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PETER FITZSIMONS is journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald and Sun-Herald and a television presenter and reporter. He speaks four languages, used to play rugby for Australia while the individuals he has interviewed range from George Bush and Sir Edmund Hillary to Jamie Oliver, Jodie Foster and Diego Maradona. He is also Australia's biggest-selling non-fiction author of the last decade. His books include Kokoda, Tobruk, Batavia and most recently, Ned Kelly.He lives with his wife, 'Today Show' co-host Lisa Wilkinson, and their three children in Sydney.
The mutiny on HMS Bounty, in the South Pacific on 28 April 1789, is one of history's truly great stories - a tale of human drama, intrigue and adventure of the highest order - and in the hands of Peter FitzSimons it comes to life as never before. Commissioned by the Royal Navy to collect breadfruit plants from Tahiti and take them to the West Indies, the Bounty's crew found themselves in a tropical paradise. Five months later, they did not want to leave. Under the leadership of Fletcher Christian most of the crew mutinied soon after sailing from Tahiti, setting Captain William Bligh and 18 loyal crewmen adrift in a small open boat. In one of history's great feats of seamanship, Bligh navigated this tiny vessel for 3618 nautical miles to Timor. Fletcher Christian and the mutineers sailed back to Tahiti, where most remained and were later tried for mutiny. But Christian, along with eight fellow mutineers and some Tahitian men and women, sailed off into the unknown, eventually discovering the isolated Pitcairn Island - at the time not even marked on British maps - and settling there.This astonishing story is historical adventure at its very best, encompassing the mutiny, Bligh's monumental achievement in navigating to safety, and Fletcher Christian and the mutineers' own epic journey from the sensual paradise of Tahiti to the outpost of Pitcairn Island. The mutineers' descendants live on Pitcairn to this day, amid swirling stories and rumours of past sexual transgressions and present-day repercussions. Mutiny on the Bounty is a sprawling, dramatic tale of intrigue, bravery and sheer boldness, told with the accuracy of historical detail and total command of story that are Peter FitzSimons' trademarks.
The Battle of Le Hamel on 4 July 1918 was an Allied triumph, and strategically very important in the closing stages of WW1. A largely Australian force commanded by the brilliant John Monash, fought what has described as the first modern battle - where infantry, tanks, artillery and planes operated together, as a coordinated force. Monash planned every detail meticulously - with nothing left to chance: integrated use of planes, wireless (and even carrier pigeons!)was the basis, and it went on from there, down to the details. Infantry, artillery, tanks and planes worked together of the battlefront, with relatively few losses. In the words of Monash: 'A perfect modern battle plan is like nothing so much as a score for an orchestral composition, where the various arms and units are the instruments, and the tasks they perform are their respective musical phrases.'
'They have left here today!' he calls to the others. When King puts his hand down above the ashes of the fire, it is to find it still hot. There is even a tiny flame flickering from the end of one log. They must have left just hours ago.' MELBOURNE, 20 AUGUST 1860. In an ambitious quest to be the first Europeans to cross the harsh Australian continent, the Victorian Exploring Expedition sets off, farewelled by 15,000 cheering well-wishers. Led by Robert O'Hara Burke, a brave man totally lacking in the bush skills necessary for his task; surveyor and meteorologist William Wills; and 17 others, the expedition took 20 tons of equipment carried on six wagons, 23 horses and 26 camels. Almost immediately plagued by disputes and sackings, the expeditioners battled the extremes of the Australian landscape and weather: its deserts, the boggy mangrove swamps of the Gulf, the searing heat and flooding rains. Food ran short and, unable to live off the land, the men nevertheless mostly spurned the offers of help from the local Indigenous people. In desperation, leaving the rest of the party at the expedition's depot on Coopers Creek, Burke, Wills and John King made a dash for the Gulf in December 1860. Bad luck and bad management would see them miss by just hours a rendezvous back at Coopers Creek, leaving them stranded in the wilderness with practically no supplies. Only King survived to tell the tale. Yet, despite their tragic fates, the names of Burke and Wills have become synonymous with perseverance and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. They live on in Australia's history - and their story remains immediate and compelling.
This is the captivating account of the magnificent but doomed quest, led by Robert O'Hara Burke and William Wills, to be the first Europeans to cross the harsh Australian continent in 1860. Plagued with disputes and food shortages they battled the extremes - the searing desert heat, the boggy mangroves, the flooding rains... Only one man survived the expedition's dash to reach the Gulf of Carpentaria. Yet despite their tragic fates, the names Burke and Wills remain synonymous with perseverance and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds.
The story of one man who had the guts to lose his gut. This is a book that will finally help an ordinary bloke lose weight. (Don't worry, it has nothing to do with wearing a red bandana.)Ever struggled with your weight? Or did you stop struggling years ago and let the pies win? Peter FitzSimons has been there and eaten that. In The Great Aussie Bloke Slim-Down, he will lead you through the fads that failed him, the diets that died fast and left him furious, and the ways his waistline kept the belt industry in business.Take tips from someone who knows how to eat and drink way too much. And how to stop. Peter FitzSimons was a large lad with little self-control who has found the light and finally become lighter. In this book he tells you how and shows you who is responsible for you getting fat in the first place. (Spoiler alert: It's you. And sugar.) Have you ever wondered which diet works? Well, Peter FitzSimons has devoted his adult life to trying all of them and failing miserably. But you may have noticed this man-mountain has lost a lot of his landspace over the last few years. This is the tale of how that happened and how it can happen to the bloke in your life.
It's early 1918, and after four brutal years, the fate of the Great War hangs in the balance.On the one hand, the fact that Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks have seized power in Russia - immediately suing for peace with Germany - means that no fewer than one million of the Kaiser's soldiers can now be transferred from there to the Western Front.On the other, now that America has entered the war, it means that two million American soldiers are also on their way, to tip the scales of war to the Allies.The Germans, realising that their only hope is striking at the Allied lines first, do exactly that, and on the morning of 21 March 1918, the Kaiserschlacht, the Kaiser's battle, is launched - the biggest set-piece battle the world has ever seen.Across a 45-mile front, no fewer than two million German soldiers hurl themselves at the Allied lines, with the specific intention of splitting the British and French forces, and driving all the way through to the town of Villers-Bretonneux, at which point their artillery will be able to rain down shells on the key train-hub town of Amiens, thus throttling the Allied supply lines.For nigh on two weeks, the plan works brilliantly, and the Germans are able to advance without check, as the exhausted British troops flee before them, together with tens of thousands of French refugees.In desperation, the British commander, General Douglas Haig, calls upon the Australian soldiers to stop the German advance, and save Villers-Bretonneux. If the Australians can hold this, the very gate to Amiens, then the Germans will not win the war.'It's up to us, then,' one of the Diggers writes in his diary. Arriving at Villers-Bretonneux just in time, the Australians are indeed able to hold off the Germans, launching a vicious counterattack that hurls the Germans back the first time.And then, on Anzac Day 1918, when the town falls after all to the British defenders, it is again the Australians who are called on to save the day, the town, and the entire battle . . .Not for nothing does the primary school at Villers-Bretonneux have above every blackboard, to this day, 'N'oublions jamais, l'Australie.' Never forget Australia.And they never have.
The definitive account of when Australia's famed Rats of Tobruk they took on General Erwin Rommel, The Desert Fox. The classic story of 1941's Battle of Tobruk, in which more than 15,000 Australian troops - backed by British artillery - fought in excruciating desert heat through eight long months, against Rommel's formidable Afrika Korps. During the dark heart of World War II, when Hitler turned his attention to conquering North Africa, a distracted and far-flung Allied force could not give its all to the defence of Libya. So the job was left to the roughest, toughest bunch that could be mustered: the Australian Imperial Force. The AIF's defence of the harbour city of Tobruk against the Afrika Korps' armoured division is not only the stuff of Australian legend, it is one of the great battles of all time, as against the might of General Rommel and his Panzers, the Australians relied on one factor in particular to give them the necessary strength against the enemy: mateship. Drawing on extensive source material - including diaries and letters, many never published before - this extraordinary book, written in Peter FitzSimons' highly readable style, is the definitive account of this remarkable chapter in Australia's history.
Love him or loathe him, Ned Kelly has been at the heart of Australian culture and identity since he and his Gang were tracked down in bushland by the Victorian police and came out fighting, dressed in bulletproof iron armour made from farmers' ploughs. Historians still disagree over virtually every aspect of the eldest Kelly boy's brushes with the law. Did he or did he not shoot Constable Fitzpatrick at their family home? Was he a lawless thug or a noble Robin Hood, a remorseless killer or a crusader against oppression and discrimination? Was he even a political revolutionary, an Australian republican channelling the spirit of Eureka? Peter FitzSimons, bestselling chronicler of many of the great defining moments and people of Australian history, is the perfect person to tell this most iconic of all Australian stories. From Kelly's early days in Beveridge, Victoria, in the mid-1800s, to the Felons Apprehension Act, which made it possible for anyone to shoot the Kelly Gang, to Ned's appearance in his now-famous armour, prompting the shocked and bewildered police to exclaim `He is the devil!' and `He is the bunyip!'. FitzSimons brings the history of Ned Kelly and his Gang exuberantly to life, weighing in on all the myths, legends and controversies generated by this compelling and divisive Irish-Australian rebel.
In the Trenches of HellOn 19 July 1916, 7000 Australian soldiers - in the first major action of the AIF on the Western Front - attacked entrenched German positions at Fromelles in northern France. By the next day, there were over 5500 casualties, including nearly 2000 dead - a bloodbath that the Australian War Memorial describes as 'the worst 24 hours in Australia's entire history.Just days later, three Australian Divisions attacked German positions at nearby Pozi,res, and over the next six weeks they suffered another 23,000 casualties. Of that bitter battle, the great Australian war correspondent Charles Bean would write, 'The field of Pozi,res is more consecrated by Australian fighting and more hallowed by Australian blood than any field which has ever existed . . .'Yet the sad truth is that, nearly a century on from those battles, Australians know only a fraction of what occurred. This book brings the battles back to life and puts the reader in the moment, illustrating both the heroism displayed and the insanity of the British plan. With his extraordinary vigour and commitment to research, Peter FitzSimons shows why this is a story about which all Australians can be proud. And angry.
On 25 April 1915, Allied forces landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in present-day Turkey to secure the sea route between Britain and France in the west and Russia in the east. After eight months of terrible fighting, they would fail... To this day, Turkey regards the victory as a defining moment in its history, a heroic last stand in the defence of the Ottoman Empire. But, counter-intuitively, it would come to signify something perhaps even greater for the defeated allies, in particular the Australians and New Zealanders: the birth of their countries' sense of nationhood. Now, in the year that marks its centenary, the Gallipoli campaign (commemorated each year on 25 April, Anzac Day), resonates with significance as the origin and symbol of Australian and New Zealand identity. As such, the facts of the campaign (which was minor when compared to the overall scale of the First World War: Australian deaths were less than a sixth of their losses on the Western Front) are often forgotten or obscured. Now the celebrated journalist and author Peter FitzSimons, with his trademark vibrancy and expert melding of writing and research, recreates the disastrous campaign as experienced by those who endured it or perished in the attempt.
On 25 April 1915, Allied forces landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in present-day Turkey to secure the sea route between Britain and France in the west and Russia in the east. After eight months of terrible fighting, they would fail. Peter tells this iconic tale in GALLIPOLI. History comes to life with Peter FitzSimons.Turkey regards the victory to this day as a defining moment in its history, a heroic last stand in the defence of the nation's Ottoman Empire. But, counter-intuitively, it would signify something perhaps even greater for the defeated Australians and New Zealanders involved: the birth of their countries' sense of nationhood.Now approaching its centenary, the Gallipoli campaign, commemorated each year on Anzac Day, reverberates with importance as the origin and symbol of Australian and New Zealand identity. As such, the facts of the battle - which was minor against the scale of the First World War and cost less than a sixth of the Australian deaths on the Western Front - are often forgotten or obscured. Peter FitzSimons, with his trademark vibrancy and expert melding of writing and research, recreates the disaster as experienced by those who endured it or perished in the attempt.
Love him or loathe him, Ned Kelly has been at the heart of Australian culture and identity since he and his gang were tracked down in bushland by the Victorian police and came out fighting, dressed in bulletproof iron armour made from farmers' ploughs.Historians still disagree over virtually every aspect of the eldest Kelly boy's brushes with the law. Did he or did he not shoot Constable Fitzpatrick at their family home? Was he a lawless thug or a noble Robin Hood, a remorseless killer or a crusader against oppression and discrimination? Was he even a political revolutionary, an Australian republican channelling the spirit of Eureka?Peter FitzSimons, bestselling chronicler of many of the great defining moments and people of this nation's history, is the perfect person to tell this most iconic of all Australian stories. From Kelly's early days in Beveridge, Victoria, in the mid-1800s, to the Felons' Apprehension Act, which made it possible for anyone to shoot the Kelly gang, to Ned's appearance in his now-famous armour, prompting the shocked and bewildered police to exclaim 'He is the devil!' and 'He is the bunyip!', FitzSimons brings the history of Ned Kelly and his gang exuberantly to life, weighing in on all of the myths, legends and controversies generated by this compelling and divisive Irish-Australian rebel.
Eureka: the unfinished revolution . . . history comes to life with Peter FitzSimons.In 1854, Victorian miners fought a deadly battle under the flag of the Southern Cross at the Eureka Stockade. Though brief and doomed to fail, the battle is legend in both our history and in the Australian mind. Henry Lawson wrote poems about it, its symbolic flag is still raised, and even the nineteenth-century visitor Mark Twain called it: "e; a strike for liberty"e;.Was this rebellion a fledgling nation's first attempt to assert its independence under colonial rule? Or was it merely rabble-rousing by unruly miners determined not to pay their taxes.In his inimitable style, Peter FitzSimons gets into the hearts and minds of those on the battlefield, and those behind the scenes, bringing to life Australian legends on b
History comes to life with Peter FitzSimons in the story of Australia's most famous polar explorer and the giants from the heroic age of polar exploration: Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton.Sir Douglas Mawson, born in 1882 and knighted in 1914, remains Australia's greatest Antarctic explorer. On 2 December 1911, his Australasian Antarctic Expedition left Hobart to explore the virgin frozen coastline below Australia, 2000 miles of which had never felt the tread of a human foot. He was on his way to fulfil a national dream he had first conceived three years earlier, while on his first trip to the frozen continent on the Nimrod expedition under the leadership of the charismatic Anglo-Irishman Sir Ernest Shackleton. Even as Mawson and his men were approaching Antarctica, two other famous Antarctic explorers were already engaged in nothing less than a race to become the first men to reach the South Pole. While Roald Amundsen of Norway, with his small team, was racing with dogs along one route, England's legendary Scott of the Antarctic, with his far larger team, was relying primarily on ponies and 'man-hauling' to get there along another. As Mawson and his men make their home on the windiest place on earth and prepare for their own record-breaking treks, with devastating drama to be their constant companion, the stories of Amundsen and Scott similarly play out. With his trademark in-depth research, FitzSimons provides a compelling portrait of these great Antarctic explorers. For the first time, he weaves together their legendary feats into one thrilling account, bringing the jaw-dropping events of this bygone era dazzlingly back to life.
Australia's best-selling author's favourite wisecracks, tall tales and rib-ticklers.Two drunks were walking home along the railway tracks. The first drunk says, 'There's a hell of a lot of steps here.' The second drunk says, 'I'll tell you what's worse, this hand rail is low down.' Peter FitzSimons has collected the biggest, bestest, funniest, downright groan-inducing,rib-ticklers, one-liners, knock-knocks, shaggy dog stories and limericks and collated them into the ultimate book of jokes.
Batavia is the greatest story in Australia's history and history comes to life with Peter Fitzsimons.The Shipwreck of the Batavia combines in just the one tale the birth of the world's first corporation, the brutality of colonisation, the battle of good vs evil, the derring-do of sea-faring adventure, mutiny, ship-wreck, love, lust, blood-lust, petty fascist dictatorship, criminality, a reign of terror, murders most foul, sexual slavery, natural nobility, survival, retribution, rescue, first contact with native peoples and so much more. Described by author Peter FitzSimons as "e;a true Adults Only version of Lord of the Flies, meeting Nightmare on Elm Street,"e; the story is set in 1629, when the pride of the Dutch East India Company, the Batavia, is on its maiden voyage en route from Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies, laden down with the greatest treasure to leave Holland. The magnificent ship is already boiling over with a mutinous plot that is just about to break into the open when, just off the coast of Western Australia, it strikes an unseen reef in the middle of the night. While Commandeur Francisco Pelsaert decides to take the long-boat across 2000 miles of open sea for help, his second-in-command Jeronimus Cornelisz takes over, quickly deciding that 250 people on a small island is unwieldy for the small number of supplies they have. Quietly, he puts forward a plan to 40 odd mutineers how they could save themselves, kill most of the rest and spare only a half-dozen or so women, including his personal fancy, Lucretia Jansz - one of the noted beauties of Holland - to service their sexual needs. A reign of terror begins, countered only by a previously anonymous soldier Wiebbe Hayes, who begins to gather to him those are prepared to do what it takes to survive . . . hoping against hope that the Commandeur will soon be coming back to them with the rescue yacht. It all happened, long ago, and it is for a very good reason that Peter FitzSimons has long maintained that this is "e;far and away the greatest story in Australia's history, if not the world's."e; FitzSimons unique writing style has made him the country's best-selling non-fiction writer over the last ten years, and he is perfect man to make this bloody, chilling, stunning tale come alive.
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