Kidnapping Mr Heineken – The Exhilarating Story of Ransom Gone Wrong

In 1983 Freddy Heineken, CEO of the brewing company Heineken International and one of the richest people in the Netherlands, was kidnapped by a ragtag group of friends, demanding 16 million Euros for his release. The rest is history.

In 1987, journalist Peter R. de Vries release the acclaimed book De ontvoering van Alfred Heineken which was an instant bestseller.

The book was never translated into English until now, to tie-in with the release of the film adaptation starring Anthony Hopkins and Sam Worthington.

With unique access to the kidnappers, Peter R De Vries’ story is not to be missed.


kidnapping-mr-heinekenKidnapping Mr Heineken

by Peter R. de Vries

It was the perfect crime…until they got away with it. Now available for the first time in English, the prize-winning bestseller that inspired the film starring Anthony Hopkins and Sam Worthington.

The year was 1983. While Reagan is President, Michael Jackson is doing The Moon Walk and The Police’s Every Breath You Take is topping the charts a group of childhood friends decide they want money. Real money. The best way to do it is simple, they agree, all they have to do is commit the perfect crime. So they draw up a list. So begins an astonishing story of an audacious kidnapping carried out in broad daylight by a group of twentysomething lads with no priors…

Told from the compelling perspective of Cor van Hout, the brains behind the crime, Kidnapping Mr Heineken reconstructs the meticulous planning behind the kidnap, the delivery of the ransom – and reveals what finally led everything to unravel…

Order a copy of Kidnapping Mr Heineken here

Order a copy of Kidnapping Mr Heineken here

Michael Pye, author of The Edge of the World, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Michael Pye

author of The Edge of the World

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Born Manchester in England which my parents always said was an oversight, but they never explained if they meant the place or the birth. Grew up on the edge of the North Sea – in Essex in Eastern England – along those shingle beaches and salt marshes, always wondering what lay beyond and what kind of history the sea could have. After that, got myself to Italy to study and then to Oxford so I could learn how to find and write the history …

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

Always wanted to write, but for a while that meant journalism and not much more. Started a tiny local paper when I was twelve, but it didn’t sell in more than two houses (mine, and my co-editor’s parents. We took the price in butterscotch.) At eighteen wanted to get out and get away like anyone of eighteen. At thirty, I’d been very lucky – worked on the Sunday Times in London when it was a great paper in its prime, had a TV show in Scotland – but I felt somehow bored. I wanted to shake things up. Whether disappearing to the Caribbean was such a brilliant idea, I don’t know; it’s not so much fun in a tax haven if you don’t have an income…

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Author: Michael Pye

I could be stupidly arrogant, idiotically sure about things, and I didn’t know enough and I hadn’t done enough for that faith to be justified for a moment. Actually, at times, I was a prig. I think I’ve got a bit better. Living in a small Portuguese village, as we do now, teaches you enormous respect for the people you didn’t want to notice at eighteen.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

I guess I’d choose circumstances more than events – the way the family spread out over the globe so the letters and the Christmas cards were all clues to the big world out there and how it connects.

It was the world my father always wanted to know, and did for a while – but during the war. My first job on a newspaper, for The Scotsman in Edinburgh and realising quite how close and how different even the various parts of the United Kingdom could be; it seemed natural to be an English Scottish Nationalist because otherwise you risked losing so much. And finding the novels of Marguerite Yourcenar, Madame, who gives history blood and bone and still dignifies it: a past that matters, but still breathes. It made me think about ways to write history that weren’t academic but weren’t trivial, either: ways to persuade people into a subject that might never have crossed their minds.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

Books are glorious – when they’re not pointless. You try sustaining an argument about a thousand years of history on a blog, at two hundred words a day. Online newspapers are terrific but not when you want to immerse yourself in a subject; too busy, too many videos and weird ads. It’s really hard to make jokes on TV when you’re scheduled to be serious; you have to keep looking into camera with a straight face.  You have to simplify a subject for radio, or else a show would last a week, but sometimes you really need the detail. Books give you what you need, and more. But books are doors that can open into another world, can give you facts and wit: a bit magic….

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

It started with ignorance. I didn’t know the history of the North Sea, my sea, but I knew about the Mediterranean which was far away. I didn’t know what happened between the fall of the Roman empire and the start of the great empires that crossed oceans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. So I set out to find out, and I kept being surprised.

All those bloody Icelandic sagas, and there was the start of fashion – thugs on the dockside comparing latest clothes before having a proper blood feud. The league of towns round the Baltic that set itself up as a kind of business community – just like we talk about politics and a business community – and tried to starve a nation. The way women made choices and kept the lives they chose. It’s wonderful moment when a subject becomes three, even four dimensional. I set out to write about the peoples around the North Sea and all their surprising connections – from Viking Dublin to Frisia, from Antwerp to Bergen in Norway – and I found I was writing about the changes that made possible our modern world.

Grab a copy of Michael’s new book The Edge of the World here

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

We stuff history with wars and kings and clashes. We forget the connections, and the energy that comes from connections – friction, sometimes. I’d love people to value the differences round the edges, the history of contacts, people going about the sea to buy and sell and go on pilgrimages because that’s what truly changes the world —  just as much as the history of the flags and armies that tend to separate us.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

Nelson Mandela, for knowing how to change his mind without changing his morals. A movie-maker called Michael Powell for allowing himself to be inspired even when nobody quite understood what he was doing; and then cutting the result into movies everyone wanted to see. And one man from my book – a bad-tempered, rough-edged medieval bishop called Robert Grosseteste (which means big head) who thought for himself and kept thinking until he’d invented a kind of experimental science because he wanted to know how a rainbow has colours. I revere people who manage to be themselves, whatever happens.

9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

The next book: just that. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write. It’s a craft you learn by doing. Do it often, do it on blogs, in notebooks, in letters, in newspapers: but do it. And when people say you should write what you know, and you do need to know enough to have your own vision, remember that doesn’t have to be just your own life and times.  You can also open up the world you know by the right kind of research, and then you can write so much more…

Michael, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Edge of the World here


The Edge of the World

by Michael Pye

This is a story of saints and spies, of fishermen and pirates, traders and marauders – and of how their wild and daring journeys across the North Sea built the world we know.

When the Roman Empire retreated, northern Europe was a barbarian outpost at the very edge of everything. A thousand years later, it was the heart of global empires and the home of science, art, enlightenment and money. We owe this transformation to the tides and storms of the North Sea.

The water was dangerous, but it was far easier than struggling over land; so it was the sea that brought people together. Boats carried food and raw materials, but also new ideas and information. The seafarers raided, ruined and killed, but they also settled and coupled. With them they brought new tastes and technologies – books, clothes, manners, paintings and machines.

In this dazzling historical adventure, we return to a time that is largely forgotten and watch as the modern world is born. We see the spread of money and how it paved the way for science. We see how plague terrorised even the rich and transformed daily life for the poor. We watch as the climate changed and coastlines shifted, people adapted and towns flourished. We see the arrival of the first politicians, artists, lawyers: citizens.

From Viking raiders to Mongol hordes, Frisian fishermen to Hanseatic hustlers, travelling as far west as America and as far east as Byzantium, we see how the life and traffic of the seas changed everything.

Drawing on an astonishing breadth of learning and packed with human stories and revelations, this is the epic drama of how we came to be who we are.

About the Author

Michael Pye writes for a living — as novelist, journalist, historian and sometimes broadcaster. He is English by birth, but civilized by study in Italy and a newspaper apprenticeship in Scotland. For twenty years he commuted between New York and Europe as a political and cultural columnist for British newspapers. He now lives with his partner John Holm in a tiny village in the forests of rural Portugal.

 Grab a copy of The Edge of the World here

University of Queensland Press refuses to publish Campbell Newman memoir

The University of Queensland Press has refused to publish the memoir of former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, due to Mr Newman’s decision as Premier to axe the Premier’s Literary Awards.

Campbell NewmanEarlier this week Newman said his memoir, co-written by former Cairns MP Gavin King and with a working title of Can Do, would be a “warts and all” story of the man who left his job as Brisbane’s lord mayor to became Queensland’s premier.

It appears the warts may never see the light of day, with UQP publisher Madonna Duffy saying she believed the publisher had no choice but to reject it.

“It would be both a ­betrayal to the Queensland literary community and to our own values to publish his memoir,” she wrote.

The Newman government also controversially moved to cut funding to the publisher in 2013, but that decision was reversed.

UQP chief executive Greg Bain supported the decision, in a released statement.

“Whilst we did not see sustained interest in such a book with a likely publication date one year out; far more importantly we stand by our colleagues in the writing and reading community who have supported us and were enraged and insulted by the axing of the Literary Awards,” he said.

“The community response in keeping these awards alive demonstrated the depth of feeling out there in supporting such a vibrant writing sector in Queensland — the envy of other states.

“UQP has a long history of nurturing new voices and we are not in the business of damaging that hard-earned reputation.”

 

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Naomi Simson on her inspirational journey to success and her new book Live What You Love

Naomi Simson built one of Australia’s biggest online success stories, RedBalloon, from just an idea. She is also known for her inspirational blogs on happiness at work and home that reach more than three-quarters of a million followers on LinkedIn and her role on Channel 10’s Shark Tank.

She chats to John Purcell about her new book Live What You Love.

Grab your copy of Naomi Simson’s Live What You Love here

live-what-you-love-signed-copies-available-Live What You Love

by Naomi Simson

In Live What You Love ground-breaking Australian entrepreneur Naomi Simson will show you how to love what you do every day and live life to the full.

Renowned for her high-octane energy and commitment to the pursuit of excellence, Naomi built one of Australia’s major tech success stories, RedBalloon, from just an idea but she is also known for her inspirational blogs on happiness at work and home that reach more than three-quarters of a million followers on LinkedIn and her role on Channel 10’s Shark Tank.

In this book, leading by example, Naomi shares her life lessons and shows you how to:

  • channel your passion
  • learn persistence
  • find your purpose; and
  • stay positive.

Soon your work experience will become richer, your career path more clearly formed and your life more fully realised.

Live What You Love will help you diagnose your own approach to life through its use of quizzes and Q&As, offer case histories that give you real-life examples of where mistakes were made or problems solved, and reveal inspiring examples of success in both life and business.

Naomi’s dynamic approach, informed by her experiences running her own business and her corporate career, will show you how to add meaning into your life and in doing so, discover that when you love what you do, success in life is never far away.

Grab your copy of Naomi Simson’s Live What You Love here

Five Things We Learnt From… White Heat 25 by Marco Pierre White

white-heat1. Gourmet recipes from world famous chefs don’t need to hurt your head

The recipes in White Heat were simple, and that’s one of the most revolutionary things about the book. Before White Heat, chefs seemed to compete with each other about who had the most inaccessible recipes.

Marco Pierre White, perhaps due to his cockiness, didn’t care about that, he just wanted to share his dishes. No wonder it was such a game changer.

2. Marco Pierre White was a good looking cat

White Heat 25 is riddled with shots of a scraggly looking, cigarette smoking, wild-eyed young Marco Pierre White. And yet, despite the camera picking up all his intense eccentricities, one thing is very clear, the man was a looker. Another reason why he beats the hell out of former protégé now sworn enemy Gordon Ramsay (google ‘Gordon Ramsay+puffy’ to get a scare).

3. Black and white photography is still underrated

Why don’t we see more of it? Simple, clean, and striking, the photography in White Heat 25 is superb.

marco-pierre-white4. Passion is the key to achieving anything

It’s an oldie but a goodie. The more you love doing something, the more you do it, and the better you become at it.

Some of the Marco’s quotes in White Heat 25 are just extraordinary, and exhibit perfectly just how much passion he has for everything to do with cooking. It is his life’s work, and it shows.

5. Marco understands the difference between great food and food people like

It sounds like an odd statement, but it makes sense. I love canned Baked Beans on toast. I doubt many restaurants will be serving it on their dinner menu.

Marco knows that. In the competitive restaurant industry, sometimes you just have to give the people what they want. Only then can you tell them what they need. This philosophy emerges in one of my favourite quotes of White Heat 25, when describing the recipe for his Assiette of Chocolate.

“This is disgusting; it’s a horrible dish. It’s vulgarity pure and simple. It’s a dish invented for suburbia; it should be called ‘Chocolate Suburbia’. Why do we serve it? Because we’re commercial. Because, at the end of the day, you have to please the customer. And this does”.

Genius.

Grab a copy of Marco Pierre White’s White Heat 25 here

white-heatWhite Heat

by Marco Pierre White

A 25th anniversary edition of the classic cookbook from the ‘enfant terrible’ of the UK restaurant scene, with a new 64-page section including previously unpublished photographs and commentary from Jason Atherton, Gordon Ramsay and Tom Kerridge.

Once in a blue moon a book is published that changes irrevocably the face of things. White Heat is one such book. Since it was originally produced in 1990, it has gone on to become one of the most enduring classic cookbooks of our time. With its unique blend of outspoken opinion, recipes and dramatic photographs by the late legendary photographer Bob Carlos Clarke, White Heat captures the magic and spirit of Marco Pierre White in the heat of his kitchen.

This 25th anniversary edition features brand new material, including photographs from the late Bob Carlos Clarke and contributions from James Steen, Lindsey Carlos Clarke and a host of high-profile chefs: Jason Atherton, Sat Bains, Mario Batali, Raymond Blanc, Anthony Bourdain, Adam Byatt, David Chang, Phil Howard, Tom Kerridge, Paul Kitching, Pierre Koffmann, Gordon Ramsay and Jock Zonfrillo.

About the Author

Marco Pierre White, the original ‘enfant terrible’ of the food scene, has earned his place in British culinary history as much for his strong temperament as for his unique talent as a chef. The youngest chef ever to earn three Michelin stars, he has become a food icon of our time. His proteges include the internationally renowned Michelin-starred chefs Gordon Ramsay, Mario Batali and Jason Atherton.

Grab a copy of Marco Pierre White’s White Heat 25 here

 

GUEST BLOG: Emily Webb, author of Angels of Death, on getting away with murder

Angels of DeathOne of the things I have discovered from my years of reading true crime – and now writing it – is that some people do get away with murder. Really bad things happen and the person or people responsible may never face court or punishment. This is despite the tireless efforts of police and lawyers.

I have spent the past three years doing lots of research for my books Murder in Suburbia and the latest one Angels of Death and what is endlessly intriguing to me is how someone could do the worst to people and just get on with their lives. Of course, some perpetrators of murder and violent crime may be in jail for other crimes or may have died but it’s true that there are people going about their lives that have done the most horrible things and the families and loved ones of their victims are still waiting for answers.

In Murder in Suburbia, I featured several cases where families are desperate for answers – the unsolved 1984 murder of Melbourne mother Nanette Ellis who was stabbed to death in her home and discovered by her then 16-year-old son. The Victoria Police’s cold case unit are reinvestigating this case and are very hopeful it will be solved. Then there’s Lyle Allan whose lawyer brother Keith was murdered in 2000 by his law clerk and two other men. The men are now in jail but Lyle, from Melbourne, just wants to know where the body of his brother has been buried.

When cases are not solved it can be for many reasons – lack of evidence, lack of resources (DNA and scientific advances mean there are things that can be done now that just weren’t possible decades ago), inadequate police work, people giving false alibis… There are also cases where people are sent to trial and are found “not guilty”.Emily Webb

In Angels of Death I wrote about the case of Texas nurse Genene Jones who was convicted of the murder of a 15-month-old girl and the attempted murder of an 18-month-old boy. Jones was jailed in 1985 but under a Texan law that was introduced to reduce prison overcrowding, her 99-year sentence was reduced to a third.  Jones is suspected of killing many babies between 1971 and 1984 when she worked as a paediatric nurse at several Texas hospitals and a clinic. Some believe she may have killed more than 40 children. Now, she is eligible for mandatory release in early 2018 unless prosecutors can bring new charges against Jones, who will be 68 when her sentence is finished. There is an active Facebook page called “Victims of Genene Ann Jones” whose membership is made up of many people who believe their siblings, sons, daughters died at her hand. I spoke to one woman for the chapter who believes her baby sister was killed by Jones in 1981.

In many of the cases in Angels of Death, these serial killers were preying on victims for years before they were caught. When I was researching the cases for this book it became clear that a hospital provides a ready-made hunting ground for killers who were in an industry that is all about looking after people and in many cases, preserving life.

Grab a copy of Angels of Death here

Emily Webb is a Melbourne-based journalist for Leader Community Newspapers whose first true crime book Murder In Suburbia was released in January 2014.

Emily is Aussie-born and spent several years living in London where she tripped about, did lots of different jobs (including transcribing undercover police tapes at The city of London Police), married a Welshman and had a career diversion where she retrained as a high school English teacher.

She lives in suburbia with her husband and two children.

Angels of DeathAngels of Death

by Emily Webb

It’s hard to imagine that anyone in the healthcare industry could have murder on his or her mind.

But some do.

The nineteen cases in this book range across Europe, US and Australia, documenting horrifying and sinister betrayals of trust.

From Harold Shipman, Britain’s worst serial killer who murdered over 200 patients, to Roger Dean the Sydney nurse who in 2011 set fire to the nursing home where he worked killing 11 patients, these stories will make you wary and leave you shaking your head in horror.

Grab a copy of Angels of Death here

BOOK REVIEW: Nicholas Clements’ Black War (Review by Justin Cahill)

the-black-warIn 1976, Manning Clark famously asked “are we a nation of bastards ?” He was writing about Whitlam’s dismissal. But Clark’s real targets were the “heart dimmers”, the reactionary conservatives who he believed had brought down a man of vision.

Similar elements continue to deny that European settlement here led to war with the Aborigines. Generally, historians have tip-toed around this aspect of our past. Reading their accounts you would think the local people had, after thousands of years living here, simply melted away. But they resisted and it’s time we acknowledged the wars that followed.

Other nations do not share this collective amnesia. In New Zealand, the European settlers’ breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, made with the Māori in 1840, led to over twenty years of civil wars. Those wars have a firm place in New Zealand national history. There are monuments to the dead. Battlefields, such as Rangiriri pā, are protected historic sites. There are movies about the conflict, including Utu, released in 1983.

The frontier wars between the Indians and settlers in America’s west spawned a culture of their own, culminating in 1970 with the publication of Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

But, to paraphrase the historian James Belich, while kids play cowboys and Indians, who plays convicts and Aborigines ? There is has been acknowledgement of such a conflict, the ‘Black War’, in Tasmania. It provided the background for a movie, Manganinnie, released in 1980.

Yet recent accounts of our frontier wars have been marred by sloppy extrapolations of casualty figures from primary sources or by simply ignoring Aboriginal evidence. But how much evidence do we need ? The Tasmanians endured for about 30,000 years then, co-incidentally, were reduced to several hundred within 30 years of European settlement. Are we just too gutless to confront past wrongs ?

Clements

Nicholas Clements

If not, we had better steel ourselves. Clements is open about his political leanings and the limitations of his sources. But the contemporary reports he has found show the Tasmanian government, despite humanitarian protestations, planned to rid the colony of the local people, either by transporting them to island ghettoes or simple extermination. His accounts of their fight for survival are harrowing. Apart from detailing the massacres of poorly armed warriors, he provides vivid accounts of how the women and children were captured, used as sex slaves then often murdered.

Clements’ approach is unique that he gives equal space to the experiences of the settlers, soldiers, emancipists and convicts. He acknowledges they were “…victims of their circumstances …hatreds, frustrations, fears and sadnesses.” For example, most of the convicts transported to Tasmania were not professional criminals, but just working class men who fell on hard times. Shipped to the other side of the world and brutalised by the penal regime, they were left with the bare shreds of humanity. Fear of attack from the local people stripped them of even that – reducing them to the level of broken, snarling dogs.

We pride ourselves that we live in a more civilised age. But Clark’s question remains unanswered. Are we to be a stagnant, introverted society living in denial ? Are we still a nation of bastards ? Clements shows we don’t have to be.

Grab a copy of Nicholas Clements’ Black War here


Justin Cahill is a Sydney-based naturalist and historian. His publications include a biography of the ornithologist Alfred North and A New Life in our History, a history of the European settlement of Australia and New Zealand told from the perspective of ordinary people. He has also written on Chinese history, including the negotiations surrounding Britain’s acquisition of Hong Kong and its decolonisation in 1997.

Justin’s most recent publication is the first part of Epitome for Eleanor: A Short History of the Known Universe, written for children. His current projects include a natural history of Sydney’s Wolli Creek Valley.

He regularly contributes reviews to Booktopia.


the-black-warThe Black War

Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania

by Nicholas Clements

‘At its core, The Black War is a story about two peoples who just wanted to be free of each other . . . sooner or later Europeans and Aborigines were bound to clash, but it was Tasmania’s unique circumstances that turned this encounter into a ‘war of extermination’.’

Between 1825 and 1831 close to 200 Britons and 1000 Aborigines died violently in Tasmania’s Black War. It was by far the most intense frontier conflict in Australia’s history, yet many Australians know little about it. The Black War takes a unique approach to this historic event, looking chiefly at the experiences and attitudes of those who took part in the conflict. By contrasting the perspectives of colonists and Aborigines, Nicholas Clements takes a deeply human look at the events that led to the shocking violence and tragedy of the war, detailing raw personal accounts that shed light on the tribes, families and individuals involved as they struggled to survive in their turbulent world.

The Black War presents a compelling and challenging view of our early contact history, the legacy of which reverberates strongly to the present day.

About the Author

Dr Nicholas Clements is an honorary research associate in the School of Humanities at the University of Tasmania. Born in rural Tasmania in 1982, he now lives in Launceston. Nick is an avid rock climber and bushwalker, whose passion for Tasmania’s landscape and history inspired him to write The Black War.

Grab a copy of Nicholas Clements’ Black War here

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