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We’ve just uploaded AIR DISASTER 3 to Kindle as an eBook (link here).

It’s the latest instalment in Macarthur Job’s critically-acclaimed series of books exploring some of the worst incidents in aviation since the dawn of mass commercial flight.

The first book in the series dealt with the propeller era; the second with the earliest days of the jet era.

The new one moves on from AD2, and the tragedies of the Comet, the Boeing 707 and the DC10 (notably, it covered the terrible Turkish Airlines Flight 981, which claimed the lives of so many English rugby fans in 1974) and deals with the newer 737, 747 and Airbus aircraft.

The most notable, and bizarre, case is probably that of Aeroflot Flight 593, a March 1994 flight from Moscow to Hong Kong which went horribly wrong after the pilot, Captain Yaroslav Kudrinsky, took the insane decision to allow his teenaged children to ‘fly’ his A310 over Siberia.

If, like me, you’re a nervous and regular flier, just reading about this awful incident will bring you out in a cold sweat.

As ever, Macarthur’s original books dealt in painstaking detail with the technical (or other) causes of the accidents; in republishing them, we have tried to add in a little biographical detail about the poor people aboard each aircraft to bring the appalling events into sharper focus.

There’s something very moving about poring over old newspaper reports from the 1970s and 1980s and reading about lives snuffed out – children, and now grandchildren, never born, hopes and dreams never realised.

On 31 July 1992, Thai Airways Flight 311, an Airbus A310 with 113 people on board, took off from from Bangkok, heading to Kathmandu.

It was surprisingly hard to locate information about the passengers, who included eleven Americans, two Britons, two Canadians, one New Zealander and one Australian.

Two stories stood out. One was that of Rajiv Bhatisevi, a sixty-nine-year-old businessman, who was booked on the flight but had reluctantly cancelled after his pet chow had bitten him on the arm as he tried to stop it fighting with another dog.The bite became infected and painful.

‘On the day I was supposed to fly to Kathmandu, the pain became almost unbearable,’ he said. ‘Later in the evening, when I turned on the radio to listen to the news, I couldn’t believe my ears, that the plane was missing. All I could say to myself was, “Thank God!”’

But Joe Collins and his wife Tanna – Christian missionaries originally from Greenville, South Carolina – had bought seven seats, for themselves and their five young children, who included eight-month-old twins.

The couple had been in Nepal for eighteen months, and had recently set up a children’s home in Kathmandu. Tanna had contracted typhoid fever, and the family had flown to Thailand where the medical care was better; now that she had recovered, the Collinses were heading back to resume their charity work.

Joe and Tanna

Joe and Tanna Collins with their five young children, April, Caleb, Samuel, Joseph and Daniel; they all perished in the Thai Airways Flight 311 tragedy in 1992.

They died with all others on board when the aircraft flew into a mountainside, the pilots having become disoriented and confused by language difficulties with an air traffic controller.

Note: Macarthur Job himself sadly died last year in Australia. He was a significant figure in the world of aviation, and it was a pleasure to work with him.

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A while ago, we published In Foreign Fields: Heroes of Iraq and Afghanistan in Their Own Words (a series of first person interviews with soldiers, Royal Marines and RAF men who had won gallantry medals in Iraq and Afghanistan).

It received a lot of critical acclaim and very good reviews, but this was only because of the amazing tales it contained.

One of the most astonishing stories – it really was like something out of Black Hawk Down – was that of Sergeant Terry Bryan, a Royal Horse Artillery NCO who won the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for his actions one day in 2004.

Terry and eight other young men had gone out to rescue another group of British soldiers who had encountered a crowd of angry Basra locals.

But it was the men of the RHA who actually needed rescuing, as first their vehicles were destroyed and then they were chased through the streets of the southern city by men firing at them with AK47s and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Finally, they found themselves holed up in a residential house, with no idea where they were, shooting people at literally point-blank range.

Their ammunition running low, with no working radios to call for help, the house set ablaze in an attempt to smoke them out, they each reserved a single round in case the worst happened.

Eventually – obviously – they were rescued (and a young private from the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, Pte Lee O’Callaghan, lost his life in the process).

Here’s a free PDF of Terry Bryan’s chapter – please feel free to pass it on.

SergeantTerryBryan.docx(1)

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Amazon has put At The Going Down Of The Sun in its summer kindle promotion.

For the next month, it will be available for 99p.

It tells the stories of twenty young servicemen and women who gave everything in Afghanistan.

Mr P.S. Russell of Halifax didn’t really get it, but most other people seem to have found it almost unbearably moving.

Lieutenant Dan Clack is one of those featured.

Dan was a much-loved son, boyfriend and brother, and was also loved and respected by his men from the moment they met him.

‘He was the best young officer I’ve worked with,’ said his platoon serjeant, Darren Gornall. ‘I know when tragic events happen they always say that the person was outstanding, but in Dan’s case it really is the truth.’

Lt Clack was killed, aged twenty-four, by an IED packed with ball-bearings while on patrol in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand Province.

His mother, Sue, and father, Martin, and some of those with whom he served, were kind enough to tell Graham Bound the story of Dan’s life and death, and we are proud to be able to share it in At The Going Down Of the Sun.

Like many of the fallen, Dan left behind letters to be opened only in the event of his death.

The first was to his beloved mum, Sue:

Dan to Mum

Lt Dan Clack’s letter from the grave to his mother. He was twenty-four when he died in Afghanistan.

The second was left for his fellow soldiers of The Rifles:

Dan Clack note to his men

Dan Clack’s letter to his ‘brother Riflemen’.

Gary has been interviewed by Matthew Bannister for the BBC’s World Service Outlook show, so his fame is now worldwide.

You can listen to the interview here.

Gary covers his happy childhood, his difficult relationship, his nocturnal micturition, his fear of the dark, his multiple sackings (from Asda, the Fire Brigade, a firm of bricklayers and many other places), his conviction for fraud, his career as a football hooligan, his nights spent drinking in Cannes with The Village People, his amusing decision to ‘become’ an Old Etonian in his mid-twenties, and his ‘fantastic’ career as a barrister now specialising in criminal defence.

At the end, Bannister asks Gary: ‘Is there a lesson from your story?’

Gary: ‘Maybe not sleeping on the beach. But if you’re in a dead-end job and you’re a bit down in the dumps, it’s up to you. Nothing’s nailed down. Nothing’s got anybody’s name written on it. If you want to achieve anything that you want to achieve you’ve just got to get out there and do it.’

 

 

Gary on Outlook

 

Simon Shaw reviews Gary Bell’s Animal QC: My Preposterous Life in The Mail on Sunday‘s Event supplement today.

It’s a really great two-page review, but as far as I can see there’s no online link to it yet.

So I hope they won’t mind if we post up a brief precis:

What image does the word barrister conjure up? The picture that pops into my mind is of a Rumpolesque bewigged figure, a sober and expensively-educated pillar of the establishment.

I certainly don’t imagine a former football hooligan and homeless bum with a criminal record and a proven inability to hold down gainful employment.

Yet that precisely describes the early life of Gary Bell, a man who has overcome the twin handicaps of being born on the wrong side of the tracks and of being a lifelong Nottingham Forest supporter to rise to a position of eminence in the legal profession.

The word Bell uses to characterise his life in this hugely entertaining autobiography is ‘preposterous’, but that really doesn’t begin to do it justice…

Bell’s remarkable personal odyssey is on one level a heartwarming and inspiring story of an individual winning against the odds.

But it also stands as a powerful indictment of an educational establishment that failed dismally to spot the potential of a precociously gifted working class boy… One can only wonder how many like him fell irretrievably through the net.

Bell is a naturally funny man and a terrific raconteur. His accounts of some of the outlandish cases with which he’s been involved made me guffaw out loud…

Not all of Bell’s book is a barrel of laughs, of course. He’s a serious figure these days and also has plenty of sensible things to say about British justice and the legal profession.

He is, in every sense of the word, a heavyweight, and should I ever have the misfortune to find myself in court I can’t think of anyone I would rather have defending me than Gary Bell QC.

Thanks to Simon and The Mail on Sunday for that.

Here’s the audio of Gary’s recent Radio 5 Live interview (it’s available for thirty days via this link – Gary is on for twenty-odd minutes, and gets started at just before 1hr 38min).

Here’s the audio of his appearance on Radio 4’s Midweek show with Libby Purves (who said it was ‘An extraordinary yarn… a great autobiography’ and suggested that ‘Marvel Comics could take Gary Bell on’.).

Here’s a free chapter of the book. (Please retweet or otherwise pass on if you enjoy it.)

And here’s his appearance on BBC Breakfast:

For more Monday Books news and general chit-chat, please subscribe under ‘EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION’ at the top right hand corner of the page, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter via @mondaybooks

Gary Bell can be reached on Twitter via @garybellqc

MoS review

The below picture was taken yesterday while the jury was out in a major Old Bailey trial.

The judge is on the far right (naturally), and the prosecution junior is up to his neck in sand. The chap in the white t-shirt is actually Karl Power.

But taking centre stage, as he so often does, is one of Britain’s most charismatic Queen’s Counsel.

Surprisingly, it’s not renowned jack-the-lad and all-round good sport Michael Mansfield, or M’lud Pannick – but one G Bell esq.

gary mooning

The lawyer is an ass, M’lud

Gary’s book Animal QC: My Preposterous Life is being reviewed in tomorrow’s Mail on Sunday.

Our fingers are crossed, but in the meantime here’s the audio of his recent Radio 5 Live interview (it’s available for the next thirty days via this link – Gary is on for twenty-odd minutes, and gets started at just before 1hr 38min).

Here’s the audio of his appearance on Radio 4’s Midweek show (Libby Purves was very taken).

Here’s a free chapter of the book. (Please retweet or otherwise pass on if you enjoy it.)

And here’s his appearance on BBC Breakfast:

For more Monday Books news and general chit-chat, please subscribe under ‘EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION’ at the top right hand corner of the page, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter via @mondaybooks

Gary Bell was interviewed by Jeremy Lewis of the Nottingham Evening Post for a piece about his book ANIMAL QC: My Preposterous Life.

Gary Bell dragged his way out of a life of mischief and under-achievement to become one of Britain’s top criminal barristers.

Jeremy Lewis reads an enthralling autobiography and chats with the author…

Local boy made good? That doesn’t quite cover the life story of Gary Bell, bad local boy made very, very good.

Leave school at 16 with no qualifications, cop a conviction but rise into the professions and you’ll be poster boy in an FE college recruitment campaign.

Leave school at 16 with no qualifications, cop a conviction and end up Queen’s Counsel, marry into the gentry and include Cabinet ministers among your friends and you’ve got the makings of a decent book.

The former Cotgrave scrapper wrote it himself. Just as he has a gift for the spoken word when pleading a case in court, he is handy with the written word too.

It touches on Gary’s main motivation for writing his memoirs.

Bell, now 55, had been lumbered with one of the greatest handicaps any child can have – parents who had not the slightest interest in their offspring’s education. Add a careers master whose default advice was to direct every pupil to the pit gates, and a criminal conviction for a fruit machine scam, and it looked as if the teenage Bell was about to waste a life.After roughing it in Europe, he dragged himself away from a culture of 30-pint weekends and enrolled at West Bridgford College, studying for O-levels at 20.

His mother scoffed when he said his aim was to become a barrister. “Just get yourself a steady job,” she said.

Thanks to his mentors at West Bridgford College, Dr Magee and Angela Green, Bell gathered O-levels then A-levels and his working-class credentials impressed the admissions board at Bristol University.

His message is simple: “The biggest thing holding you back is yourself,” he says at the end of a funny but inspirational book. “There are always others who have had more opportunities and encouragement but success, to a degree, is within the grasp of anyone.”

(You can read a free chapter of the book here. Please retweet or otherwise pass on if you enjoy it.)

For more Monday Books news and general chit-chat, please subscribe under ‘EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION’ at the top right hand corner of the page, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter via @mondaybooks

 

 

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