The Commonwealth Observer

Observer books

Too many planes in the sky
Murray Burt
Written by Murray Burt

Was flight MH370 shot down by mistake during a US/Thai military exercise?

  • Flight MH370: The Mystery by Nigel Cawthorne — This show-stopper went on sale this week propounding the shocking theory that the Malaysia Airlines plane, carrying 239 people, missing on a flight to Beijing since March 8, 2014, was shot down by mistake during a US/Thai military exercise. Cawthorne is touted as Britain’s “most published living author” with 150 books. The theory propounded that the mistake may have been covered up because authorities did not want any retaliatory attacks. The wide search into the Indian Ocean was a ruse to cover up the reality, Cawthorne states in the book. Some of the theory draws on the eyewitness account of New Zealand oil rig worker Mike McKay, who said he saw a ball of fire in the sky from the rig he was working on in the South China Sea in the early hours of March 8. Now wait for the movie.


  • Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi, published this month, is both a fast moving story of one family’s fortunes and an ecstatic exploration of the inner lives of its members. With her flawless technique, Selasi does more than merely renew our sense of the African novel, she renews our sense of the novel, period. With an eye for the perfect detail she’s an unforgettable voice on the page. One critic says, miss out on Ghana Must Go and you will miss one of the best new novels of the season. It’s an unpredictable family story of love, abandonment, aspiration and migration.


  • The Steelband Movement, by Stephen Stuempfle. With its sub-title, The Forging of a National Art in Trinidad and Tobago, this hot little opus examines the dramatic transformation of pan from a Carnival street music into a national art and symbol in Trinidad and Tobago. By focusing on pan as a cultural process, Stuempfle demonstrates how the struggles and achievements of the steelband movement parallel the problems and successes of building a nation. He explores the history of the steelband from its emergence around 1940 as an assemblage of diverse metal containers to today’s immense orchestra of high-precision instruments with bell-like tones. He draws on interviews with different generations of pan musicians (including the earliest), a wide array of archival material, and field observations, the author traces the growth of the movement to its grass-roots.

Confession: I have not read these books. The reviews are drawn from Commonwealth newspapers last week

Photo credit: Christian Junker – AHKGAP / cc

About the author

Murray Burt

Murray Burt

Murray Burt has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, starting as a cadet reporter in New Zealand, and doing two stints with wire services on Fleet Street before settling in Canada in the newspaper business. He is a retired managing editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, and former city and national editor of The Globe and Mail in Toronto. He is a past-president of the CJA and has been a life member since 2003, participating in each of its conferences and CPU’s conferences since 1990. He is a director of the Advisory Council of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, based in New Delhi; president of Manitoba’s newly-reconstituted Royal Commonwealth Society; and has directorships in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and the Canadian Forces Liaison Council (western Canada).

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