote any religious viewpoint. It is simply that so much is observed. John Sutherland’s faith is real, but not something to be talked about. He sums it up near the end of the book: “But faith? The truth is, I am less certain of more things than I have ever been before. I have many more questions than I have answers. but I have begun to discover this thing called grace: the rumour that I am loved beyond measure, just as I am.” Thank you, John, for writing this inspiring book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    David Margetts

    Excellent‎ insight into the life of a policeman. The book illuminates the extraordinary job the majority of our police do, in very challenging circumstances. This is a book from the 'heart', from a man fiercely loyal to the force, but also willing to be open and honest about it's shortcomings as well as its inestimable worth and value. This is a book that all should read, teenagers, the general public, politicians and not least the popular press. At a time when there appears so much vitriol towa Excellent‎ insight into the life of a policeman. The book illuminates the extraordinary job the majority of our police do, in very challenging circumstances. This is a book from the 'heart', from a man fiercely loyal to the force, but also willing to be open and honest about it's shortcomings as well as its inestimable worth and value. This is a book that all should read, teenagers, the general public, politicians and not least the popular press. At a time when there appears so much vitriol towards the establishment and so much populist politics, this book helps to reset the balance in a small way. A brave and honourable man, ambitious and driven, and ultimately paying a high price for experiencing so many traumas and living in a world most of us thankfully never see. The overwhelming message for me lies in the epidemic levels of domestic violence which appears to be a root cause behind so many crimes and breakdowns in society. The secondary area lies in how a multitude of stressful experiences can build up and bring us tumbling down, least when we expect it. A great book, a real insight into the ills of our society and the inspirational and invaluable role of our police force and the majority within it. Well done - an example to all and good luck in restructuring your life

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michele Fields

    My husband lost the law enforcement career that he loved after 20 years of service when PTSD, anxiety, and bipolar disorder struck him seemingly out of the blue. We were searching for anyone whose story could give us some insight into his own experience, or at least someone he could relate to. This is the only book we could find written by a police officer about his struggles with a mental breakdown. The vast majority of this book recounts high and low points of John's career as a London police My husband lost the law enforcement career that he loved after 20 years of service when PTSD, anxiety, and bipolar disorder struck him seemingly out of the blue. We were searching for anyone whose story could give us some insight into his own experience, or at least someone he could relate to. This is the only book we could find written by a police officer about his struggles with a mental breakdown. The vast majority of this book recounts high and low points of John's career as a London police officer. The stories and interesting, and build the backstory for his ultimate and also seemingly out of the blue battle with mental illness. In his description of the despair, confusion, the feelings of failure that my husband found a fellow lost soul with whom he could relate. John's journey gave us reassurance that recovery is possible. I an grateful to John for having the courage to share his raw and honest account of his pain. It is an important message to others that they are not alone in theirs.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    This book is packed with good stories and is a gripping and fun read. What comes across most strongly is how much the author cares about each person he has contact with. He describes many of the vulnerable people he meets through his work and he takes their suffering to heart. Again and again he laments the prevalence of domestic violence and knife-crime. With courage he records the breakdown and depression he suffered in 2013 and his slow recovery. One wonders how he maintains compassion and the This book is packed with good stories and is a gripping and fun read. What comes across most strongly is how much the author cares about each person he has contact with. He describes many of the vulnerable people he meets through his work and he takes their suffering to heart. Again and again he laments the prevalence of domestic violence and knife-crime. With courage he records the breakdown and depression he suffered in 2013 and his slow recovery. One wonders how he maintains compassion and the toughness needed to get the job done and not to give up when he was so ill? There are small clues throughout the book that his Christian faith has much to do with it: that and the consistent support of his wife and close friends. John Sutherland is an exceptional policeman. Would that there were more like him. Respect.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This book is one of the best I've ever read. John takes you on a journey of his life, both personal and professional. He takes us through his life before joking the police, and the many many things r has done since joining. There were some shocking parts, some funny parts and some sad parts. It's got all the feel of a fictional book, yet it's all real, it's all happened/happening. Anyone who has an interest in joining the police, read this book. Anyone who hates the police, read this book! Anyon This book is one of the best I've ever read. John takes you on a journey of his life, both personal and professional. He takes us through his life before joking the police, and the many many things r has done since joining. There were some shocking parts, some funny parts and some sad parts. It's got all the feel of a fictional book, yet it's all real, it's all happened/happening. Anyone who has an interest in joining the police, read this book. Anyone who hates the police, read this book! Anyone who wants to just know more about what police do/go through, read this book. It's not only an insight into Johns life, but how the police work (specifically the Met). How when you see police doing 'nothing', you have no idea what's going on behind the scenes. If you want a fabulous read, get this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ed Sellier

    “Life might, of necessity, be slower these days, but it is also, somehow, deeper, richer and kinder.” • A deeply moving, searingly honest meditation on a 20-year frontline career of police work for The Met and the slow, heavy drip drip trauma that led to a breakdown. • John Sutherland can be proud of the many lives he (and the many officers he led) rescued. And equally so for how he clawed his way back from the precipice of mental illness to begin living and loving himself again. • Masculinity is und “Life might, of necessity, be slower these days, but it is also, somehow, deeper, richer and kinder.” • A deeply moving, searingly honest meditation on a 20-year frontline career of police work for The Met and the slow, heavy drip drip trauma that led to a breakdown. • John Sutherland can be proud of the many lives he (and the many officers he led) rescued. And equally so for how he clawed his way back from the precipice of mental illness to begin living and loving himself again. • Masculinity is undergoing a slow, but necessary evolution as we all learn to live and work better together. Sutherland’s journey is testament to the importance of acknowledging your inner demons (no matter how you believe they appear to others), seeking help (without shame in leaning on medication) and showing gratitude for the beauty of family, friends and the air we breathe.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laura Besley

    One of my New Year's Resolutions was to read more non-fiction, so I was really pleased when the #MotherloadBookClub announced "Blue: A Memoir" by John Sutherland (2017) as their January read along. I also really enjoyed it. It was written mainly chronologically and in short sections, so very easy to read. What was less easy to read was how much people working in the police force have to deal with, and on such a regular basis. Coupled with significant budget cuts, as in all public sectors, it loo One of my New Year's Resolutions was to read more non-fiction, so I was really pleased when the #MotherloadBookClub announced "Blue: A Memoir" by John Sutherland (2017) as their January read along. I also really enjoyed it. It was written mainly chronologically and in short sections, so very easy to read. What was less easy to read was how much people working in the police force have to deal with, and on such a regular basis. Coupled with significant budget cuts, as in all public sectors, it looks to be an extremely hard job. And on a personal level this book touches on John Sutherland's personal mental health issues. I would have liked to have read more about this, but it was only in the last couple of chapters. Overall a really good - and more importantly: eyeopening - read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mary T Weston

    This is the memoir of a man who rose through the ranks of the Metropolitan Police in London from PC to be Borough Commander of a large and challenging area mainly due to the sheer volume of serious crime that takes place there. It is written in a way that makes you see what he sees, feel what he feels but, as the reader, you fortunately don’t have the burden of holding all that inside you. The weight of all this eventually leads him to a breakdown and eventual recovery. He comes across as a thoro This is the memoir of a man who rose through the ranks of the Metropolitan Police in London from PC to be Borough Commander of a large and challenging area mainly due to the sheer volume of serious crime that takes place there. It is written in a way that makes you see what he sees, feel what he feels but, as the reader, you fortunately don’t have the burden of holding all that inside you. The weight of all this eventually leads him to a breakdown and eventual recovery. He comes across as a thoroughly decent human being. Reading of the terrible things the police have to deal with to protect us - even those who profess to hate them - with reduced numbers and increasing types of serious crime, makes me sincerely hope, for all our sakes, that the Thin Blue Line is not stretched to breaking point.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    A very open and honest account of the policing life. John Sutherland writes with fierce loyalty to the Met with a clear view which I agree entirely of the most pressing issues that blight our society. He writes of the slow creep upon his life of the daily exposure to the horrors and rawness of life and societies behaviour at its worst. He is able to share the positive and moving moments as he engages with colleagues, victims and their families but this does not ultimately protect him. He capture A very open and honest account of the policing life. John Sutherland writes with fierce loyalty to the Met with a clear view which I agree entirely of the most pressing issues that blight our society. He writes of the slow creep upon his life of the daily exposure to the horrors and rawness of life and societies behaviour at its worst. He is able to share the positive and moving moments as he engages with colleagues, victims and their families but this does not ultimately protect him. He captures his experience as his mental health deteriorates very well and he should be praised for being brave enough to share this with us.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    Although I honestly didn't quite get to finish the book due to having to return it to the Library (Doh!) I really did enjoy John's journey whilst working in the Police in London. Although I loved the realness and details of the different jobs he went to, I did wish he would have used a little bit of more humour a bit more (as I have read in other similar books), but I understand why he hasn't. If you are close to anyone in the Police, I would highly recommend you read this as I feel it would rea Although I honestly didn't quite get to finish the book due to having to return it to the Library (Doh!) I really did enjoy John's journey whilst working in the Police in London. Although I loved the realness and details of the different jobs he went to, I did wish he would have used a little bit of more humour a bit more (as I have read in other similar books), but I understand why he hasn't. If you are close to anyone in the Police, I would highly recommend you read this as I feel it would really make you understand their job more and possibly help your relationship with them more, but please please try to talk to them as much as you can to help their mental health!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Blue is a fine if unspectacular insight into a Metropolitan Police Officer’s life. It lacks any incision or real grit even when discussing harsh cases. Unfortunately everything covered is covered very briefly. That’s not To say there aren’t a number of really entertaining anecdotes but there seems to be a level of reservation from John Sutherland. This is no tell all book on the Met. I suppose that is appropriate but even in his personal battles, the sub-titular “Falling to Pieces” feels imperson Blue is a fine if unspectacular insight into a Metropolitan Police Officer’s life. It lacks any incision or real grit even when discussing harsh cases. Unfortunately everything covered is covered very briefly. That’s not To say there aren’t a number of really entertaining anecdotes but there seems to be a level of reservation from John Sutherland. This is no tell all book on the Met. I suppose that is appropriate but even in his personal battles, the sub-titular “Falling to Pieces” feels impersonal and limited. It’s often been the case with most of the services memoirs I’ve read that they lack detail but are at least easy, page turning, entertaining reads.

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