Credible. Tense. Terrifying.

Too close to the bone to laugh away

THE THIRD WORLD WAR tells the story of four world leaders pitted against the raw power of failing states. A Russian president who needs to rein in his ambitious generals;  an Indian prime minister experienced in the lethal consequences of the wrong decision; a Chinese president faced with competing forces within his country; and, in the White House, a man who tries to make peace with those who only want catastrophe.

Flashpoint One - Pakistan

Flashpoint Two - North Korea

The opening stages of the Third World War are more confusing and terrible than those in any war in history. A terror attack on the Indian parliament kills hundreds. Hours later a North Korean missile hits a US military base in Japan. As the next few days unfold, those once counted as allies become enemies, and the comfortable lives of citizens in modern societies verge of physical and emotional collapse.

Ultimately, four men pitted against each other because of events they fail to control.

The global reality of our time




Home Run


Failed states, not super-power rivalry, are now defining our foreign policy. Why then, do we know so little about how to fix them?

With attempts to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan leading to war and Egypt back under military rule, Humphrey Hawksley asks: what is the best way to move from dictatorship to democracy without violence?

The result is a book of vivid reportage in which we meet the Iraqi wedding photographer willing to exchange his vote for water, electricity and security; the Patagonian sheep farmer who saw economic collapse looming long before the bankers; the African cocoa farmer who is earning a quarter of what he was thirty years ago; the politician in a shabby election office who gives Hawksley a step-by-step answer to his overarching question - but who is willing to listen?





Humphrey Hawksley

Humphrey Hawksley is an author, commentator and foreign correspondent. He has reported on key trends, events and conflicts from all over the world.



Humphrey's Latest Reports

Vietnamese fishermen say they are being attacked by China with increasing regularity. Their boats have been rammed, equipment broken and crewmen beaten up. Vietnam accuses Beijing of trying to force them out of the South China Sea. Humphrey Hawksley and photographer Poulomi Basu went out of a boat with them.

Click here: Vietnam's fishing war of the South China Sea


The global tea industry is worth $20 billion a year, but on India's tea estates millions of workers and their families suffer from hunger, disease, human rights abuse and exploitation.


India's economy is the 10th largest in the world, but millions of the country's workers are thought to be held in conditions little better than slavery. One story - which some may find disturbing - illustrates the extreme violence that some are subjected to. They tried to escape and were punished with an axe.


Humphrey Hawksley reports from the brick kilns of India where more than two million people feed the booming construction sector and economic miracle by working in conditions campaigners describe as 'slavery.' Their work goes into building the skyscrapers, offices and call centres, but the bricks they make are now being condemned as 'blood bricks.'


Guatemala in Central America has one of the worst records of violence, corruption and treatment of workers. Humphrey Hawksley travels through through the country asking why the European Union is now  giving it new trade privileges.  BBC's Our World - Guatemala's Sweet Deal.


Humphrey Hawksley goes to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda to investigate the link between minerals, war and business. These are the raw materials used in our every day lives for computers, phones and household appliances. Humphrey asks if a little-known American law might force a change to how multi-national companies do business in the developing world and if that could speed up an end to poverty and conflict.


Globalisation has brought the world's goods to the west. But how can consumers be sure they are buying food and clothing manufactured without harming workers - especially children? Humphrey Hawksley travels to the cotton fields and factories of India and discovers rampant abuse and child labour.


For years, the chocolate industry knew their raw products were farmed in unacceptable conditions - using slavery and children. Humphrey Hawksley first exposed the cocoa scandal more than a decade ago. Returning again to the Ivory Coast, he finds children taken from their parents and forced to harvest cocoa with little evidence that chocolate makers plan to change things.



Dancing with the Devil
Shortly after dark as the solitary stilted "devil dancer" walked back into the Liberian forest, we headed off, but soon found the road blocked and in the darkness it was difficult to see why.....

And all of Humphrey Hawksley's reports for the BBC's much loved FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT

Lessons of Failed States: Afghanistan, Bosnia, Liberia
Yale Global

Rush into Democracy and you Rue the Results
Evening Standard