generic speaker image

Ian Williams Ian Williams

Anchor and Writer | Catskill Review of Books


Lecturer, raconteur, MC, amusing and provocatively hardhitting on many subjects.



Ian Williams

Author, writer and broadcaster Ian Williams was born in Liverpool in 1949, and graduated from Liverpool University, despite several years’ suspension for protests against its investments in South Africa. Consequently, he had a variegated career path, which included a drinking competition with Chinese Premier Chou En Lai and an argument on English Literature with Chiang Ching, aka Mme Mao. He became a professional writer after spending six months in India on a Nuffield fellowship to study labor unions in the subcontinent. While there he met Indira Gandhi and many other politicians, including veterans of the independence struggles.

In 1985 he won the Liverpool Press Club award for “By-line mania” when he wrote the centerfold for the Baptist Times, since then has proved how much he deserved it by writing for Penthouse and Hustler. A frequent contributor to the Guardian's "Comment is Free" section and a regular columnist for George Orwell’s old newspaper, Tribune, he has also been a regular in Telegraph, the Financial Times, the European, The Observer, and The Independent for which he was a founding writer. Before leaving the UK for New York, in 1987 he was a speechwriter for Neil Kinnock, the British Labour Party leader during the General Election.

In January he will deliver A Global History of Tequila and the Agave for Reaktion Press,

He researching a book on the American Loyalists - the first American Civil War.

Perseus Books published his last book Rum, a social and sociable history of the Real Spirit of 76, on the forgotten role of rum in world history and the importance of the Caribbean sugar and rum industry to North Atlantic economic and political development.

His previous book Deserter was published 2004.

The UN For Beginners, 1995, (under revision), was an attempt to make the UN interesting and accessible, while setting it, pragmatically, in the reality of Great Power politics.

The Alms Trade was published in 1989 and was republished in 2008 by Cosimo Books. It examines the medieval roots of Anglo-American charity laws and structures and their development and adaptation to political and economic trends.

Broadcast and Periodicals

He is the anchor for a radio program, The Catskill Review of Books, on WJFF FM, and writes essays and reviews for journals ranging from the Common Review (published by the Great Books Foundation, Chicago) to the London Review of Books, World Policy, the Nation and the New Statesman.

Industry Expertise (3)

Beverages - Alcoholic

Media - Print

International Affairs

Areas of Expertise (6)

Tequila and Mezcal

A Global History

How Empires End

George Orwell

Rum: A History of the Real Spirit of 1776

United Nations and Global Affairs: the Worst Thing Except the Alternatives

Event Appearances (2)


Rum, Molasses and Slaves  NY Colonial Dames, India House, Yale Club, Fraunces Tavern, Greenwich Country Club, etc etc.


Inside the UN,    Alaska World Affairs Council, ditto Buffalo,Philadelphia, Savannah etc

Sample Talks (5)

The Loyalist Cowboy, Indian and defector

The role of the Loyalists in the American Revolution

Alcohol in History:

How alcohol shaped the world

Orwell: Still a prophet to listen to

How Orwell, a cranky upper-class democratic socialist is still a relevant model

It wasn't Tea, it was Rum. 1776 and all That

The UN- avoiding Hell, not Heaven-bound.

How the UN, for all its failings is indispensible



  • Keynote
  • Moderator
  • Panelist
  • Host/MC
  • Author Appearance


600 to 10000 *Will consider certain engagements for no fee