MARCH 12, 1987 – OCTOBER 24, 2012

Scan 3Channing: an angelic little schoolgirl who was shy but ‘always smiling’

One of the most moving stories in AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN is that of Cpl Channing Day of the Royal Medical Corps. Today is the third anniversary of her death in Afghanistan, aged twenty-five. Our thoughts go out to her family and friends.

CHANNING WAS A TINY slip of a girl who was turned away from the Army recruitment office by the Royal Engineers because she was two centimetres shorter than their minimum height requirement.

She was distraught – she had wanted to be a soldier like her dad, Leslie, almost from the moment she could walk, and would stomp around the house in his boots.

But then her mum Rosemary found out that the Royal Army Medical Corps had different requirements, and Channing signed up as a combat medic.

It’s a dangerous, front-line role – you are out on patrol, under fire, most days.

Indeed, her best friend from training, Pte Eleanor Dlugosz, was killed in Iraq in 2007.

But Channing survived Iraq, and then a first tour of Afghanistan – during which she saved the life of a badly injured soldier under fire.

In 2012, she was back in theatre, attached to 40 Commando.

The fighting was fierce. Medics don’t always use their weapons, but at times the Taliban were so close that Channing was forced to defend herself and her mates.

Tragically, on October 24, she was shot dead on patrol, along with Royal Marine Corporal David O’Connor, by a cowardly Afghan policeman.

Cpl Day was twenty-five; Cpl O’Connor, twenty-seven.

Graham Bound interviewed Channing’s mother Rosemary, and her comrades-in-arms, for At The Going Down Of The Sun, and it is a great honour for us to be able to tell her story. She is the twentieth and final subject of the book.

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In terms of eBooks, we tend to concentrate on Kindle on the basis that that’s the best place to get a return, but we’ve had people asking us why some of our titles are not available via iTunes.

So the following Theodore Dalrymple eBooks have recently been added to the Apple platform:

Life at the Bottom

Our Culture, What’s Left of It

Not With a Bang but a Whimper

In other news:

Google Books is now a thing:

On Friday, a federal circuit court made clear that Google Books is legal. A three-judge panel on the Second Circuit ruled decisively for the software giant against the Authors Guild, a professional group of published writers which had alleged Google’s scanning of library books and displaying of free “snippets” online violated its members’s copyright.

Maybe we’re missing something, but as long as Google can’t just scan books and give them away (they can’t) then this is probably a good thing? It’s just another way for people to sample your stuff – a free ad, effectively.

I am currently reading David Nobbs‘ memoir, I Didn’t Get Where I Am Today. The older of our two readers will recognise that as the catchphrase of ‘C.J.’, Reggie Perrin’s boss in the 1970s TV series which starred Leonard Rossiter and was created by Nobbs. It’s not as funny as one might expect, but I’m only a third in. His early Army experiences are very Eddy Nugent.

Picking Up The Brass_PUTB full cover jpeg ARRSENot David Nobbs, but a lad quite like him

The other half of Monday Books is currently reading Kate Morton’s The Lake House, which is ‘very good so far’. The thing that struck us both is that it arrived as a hardback, RRP £18.99, a day or two after publication, for £5.99. Astonishingly good value; how can bookshops compete?

An interesting article about the origins of the horror genre.

The Atlantic on the landscape of Gansu.

David Thompson’s brilliant Friday Ephemera series is well worth checking out (and you might bung him a few quid while you’re at it).


Coming soon: The memoirs of the former deputy head of Belfast CID

The ‘Troubles‘ is the euphemism for the murderous mayhem that beset Northern Ireland from the late 1960s up until the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Some 3,531 people died in that terrible period, as (putting it at its simplest) Catholic terrorists who wanted to unite the six counties of Antrim, Down, Armagh, Londonderry, Fermanagh and Tyrone with Eire fought with protestant terrorists who wanted the province to remain a loyal part of the United Kingdom.

Roughly 2,000 people were killed by Republican groups such as the Provisional IRA and the INLA, and around 1,000 lost their lives at the hands of loyalists such as the UVF and the UDA.

They murdered each other, as well as entirely innocent people, and the members of the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary who were acting as reluctant referees*.

One of the most senior of those referees was Alan Simpson, the former Deputy Head of the Belfast CID – a very brave and dedicated man who lost many friends and colleagues during the ‘Long War’ and – as a leading figure in the RUC – was himself the subject of a number of assassination plans.

Alan joined the old RUC in the 1970s and spent most of his long career in the detective branch, investigating hundreds of the brutal killings that took place in that city.

Among his major cases was the utterly tragic story of the bungled kidnap and murder of the German consul Thomas Niedermayer, and the horrific murders committed by the Shankill Butchers.

We’ve just agreed to publish Alan’s memoir of those dark days. It originally came out fifteen years ago as Murder Madness, but is well overdue an update. It’s a grimly fascinating inside look at just about the most dangerous job in law enforcement the first world has ever seen.

Publication details soon.

*Some 363 people were killed by the Army and the police during that time, too.


The very funny story of Toby Potts and his start in life as a barrister is available as a Kindle eBook for just 99p from October 7 until October 14.

You don’t need a Kindle to read it – you can download the software onto your home or work PC or iPad/iPhone/smart phone – and here’s a free chapter to see if you fancy it:

May It Please Your Lordship Free Chapter

If you do enjoy it, please do retweet the chapter, whack it on Facebook or otherwise tell your friends.

May It Please Your Lordship - AI Cover

For one week only from today, ANIMAL QC will be available as a Kindle eBook for the promotional price of 99p.

That’s an astonishing bargain for a 400-odd page book, and we pretty much double-dare you not to be entertained by it. You don’t need a Kindle, either – you can download the software to your PC or smart phone.

It’s Gary Bell QC’s shocking and hilarious memoir of his journey from football hooligan, convicted fraudster and homeless man to becoming one of Britain’s leading lawyers.

The Telegraph praised the ‘unvarnished candour’ of this ‘riotous’ book.

The Mail described it as ‘a compelling, if rather weird, delight’.

The Mail on Sunday said it was ‘hugely entertaining, heartwarming and inspiring’.

Libby Purves on Radio 4’s Midweek show called the book ‘an extraordinary yarn’ and a ‘great’ autobiography, and suggested that Marvel Comics should take Gary on as a character. Superpowers: incontinence and fear of the dark.

Here’s Gary on BBC Breakfast:



AS THE RUGBY WORLD CUP approaches, here’s an extract from Austin Healey’s autobiography Me and My Mouth, which deals with his omission from the RWC squad for the 2003 tournament.

Woodward (wrongly I think) left Austin out for Andy Gomersall because he was still recovering from a knee injury – the sort of knee injury, moreover, which would have ended the careers of most players.

The chapter covers the way in which he dealt with the disappointment of that non-selection (it involved a lot of self-medication). I think the word is ‘bittersweet’:


Austin was always a bit Marmite – most people could see that he was astonishingly talented (if he’d stuck to playing scrum-half he’d surely have ended up with a hundred or more caps) but he did (and does) have a habit of saying controversial things.

I think that’s all to the good – who wants to hear sportsmen constantly ‘taking the positives’ and blathering on about ‘the group’ ‘being in a good place’? – and it certainly made Austin’s book one of the less anodyne sports autobiogs of the last decade or two.

Me And My Mouth_Austin Healey front cover jpeg

Austin Healey: unsung hero of the RWC 2003 win


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.

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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