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History - Military
Peter Grose began his working life as a journalist on the Sydney Daily Mirror, moved to London as a foreign correspondent for The Australian, switched to literary agency with Curtis Brown, first in Sydney then back in London, switched to book publishing with Martin Secker & Warburg in London, stayed as a publisher, first on his own and then with Australian Consolidated Press (UK), then started writing books. His first book A Very Rude Awakening tells the story of the Japanese midget submarine raid on Sydney Harbour in May 1942. His second book An Awkward Truth deals with the Japanese bombing raid on Darwin in February 1942 (by the same force that hit Pearl Harbor 10 weeks earlier). His latest book A Good Place To Hide tells the story of the village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and the surrounding communities in the Auvergne region of France, where some 3500 Jews were rescued from the Nazis during World War 2.

Peter Grose still thinks of himself as a journalist. He makes no claim to be an academic historian. He tries to write in an accessible and conversational style. His main focus is on telling a story, the more dramatic the better. He also confesses to a weakness for cock-ups, hence the first two books. To his mild surprise, book number three might just about be described as inspirational.

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1. The bombing of Darwin
Few people know that the bombing of Darwin, on 19 February 1942 was carried out by the same planes, the same pilots and the same aircraft carriers that had attacked Pearl Harbor and started the Pacific war ten weeks earlier. More bombs were dropped on Darwin than on Pearl Harbor, more ships were sunk in Darwin than at Pearl Harbor, and more civilians were killed. The Australian government tried to hush up the whole affair, including the drunkenness, looting, desertion and civilian panic. It remains the single worst event in Australian history, with an official death toll of 243. Peter Grose's book An Awkward Truth was a major best-seller, and the History Channel drama documentary based on it won the Australian Film Producers Association award for best documentary of the year.

2. The midget submarine raid on Sydney Harbour
In May 1942 three Japanese midget submarines penetrated the defences of Sydney Harbour with the aim of sinking the heavy cruiser USS Chicago. They fired four torpedoes inside the harbour, two of which just missed the Chicago while the other two jammed in their submarine's torpedo tubes.The whole event was a fiasco, with chaos reigning supreme among the defenders. Two of the three Japanese submarine crews suicided after they were trapped and realised their position was hopeless, while the third submarine escaped after firing its two torpedoes and disappeared for 64 years before the wreck was found by accident off the northern beaches of Sydney by a group of happy-go-lucky amateur divers called No Frills Divers. The story of the raid is still bedevilled by mythology and plain inaccuracy. Peter Grose's book A Very Rude Awakening is recognised as carrying the most authority, while remaining a lively and entertaining - if tragic - story.

3. The rescue of Jews in Occupied France
The village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and the surrounding community in the Haute-Loire department of France is one of only three communities in the world to be honoured by Yad Vashem in Israel as Righteous Among The Nations, an award reserved for those who risked their lives to rescue Jews. In great secrecy the villagers hid some 3500 Jews (Oskar Schindler rescued 1200 Jews). They risked their lives and the lives of their families to protect total strangers. It is one of the most remarkable, and least known, stories of the Holocaust. It includes a cast of exotic characters ranging from the glamorous SOE agent Virginia Hall, who organised the armed resistance while hobbling on a wooden leg, to the 19-year-old Jewish master forger Oscar Rosowsky, who produced some 5000 sets of fake papers while never being discovered. Peter Grose's book A Good Place To Hide recounts this true story at the pace of a thriller, based on first person accounts by survivors and key players.

4. The greatest escape
There are plenty of claimants to the title of The Greatest Escape, but the story of Jimmy Porter or, as the Chileans dubbed him, The Bandit In Love, is hard to beat. Jimmy was sentenced in England to transportation for life to Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania), and finished up on Sarah Island, the toughest and nastiest convict hell hole in Australia. In the last years of the prison colony, the convicts were set to work building ships. In 1834 Jimmy and nine mates stole the last ship built there, a brig called the Frederick, and sailed her by dead reckoning from Tasmania to Chile. They were eventually caught and returned to Tasmania, where they were sentenced to be hanged. They escaped the hangman by a wonderful piece of barrack-room lawyer conmanship, and eventually became free men. This is one of the greatest convict stories of all time, and Jimmy is the model for one of the characters in Marcus Clarke's superb convict epic For The Term Of His Natural Life.

5. How publishing works
Peter Grose has worked in the three key areas of the publishing industry. He has been a book publisher, a literary agent and now an author. So he has seen publishing from every point of view. He has been holding audiences spellbound over the years with a simple description of how the book trade works. When you pay $35 dollars for a book, who gets the money? And who gets the biggest share of the cash: the author, the publisher, the printer, the distributor or the bookseller? (Unexpected answer: the bookseller.) He can also talk about the life of a writer, the astonishing amount of information available to a researcher using only ingenuity and the internet. This talk is a boon to would-be writers as well as to those who fancy the idea of publishing their own book.

6. Making the expatriate dream work.
Peter Grose left his native Australia in 1964 to move to London as a foreign correspondent. He had a brief break back in Australia from 1968 to 1971 while he started the Australian literary agency Curtis Brown. Then he moved back to London for 36 years. In 2008 he moved full time to France as a writer and retired publisher. So he has spent most of his life as an expatriate. He has plenty of advice for those who contemplate moving to a strange country and speaking a new language. He regards his various moves as a success, but he makes no attempt to hide the problems. If you are determined, flexible and adventurous, the expatriate life brings huge rewards.

7. Australian aboriginal art
While making no claim to be an art expert, Peter Grose has long been a lover of Australian aboriginal art. He has flown himself in a single-engined light plane around the remotest parts of Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory, visiting aboriginal art centres and talking to the artists and the administrators. The journey took him to remote places like Balgo, Mimili and Fregon as well as to the more obvious centres like Alice Springs, Darwin and Broome. He has a collection of Australian aboriginal paintings decorating his home in France, and a host of tales to tell about the joys and dangers of flying a single-engined plane over some of the harshest and remotest terrain in the world.
I'm an experienced public speaker and already have in hand PowerPoint presentations to go with my books: A Very Rude Awakening (Japanese midget submarine attack in Sydney Harbour, currently in its 76th edition!); An Awkward Truth (the bombing of Darwin, won NT History Prize, History Channel documentary based on it voted Best Documentary by Australian Film Producers Association; and A Good Place To Hide, about a Huguenot village in France which sheltered Jews.