Rich history on road to fame

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Full name Max Macdonald Hastings, aged 51.

Educated at Charterhouse and University College, Oxford. Rumour has it all Hastings' recruits are asked their family origin, and which university they attended.

Has long association with the London Evening Standard: reporter 1965-70; editor of Londoner's diary 1976-77; columnist and contributor 73-86, when he left to edit the Daily Telegraph. Returned to edit the Evening Standard in 1995.

Stints on BBC Television's Question Time and other broadcasting appearances have eroded Mr Hasting's most enduring image: the scruffy, unshaven war reporter who became the first journalist in Port Stanley during the Falklands conflict.

Lists his recreations as shooting and fishing. Usually leaves for his country estate early Friday thanks to four-day week deal at the Evening Standard.

Has great distrust of public transport. During early Seventies was sent to report on a disturbance in Birmingham. Rather than risk British Rail, he flagged a taxi in London and had it drive him the whole way. It chauffeured him around for five days, finally dropping him off at his Northamptonshire estate.

During Falklands War was not a hero of some fellow journalists. Ian Bruce, defence correspondent of the Glasgow Herald, allegedly attacked him with large knife in row over what he had done with Bruce's story.

Hunting passion has had some mishaps: reputed to have killed Dame Barbara Cartland's favourite duck by mistake during pheasant shoot.

Although a respected author and military historian who has academic fans, he also has his critics. Andrew Knight, former chief executive of News International, once remarked that Mr Hastings was an "intellectual lightweight" compared to Kelvin MacKenzie, then editor of The Sun.