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By: John Bown

Called to Serve and Protect

Pages: 374 Ratings: 5.0
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How does a farm boy brought up on an isolated farm with no electricity, or running water supply, leaving school at fifteen with no academic qualifications, have a successful career in the police force and become an overseas police adviser? John describes his motivation to serve and protect, and takes you through his police career, including when he climbed the headstock of a disused colliery to talk down a disturbed teenager, had a convicted killer hold a knife to his throat, and took a loaded shotgun out of the hands of an aggressive teenager. He enumerates his progression through the ranks and describes an occasion when he refused to obey an order from his Chief Constable, which probably cost him a promotion.

Post-retirement, he worked for a private security company involved in the escorting of prisoners to courts and prisons and describes having to spend three days in the witness box at an inquest into the death of a prisoner in transit to prison. As an overseas police adviser sitting in a restaurant in Addis Ababa with his wife, a colleague and his wife, John saw a hand grenade come to a standstill just inches away from his legs and he expected to die, but miraculously survived.

Flown back to the UK for treatment he had his moments of fame, appearing on TV news and on the Big Breakfast show on Channel 4. Attending a presentation function at the Café Royal, he sat next to Lois Maxwell, the original Miss Moneypenny and the lady on whom her character was based.

John Bown was brought up on a small holding on the hills of Derbyshire, where life was tough, but happy. As a teenager he came to a personal faith which informed his future life. His calling was to be a policeman which he undertook for thirty years retiring in the rank of superintendent. He recalls, humorous and frightening incidents during his police career, and identifies critical elements in his development as a police officer. He takes you on a journey through Ethiopia, Jamaica, Nigeria, and South Sudan as he describes his work as an overseas police adviser.

Customer Reviews
2 reviews
2 reviews
  • Duncan Leighto

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Called to Serve and Protect.” It is, in every sense, a big book. At more than 370 pages, it is no pamphlet, but it is big in other ways too. It is big in the issues it deals with. For instance -The state of policing in Britain and the hierarchical nature of its structure. The need for constant vigilance in the maintaining of order in society. The role of Britain in shaping the culture of previous colonies and the more recent attempts to right some of the mistakes made, to name a few. I confess to being disappointed that the editing was not well done, but the story, or rather stories, move along at a great pace and keep the reader involved at every stage. The author has an eye and memory for detail that is quite remarkable, and his ability to describe a scene clearly without recourse to superlatives or exaggeration is refreshing. It is not possible to read his account of visits to Africa, and particularly to African homes, without wishing you were there to share with him the pleasure of friendship and some, but not all, of the food! The fact that he is able to describe his feelings and even, at times, his bodily functions with such candour makes him and his subjects seem very real without diminishing the importance of what he seeks to convey. This is not a religious book, but the author’s awareness of his own need of God and his willingness to say so makes it a believable testimony to the grace and faithfulness of God. It has all the elements of a good read – adventure, danger, love, anger, confrontation and the value of family. I happily commend it to thoughtful readers.

  • George Roberts, North Vancouver, Canada

    While "Called to Serve and Protect" may seem to be simply a memoir of interest only to the author's personal friends and family, from the opening chapters, the book proves to be so much more. John Bown's COVID project is written in a conversational and witty style, detailing the events of a life lived with purpose and enthusiasm for, well, life. The book is a vivid description of country life in rural Derbyshire in an age before modern conveniences; the story of the evolution of British policing in the late 20th Century through the lived experience of a gifted and dedicated policeman; an entertaining and witty travelogue of post-colonial Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Jamaica, with some surprisingly dramatic twists; a sociological study of British life in northern towns; a primer on innovative and effective teaching methods in public institutions; a testimonial to the power of a passionate and enduring Christian faith; a love story that pays tribute to remarkable British women. As a reader from North America, I found the details of John's spiritual life particularly interesting, standing in stark contrast to the brand of evangelical Christianity that has come to figure so prominently in American politics. John's role in policing reform in post-colonial Africa can easily inform the shift in policing in Canada as First Nations take a greater role in self-government. Through a very detailed and thorough examination of the events of his own life, the author remains good-humored and delightfully self-aware, providing yet one more reason for the reader to be charmed and entertained. A jolly good read from the other side of the pond.

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