Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

I was delighted to be involved in the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, marking the work of nurses today and over the past five decades.

I produced these films (edited by Collin Games and filmed by Paul Roberts and Gareth Thomas).

And there is also a commemorative book, Nursing Matters.

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As actor Michael Sheen states on the back cover, “There is no more fundamental or valuable service than to devote yourself to the care of others in their times of greatest need. It is the most noble of tasks and the highest of aspirations.”

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A Life On The Edge, reviewed by Lyn Ebenezer, author of Operation Julie and Fron-goch Camp 1916

A Life on the Edge, Eric Jones/Greg Lewis

A Life on the Edge

 

 

I have never met Eric Jones, yet I feel as if I know him well. Two contributions on the back cover of his autobiography sum up my impression of his character. One is a long-range photo that picks him out on the north face of the Eiger, like a forlorn gnat slithering towards the upper reaches of a gigantic frosty window pane. The other is a quotation by fellow mountaineer Reinhold Messner: ‘Eric’s many solo ascents can be respected for being free of any sense of heroics, and for his sense of humour when his stories are told. His strength, self-sufficiency and silent courage are admirable.’

Jones may not have any sense of heroics, but he is a hero. Heroes achieve feats that we mere mortals can only dream of realising. Heroes are modest. Heroes are fearless. Heroes respect the challenges that lie before them. Eric Jones is a hero.

Summing up Jones’s achievements could, on its own, fill this chunky, liberally illustrated volume. Greg Lewis manages to compress them into his opening blurb: Jones was the first British man to climb the Eiger’s north face, he has soared over Everest in a hot air balloon, he has parachuted onto the North Pole, he has skydived into the Cave of Swallows in Mexico, and now he has written, with Lewis, a cracker of a story.

To someone like me who is terrified of heights (I live in a bungalow), Jones is a superhuman. Leo Dickenson, cameraman-climber extraordinary, reveals in his foreword that in fifty years of knowing him, he can never remember Jones refusing an adventure. Yet Jones has known fear – his greatest being chased by a cockerel. His fascinating tale leads us from humble beginnings at Brynsaithmarchog around and above – and in some cases below – the earth.

Heroes, of course, can be boring. Like cockerels, some tend to crow. Jones, however, understates his feats. Imagine him hurtling towards seemingly certain death on the North Face of the Matterhorn. Rather than panic, he merely hoped it wouldn’t hurt. Incredibly, despite such dangers, he manages to posses an inner peace.

Jones is the kind of man whose hand I would dearly wish to shake. But please let it happen on level ground!

See the original review on the website of the Welsh Books Council.

A Life on the Edge, Eric Jones/Greg Lewis

A Life on the Edge, Eric Jones/Greg Lewis

‘Beware,’ a fellow adventurer once told Eric Jones. ‘The reaper lurks.’

But perhaps he truly has nine lives.

He was the first British man to solo the Eiger North Face – one of the greatest challenges in the climbing world. On the Matterhorn, he was swept within 10 feet of a sheer precipice.

As he soared over Mount Everest in a hot air balloon, he had to climb outside the basket to relight the burners.

He has climbed dangerous mountains on five continents, parachuted onto the North Pole and BASE jumped from skyscrapers, bridges, masts and mountains.

He skydived into the Cave of the Swallows in Mexico, dropping into the 1,400-foot hole in the earth.

Astounded people often ask Eric a question: Why do you do it?

It is something that cannot be answered simply. For Eric’s life on the edge is quite a story.

And this is it.

Want to know a little more about Eric? Check out this five minute film.

“Eric’s many solo ascents can be respected for being free from any sense of heroics, and for his sense of humour when his stories are told. His strength, self-sufficiency and silent courage are admirable.” REINHOLD MESSNER

Bill Robertson and John Evans

Bill Robertson and John Evans

A Pembrokeshire airman, who was shot down over Belgium during World War 2, has enjoyed an emotional reunion with a former member of his crew.

Pilot John Evans, who was born in Goodwick, was visited by his former bomb aimer, Bill Robertson, who travelled from Canada for the meeting.

The two men are the last of the crew of a Halifax bomber which was set alight by a German night-fighter on the night of May 12/13, 1944.

They had been taking part on a raid on the railway marshalling yards at Hasselt.

The whole crew parachuted to safety. Both John and Bill were able to make contact with the local resistance.

“We were kept together for a while, then taken to separate safe houses and did not know anything about each other until after the war,” said John, who is now 95.

Many of the people who helped John and Bill were later arrested by the Gestapo. Both met up with those who survived after the war.

“The people who helped us took the most tremendous risks,” said Bill, 93. “For themselves and for their families.”

Both men were hidden until September 1944 when they were liberated by the advancing American forces.

On saying goodbye to John, Bill said: “This may be the last time we see each other. But, who knows, we didn’t think we would have this meeting.”

The men met in Calverton, near Nottingham, where John now lives near his daughter, Judy.

He still has a number of relatives in Pembrokeshire, including his brother-in-law Tom Morris, a retired police sergeant from Cardigan Road, Haverfordwest, and his niece Georgina Youngs, of Fishguard.

On his trip to Europe, Bill also met John’s brother, Doug, who lives in Surrey and was himself a bomber pilot during World War 2.

Bill then travelled to Hasselt where local historians have laid a memorial stone where the men’s Halifax bomber crashed.

* The book ‘Airman Missing’ which told John’s story is currently out of print but is planned for it to be released as an e-book later this year.

Just found a wonderful memory of Cardiff’s historic win at the Twickenham Sevens in the spring of 1939 in an article from Wales Online.

The team featured Les Spence and Wilf Wooller who three years later would be captured by the Japanese in Java.

Les kept a secret diary (of which a lot more here: https://greglewisinfo.wordpress.com/tag/from-java-to-nagasaki/) in the camp and on April 25, 1942 he wrote:

“No working party today. Very hot. Played chess and bridge most of the day. Passed a very pleasant hour with Wilf reminiscing on our past exploits. Three years ago today we were playing 7s at Twickenham.” (‘From Java To Nagasaki’, Magic Rat Books)

In the Wales Online article from 2011, 91-year-old Graham Hale recalled how Cardiff were the only Welsh-based club to lift the trophy.

“Only our captain, Wilf Wooller, had ever played in Sevens before as it was not played in Wales and it appears he was in the Sale side that had won in 1936,” said Graham. “I was a centre then and with Wilf at outside-half, we had Gwyn Porter outside me and Willie Davies, the brother of the Wales prop Cliff, playing scrum-half, though he was really an outside-half.

“Willie was a splendid player but turned professional soon afterwards. In the forwards were Selby Davies, Evan Jones and Les Spence, while Wilf dropped the Wales forward ‘Wendy’ Davis, as Wilf said he was too slow.

“Selby, ‘Wendy’ and I had all been at Cardiff High School.

“We had a small practice and the next day (April 22, 1939) we caught the train to Twickenham.

“We had never seen a Sevens match and watched the first one from the grandstand, the ground was full.

“We opened against the good St Mary’s Hospital side and the referee said we had two minutes left and we were losing 6-0.

“We ran down field and I was clear, but for some reason I stopped and dropped a goal.

“It was four points then and a try was three.

“It was the only drop goal I ever attempted!

“From the kick-off we got the ball and when I received it, I was again clear and scored to make it 7-6. I don’t think we attempted the conversion.”

Cardiff then beat the Met Police 5-3 and Birkenhead Park 8-5 in the semi-final.

The BBC broadcast had broken down and those in the Cardiff club were resigned to the team losing.

However, Cardiff met London Scottish in the final.

“Wilf was always loud off the pitch, but quiet on it,” added Mr Hale.

“He sat with me watching the Scotland fly-half Logie Bruce Lockhart run rings round their opponents.

“He said that if I got Lockhart low, he would take him and the ball high.

“We did and won 11-6.

“We caught the train home with Wilf running down the platform as it was going.

“We got in the club that night and nobody knew we had won the splendid Kinross Arber Trophy.

“It was a great day to remember.”

Like Les and Wilf, Graham joined the army during the war and became a POW in North Africa.

Described as “explosive” by the Irish Post and an “important” book by the Guardian ‘The Death of Justice’ continues to get five-star reviews on Amazon.

This is the inside story of a brutal murder as revealed by Michael O’Brien, one of the men wrongly jailed for more than a decade. The miscarriage of justice which followed sent shock waves through the British legal system.

The book contains a detailed analysis of the murder and police inquiry, a no-holds-barred view of life in jail and an essential guide for anyone trying to prove their innocence.

“An extraordinary, shocking and moving tale that climaxes in the triumph of the ordinary man against an incompetent and complacent Hydra-headed monster of society.”   Western Mail

‘The Death of Justice’ is now available not only in paperback but as an e-book on Amazon. It is published by Y Lolfa.

'The Death of Justice'

‘The Death of Justice’

A SELECTION OF THE FIVE STAR REVIEWS ON AMAZON:

5.0 out of 5 stars By Christina J. Jenkins
This is a book everyone should read. It tells the story we do not want to really think is possible. How does an innocent person end up in prison? The police behaviour is undefendable. A very readable, unputdownable, book.
*****
5.0 out of 5 stars

By

Dr. Charles Smith
EVERYONE should read Michael’s book. You’ll be appalled at the things the police did, but don’t believe their story about ‘bad apples’. This behaviour was systemic, and recent events indicate that the CPS to this day is ill equipped to cope with it.

 *****
5.0 out of 5 stars By Jo Martin
It is definitely the most informative book I have EVER read about our British Justice System.
The book describes in detail how easy it is for any one of us to be falsely accused by our ‘trusted plod’
Huge eye opener but what a fantastic read, I will never look at the justice system the same ever again.
*****
5.0 out of 5 stars By Sandra Lean
For anyone in doubt about the terrible damage done by a justice system which gets it wrong, this book is a must read.
For anyone fighting a wrongful conviction, Michael’s book offers hope, and the encouragement to never, ever give up.
For anyone who thinks British Justice is the best in the world, this book will open your eyes.
An incredible story, and a remarkable man.
*****
5.0 out of 5 stars 

By

Trish Byrne

I think that the content of the book would be beneficial to anyone who is helping to fight a wrongful conviction, as out of this harrowing story there is hope and encouragement. It would also be an eye opener to law students and those interested in the judicial system in our country. The only way we will learn and gain knowledge of how things can and do go wrong is by listening to and reading the accounts of those who have walked the walk, when the system gets it completely wrong.

Irishman Tom Sharkey was the never-say-die fighter who bridged the gap between old and new.

Sharkey arrived in the United States in the 1890s as the fight game was changing. The prize-fighters and bare-knuckle brawlers were disappearing as the new “scientific” boxers emerged to fight under the Marquis of Queensberry rules.

After quickly making his name as a mean brawler, Sharkey went on to battle all the top boxers of his day: his hero John L Sullivan, Gentleman Jim Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons and the man who would become not only his greatest foe but his best friend, Jim Jeffries.

Their 25-round world title fight at Coney Island was one of the most gruelling and compelling encounters ever seen inside a ring.

And, despite the viciousness of their ring battles, they went on to enjoy a 50-year friendship which only ended when they died weeks apart.

The award-winning biography I Fought Them All prints the fact and the legend, and is chocked full of the rich characters who dominated the sport and politics of the period, from Wild West gunman Wyatt Earp to Tim “Dry Dollar” Sullivan of New York’s Tammany Hall.

It is the story of an Irish immigrant, a sporting celebrity who won and lost a fortune, and of a man described by the New York Times as a “ring immortal”.

Originally released as a limited edition hardback, I Fought Them All is now available as an e-book on Kindle US and Kindle UK.

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REVIEWS:

“Hugely entertaining and exquisitely researched, I Fought Them All shines a penetrating and long-overdue spotlight on one of the most fascinating figures in boxing history. Revelations about Sharkey’s private life are eye-popping, and the book is especially thorough in covering the Earp controversy. ‘Sailor’ Tom himself would growl his approval, and his massive chest would swell even larger. It’s a great contribution to ring history.”

Pete Ehrmann, boxing writer, contributor to The Ring

I Fought Them All is an excellent read. It’s well-researched and is good news for boxing fans everywhere. ‘Sailor’ Tom Sharkey was an aggressive, relentless and powerful heavyweight who ranks among the greatest who ever entered the ring. He was an earlier version of the splendid fighter, Rocky Marciano. Tom had the misfortune of fighting when boxing legends Jim Jeffries and Bob Fitzsimmons were at their best. Had he fought at any other time in history, he very likely would have been heavyweight champion of the world.”

Tracy Callis, boxing historian

”The book features an array of characters including Wild West gunman Wyatt Earp and boxing legends such as John L. Sullivan, Gentleman Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons. At its heart is the astonishing 50-year rivalry and friendship between Sharkey and Jim Jeffries, which started after their 25-round world title fight at Coney Island and lasted until the two men died a few weeks apart in 1953.”

Boxing Ireland

“…it emits quality from the first opening crack of the hardcover until its final satisfying closing.”

Marty Mulcahey, Max Boxing

“…A fascinating story… Very well-researched piece of work with many anecdotal gems… I Fought Them All is a tale of one man who travelled from his homeland and ended up inAmericato swap blows with arguably the toughest pugilists to have ever fought in the ring. Along the way we are introduced to ‘injuns’, gun-slingers, shipwrecks, tragic love stories, gambling, acts of heroism and, of course, gruelling fights. I thoroughly recommend this book.”

Glenn Wilson