"Mr. Amelinckx is an adroit storyteller and thorough researcher, and in Satellite Boy he has written a good, engrossing yarn." —Howard Schneider, The Wall Street Journal
"Amelinckx’s storytelling is a compelling way to help us make connections to historical events, allowing the reader into the political and social zeitgeist and to take stock of the possibilities of our species in dark times." —Matt Henderson, Winnipeg Free Press
"Amelinckx crafts a compelling dual narrative . . . Though real, Satellite Boy reads like a classic mid-century Space Race thriller, with clear-cut opposing forces of good versus evil, plus a little bit of added mafia drama appeal." —Stefanie Doucette, Law&Crime
"There are plenty of books on thrilling heists and the lives of skilled thieves out there—but most of them don’t dovetail neatly in with the annals of mass communication. With his book Satellite Boy, Andrew Amelinckx takes the reader back to the 1960s and to a place where two unlikely worlds converged. Think Heat by way of Marshall McLuhan." —Tobias Carroll, InsideHook
"A great story . . . It reads like a set piece from Ocean's Eleven . . . Entertaining." —Betsy Maury, Chronogram
"As with Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City, Amelinckx develops his two narratives suspensefully and in excellent historical detail before braiding them together with the skill of a master weaver. No account of the technocratic 1960s is complete without this thrilling tale." —Booklist
"This colorful . . . dual biography mashes together the lives of Canadian bank robber Georges Lemay and American engineer Harold Rosen . . . Amelinckx lucidly explains the technical aspects and spotlights the boon communication satellites provided to law enforcement agencies." —Publishers Weekly
"Entertaining and colorful . . . Amelinckx’s book is ideal for both true-crime and technology buffs." —Library Journal
"Hardened criminal meets the slide rule in a historical true-crime tale . . . There are some nice twists and turns . . . True-crime buffs and historians of technology will find points of interest." —Kirkus Reviews
"An astonishing story from an astonishing era that will leave you wondering, how is it possible I never heard of this before? That’s because it took the brilliant investigative journalism and masterful storytelling of Andrew Amelinckx to finally piece it all together and bring it to life. All I can say is . . . Wow! Ocean’s Eleven meets 007, but it’s all true! An artful masterpiece that will leave you breathless. Good luck putting this one down." —Peter Houlahan, author of Norco '80
"With a master storyteller's gift for character, pacing, suspense, and detail, Amelinckx transports us from Montreal’s underworld to Havana, Miami, Cape Canaveral, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, all the while balancing two extraordinary narratives whose arcs will inevitably intersect. Amelinckx captures the riveting, cat-and-mouse game between Lemay, a dashing and wily arch criminal whose high-stakes exploits mesmerized all of Canada, and frustrated law enforcement officers in both the U.S. and Canada, whom Lemay manages time and again to outfox. While Lemay enjoys life on the lam, Harold Rosen, a visionary engineer, is developing a science fiction fantasy into the world’s first geosynchronous satellite, a technology that will transform communications and put an end to Lemay’s freedom. In Satellite Boy, Amelinckx deftly intertwines the unforgettable tales of these two men, weaving a crisp and vivid, historical page-turner —James Campbell, author of Braving It
"Andrew Amelinckx's Satellite Boy is a remarkable blend of good and evil, weaving together the stories of two masterminds—one a technical genius, one a murderous criminal—and the rise of a communications technology that connects both their lives. It's science, it's mystery, and it's a wholly addictive read." —Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
"Satellite Boy combines a high drama caper tale with a pitch-perfect examination of an era when technology felt breathtakingly new—if not impossible. Amelinckx's characters are vivid and compelling, the period details are lived in and authentic, and the story good and true. You'll rocket right through." —Joe Drape, New York Times bestselling author of Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen
"Satellite Boy by Andrew Amelinckx is one of the most entertaining, original, and informative stories I've read in a long, long time. It vividly brings to life the audacious and high-flying decade of the 1960s and demonstrates how our most important technological innovations sometimes come from the unlikeliest of circumstances. Amelinckx masterfully combines crime, high tech, and history into a crackling page-turner. And, amazingly, every word of it is true. Don't miss it!" —David Bell, USA Today bestselling author of She's Gone and The Finalists
The title of this book is the name that French-Canadian bank burglar Georges Lemay gave himself after a communications satellite led to his arrest. Amelinckx's (Exquisite Wickedness) book profiles Lemay and an engineer, Harold Rosen, who helped develop the first commercial communications satellite with a fixed orbit in 1965. Lemay was believed to be the mastermind behind one of the biggest bank robberies in Canadian history. The robbery, with more than $1 million stolen, occurred at a Montreal bank in 1961. Canadian police could not find Lemay until a Fort Lauderdale boat repairman who knew Lemay under an alias called the FBI after seeing a satellite TV broadcast of fugitives. The book's structure is chronological, starting in 1961 with the Montreal bank robbery, then Lemay's 1965 arrest, and ending with a recap of what happened to the players. The chapters alternate between Lemay's reckless antics and Rosen's drier satellite work. The book is entertaining and colorful; it reads like an expanded magazine article. For readers seeking a description of life on the lam, consider Dick Lehr's Black Mass, which is about the more careful criminal, Whitey Bulger. VERDICT Amelinckx's book is ideal for both true-crime and technology buffs.—Harry Charles
Hardened criminal meets the slide rule in a historical true-crime tale.
It’s a bit of a stretch to suggest, as freelance journalist Amelinckx does, that “master thief Georges Lemay and electrical engineer Harold Rosen…gave rise to the modern communication age, forever changing our world.” Rosen deserves the accolade (none other than Arthur C. Clarke said as much), but Lemay is incidental, someone in the wrong place at the wrong time—namely, on a yacht slip in South Florida, where he was spotted after pulling off a major bank heist in Canada. He was spotted thanks to Rosen’s invention of a geosynchronous satellite that allowed for simultaneous communication around the world. When Early Bird launched, the FBI, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Scotland Yard beamed out public-enemy photographs of Lemay, a dapper but vicious fellow, and he was caught. (He escaped, sending J. Edgar Hoover into a tizzy.) Amelinckx delivers two separate books that are thinly joined by that happenstance. In doing so, he makes some good points: Rosen certainly deserves more credit than he gets for having revolutionized satellite technology, for one, allowing the U.S. to pull ahead of its Soviet rivals in the space race, and Lemay makes for an interesting case who ought to have been put away for much longer than he was. After doing time for bank robbery and literally getting away with murder, in the mid-1970s, he got into “the lucrative drug business, focusing on…a more potent cousin to PCP that had its heyday as a recreational drug during that decade.” Well known in Canada but less so elsewhere, Lemay makes a fine study in sociopathy. There are a lot of tangents to work through—e.g., it’s not particularly germane to the author’s yarn that the Beatles used Rosen’s satellite technology to broadcast “All You Need Is Love” worldwide. Still, there are some nice twists and turns.
An average book, but true-crime buffs and historians of technology will find points of interest.