The Incorrigible Optimists Club
Paris, 1959. As dusk settles over the immigrant quarter, 12-year-old Michel Marini - amateur photographer and compulsive reader - is drawn to the hum of the local bistro. From his usual position at the football table, he has a vantage point on a grown-up world - of rock 'n' roll and of the Algerian War. But as the sun sinks and the plastic players spin, Michel's concentration is not on the game, but on the huddle of men gathered in the shadows of a back room... Past the bar, behind a partly drawn curtain, a group of eastern European men gather, where under a cirrus of smoke and over the squares of chess boards, they tell of their lives before France - of lovers and wives, children and ambitions, all exiled behind the Iron Curtain. Listening to this band of survivors and raconteurs, Michel is introduced to a world beyond the boundaries of his childhood experience, a world of men made formidable in the face of history, ideas and politics: the world of the Incorrigible Optimists Club.
Cassius The True Story of a Courageous Police Dog
Cassius was a truly exceptional police dog whose career became the stuff of legend and the gold standard for all dogs coming after. In just five years he scored a century of arrests, saved lives, bit half a dozen policemen, and gave his handler, PC Joe Sleightholm, the most exciting, exhilarating and nerve-wracking times of his life.Things did not go according to plan in Sleightholm's first years as a police dog handler. The difficulties of finding and keeping the right dog were so great that he was ready to give up. Then Cass came along. The two of them quickly formed a bond, graduated as stars from the training school and became an outstanding effective working partnership. Cass became part of the Sleightholm family too. Car thieves, armed robbers, drug dealers, murderers, burglars - Cassius learned to find them, contain them, intimidate and attack if he had to. Sometimes it was dangerous for him. Usually it was more dangerous for the criminal. The story of Cassius is by turns thrilling, funny and moving, and always a fascinating insight into the freemasonry of police dog training. A genius among dogs he may have been, but he was still a dog, an animal that could trust, please, stir every emotion, frustrate, infuriate, delight and, in the end, break your heart.