Hack Attack

How The Truth Caught Up With Rupert Murdoch

Nick Davies

At first, it seemed like a small story. The royal editor of the News of the World was caught listening to the voicemail messages of staff at Buckingham Palace. In 2007 he and a private investigator were sentenced to prison and the case was closed. But award-winning journalist Nick Davies felt sure there was more to it and began his painstaking investigation which ultimately exposed a world of crime and cover-up, of fear and favour – reaching all the way to the top.

This book is the definitive, inside story of one of the major scandals of our age. It tells for the first time how Davies and a network of rebel lawyers, MPs and celebrities worked tirelessly to uncover the truth about phone hacking: how they challenged Rupert Murdoch, one of the most powerful men in the world; how News International attempted to protect itself with lies and threats and money; how the police and the press regulator failed to find the truth. Drawing on exclusive interviews with private investigators , journalists, politicians, police officers and Murdoch executives, Hack Attack blows the lid off the world of Fleet Street, Scotland Yard and Downing Street. It discloses in detail the bullying and law-breaking in the newsroom of the News of the World, and reconstructs the history of failure and official secrecy inside police ranks.

Above all, this book is a study of the power elite. It paints an intimate portrait of the social network which gave Murdoch privileged access to government, and allowed him and his people to intimidate anyone who stood up to them. Hack Attack is a nail-biting account of an investigative journalist’s journey, and is a shining example or the might of good journalism. It tells the story of what happened when truth caught up with power.

First published by Chatto (Penguin Random House, UK) in 2014.

Awards and other accolades

  • Long-listed for the 2014 Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award
  • Long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2014
  • Long-listed for the Orwell Prize 2015
  • #4 Sunday Times bestseller
  • Named one of the 5 best books about journalism by Esquire
  • Selected as the Non-Fiction Book of the Year in iBooks Best of 2014 for Australia
  • George Clooney will direct a film based on the book. Read more here.


“This is the book we’ve been waiting for, the thrilling and important inside story of how a single backpacking reporter came through with the truth of the hacking scandals. He exposed shameful intrusions, the years of deceit, lies, and bullying. And he did more. He revealed a rottenness at the heart of British life in the relations of press, police, and Parliament, institutions that, taken as a whole, failed the big test. Hack Attack is an indictment of the worst of journalism, but is itself an exhilarating demonstration of how the best of journalism—hard-won, honest reporting—is the lifeblood of any democracy.”
Sir Harold Evans

“First in The Guardian and now in this book, the reporting of Nick Davies has revealed the insidious abuse of power—and the public trust—by the Murdoch press from the top down. The British hacking scandal is the ultimate expression of Murdoch-culture run amok: corruption in the Fourth Estate as dangerous to democracy as the worst excesses of heads of state.”
Carl Bernstein

“The best account we have of the phone-hacking scandal . . . Davies has laid it all bare in an exciting, clear and honest narrative, and even after all that has been written . . . about Murdoch, it is difficult not to feel a sense of renewed rage . . . It is a masterly summary of the hacking affair, as well as the ingenuity and persistence that lead to great journalism.”
Henry Porter, The Observer

“Nick Davies is Britain’s greatest investigative journalist . . . This extraordinary book . . . is as exciting as a thriller but far more important.”
Peter Oborne, The Telegraph

“Nick Davies . . . has, in his exhumation of this trove of journalistic ordure, done a colossal service to Britain’s democracy.”
John Lloyd, Financial Times

“In his first-hand, panoramic account of the hacking scandal from 2008 to the present day, Nick Davies artfully draws the connections between Murdoch’s newspaper group and the officially powerful, and their corrosive impact on the public’s interests.”
Martin Hickman, The Independent

“This book is a major achievement: a master class in investigative journalism made all the more fascinating by the wealth of color that’s like something from another era.”
Columbia Journalism Review

“Hack Attack . . . is a valuable addition to our understanding of the Australian press baron . . . [and] an important reminder of the evils that can result when the media itself becomes so powerful and corrupt that it is accountable to no one.”
The Boston Globe

“Davies is the perfect person to corral this massive plume of facts and evasions into a single volume.”
The Washington Post

“There is so much excess and human pathology on display here, it makes ‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ seem restrained”
The New York Times Book Review

“Davies . . . makes Captain Ahab and Inspector Javert look like quitters.”
Jack Shafer, Slate

“Only one reporter has dogged the story from start to finish—deeply sourced among hacking victims, journalists, lawyers, police and politicians. Davies’ associates say he excels because he can comprehend the big political picture but also never forgets the vast trove of small, telling details.”
James Rainey, Los Angeles Times

“No one does scandal quite like the British; this one is a real doozy that deserves Davies’ entertaining, no-stone-unturned eagle eyes”
Kirkus Reviews

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