Guinness Book of Records

Yesterday I was browsing through the Guinness Book of Records and found that there is a world record for ‘Most books written by an individual in a year’. The world record is 52 by a Japanese author in 2010. That got me thinking about a very productive (and busy) time I had a few years back. So I checked my records and found that in 2005 I wrote (and subsequently had published) 55 books in that calendar year. So I have submitted my claim to the Guinness Book of Records. I must say, when I told my kids, it was the first time they have been impressed by anything I have done.

Nicolas Brasch
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Corporate Clown (2)

Our second nomination for Corporate Clown of the Year goes to the US clothing company, backcountry.com that sent the following marketing email to its customers at the same time as deadly tornados were wreaking havoc in Alabama:

MOTHER NATURE HATES YOU.

DEAL WITH IT!

UP TO 40% OFF OUTERWEAR AND RAINWEAR.

They did send out a grovelling email later that read:

We messed up. Yesterday, as the people of Alabama dealt with the devastating aftermath of an intensely damaging and life-taking tornado, we neglected to put a stop to the distribution of an email with the header: “Mother Nature hates you. Deal with it.” This was extremely insensitive and offensive, and we are so sorry.

Please accept our sincerest apologies for this mistake. What was intended to be witty marketing copy may have been when we wrote these words two weeks ago, but in light of current events and the suffering of people affected by Mother Nature’s wrath, it is not only not witty, it is completely unacceptable. We at Backcountry.com send our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and to everyone now faced with rebuilding their homes and their communities.

And again, we extend our sincerest apologies for our lack of foresight and our complete insensitivity in sending yesterday’s email.

Sincerely,
Jill Layfield
CEO
Backcountry.com

Oh dear!

Nicolas Brasch
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Anzac Day reflection

If we don’t learn from history, what hope have we got?

1915

There’s no other way to put it, the Gallipoli campaign was a bloody disaster. It was ill-thought, atrociously managed and doomed to fail.

Chaos reigned from the outset. The first Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli landed about 1.6 km further north than had been planned. The maps they were given were useless and instead of facing flat, clear land that they had expected to easily penetrate, they found themselves looking up at seemingly impenetrable cliffs. To make matters worse, the landing point was so narrow that the carefully organised units became mixed up, throwing the entire operation into disarray. Then they came under immediate attack from well-positioned Turkish soldiers. What a mess!

From my book, Gallipoli: Reckless Valour

 

1942

There was plenty of warning about Japan’s interest in Papua. In early May 1942, less than three months before the start of the Kokoda battle, the Japanese had attempted to invade Port Moresby. The Allies had decoded Japanese messages and knew about this plan. American aircraft carriers sailed to the Coral Sea. The Japanese were defeated both at sea and in the air by the United States and Australia in the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Two weeks after the Battle of the Coral Sea, the expert decoders cracked a message that suggested the Japanese were going to try again — this time by landing in the north of Papua and taking a mountain route down to Port Moresby.

The warning was ignored though because General Douglas MacArthur did not believe that an attack from the north and through the Owen Stanley mountain range was possible. Even after the Japanese had landed in the north, one of MacArthur’s advisors, Brigadier-General Charles Willoughby, sent MacArthur a message that read, ‘an overland advance in strength is discounted in view of logistic difficulties, poor communications, and difficult terrain.’

As the Japanese began their advance, war correspondents in Port Moresby were being told by the military that the Japanese force was so small, and the mountains so impassable, that there was nothing to worry about.

From my book, Heroes of the Kokoda Track

Generals sending young men to their slaughter.

Nicolas Brasch
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CBCA Shortlist

Children’s Book of the Year Awards

The Book of the Year Shortlists and Notables for 2011 have just been announced.  

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books Short list 2011

Author Title Publisher
Brasch, Nicolas Theme Parks, Playgrounds and Toys Macmillan Education Australia
Brooks, Ron Drawn from the Heart: A Memoir Allen & Unwin
Davidson, Leon Zero Hour: The Anzacs on the Western Front The Text Publishing Company
Dubosarsky, Ursula
Illustrated by Tohby Riddle
The Return of the Word Spy Viking, Penguin Group (Australia)
Lloyd, Alison
Illustrated by Terry Denton
Wicked Warriors & Evil Emperors: The True Story of the Fight for Ancient China Puffin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
One Arm Point Remote Community School Our World: Bardi Jaawi: Life at Ardiyooloon Magabala Books

Nicolas Brasch
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Confession time

A couple of days ago I was browsing in a book shop when I saw a classic novel on sale for less than $10. It was one of those novels that everyone has read; that has sold millions of copies down the years; and is considered one of the best books ever written. So why did I consider buying it? Because it was cheap? Because my copy is dog-eared through overuse?  No, because I have never read it. There! It’s out! I have never read a book that everyone should have read (and I’ll tell you in a moment what it was). But it got me thinking: what other ‘classics’ have I never read? And it also made me wonder, why are we so reluctant to admit that we haven’t read such books. After all, no-one can read everything.

 Well, I’m not one who’s too bothered about my reputation, so I’m willing to put myself out on a limb. I’ve decided to ‘out’ myself and name five books that just about everyone in the English-speaking world has read, and that I should have read – but haven’t. So here goes, in no particular order:

Number one is the book I saw on special and which prompted my thoughts: Lord of the Flies. Why have I never read it? I don’t know. I guess I’ve just never got around to it.

Number two: any of the Harry Potter books. That’s right, I write books for kids and have never read Harry Potter. Why? I think it’s a matter of priorities. There are so many books in the world that I really want to read (and so little time to do it), that they’ve never reached the top of my list – or anywhere near it for that matter.

Number three: The Hobbit. I just cannot get into fantasy at any level. I remember reading a couple of pages when I was a teenager and then putting it down fast. I have never picked it up again.

What about an Australian book? OK, number four is Cloudstreet by Tim Winton. I started reading That Eye the Sky more than 20 years ago, didn’t get into it, and haven’t read any of his books since. Does that make me un-Australian?

Number five: So many to choose from. Alice in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations

OK! I’ve confessed. Anyone else dare to admit the classics that they’ve never read?

Oh! And I’ve never watched The Sound of Music either … but that’s another story.

Nicolas Brasch
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