David Aaronovitch Posts Fake Book Reviews and Lies About Why 82

David Aaronovitch entered into a conspiracy with others to post fake 5 star reviews of his last shoddy book on Amazon.  He now lies about why.  He has attempted to defuse the row by coming clean and making light, courtesy of his Murdoch employer.

But his explanation is a plain lie.  Aaronovitch claims that :

“almost before my book was published, the first 1-star reviews started to appear, from people who had never read it. After a week, even I wouldn’t have bought it.”

In fact, the very first eight reviews on Amazon were all five star – which by his own argument must be “from people who had never read it”.  That is very probably true, as the first two five star reviews were posted on the very day the book was released, 7 May 2009. In fact the average rating of the first reviews is very much higher than the average rating he gets from the general public overall, extremely suspiciously so.  (One remote possibility is he was getting Amazon to delete critical reviews, but that also would negate his justification for procuring the fake positive reviews).

He claims “After a week even I wouldn’t have bought it”.  In fact, after a week it was averaging a literally unbelievable five stars.  It was a full month before the first one star review arrived. Then it was from an amazon real name verified customer who Aaronovitch plainly does not think should be entitled to their opinion.

His excuse for this attempt to defraud the public by planting false reviews of his product is, quite simply, a lie.  Aaronovitch is a liar.  Which makes you worry a little about his journalistic standards otherwise, does it not? It is an interesting glimpse into the dark mind of one of the leading propagandists for the Iraq War.

It seems that Aaronovitch with others entered a conspiracy to boost book sales through fraudulent reviews.  Which as his book in question argues that pro-establishment conspiracies never have existed, is rather ironic. I do not regard this as a minor dereliction.  I believe it opens serious questions about a journalist’s integrity.  In the days when the Times was a respectable newspaper, it would have led to Aaronovitch’s dismissal.

I should say I have never asked anybody to post a positive review of one of my books on Amazon.  I am happy to say that Murder in Samarkand has a much higher star review rating than Voodoo Histories, and unlike Aaronovitch I did not have to cheat to get it.  Only one of my 49 reviews by “Biodiplomacy” is actually from a friend but I did not ask him to do it, and I am sure in any circumstances he would give his honest opinion. He often disagrees with me in comments here!

I am conscious that one probable consequence of this posting is that neo-con trolls will now bomb Murder in Samarkand with bad reviews.  I very much welcome reviews, good, bad, or indifferent, from anybody who has honestly read the book and is giving their genuine opinion.

This is an extract from the article in the Times where Aaronovitch admits to his fraud, and lies about the cause. I can’t link to it because it was behind a paywall.  To Mr Murdoch’s copyright lawyers, I am quoting a brief extract for the purpose of legitimate analysis and debate.  If you have any sense, you would realize I am also doing you a favour by exposing your star columnist as a cheat and a fraud:

Something like half of all book sales are now made through Amazon, and when you find a book on Amazon it is accompanied by reviews from “readers” who give it a 1 (lowest) to 5 star rating.  So, almost before my book was published, the first 1-star reviews started to appear, from people who had never read it. After a week, even I wouldn’t have bought it.

There is only one thing you can do in this situation. You ask every friend and family member to go onsite PDQ and 5-star your baby. You get your frauds to balance off their frauds. Ce n’est pas magnifique, mais (grâce à Amazon) c’est la guerre.

Actually, David, ce n’est pas la guerre.  La guerre is what you supported so enthusiastically in Iraq, and involves the blasting to pieces of young children, the rape of countless women, the end of hundreds of thousands of lives and the wrecking of millions more.  It involves the destruction of the infrastructure of countries and the loss of decades of economic development, and a ruinous expense to our own economy.  It involves the bombing of densely packed urban areas in Gaza, for which you are an enthusiast, and from which the terror and suffering is something you will never understand.  For you just sit here in the highly paid heart of the warmongering Murdoch establishment, and indulge in lies and cheats to further your income and your grubby little career.





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82 thoughts on “David Aaronovitch Posts Fake Book Reviews and Lies About Why

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  • Nick Crosby

    Something tells me Aaronovitch is off the Christmas card list…Not having read any of his or your books, I am now at a loss whom (if either) I should read.
    Jumping massively out of topic, a question in which I am more interested is ‘Intervention: if, when, where, how and who decides?’ Saw that Rory Stewart and Gerald Knaus have tackled it but it is the issue of our time. Reflecting on Rwanda and Iraq II…No easy answers.
    Kind regards

    PS I was opposed to IraqII as I believed then (and now) that Hussein was sufficiently contained and linked (falsely) to Sept 11th as a pretext

  • craig Post author


    Well, if you did read my books you would gain some very apposite information towards formulating your answer to your question!

  • Anon

    “David Aaronovitch entered into a conspiracy with others to post fake 5 star reviews of his last shoddy book”

    Have you read the book?

  • Barbara Brown

    Murder in Samarkand is on my shelf. I enjoyed it and learned from it.
    Aaronovitch is a big girl’s blouse.

  • Moniker

    It’s quite normal for reviews to pop up on the day a book is released – they generally come from people who have been sent advance copies by the publisher before publication and they do tend to be favourable as the publisher will target readers who are likely to like the books. It’s also not that unbelievable to have five-star ratings later on as people don’t tend to bother going to do reviews unless they’ve just read a book and are feeling enthusiastic about it.

  • wikispooks

    As the author of the 3rd Amazon review of Murder in Samarkand (Sabretache 13 July 2006) and who assisted in disseminating the pdf drafts that preceded it:

    Bloody well said Craig!!!

    Aaronovitch really is an arch-Zionist shyster and it warms the cockles to see yet more unvarnished evidence of it.

  • Mary

    Hear! Hear! Wikispooks. Craig’s on fire. Thought the naysayers/supporters of the paleocons would be in quickly.

  • craig Post author


    Aaronovitch has actually admitted the reviews were fake. It’s a bit otiose to argue they were not.

  • Ba'al Zevul (Flames 'R' Us)

    Having read some of Aaronovitch’s opinions on everything, and noting that his information base and right to an opinion are no better than my own, I have never been moved to read a book by him, far less buy one. He’s a Murdoch hack, and this summarises him:

    (2003) “If nothing is eventually found, I – as a supporter of the war – will never believe another thing that I am told by our government, or that of the US ever again. And, more to the point, neither will anyone else. Those weapons had better be there somewhere.”

    (2013) http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/davidaaronovitch/article3694379.ece
    (paywall, sorry, but you get the drift)

    Further reading –


    When he realised that the applause had gone to Atzmon instead, Aaronovitch threw an almighty tantrum, as befits someone who believes that his lifeless and reactionary prose contains undreamt of pearls of wisdom. How, he wondered, could people applaud an anti-Semite as opposed to an imperialist? And the answer is so obvious that even someone in possession of Aaronovitch’s mediocre talents might be expected to work it out. The wars and blockades that Aaronovitch has supported in different parts of the world have killed upwards of 2 million people. Atzmon’s anti-Semitism has killed no one because, as far as I’m aware, death by boredom cannot be entered as a cause of death on a death certificate.

  • Mary

    He’s away and troughing it if this is any indication.

    David Aaronovitch @DAaronovitch · Apr 22
    Visiting Vienna for the first time this week. Then Graz, then Sarajevo. Restaurant/cafe recommendations gratefully received.


  • Moniker

    Craig: I sounded like I was arguing for him – I wasn’t. Just bunging in some info. Personally, I rarely believe anything that happens on Amazon. Seen too many piles of disinformation there. I decide whether to pick books up according to what the authors have to say, and what readers I know say about the books… for which reason, I have never picked up an Aaronovitch book.

  • Ba'al Zevul (Flames 'R' Us)

    He’s another of those buggers who’s famous for being famous – to stretch the meaning of ‘famous’ to breaking point – and ‘famous’ in the first place due to the volume with which he blows his own trumpet. The Beeb wheels him in occasionally in place of anyone who knows what they’re talking about, under the journo Old Pals’ Act. Meh.

  • Kempe

    Amazon will remove reviews for a number of reasons including any coming from reviewers who may have a personal or financial connection with the the work. Anyway the US branch gives a different picture with at least three one star reviews pre-dating the book’s American release and from people who clearly haven’t read it:-


    By describing the book as “shoddy” Craig can we assume that you’ve read it and disagree with it’s conclusions or is it just that as it’s author is a Zionist anything and everything he writes has to be condemned without question?

  • Anon

    “David Aaronovitch entered into a conspiracy with others to post fake 5 star reviews of his last shoddy book”

    Have you read the book?

  • Ba'al Zevul (Flames 'R' Us)

    Went to the link – Kempe. The one-star reviews are heavily dominated by people who clearly had read the book, and most of whom disliked it enough to spend some time detailing why. Regardless of the review date. Of the five-star reviews, I recommend that of Philip M Rose, which is by no means as uncritical as its star rating might suggest, and dissects A’s more questionable assertions quite forensically. One quote must suffice:

    Nice, eh? What happens to you when you criticize Dave’s religio/politico ideology/belief/identity?

    Good question.

  • Iain Orr

    Readers’ reviews on Amazon – and Craig’s mention of my review of “Murder” – contain another story worth telling. With an efficient memory (ie one that is good at forgetting), I write them to make me read books more carefully and to remember what I have read. As Craig says, I alone choose what to review and how.

    Reviewing “Murder” was an eye-opener. My review appeared on Amazon.co.uk but disappeared after less than a day. In a long correspondence it emerged that the company considered that the mention of Tony Blair in my opening sentences was unacceptably personal:

    “Few of us have done battle with a murderous dictator. “Murder in Samarkand” tells how a British Ambassador did so and survived, only to be stabbed in the back by his own Prime Minister. Tony Blair ignored diplomatic advice if it complicated his relations with George W. Bush.”

    I then remembered that there is no sharing of reviews on the Amazon.co.uk amd Amazon.com websites. That’s sensible, because reviewers, especially of political books, need to take account of different assumptions – as well as spelling – when writing for US or UK audiences. So, my next move was to submit a review to Amazon.com, different in several respects from the blocked one for Amazon.co.uk but starting with the same reference to Blair. That review appeared immediately and is still there on Amazon.com

    After much thought, I decided to swallow my indignation. Since I was keen that the book should have many readers in the UK, I submitted a revised review, with no direct mention of Tony Blair, to Amazon.co.uk . It was accepted and is still there.

    There’s a fundamental lesson here about freedom of speech – better protected by the US Constitution than it is by the UK’s “unwritten constitution” and the common law.

  • Mary

    There was a link to the Aa piece which is behind the paywall.

    Murdoch is trying to lure people in with an offer of 30 days digital for £1 (more than it’s worth) which then reverts to £6.

    All half price! http://store2.thetimes.co.uk/?ILC=INT-TNL_The_Times-homepage-toplink-5_28_2013_-64#packs

    There do not seem to be any bogofs to include the Soaraway Sun which has its own paywall. Imagine paying for it!

    The advertising for Sky subscriptions is intensive on Sky News. Murdoch’s MPyre not going down surely? Poor old Lizard. Wendi fancied BLiar’s legs and rear end too.

  • Neil Saunders

    Not the first or the last to perpetrate “Readola” on Amazon, I’ll wager.

  • foolish book buyer

    Who buys anything on the basis of Amazon reviews anyway? I have read Craig’s two books (one from the Library and the other partly free online and partly at the shelf in Foyles) and for what its worth recommend both. In fact I wouldn’t be reading this blog if I hadn’t read them. Craig – why don’t you write a book on conspiracy theories? I would buy a copy.

  • Jives

    Aaronovitch is a toadying NeoCon puppet-shill who no doubt gets paid in brown envelopes by his spooky paymasters-as long as he writes what he is told.

    A busted flush years ago and as far removed from integrity and what a real journalist is as possible.

  • Anon

    “I very much welcome reviews, good, bad, or indifferent, from anybody who has honestly read the book and is giving their genuine opinion.”

    Did you read Aaaronovitch’s book before calling it “shoddy”?

  • Hyphen Press

    Aaronovitch shows his true colours by climbing down into the pit of Amazon. If he had any sense of morality he’d stay clear of the beast: tax-dodging, employee-punishing, manically über-Capitalist. Seen in the perspective of Jeff Bezos, Rupert Murdoch is a kind-hearted social-democrat.

  • Ian

    Hi Craig

    you quote Aaronovitch as admitting this. Where are your quotes from?

    Ian Sinclair

  • nevermind

    Thank you Craig, this over rated hack was asking for it for a long time, he deserves the full broadside. I switched him off on question time, nor will I read what he writes.
    Same goes for Ms.Phillips.
    And thanks to Ian for letting us know about Amazons avoidance of the Parliamentary liars name, whenever it suits them, that is.

  • Abe Rene

    Posting fraudulent reviews is inexcusable. I will not buy Aaronovitch’s book again. 🙂

  • Kempe

    ” Would my not having read it make Aaronovitch’s procurement of fake reviews OK in some way? What precisely is your point? ‘

    My point is if you haven’t read the book how do you know it’s “shoddy”? Anon is asking the same question. Can we assume that the answer is no?

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