"Holding The Fort"
By Michael Bates (Prince Michael of Sealand)
Hardback, 256 pages, 21 x 15.4 x 2.8 cm
The unbelievable true adventures covering 50 years of occupation of the Roughs Tower christened The Principality of Sealand
The tale of kidnap from the family island nation, government sieges, official documents, secrets and attempts to take the Tower along with the Bates family's personal photographs make the book a compulsive read
Living life on an antiquated WWII platform 7 miles out in the harsh North Sea with temperamental generators, helicopter raids, dodgy accountants & gangsters all form part of the swash bucking Sealand story
Michaels father Roy had run his own Offshore (Pirate) radio station Radio Essex from the Knock John Naval Fort, when outlawed for being inside territorial waters in 1966 he moved everything lock stock & barrel to the Roughs. By September 1967 he'd declared Sealand an independent Principality
'Holding The Fort' is a good old- fashioned tale of British eccentricity with the underdog taking on the establishment. A classic 'Boys Own' rip-roaring yarn as a 14-year-old Michael begins his lifelong adventure
Holding The Fort Reviews
Sealand is the UK's very own micronation just off the shoreline. I originally came to know about Sealand in an article in a lads mag which I read when I was a teenager and have been fascinated ever since
This book is exactly as expected - delivering a warts and all account of having your own nation, negotiating with the government, seeing off would-be invaders and all the issues of trying to maintain a sea fortress without expensive equipment and support
It's clear Prince Michael is a salt of the earth kind of chap - saying what he likes and liking what he says - I am sure there are other things he would have liked to have written which just wouldn't make it past a publisher these days. If your read it with this in mind then you shouldn't have an issue!
As this book dealt with a very exciting time in the history of pirate radio, a hugely influential period of my life, it was a must read. The story of Sealand would seem like a work of fiction were it not so obviously right on our doorstep. For me this was a read-in-one-go book, as good as any boys adventure book I read as a kid
A fantastic swashbuckling tale of derring-do for our times, this is a book about modern heroes doing the kind of things that men used to do centuries ago in the eras of adventure, exploration and colonisation. You might wish you had been there too, in on the action. You cannot put the book down, and while you are thinking, 'they can't possibly have done that', you have to remind yourself that this is not a work of fiction- it is autobiographical. All of this really did happen, and that in itself is amazing. It is well illustrated with photos. This is a highly original story, and although there are certainly James Bond elements to parts of it, this book is not like anything else you will ever read. The only reason I have given it 4 stars is that the book could do with better proof-reading. Perhaps for when it goes into a second edition?
This is an excellent account of life aboard Roughs Towers and Fort Knock John. I've always found the forts fascinating and took a boat trip to have a close-up view some years ago. Michael was with his father, Roy, when they first boarded Knock John and I found that very interesting. Michael has certainly packed in a lot during his life, but I don't envy him! I had been reading Kenneth Horne's biography and gave up two thirds of the way through because it was a bit dull. No such problem with 'Holding The Fort'. I couldn't put it down until I'd finished it! Very highly recommended
This is truly a unique and staggering catalogue of absolutely amazing adventures that makes Biggles look like Rupert The Bear! Yet this is certainly no fiction. It really is one of those rare books that one cannot put down until then end. It reads like an indubitably pre-eminent Super-List of one amazing fact of near disaster or amazing achievement after another, some leaving the reader either physically gasping for breath, or embarking on frequent and injurious spells of intense nail-biting. (Mr. Bates - my fingers are red-raw!).
It also serves as a lesson to us all about what us humans CAN achieve when under immense physical and / or emotional pressure; how crass the British and other Governments were at that time; and how many individuals underestimated the might and pure grit and genius of all those behind Sealand since its inception.
Whether you are a marine person of any kind anywhere in the world, a politician, or (like me) a humble British layman, I venture to aver that many many people from all walks of life world-wide will be fascinated by the accounts and the photographs carried in this book. The difficult bit is to keep reminding yourself that what you are reading about is REAL, as the abundance of associated historical accounts and press / media articles on Sealand will testify.
It's also unique in the sense that a project like this will never ever happen again - well, certainly not in the Northern Hemisphere!
Terms: Price inclusive of P&P within UK mainland, with no returns