A British journalist, writer, and broadcaster, he is best known for his award-winning biography of Karl Marx. His other works include Television: A History and Battle for London.
He studied at Royal Holloway College, University of London, where he was a schoolmate of Mark Thatcher (the son of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher). He published his first work, The Sixties, in 1982.
He endured a painful loss when one of his unfinished manuscripts was burned in a fire.
His first marriage, to writer Joan Smith, ended in a divorce.
He was a close friend of author Christopher Hitchens.