Thursday 28 April 2022


Listening to the news last night was both satisfying and horrible. I was content that the High Court yesterday found the Government acted unlawfully when it ordered the discharge of patients from hospital into care homes - an act that led to the deaths of around 20,000 of our citizens in those care homes. This I knew already. And I was horrified that these men and women we have trusted with our government should be guilty of social murder on such a scale. 

Dying to Know - signed copies available in Penzance in The Edge of the World bookshop

My book - Dying to Know - Running through a Pandemic - was published at the end of February. It 

contains a historically accurate account of what happened in the first year of the Coronavirus Pandemic, 

in 2020 - and much else. It nails Johnson and Cummings as the architects of an appallingly planned 

policy that pursued the goal of achieving herd immunity. Do please read it. It only costs a tenner - and 

it will open your eyes, or confirm with detail the terrible story you know already. 

Here are some reviews:

Rob Donovan opens his heart and his head as he pounds the paths above St Ives. The result is a great book – full of personal, provocative, reflective, educational gems. Easy and engaging to read - the emotional and intellectual cadences do their work.

by Bill Musk

For many people, one of the most unsettling aspects of the ‘Covid time’ was a sense of disempowerment. This unease manifested in many ways: in fatalism and apathy; in anger and defiance in the face of restrictions; in the conviction that agencies or individuals were working against our interests. As Rob Donovan is a man of deeply felt political convictions and anti-establishment cast of mind, it is not surprising that he comes out flying colours for the third of these: the villains of the piece, Messrs Cummings and Johnson.
I don’t personally share this view - I think it was the virus (and, yes, in some cases the lockdown measures) that killed people, not individual politicians. However, I still found this book thought-provoking and interesting. Its points are well-argued, and supported by evidence; by now we all have our own interpretation of the speeches, statistics and decisions of 2020, but it is impossible to dismiss Donovan’s out of hand. And what’s more, there’s an awful lot more to the book than Covid-19. You may think you’ve read enough about lockdown policies, excess deaths and r-rates to last you a life time. But don’t dismiss the ‘Dying to Know’ on that account.
For this is far more than a contribution to the Covid Studies industry. Donovan also writes a runner’s journey through the landscape above St Ives, with powerful and well-informed excursions into the other times and other lives that inhabit the place. The run is a framing device, and also becomes a metaphor, as Donovan chronicles his own fall into – and rise out of – ill health. He chronicles the hard slog and the surges of joy that accompany a serious commitment to all demanding pursuits. And he writes a good sentence: the rise and run matching the varied pace and rhythm of his own footsteps, uphill and down, on road and on pavements.
But perhaps the lasting power of the book will not be about the strange course of events in 2020, but about the future. It becomes increasingly clear that Donovan’s sharp critical eye has in its sights the Tory leader and his one-time adviser, but the whole apparatus of capitalism and the assumptions that underpin it. ‘You may not wish to share all my fury at our misgovernment,’ he allows at an early stage of the book, ‘at least, not yet. But I hope you do choose to learn a thing or two about this monster in our midst.’ Ostensibly, this is a reference to the virus, or perhaps the present government. But in the final chapter, ‘Dying to Know’ breaks free of its immediate contexts, and invites us to consider an alternative to accepted economic thinking: an alternative that may one day feature in a 21st century renaissance of wisdom. Well, you might say, we can all dream. But the end of a long run through difficult terrain – what better time to rest a while, then arise in hope?

by Linda Camidge

I'm giving a talk at the Penzance Literary Festival in July about my book - Dying to Know - and the emphasis will be on hope - Stephanie Kelton's great work is the focus of one of my chapters. 

A personal narrative and good read, distilled from the interplay between the author’s life experiences through the recent COVID pandemic and political imperfections in that period.

by Peter Hendry

An intriguing and enjoyable book. Rob Donovan develops a very original approach through combining his running journey with other aspects of autobiography, then threading this personal story through with literary and historical references and a strong dose of political anger, not to mention a good helping of scientific and medical education. A surprisingly successful synthesis is achieved from this varied material. The momentum of the author's running circuit is maintained throughout, so that many different stories become one stirring and evocative story for our times.

by Julia Bush

This book is an absorbing and rewarding read! Rob Donovan interweaves various streams of thought skillfully and seamlessly. Autobiographical elements emerge naturally from his accounts of long-distance running in the Cornish landscape, while health and healing are always kept in the reader’s mind in ways that underline the experiences of so many people during this long pandemic. Political philosophy and reflections on practical politics take their place also, and the book as a whole has a deeply humane quality that is uplifting and sustaining. I highly recommend!

by John Reid

My book was the result of this killer virus - SARS-CoV-2 - entering our lives. It hasn't gone away. Deaths over the last two days have been averaging around 320 each day, the highest for many months. (National Office of Statistics) Have you asked yourself why this fact is not making newspaper headlines?

Here is a link to my publishers: Matador/ Troubador - and their Dying to Know page:

You can read more reviews there, and more material about the book - and order copies. Please help spread the word that terrible things happened in this country that should never have occurred. 


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