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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’.

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Gary will be appearing on BBC 5 Live’s Afternoon Edition sometime after 2pm today to talk about his past as a homeless man, convicted fraudster and football hooligan, his present life as one of the country’s top criminal defence barristers, his work for Pork Farms and Asda, and (probably) his ongoing battles with weight, bed-wetting and his fear of the dark (and his book, ANIMAL QC: My Preposterous Life.

(You can read a free chapter of the book here).

I think Sarah Brett and Dan Walker are doing the interview – Dan is a well-known football nut, and Gary (genuinely one of the funniest nicest and most interesting people I’ve ever met) shares his love of the game.

In fact, here’s a shot of the great man in action:

GB FOOTBALLING

Gary Bell QC demonstrating his Billy Bremner skills and Billy Bunter physique.

It’s a pretty big deal for a small publisher like Monday Books, and it follows hot on the heels of his appearance on BBC Breakfast yesterday:

Following that TV appearance – in which Gary was closely quizzed about his weight and his past as a football hooligan and convicted fraudster, as well as his current career as a highly successful criminal defence barrister – the Amazon sales ranking shot up from around 6,800-ish to 179.

He was for a time the No2 ‘mover and shaker’ in the chart, too – beaten only by that pesky Harper Lee:

Gary mover shaker

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…are very good.

Libby Purves, presented of BBC Radio Four’s Midweek show, called it ‘An extraordinary yarn… a great autobiography’ and suggested that ‘Marvel Comics could take Gary Bell on’.

(You can listen again to Gary – and the great Julia Donaldson, Michael Booth and Iain Sinclair – by clicking this link.)

Angela Epstein interviewed Gary for the Telegraph, and praised the ‘unvarnished candour’ of ‘his riotous new autobiography’.

We are hoping that additional reviews will appear in various places soon, but in the meantime the all-important reader reviews have also started appearing on Amazon.

Hard to beat this one:

I heard Gary Bell on Radio 4 this morning, and downloaded his book on Kindle a few minutes later. And couldn’t put it down, read the whole book today. One of the best and most entertaining autobiographies I have read in a long time.

You can read a free chapter of the book here.

You can also find out why he was (and in some circles still is) known as ‘Animal’ here.

Animal_QC_ early reviews

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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ANIMAL QC – the life story of a most unusual criminal barrister, Gary Bell QC – is published on Tuesday (and is also available for as an eBook).

We’ve teamed up with Good Reads to give away two free copies of the book.

All you have to do is click on the following link and put in your request (the people at Good Reads decide who get the books):

GARY BELL’S ANIMAL QC – FREE COPIES VIA GOOD READS

If you’d like a sneak preview of the book (we’ve chosen a key turning point in Gary’s life) please click on the following link (and please feel free to share it with friends):

ANIMAL QC – FREE CHAPTER

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

Animal QC full jacket

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PARAMEDIC STUART GRAY – author of our book A PARAMEDIC’S DIARY – was on duty in London on July 7, 2005.

Actually, he was in the operating theatre at St Thomas’ Hospital practising his intubation skills on people undergoing routine surgery when the garbled messages started coming in.

Then the hospital’s Clinical Director interrupted the surgical team to tell them that all operations had suddenly been cancelled, and Stuart quickly got out of his scrubs and into his paramedic’s green.

in the ambulance, he heard the chilling radio call, ‘There are a lot of people with blood on them coming out of Russell Square tube station… make ambulances, one hundred.’

‘I almost didn’t believe what I’d just heard,’ he writes. ‘One hundred ambulances? It made no sense. The streets around us, just south of the river at the bottom of Westminster Bridge, with Big Ben just across the water, were as they are every day – calm and normal, full of people strolling along in twos and threes, chatting on their mobiles, hailing cabs.’

He spent the rest of the day watching – and doing – heroic things to save the lives of the terribly injured victims.

Here – in a free extract from a different part of the book – Stuart discusses a phenomenon that really bugs him…

Paramedics Diary

Diary of a Paramedic

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