Pop the champagne and spoon out the caviar. I just signed the contract for my next book. It’s about gangsters in Paris during WW2. Look out for it around June 2020 from publishers Biteback. The working title is ‘The French Gestapo’, although that might change.
In wartime Paris a gang of crooks, corrupt cops, and fallen celebrities led by the orchid-loving thief Henri Lafont worked for the Nazis and lived like kings – until the Allies arrived and a price had to be paid.
Expect treason, debauchery, crime, and tragedy. It’s like Goodfellas meets Inglourious Basterds, or The Godfather meets Schindler’s List. And it’s all true. Find out more about my new book below.
Hope everyone had a good Easter, whether you were worshipping, ignoring, or munching eggs. I spent my time in one of the few cafes still open, reading about old school French gangsters while scribbling notes in a cheap exercise book and lingering over a hot chocolate so thick you could stand on it to change a light bulb.
Yes, there’s another book on the way. It’s about strange alliances in wartime Paris between the underworld and the occupiers. More details when things firm up with publishers. Stay tuned and feel free to get in touch if you know something on the subject that I probably don’t.
Until then, it’s time again for another round-up of interesting links on the kind of subjects that appal most normal folk. Click, read, recoil.
A few people have asked me to comment on the recent massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand. There isn’t much to say. Elements of Counter-Jihad merged with the more irreverent parts of the alt-right, gestated in online incubators like 8 Chan, and marched out into the real world. A live-streamed, sound-tracked meme war with real guns and real victims.
Optimists might hope this is the moment all sides draw back, but optimists are rarely right. We’re on the far side of the mountain and the best we can hope for is the occasional plateau. This will be an age of global microwars and hardhearted cheerleaders tougher than anything you’ve ever seen before.
Here’s what I wrote about our possible futures in my book about the counter-jihad movement, Soldiers of a Different God, published in autumn of last year. Maybe it’s relevant.
Happy January, ya filthy animals. Hope this year is treating you well. For me at least, 2018 was a weird one. I had a book published, got an agent, spent six months near the Parc du cinquantenaire, saw Paris, spent some time with the head of the Polish armaments industry, and got a whole new angle on the existential angst of lonely professional diplomats.
Looks like 2019 is going to be completely different, with a considerably deeper emphasis on staring moodily out the window of a city centre apartment while holding a glass of whisky and thinking deep thoughts.
So while that’s brewing here’s some links to interesting stuff around the internet. It’s a weird and wonderful world out there. Don’t kill yourself thirty seconds before the miracle.
It’s finally out. My book about the Katanga secession of the early 1960s is available in paperback for the first time on 6 December 2018. The hardback is sold out so this is the only option for those who don’t do ebooks.
For completists, the paperback is pretty much the same as the original text, with a few minor changes thrown in. Katanga 1960-63 tells, for the first time, the full story of the Congolese province that declared independence in 1960 and found itself at war with the world.
The Congo had no intention of allowing the renegade region to secede, and neither did the CIA, the KGB, or the United Nations.
In 1936 civil war erupted in Spain. Right-wing generals tried to overthrow a leftist government and the violence quickly turned into a symbolic battle between fascism and communism. The fighting dragged in foreigners from many different countries.
The left-wing volunteers who came from around the world to fight for the Spanish government are well known, but foreigners also joined the other side. I wrote a book about it.
More information about Franco’s foreigners is coming to light every day. The niece of a British volunteer got in touch about her uncle, who deserted the Royal Navy at Gibraltar to join the Foreign Legion. An aristocratic Belgian pilot is commemorated on a memorial in the centre of Brussels. Now a new book is out about South African Pieter Krueler, a far-right Boer embittered by the deaths of his family in the Anglo-Boer War. In June 1937, already in his fifties, he offered his services to Franco.
The experience disillusioned Krueler so badly that he joined the other side. So he claimed.
Sunday, 22 January 1950. Turk Westerling was the most casually dressed warlord the press men had ever met. Reuters and Australia’s The Herald had a man each at this exclusive interview with Indonesia’s public enemy number one. No guards, no guns, just an old-fashioned colonial bungalow somewhere outside sweaty Bandung and a tough, sun-tanned Dutchman crushing the life out of one cigarette and lighting another.
Westerling wore a white polo shirt and khaki trousers. One journalist noted the brown socks and street shoes. The other jotted shorthand about the expensive gold watch and the gold ring set with a black stone.
The Turk had spread himself all over the international press with his threats to the new United States of Indonesia government. The country was independent, the Dutch had gone home, and everything was supposed to be peace and liberty. Then Westerling (‘a mystery man‘ according to local politicians) came out of nowhere and tore the place apart. The news agencies wanted a closer look.