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BOOKS In My Collection-REVIEWS

CARDINAL

In June of 2017, the best-selling book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell

 written by investigative journalist, Louise Milligan, was withdrawn from sale in bookshops across Victoria. Cardinal George Pell had just been charged with multiple historical sexual offences against children. The publisher, Melbourne University Press was concerned that the book could prejudice the case and be in contempt of court.

George Pell has since been convicted of child sexual abuse and is currently in custody awaiting sentencing on the 13 March 2019. Pell continues to maintain his innocence on all charges. His appeal hearing has been set for June 7-8, which critics claim is unfair as most inmates usually have to wait a year or longer before their challenging of a court verdict is heard.

Now that CARDINAL is available for sale again, I can finally post my review. This is a book that is even more relevant then ever, because Pell is now a convicted paedophile. His crimes are no longer just allegations.

One of the complainants Milligan interviewed for the book, whose criminal trial was recently dropped by prosecutors (due to insufficient evidence) has now elected to take the matter forward, via a personal civil action against Pell and other church and state entities, including the trustees of the Sisters of Nazareth (formerly St Joseph’s), the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and the State of Victoria.

In another case, the father of one of two St Patrick’s Cathedral choirboys sexually assaulted by Pell and whose allegations Milligan has also documented in CARDINAL, has announced that he intends to sue Pell and the Church following the death of his son due to an accidental drug overdose.

These victims’ accusations, along with many more against Pell and other Catholic clergy, and the resultant cover-ups, are also detailed by Milligan and her research is thorough; searching and reading through hundreds of documents, tracking down and interviewing victims and their families, Catholic clergy, teachers and principals.

So much of what Milligan writes about in CARDINAL is heart-breaking. e.g. Several generations of children abused by the same paedophile priest, children raped by priests at their school.  Pell’s Melbourne Response, which he established to compensate victims of Catholic clergy abuse is heavily criticised and considered dangerous. In one case, the victim was forced to confront her abuser, alone with him in a room with the door closed, before the Church would even consider compensation. And most critics say that compensation is woefully inadequate to pay for psychologists, psychiatrists, medication, etc.

It is very interesting to read about Pell’s rising authoritarianism and adherence to strict orthodoxy which enabled him to make the changes he carried out at Corpus Christi seminary in Clayton. When he was first appointed as rector, he sacked all the staff, and dismantled the strict screening processes for those young men wishing to join the priesthood. Vocations for the priesthood were plummeting so there was a worldwide shortage of parish priests.  All who wished to enter the seminary in Victoria were from then onwards accepted at face value! Someone who spoke to Milligan stated that Pell’s ‘exercise of power was ruthlessly destructive.’ The ‘veritable tsunami of child sexual abuse claims coming at the nation’s Catholic Church’ revealed that Victoria had more paedophile Catholic clergy, and victims, than in any other place in the country, and most of the paedophiles operated during Pell’s time as priest or bishop.

Yet Pell is persistent in his claims that his Melbourne Response procedures were the first to respond to help victims of clerical paedophilia, but this is hotly disputed by several critics of Melbourne Response in the book. The percentage of Catholic clergy in Australia, including Christian brothers and priests, accused of sexually abusing children, as revealed by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse, is staggering.

Another aspect of Pell’s governance of the Church which Milligan explores is Pell’s obsession that the Australian Catholic Church would disappear into obscurity because of its ‘egalitarian nature’ and he agreed with Pope John Paul ll that this egalitarian nature would undermine the authority of the clergy! Pope John Paul ll, Pope Benedict  XVl and George Pell,  are now suspected of having covered up thousands of cases of sexual abuse of children by paedophile Catholic clergy worldwide. None-the-less, by the year 2002, Pell had become a true Catholic celebrity; wined and dined by media and politicians, including Liberal prime ministers, by which time he had gained the epithet ‘a brilliant conversationalist’. But so rigid was Pell in his determination to keep the Australian Church within his parameters of strict orthodoxy, that many priests called him ‘Captain Catholic’; the Church’s reputation always came first above all else, including the safety of children. Pell had finally succeeded in making ‘his’ Australian Catholic Church in his own image. Meanwhile, hundreds of children around Australia had been raped and brutally abused by Catholic clergy, indeed were still being abused, and the Church was by this time well skilled in covering up that abuse.

Then in 2013 the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was established. The worm was turning.

During Cardinal Pell’s testimony at the Royal Commission, he repeatedly denied that he knew about paedophilia in his Church. The Commission’s Chair, Justice McClellan interrupted; ‘We have heard from others that paedophilia has been understood by some in the Church as sexual activity with prepubescent children but not adolescent children’. Pell said he was aware of the distinction.

‘It is not unknown, of course for priests to have engaged in sexual activity with adolescent boys, is it?’ McClellan asked. Pell replied that that was correct. So, although a priest having sex with prepubescent children was a sin and a crime of paedophilia, a priest having sex with adolescent boys was merely homosexuality? The people in the courtroom were reported to have responded with horror at this revelation. ‘So’, Milligan writes:

‘the Catholic Church that lectured to people that sexual intercourse was not permitted outside the bounds of marriage, that had railed against the contraceptive pill and condoms, this same Church had made granular distinctions between how it viewed sexual relations of whatever complexion, between adult priests and boys, depending on their age? Well, yes, it seems that it did.’ This is so very disturbing and goes some way in explaining how the Church has managed to trivialise and cover up the abuse and rape of children across the world, for decades.

The pomposity and arrogance of Pell is evident for all to see. His answers to questions during the Royal Commission, and at other public hearings, were evasive, with deliberate obfuscation and ‘I don’t recall’ replies. This can be attributed to a form of ‘mental reservation’ or ‘mentalis restrictio’ in the Latin; essentially a Catholic loophole in the truth. Many of Pell’s victims are convinced this is how he evades answering questions truthfully, even under oath. It is a theological strategy dating back centuries which involves the idea of truths ‘expressed partly in speech and partly in the mind’. Lying is considered a sin but it is a Christian’s ethical duty to tell god the truth …restricting part of that truth from human ears is okay if it serves the greater good i.e. protecting the Catholic Church’s wealth and its reputation.

The book also focuses on Pell’s propensity to blame others for the Church’s failings in protecting children from paedophile clergy. He appears to readily blame other bishops and priests, whenever he is questioned too closely. Although he often uses the phrase ‘I can’t recall’ when reminded of some particular episode or answer he has given in the past, he always has rapid recall of a name he can use to accuse another bishop or priest of negligence in using their powers to protect children e.g. bishop Mulkearns, who it is alleged frequently asked for Pell’s assistance to deal with serial paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale from ‘Catholic Ballarat’. Mulkearns even travelled to the Vatican to consult with Pope Benedict XVl. When Mulkearns sat down with the pope, Mulkearns asked him for help to deal with Ridsdale. The pope stood up, turned his back on the bishop, and walked out of the room. That’s strict Catholic orthodoxy in practice!

Could Pell have devised and upheld the strict orthodoxy of the Australian Catholic Church in order, not only to augment his own power to protect the Church and its wealth and assets, but also to keep hidden his own dark secrets?

Reading this book shines a bright light on the extreme suffering of the child victims of clerical abuse, and the breach of trust; absolutely no empathy for victims is displayed by the Catholic Church’s hierarchy. There are many people within the Church who do not believe that Pell is guilty of paedophilia, and are certain that the victims are lying and are intent only on destroying the Church. Do these supporters of Pell not realise that they are enabling paedophiles?

In May 2015, child psychiatrist and associate professor from the University of New South Wales, Carolyn Quadrio, gave evidence at the Royal Commission. She is arguably Australia’s most experienced practitioner on the impact of childhood sexual abuse throughout a victim’s life. Milligan writes that the Commission had such confidence in Quadrio’s expertise that it devoted an entire day to her evidence.

Quadrio tells Milligan during an interview that ‘when a member of the clergy abuses a child it can be more profoundly unsettling for the victim than when it is an ordinary member of the community.’ She goes on to say that the ‘trauma of betrayal itself can be more traumatic than the memory of the physical act of sexual abuse.’ Quadrio explains at length in CARDINAL, the reasons for this.

Through her many years of practice, and intense study of local and international research, Quadrio has discovered that there is a distinct difference between the way that boys respond to abuse, compared to that of girls. As Quadrio states in her evidence to the Royal Commission: ‘There needs to be a huge amount of awareness that children who are troubled, are troubled for a reason.’

I recommend this book to all parents and families, whether Catholic, or any other faith, or indeed atheists, because it will not only instruct readers on the evil of paedophilia within the Catholic Church, but it will ensure that sexual abuse of children on this scale, never happens again. That children will be safe at school and families will be more aware of the signs that their child is being sexually abused.

– Anne Frandi-Coory 12 March 2019

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Update 13 March 2019: Today, Cardinal George Pell was sentenced by Judge Kidd to six years in prison with a non-parole period of three years and eight months for historical sex offences against two choirboys. His name has been added to the Sex Offenders’ Register.

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I received the wonderful Christmas gift of Michelle Obama’s autobiography, ‘BECOMING’.
and I did enjoy reading this beautifully written book. I  thoroughly recommend it.
What an inspirational and intelligent woman she is. Michelle Obama’s life journey begins with her childhood in a poor, black neighbourhood in Chicago, and takes us through her years at school, university, as a corporate lawyer, and on to the eight years in which she reluctantly gives up her much loved career to become the First Lady of the United States of America
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Michelle (a descendant of African slaves) wastes not one minute of her time as First Lady, establishing:   a huge vegetable garden in the White House grounds to which she invites disadvantaged families to share in, mentoring programmes in schools and universities for disadvantaged children, healthy food delivered to schools for millions of children across the US, a movement to encourage schools to implement at least 60 mins of exercise every day… and these are just a few of her accomplishments. There is so much more that this amazing woman achieved, and most of it with an aim to better the lives of disadvantaged children, especially girls and young women. For as Michelle explains in her book, so many boards and influential meetings she attended over many years, were mostly made up of white males, where so often she was the only woman present, or the only African American or mixed race person in a group of world leaders.
I think readers will agree with me when they reach the last pages of this book, that Michelle Obama, by her example of selflessness and high standards in attaining her achievements, has inspired many women of mixed race in the USA to garner their inner strengths and voices, to explore their choices in life, and to aim for higher ideals.  One of the last paragraphs in the book reads:
“There are portraits of me and Barack now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, a fact that humbles us both. I doubt that anyone looking at our two childhoods, our circumstances, would ever have predicted we’d land in those halls. The paintings are lovely, but what matters most is that they’re there for young people to see – that our faces help dismantle the perception that in order to be enshrined in history, you have to look a certain way. If we belong, then so too, can many others.”
-Anne Frandi-Coory

The Somnambulist by Essie Fox

 

Essie Fox has written a powerful Victorian novel, set in Hertfordshire in London’s East End; the writing so vivid that the reader can almost hear carriage wheels riding over ancient cobblestones, and easily imagine the incessant fog conjuring up ghostly figures and eerie lighting. The Somnambulist is a moody and nostalgic tale of obsessive love and betrayal, full of unexpected twists and turns, eventually revealing the truth behind family mysteries and dark intrigue.

The young and naïve protagonist Phoebe Turner captivates the reader as soon as she arrives on the scene. And then there is her beautiful, sensuous aunt Cissy who rescues Phoebe from a suffocating life of religious fervour and introduces her to the wonderful world of the music hall stage, passionate men and the intense spiritualism that pervaded the Victorian era. Docks, music halls, and graveyards add to the Gothic atmosphere of the tale. Mysterious men with past connections to Cissy and the Turner family seem to pop up everywhere only to confuse Phoebe even more. And why do the dead exert such influence over the living? As Phoebe grows into womanhood, she begins to learn more about the secrets of the past, only for tragedy to strike again.

I love the way Essie Fox weaves her Gothic tale around the haunting painting of the same name:     ‘The Somnambulist’ by Pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais.

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The painting overshadows the goings-on in the Turner household and Phoebe is haunted by it, often dreaming about the sad woman wandering the dark cliffs, seemingly alone. But is she alone? Phoebe suspects that it is a painting depicting her adored aunt Cissy in the role. She often wishes Cissy was her mother instead of Cissy’s much older sister the religious zealot, Maud, whose life is devoted to converting heathen men and women, including whores, to a life with Jesus, and to preventing Phoebe from falling into the evil abyss like Cissy has done, due to her life on the stage in music halls surrounded by loose women and ‘dangerous’ men.

When seventeen-year-old Phoebe visits Wilton’s Music Hall with her Aunt Cissy, her life changes forever, and she risks the angry preaching of Maud who marches with the Hallelujah Army, and who besiege the streets calling for all London theatres and music halls to close.

Actually, the plot may be set in the Victorian era, but I can relate to Phoebe as a 17 year old, lied to, had her parents stolen from her because of some Christian hypocrites who long ago made the decision to keep Phoebe in the ‘dark’ about her true parentage. The plot is not that far-fetched as far as family intrigue goes, in my view, but what Fox has achieved in ‘The Somnambulist’ is the clever weaving of many layers intertwined with mystery and subterfuge all the while evoking emotion and sympathy from the reader toward Phoebe, and also toward her aunt Cissy, both of whom seem to be doomed to a life filled with deception, regret, betrayal, and loss.

Since reading ‘The Somnambulist’ and ‘The Goddess and the Thief’ by Essie Fox, I have now catapulted her into ‘My Favourite Authors’ category which is unusual as my most read genre is non-fiction and some historical fiction. Although, I would classify this wonderful book as Victorian historical fiction, interlaced with thespian dramatics and spiritual effect.

-Anne Frandi-Coory 19 December 2018

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The Goddess And The Thief by Essie Fox …read my review here:

 

Anne Frandi-Coory Reviews of Books in My Collection here on facebook:

5 *****  

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Dr Helen McGrath is currently an adjunct professor at both Deakin and RMIT Universities.

Cheryl Critchley is a prolific investigative journalist.

 

The fifteen crimes analyzed in this book, all carried out in Australia,  involve three women and twelve men. The criminals were generally not diagnosed with a severe mental illness, however, they were all diagnosed as having a mental disorder, such as a personality disorder, and they were well aware that what they were doing was wrong. The difference between mental illness and a personality disorder is explained in detail at the beginning of the book.

The various personality disorders are delved into at length by the authors. MIND BEHIND THE CRIME is well set out, divided into chapters and parts  e.g. each chapter is devoted to one specific crime with the offender and victim/s involved in that particular crime listed at the beginning of the relevant chapter. Parts of the book are divided up into the specific, diagnosed disorders as they relate to each perpetrator’s behaviour and decision-making in the lead up to their horrendous crime.

PART 1: Filicide and familicide – Killing Your Own Family

‘Men commit nearly all familicides and filicides (92-97 %) and there is evidence that such mass murders are increasing in Australia.’

Filicide is the term used to describe a situation in which a parent intentionally kills one or more of their children …the parent may or may not then kill themselves. The motive and case history of each of these crimes is explored thoroughly.  Familicide and familicide-suicide are the two terms most commonly used to describe a situation in which one family member kills or attempts to kill all members of their direct family and then often suicides. Classification schemes are used to aid the reader in identifying the behaviours and mental disorders that motivated these murderers.

Family annihilation is described as a subcategory of mass murder, defined as the killing of four or more members of the one family in one location and during one event. Family annihilators are mostly men.

‘Associate professor Carolyn Harris Johnson, a leading expert in filicide and familicide…points out that the media frequently romanticises (saying they acted out of love) and sanitises this type of crime, to soothe the anxieties of the audience because the subject matter of child murder is taboo, or too confronting for most people. But this approach distorts the public’s understanding of why these events occur and the extent of the perpetrator’s responsibility. This makes it much more difficult to identify actions that can be taken as early warning signs and prevent such child murders in the future.’ [my emphasis]

A summary of each of four categories are:

The self-righteous killer-seeks to blame their partner for damage to family, breakdown of relationship, etc. Has been controlling and possessive in the past, engages in over- dramatic behaviour and comments, may attempt suicide to avoid facing the criminal justice system.

The disappointed killer – concludes their family has let them down, their family is an extension of their own needs and aspirations, self-obsession prevents them from seeing their children as separate entities.

The anomic killer – perceives they have damaged their family’s income or lifestyle, have lost their economic status, lost their job.

The paranoid killer – perceives there is an external threat (real or imagined) that will destroy their family e.g. social services may take their children.

 PART 2: Narcissistic personality disorder and malignant narcissism – arrogant, dangerous and sometimes vulnerable.

PART 3: Dependent personality disorder – desperately needy.

PART 4:  Paranoid personality disorder – you can’t trust anyone

PART 5: Antisocial personality disorder – Life outside the rules. People with ASPD can be dangerous and difficult to detect. They lurk in homes and workplaces, playing the role of the perfect partner or colleague until they decide to use and abuse those around them for their own ends.

PART 6: Criminal autistic psychopathy and sexual sadism disorder –

a dangerous combination:

1. autistic spectrum disorder.

2. Asperger’s syndrome.

3. pervasive developmental disorder.

A diagnosis of this disorder can be made when there is evidence of behaviours such as those listed in the following two categories:

1. behaviours that indicate deficits in social communication and interaction. (Deficits in social communication and interaction are listed in more detail in this section).

2. restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities.

Every one of the above disorders is explained at length in each section to help the reader understand the mind and behaviours of the perpetrator at the time the crime was committed.

All of the cases chosen for this book are recent high-profile Australian murders most readers will already know about.  MIND BEHIND THE CRIME refers to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual and other classification schemes to help explain each disorder and the subsequent motives of the perpetrators involved.

The authors argue that no amount of mild to moderate depression excuses killing those closest to you. It is never justified and the perpetrators should be called what they are – murderers. They go on to say:

“A common myth about these crimes is that parents who kill their children do so out of love and that the extreme love they feel for their child/children means they can’t bear to be separated from them…loving fathers and husbands don’t kill their kids. And unless the public’s perception of these murderers changes, other men will continue to feel that if life gets too tough they, too, can take this option and be eulogized by their loved ones in the media rather than condemned  as they should be.’ Most children were killed in a brutal and violent way; in their last moments knowing that it was their father who killed them.

‘The positive way many of those who kill their children are described in the media has the potential to influence others to commit the same crimes. Such coverage also detracts from the victims’ suffering and makes the crimes seem less horrifying. It implies that nothing can be done about these killings because they are neither predictable nor preventable. This would not be the case if, as a society, we accepted the hard reality about these crimes and focused more on identifying potential warning signs.’

It is clear at the outset that the authors care deeply about the victims involved in these crimes. They warn of the dangers that men with these disorders pose to their wives/partners and children. There is an appendix at the rear of the book: ‘Where to go for help and support’.

This is a book for our times, and I recommend it to readers who may know of someone in their family who is at risk, or for anyone interested in trying to make sense of why these murders are occurring across Australia. There is also widespread concern that Australia’s Family Court system requires reform to ensure that justice is done and that families and children are better protected.

-Anne Frandi-Coory 14 December 2018

 

 

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A friend recently introduced me to author Essie Fox and I’m so glad she did. The first of Fox’s books that I have since read, is The Goddess And The Thief and I am so looking forward to reading another of her books The Somnambulist.

The Goddess And The Thief  is set in the time of Queen Victoria, when Great Britain was in the throes of plundering India and exiling the Maharajah (Great Ruler) with the inestimable assistance of the Honourable East India Company, during the early days of the British Empire. This very fine example of a well researched historical novel is my favourite genre; a way of learning about world history via a great story.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Essie Fox was herself a Hindu goddess …every line she has written in this book, is evocative of wonderful, sumptuous India, juxtaposed with the corset-laced Victorian age;  an era fixated with death, opium and all things exotic.

Readers will be able to instantly identify with the motherless heroine, Alice, who after her father had died, moved permanently back to Windsor, England. Hindu mysticism along with childhood memories of India travel over the seas with her; apparent reincarnations and a sculptured goddess whose eyes appear to follow her every move in her father’s house, confuse Alice.  And her Aunt Mercy, who at best is ambivalent towards Alice, is obsessed with the mysterious and intense Lucian Tilsbury.  When the troubled Alice reaches her teens, she finds herself reluctantly attracted to him, also a little afraid of the intense, sexual affect he has on her, no matter how much she fights it.  What are Tilsbury’s true intentions? Why are her aunt and Tilsbury so intent on stealing the Koh-i-Noor diamond from Queen Victoria and returning it to India where he believes it rightfully belongs and which Britain had claimed as its own at the end of the Anglo-Sikh wars? There is also mystery surrounding Mini, her ayah, whom Alice adored. Her heart broke when she had to leave her behind in India, and she yearns to return to be re-united with her beloved Mini, whose parting gift was a bangle made of glass beads and sacred brown rudraksha seeds, given with her last words:

Always wear this my dearest, it shall be a token of our love. And every time you touch a bead you shall know that Mini thinks of thee, and that Mini shall be praying still for her beloved’s safe return.

Aunt Mercy, a spiritualist medium, wants Alice to be her assistant during séances held for broken-hearted women, including Queen Victoria, who has a compulsive yearning to re-connect with her beloved Prince Albert who has recently died so young. Although Alice agrees to aid her aunt during séances initially, she finds the experience unnerving and unethical, and the relationship between Alice and her demanding aunt deteriorates rapidly. Mystery and suspense evocative of India fill every page of this book, and Fox’s superb writing sucks the reader into the sensuous depths of this beguiling story. I especially loved Fox’s use in the book of asides with such titles as The Letter Never Sent and The Prayer Never Answered to unobtrusively give the reader some insight into the past.

Eventually Alice begins to experience bizarre ‘dreams’ in Mercy’s house and later in Tilsbury’s,  where he eventually confines her in a strange bedroom under what she believes is some sort of spell,  although the stupor that envelops her renders her unable to think clearly.  Added to that, ghosts appear in odd places, seemingly to warn Alice of danger. Statues of the goddess Parvati and her consort Shiva sometimes seem to move; are they just figments of her vivid imagination, reincarnations if you will, of the stories Mini used to tell her?

There is no-one apart from Mrs Morrison, Aunt Mercy’s cook, who Alice feels she can trust. But then, how can she find the words to explain the mysterious and devastating effect that Lucian Tilsbury has over her body and soul?

 

Anne Frandi-Coory – 25 September 2018

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The Somnambulist by Essie Fox…read my review here: 

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I have always been interested in why people do the things they do; why they commit crimes, particularly murder. Was it nature or nurture, or a combination of both? I have read many biographies for this reason, and I love British criminal investigation series like Vera and Silent Witness, to name only two. Criminal profiling has come into prominence in recent years, and I find this method of investigating crimes fascinating, ever since I watched the British TV series ‘Cracker’ about a psychologist/police profiler played by Robbie Coltrane.

I spotted The Profiler by Pat Brown, on display in a book store, bought it and raced home to read it. I find reading books so relaxing and it helps clear my mind after I’ve spent the day as a key board warrior on social media taking politicians to task, posting my opinions on the state of the world in general. In between, answering questions on my blog, or my email accounts, and responding to various comments.

The cases Pat Brown has investigated and writes about in The Profiler are all very interesting and varied. She has also investigated suicides and, how, although they are relatively easy to investigate compared to complicated murder scenes, families find it difficult to believe that their loved ones would want to kill themselves. It is another level of heartbreak for them.

Pat Brown’s successful career as a criminal profiler intrigued me, especially the round-about-way she qualified and became such a success at it. To be honest, I didn’t expect that a large part of the book would be taken up with her story as a mother who not only home-schooled her three children but who also worked nights interpreting for deaf suspects being interviewed by police. She was a mother who wasn’t happy with the standard of education at the only school in the area and decided that she would home-school them. She describes herself as being an ‘earth mother’ and she relished the role. Not only that, she also took in foster children and a boarder to help finance their large home and their lifestyle. Once her children had left school and had embarked on their own life journeys, she decided to use the language skills she had honed, to study. I enjoyed this part of the book almost as much as I enjoyed the criminal profiling cases Brown actually got down to writing about. All-in-all Brown spent about ten years working in the emergency rooms at a Washington hospital centre and Howard University. In these establishments Brown says she learned a lot about forensics when her deaf clients rolled in on stretchers and she acted as interpreter. This was one of the most violent wards in Washington DC.  Subsequently, Brown studied criminal profiling in depth and was eventually proficient enough in the field to work with police, families, or to be hosted on TV shows to discuss various crimes and give her opinion using her skills. It took her several years to prove herself, and to be taken seriously, especially by police.

The cases Brown investigates in the book are varied, and she takes us through each stage meticulously. Many of the cases remain unsolved because of police carelessness in ’losing’ evidence, concentrating on the wrong suspect, or as in one case, possibly protecting the main suspect because of their connections ‘high up’. Brown wished to join the FBI as a criminal profiling agent, but she was too old among other things that I won’t delve into here. Brown largely educated herself by reading hundreds of books and studying various textbooks. She eventually earned a Masters degree in criminal justice from Boston University in order to “learn more about police operations and procedures and the challenges of the criminal justice system in general.”  She later developed the first accredited Criminal Profiling and Investigative Analysis programme in the country for Excelsior College where she is an adjunct professor.

It is alarming to discover how many brutal murders remain unsolved in the US and the reasons are many, but the majority are unsolved because of the lack of funds to investigate crimes in depth, and of course more serious crimes are happening more often and there just aren’t enough police or resources to continue on-going investigations for any length of time. Brown is aghast at the carelessness by which some police initially investigate serious crimes, such as not taking good photographic evidence of the crime scenes, not sealing off crime scenes, neglecting to interview all suspects, or take samples of blood or other body fluids left at the scene of the crime for DNA testing. Brown is constantly asked by families to investigate cold cases involving the murder or suspected suicide of a loved one because they don’t believe the police have done their job thoroughly enough and have reached the wrong conclusions.

I was a little disappointed that none of the crimes Pat Brown investigated resulted in an arrest or a conviction. The main reasons for this were because they were cold cases, in which evidence was lost or was insufficient to enable a conviction. From what I read, the police were at the very least, careless in their investigations of the crimes, and at best, negligent, especially at the initial stages when the crime scene was first discovered. The police who were involved were often not willing to assist Pat Brown by allowing her access to evidence when they did have it, and in one case, the judge sealed evidence and refused to release it. Never-the-less, Brown was able to proceed with criminal profiling  in spite of these set-backs, by interviewing police, suspects, family members, witnesses and obtaining autopsies. She also used lie-detectors on some suspects.

I recommend this as a great read for anyone who has a keen interest in criminal profiling.  There is no doubt that a female author writes criminal profiling from a whole new angle when compared to male authors. I have to admit to enjoying the change of perspective.

-Anne Frandi-Coory  15 August 2018

 

 

The Silk Roads; A New History of the World

by Peter Frankopan, a senior research fellow at Worcester College, Oxford, and Director of the Centre for Byzantine Research at Oxford University.

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I think all current politicians and economists should read this book, because history repeats again and again but then, politicians and world leaders never seem to learn. Frankopan’s research is extensive and he presents many source testimonies and documents to support his claims. His writing moves along at a swift and thoroughly engaging pace. I would go so far as to recommend this book to college teachers. It gives a rare and independent insight into the political history of our world.

Historically, the Silk Roads were a network, with their geographical centre in Asia Minor, Central Asia, the Caucasus, China and the Middle East; territories that met, and traded with one another along arterial routes of communication. These routes influenced the world as we know it today. Ideas, cultures and religions were also spread via this network.

Bettany Hughes, whose book A Tale of Three Cities; ISTANBUL is also a great read, says of Frankopan’s ‘The Silk Roads’: How shamefully we in the West have been caught in the 20th and early 21st centuries with our strategic trousers around our ankles, … failing to remember why the map of the Middle East is drawn with such straight lines. Our ancestors would have been horrified by today’s wilful ignorance. Ancient reports of the region (studded, admittedly, with some fantastical nonsense) would put many modern memos to shame. Tellingly, Frankopan includes some recently released diplomatic cables and US political briefings describing Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran that are cringingly callow, and exemplify the danger of living in what the late historian Eric Hobsbawm called the ‘permanent present’, ignorant of our past.

In this vein, to quote Frankopan: The liberation of Christendom seemed to be at hand…it soon became clear how wrong these reports were…what was heading towards Europe was not the road to heaven, but a path that seemed to lead straight to hell. Galloping along it were the Mongols…Later the Mongols became increasingly interested in the techniques that had been pioneered by western Europeans, copying designs for catapults and siege engines created for the crusaders in the Holy Land and using them against targets in East Asia in the late thirteenth century. In this way Control of the Silk Roads gave their masters access to information and ideas that could be replicated and deployed thousands of miles away.

In the sixteenth century the age of empire and the rise of the west were built on the capacity to inflict violence on a major scale eg. the Americas. By then the best money was to be had in human trafficking and it was said to be ‘in league with the crown and with god.’ Before the discovery of the Americas, trading patterns ‘had begun to pick up’ and many scholars argue that this was due to improved access to precious metals and ‘the rising output of mines.’ But other scholars ‘point to the fact that tax collection became more efficient in the second half of the fifteenth century.’ [Perhaps our current political leaders and economists should take note]: ‘Economic contraction had forced lessons to be learned…’ and the collection and setting of taxes paid a crucial part in those valuable lessons.

I thought The Road to Empire a very interesting chapter and one which mirrors much of what is happening in our 21st Century:

Ottoman bureaucrats had proved to be highly skilled administrators, adept at centralising resources …as the empire swallowed up more territory in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, this had worked efficiently and smoothly. When the momentum of expansion slowed…the fragility of the system became apparent, under pressure from the cost of sustaining military action on two fronts- in Europe in the west and with Safavid Persia in the east…but also as a result of climatic change that had a particularly severe impact on the Ottoman world. [my emphases].

Frankopan discusses at length the different outcomes relating to the gap between rich and poor in Islamic countries as opposed to Christian countries in the west. It may not surprise many readers that Islamic countries had the more equitable laws which meant less concentration of wealth and property within a few elite families, including royal dynasties, as in the west.

Under the surface, powerful currents were swirling unseen…Robert Orme’s attitudes were typical of the eighteenth century; The first official historian of the East India Company, Orme penned an essay whose title On The Effeminacy of the Inhabitants of Indostan [India], reveals much about how contemporary thinking had toughened. A bullish sense of entitlement was rising fast. Attitudes on Asia were changing from excitement about profits to be made to thoughts of brute exploitation…It was the Wild East – a prelude to similar scenes in the west of North America a century later. Go to India, the memoirist William Hickey’s father told him, and cut off half a dozen rich fellows’ heads… and so return a nabob. Serving the East India Company in India was a one-way ticket to fortune.

The Road To Crisis is an intriguing chapter in which late eighteenth century Russia looms large as a threat to Britain. Anyone interested in the part Russia played in forming the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century, will find this very interesting, as I did. Much of what is happening in our world today, makes more sense, and I understand the reasons why China and Russia do not trust the west. This includes the aftermath of the Crimean war and Russia’s determination to claim back the Crimea peninsula.  The west would eventually help the spread of Islam in the East as a way of curtailing Russian expansionism.

‘In the late nineteenth century, Russian confidence, bullishness even, was rising fast.’ Britain planned to expand its territories into the far East, and in this quest, was in competition with Russia. But once China granted trading privileges to the British, they had little hesitation in using force to preserve and extend their position. Central to the commercial expansion was the sale of opium despite fierce protests by the Chinese, whose outrage at the devastating effects of drug addiction was shrugged off by the British authorities. The opium trade had expanded following the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, which opened up access to ports where the trade had been restricted previously, while also ceding Hong Kong to the British; further concessions were granted after British and French forces marched on Beijing in 1860, looting and burning the Old Summer palace.

Britain was also keeping a watchful eye on Russia which was meddling in one of Britain’s most prized possessions: Persia with its black gold. ‘Russian ghosts were everywhere. Anxious Foreign Office officials pored over a stream of reports on the activities of Tsarist officials, engineers and surveyors in Persia, that was flooding back to London.’

The reasons for the First World War: ‘World leaders go to war for their egos…’ in this case the fight over Persian oil, and the carving up of Ottoman Empire territories. Offerings of an ‘empire’ to leading figures in the Arab world were made in return for their support. The wheeling and dealing, involving Russia, Germany and Britain, while the first world war was raging, is sickening, and all the while Britain was fearful of ‘losing’ India. ‘The former British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour was anxious that ‘a rapid defeat of Germany’ would make Russia more dangerous still by fuelling the ambitions of the latter to the extent that ‘India might be at risk’. There was another worry: Balfour had also heard rumours that a well-connected lobby in St Petersburg was trying to come to terms with Germany; this he reckoned would be ‘as disastrous for Britain as losing the war’.

Both Britain and France passionately claimed to have noble aims at heart and were striving to set free ‘the populations subject to the bloody tyranny of the Turks’, according to The Times of London. ‘It was all bad’ wrote Edward House, President Wilson’s foreign policy adviser, when he found out about the secret agreement from the British Foreign Secretary. ‘The French and the British are making the Middle East a breeding place for future war’. [my emphasis]

…By the end of 1942, the thoughts of the new allies, Britain, the USA, and the Soviet Union were turning to the future…it was clear that the ‘effort, expense and trauma of another massive confrontation had exhausted western Europe’. It was already obvious that the old empires had to be wound down. Such chapter titles as The Road to Genocide, The Road to Super Power Rivalry, and The Road To Catastrophe are a good indication of what followed the Second World War. Most of us know some of this history, but The Silk Roads describes in detail, much of it in newly released source documents, the tragic consequences of this, to my mind, a completely unnecessary war. The claim in this book that world leaders go to war largely for their egos, is as true today as it has been throughout human history.

Post Second World War there was concern across the world for the seemingly out-of- control proliferation of nuclear weapons manufacture. Most readers will by now be well versed in the reasons for the later USA invasion of Iraq, but many will be surprised by the indirect involvement of Israel, USA, England, Italy, France and Russia in the years leading up to the invasion.   Few had doubts that the research reactors, powered by weapons grade uranium and other materials essential for dual use, as well as separation and handling facilities capable of extracting plutonium from irradiated uranium, were solely for energy purposes. The west turned a blind eye as and when needed. As Pakistani scientists noted ruefully: ‘…the western world was sure that an underdeveloped country like Pakistan could never master this technology…and yet at the same time western countries made hectic and persistent efforts to sell everything to Pakistan. They literally begged us to buy their equipment’.

Frankopan writes:

As it was, it was not hard to see how stern talk from countries like the US, Britain and France, which refused to be subject to the inspections and rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency, grated with those that did and had to conduct their research in secret; but the real hypocrisy, in the cold light of day, lay in the enthusiasm with which the developed world rushed to earn hard cash or gain access to cheap oil.

There were half-hearted attempts to curtail the spread of nuclear materials. In 1976, Kissinger suggested that Pakistan should wind down its processing project and rely instead on a US-supplied facility being built in Iran that was part of a scheme devised by none other than Dick Cheney, for the plant in Iran to serve as a hub for energy needs across the region. When the President of Pakistan turned down this offer, the US threatened to cut off the country’s aid package.

In 1980 US President Carter’s handling of the hostage situation and the Iranian oil embargo was a catastrophe. Operation Eagle Claw, the covert mission he authorised to rescue hostages… ‘was a propaganda disaster’… this was but one disaster in a changing world order. Countries were fighting back against the hypocrisy of the west.

In the mid-1980s, when the United Nations reports concluded that Iraq was using chemical weapons against its own civilians, the US responded with silence. Condemnation of Saddam’s brutal and sustained moves against the Kurdish population of Iraq was conspicuous by its absence. It was simply noted in American military reports that ‘chemical agents’ were being used extensively against civilian targets. Iraq was more important to the United States than the principles of International Law – and more important than the victims.

The chapter on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, its subsequent withdrawal of troops and weaponry, and the involvement of China, USA and Saudi Arabia in training and supporting Islamic militants is a must read.

Those resisting the Soviet army were supplied with money and weapons by the three countries. The long-term implications and consequences are now well known and documented, if not the initial struggle in ridding Afghanistan of the Soviet invaders.

Men of Saudi extraction who followed their conscience to fight in Afghanistan were highly regarded. Men like Osama Bin Laden – well connected, articulate and personally impressive – were perfectly placed to act as conduits for large sums of money given by Saudi benefactors. The significance of this of course, only became all too apparent later.

Frankopan lays out in detail how these events have made our world much more dangerous, and volatile, than it ever was.

Things were not going well between the USA and Iraq for various reasons, and there was mistrust on both sides. Rumours were rife that the USA was about to overthrow Saddam. Consequently, ‘…in one of the most damning documents of the late twentieth century, a leaked transcript’ of the then ambassador’s meeting with the Iraqi leader in 1990, reveals that she told Saddam that she had ‘direct instructions from President Bush to improve our relations with Iraq…we know you need funds…’. Iraq was running up debts in the war with Iran and the depressed price of oil presented problems for the economy. Saddam subsequently asked the ambassador what USA’s opinion was on his solution: to take over control of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, a region over which Iraq was involved in a long-running dispute with Kuwait. The ambassador answered, [to summarise], that ‘…the Kuwait issue is not associated with America’. Saddam had asked for a green light from the US, and he got one. The following week he invaded Kuwait.  Frankopan:

The consequences proved catastrophic. Over the course of the next three decades, global affairs would be dominated by events in countries running across the spine of Asia. The struggle for control and influence in these countries produced wars, insurrections and international terrorism – but also opportunities and prospects, not just in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, but in a belt of countries stretching east from the Black Sea, from Syria to Ukraine, Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, and from Russia to China too. The story of the world has always been centred on these countries, but since the time of the invasion of Kuwait, everything has been about the emergence of the New Silk Road.

In conclusion, under the chapter The New Silk Road Frankopan warns, and I quote in full: In many ways, the late twentieth and early twentieth centuries have represented something of a disaster for the United States and Europe as they have played out their doomed struggle to retain their position in the vital territories that link east with west. What has been striking throughout the events of recent decades is the west’s lack of perspective about global history – about the bigger picture, the wider themes and the larger patterns playing out in the region. In the minds of policy planners, politicians, diplomats and generals, the problems of Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq seemed distinct, separate, and only loosely linked to each other…While we ponder where the next threat might come from, how best to deal with religious extremism, how to negotiate with states who seem willing to disregard international law, and how to build relations with peoples, cultures and regions about whom we have spent little or no time trying to understand, networks and connections are quietly being knitted together across the spine of Asia; or rather, they are being restored. The Silk Roads are rising again.

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-Anne Frandi-Coory

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