Up from Down Under
A Life of Danger, Adventure, & Documenting History

Bernard Diederich was sixteen when he signed on Down Under in 1943 as CABIN BOY on the majestic four-masted ship Pamir, to sail twice across the Pacific from his native New Zealand to San Francisco and back. Thus began a life of extraordinary adventure, danger, and documenting history in the making--which he has recaptured in a series of dramatic and highly significant books.

In 1949, after serving during World War II with the American merchant fleet in the Pacific Theatre on two seagoing tankers carrying fuel oil and high-octane aviation gasoline, Diederich set sail once more--this time with two companions on a two-masted ketch from Nova Scotia headed for the South Pacific. En route they dropped anchor in Haiti--and Diederich was instantly smitten by the Caribbean island country and its blend of French and African cultures. He stayed as a resident foreigner in his newly discovered tropical paradise. However, like Joseph Conrad's Marlow in the book "Heart of Darkness", Diederich could not have known what horrors awaited him there.

When he first set foot in his adopted land, Haiti was enjoying a period of tranquility and progress, which lasted until 1957. In that year, Francois (Papa Doc) Duvalier rose to power--and imposed a blood-drenched tyranny that turned the black republic into a political slaughterhouse. By then, onetime sailor Diederich had succumbed to another passion, journalism, and the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince had become his dateline. more

portrait of Bernard Diederich
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© 2004 - 2008 Bernard Diederich