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Dr Barry Clayton (United Kingdom)

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PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future
PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future
Price: £6.64

1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Capitalism Need Have No Fear Of This !, 1 Aug. 2015
This book by Paul Mason is a polemic riddled with and obsessed with Marxist thinking. Every chapter is full of his or other equally deluded left-wing thinking. The failure of every attempt to impose this sloppy economic paradise on the unsuspecting is given little space. One doesn't have to wonder why.

Mason appears obsessed also with 'neoliberalism' which he claims believes in a system in which the state plays a small part apart from secret police and riot squads. He clearly dislikes these states but never identifies one of them. I find it impossible to name a single senior politician who subscribes to what he describes.

Mason claims Western societies are 'phony and fragile'. Despite this he is happy to make a very good living from working in one. In a ludicrous chapter he arguesthat the West can be compared with the Stasi-controlled East Germany. Clearly he never lived there and equally clearly his knowledge of that concrete hell is decidedly flimsy.

Mason is also ignorant of the benefits resulting from the current technological revolution, a capitalist inspired one that is bringing huge improvements in the welfare of millions in Africa and other poverty stricken countries. He like many are obviously unaware of what progress has been made in eradicating disease and providing clean energy. It is free market capitalism that is driving this not some moribund marxist utopia. Unfortunately, we are so emeshed in, thanks to a left-wing group of dinosaurs who ruled for over 15 years, our fixation on austerity problems that most people are ignorant about the revolution taking place.

As the economics editor of Channel Four News, Mason's views cause little surprise He wants, for example, to reverse trade union reforms and he prays for inflation! This he says is the only way to reduce huge debt burdens.My old Economics Professor would have crucified me if I had argued this in an essay. Mason says in order to bring in his garden of eden we will need a world government that will not be very democratic! Of course, we know the kind he means, a mix of Stalin and North Korean will do nicely.

Of course, capitalism isn't without its faults. Of course, it faces challenges. Of course, there are serious debt issues to be tackled. But he fails to note that capitalism has always been subjected to challenges, some of them worse than those around today. It has survived and overcome these challenges by adapting.

What is alarming about this parade of ignorance is that Mason says his desired world will need 'a new kind of human being' to drive his Wikipedia economy. This plus, of course, massive interventionism. His post capitalism state makes even the Gulag look appealing.

Mason like so many others of his kind never grasps the single biggest flaw in Marxist arguments, namely you cannot have both equality and liberty. Have the former then forget the latter and vice versa.

Sadly, current events regarding the election of a new leader for the badly mauled British Labour Party demonstrate there are plenty of gullible people who are ready to swallow this tosh. Corbyn no doubt has a copy in his pocket. He should be asked to study the Russian economy forced on the peasants by Lenin after the coup of 1917 and enforced by terror and say why it collapsed in 1989. He might learn things of value.

The adaptability and flexibility of capitalism will always see off the dead weight of marxism and communism. This badly argued book demonstrates that marxist solutions to serious economic problems are still fantasy, a dangerous fantasy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2015 9:19 AM BST

Eureka: How Invention Happens
Eureka: How Invention Happens
Price: £19.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Amateur and Eureka., 1 Aug. 2015
All modern inventions have an ancient history says the author. This is the focus of this entertaining book. He illustrates his account with details of the time it takes for inventions to gestate, for example,the aeroplane, television, mobile phone and personal computer.

We learn here about the history of technologies like: silk weaving, wireless and lithography each of which played a key role in the development of a new invention. The author details the eureka moment when a new technology worked for the first time. He shows how once this has happened innovation tends to be rapid.

The examples examined in the past such as Leibniz's calculating machine, are fascinating and instructive. The economics of the situation often determined if use was made of a new invention. Reliability, maintenance and the labout force needed were also crucial.

Surprisingly, the inventor who makes the key breakthrough is invariably outside the mainstream of existing industry and technology. They are often amateurs. Charles Jenkins made this point in his book published in 1925. He wrote that it is the 'poor man as a rule who sees the vision first'. Vast resources and a state of the art laboratory do not always bring forth a revolutionary invention. Five familiar technologies are focused on to support the author's thesis.

Rivalries are discussed. Many inventions are called hair-brained and ignored. The word crank is oft used. But once things that start as a ' home-brew' are shown to be practicable they become a necessity and are quickly adopted.

Weightman has written an absorbing account of discovery using five 20th century inventions that have transformed our lives. His choice allows him to discuss a remarkable cast of scientists and amateurs who have enabled us to use and enjoy the aeroplane, television, bar codes, the personal computer and the ubiquitous mobile phone. Not one of these was the work of a lone genius. Struggle, rivalry, luck, ridicule and perseverance fill the pages of this account.
Although Weightman at times exaggerates the importance of the amateur, for example they played no part in space travel or the internet, he writes with verve and humour. The 150 years prior to 1939 in America and much of Europe was notable for inventions. It resulted from a willingness to risk huge sums of money on a idea. Today, that seems to have diminished.

Highly recommended. Dragon's Den team ought to read. !

The Secret Life of Fighter Command: The men and women who beat the Luftwaffe
The Secret Life of Fighter Command: The men and women who beat the Luftwaffe
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Close Call., 1 Aug. 2015
When after 1945 historians began to examine in great detail the Battle of Britain and in general the contribution of the air arm to the defeat of the Axis powers it became clear that three men had been very badly treated by Churchill and his advisors. They were Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, his senior lieutenant, Keith Park and Sir Arthur Harris the former head of Bomber Command. It was not Churchill's finest moment. Later in the war he pretended to be outraged by the way Dowding had been treated but it was he who was instrumental inhis sacking.. Churr did a similar U-turn over Harris and the Strategic Bombing Offensive.

This excellent book by McKay focuses on the personality and contribution of Dowding. It was enormously important and makes his treatment all the more disgraceful. Sir Arthur Harris wrote that Dowding was the only commander who won one of the decisive battles in history and who got sacked for his pains. Deservedly, there is in The Strand a statue of Dowding that bears a fitting inscription of his achievements. A pity he was not so regarded while alive.

The author relates the stress placed on fighter pilots, pilots who often flew five patrols a day during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. It began on 13 August and lasted until the end of May 1941. . It was waged by the Germans in two stages. First as an assault to destroy our defences and permit an invasion. Second, as a heavy bombardment of our cities to destroy morale. This stage began in September 1940 and ended in May 1941.
To combat the strain and fear alcohol flowed freely among air crews together with issued Benzedrine. German pilots used Pervitin, crystal meth, to stay awake in the air. It worked but had nasty side-effects.

In the battle we lost over 1000 planes and some 544 aircrew. The German equivalent losses were 1,800 and 2,500. Although our losses were grievous the author could have mentioned that we suffered far more air losses in 1940 during the retreat that followed from the collapse of France.

The defeat of Goering's Luftwaffe was largely due to the head of Fighter Command, Dowding, and Park plus of course the magnificent work of the WAAF. The problems were immense. We cannot possibly put ourselves in Dowding's shoes. Aircraft were in short supply, anti -aircraft guns were lacking, and radar had hardly been tested. Dowding set up a complex aerial defence system using radar, and new aircraft-the Spitfire and the underrated Hurricane. He used specialists to interpret intelligence provided by radar . Dowding insisted on each Group of fighters being deployed so as to cover the whole of Britain. Unfortunately, he had, inevitability, jealous rivals at the Air Ministry who disagreed with his tactics. One such was Douglas Bader. They wanted fighter forces to be concentrated. In the end they were proven wrong and Britain survived, just. In November 1940, however, both Dowding and Park were sacked.

McKay points out as have other accounts, that a major reason for Dowding's sacking, despite being the man whose strategy brought victory, was his personality. Dowding was not one who sought company, he was unclubbable, and he was teetotal, a serious fault then and still. He also dabbled in spiritualism, an interest that raised eyebrows in certain quarters. In brief, he was regarded as a little odd. In many ways he was the Enoch Powell of his day , the service equivalent of Geoffrey Boycott. In the Services such people, no matter how talented are always regarded with suspicion.

Dowding and Park should have been showered with praise after the war. Instead like those airmen who braved the nightly bombing of Germany they were ignored and others far less skilful and courageous were given the gongs.

McKay has written a very interesting and absorbing account of a man who was shoddily treated. Using familiar documents and secondary sources together with some new ones he has enabled us to relive the drama of a momentous battle that led to Hitler having to change his plans and embark on the foolhardy invasion of the Soviet Union. Dowding won one of the most critical battles of modern times. He was removed by a shabby conspiracy by fellow officers without recognition, reward or promotion.

As Voltaire said: ' It is dangerous to be right when the powers are wrong'.

Highly recommended.

The Murder of William of Norwich: The Origins of the Blood Libel in Medieval Europe
The Murder of William of Norwich: The Origins of the Blood Libel in Medieval Europe
Price: £15.33

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forensic Historical Research At Its Best., 31 July 2015
The publication of this book is timely given the disturbing rise in anti-semetic outbreaks in the UK and France.
The origin of the ritual murder charge that Jews killed Christian children so as to use their blood for ritual and medicinal purposes, and in mockery of Christ is not known. Blood libel, as it is known, can be found in accounts from the Reformation. It has eve. been found in some communities in America, and since the nineteenth century , in Islamic countries. The charge has been vigorously denied by Jews and the Church. It is noteworthy that Jewish law prohibits the consumption of blood.

This account investigates the circumstances surrounding William of Norwich's death and the major people involved in his death. It alsoo looks at another murder that of a Jewish banker in 1150.

On 25 March, 1144 a royal forester found a body in woods outside Norwich. It was an apprenticed leather worker named William. In 1149 William became the subject of a cult of martyrdom. His remains were put on display as holy relics in Norwich Cathedral. His name spread through Europe.

Thomas of Monmouth, a monk, began a project to record the details, mostly invented, of William's life and miraculous afterlife. His story became the beginning of the hateful myth, the blood libel.

Rose tells us that Thomas claimed that William had been captured, gagged and tortured before being murdered in the house of a Jewish banker. There was no truth in any part of the story. The author says that the reason for William's elevation to sainthood was linked to the politics of another murder. It concerned Sir Simon de Novers who had a moneylender killed. Novers did so because he was heavily in debt to him. Novers was tried before King Stephen. His counsel, the Bishop of Norwich, blamed the victim! He argued that the Jews were guilty of a far more serious crime than his client. No evidence was produced. The King lost interest as he had a civil war on his hands and adjourned the court. It never reconvened but the nasty myth about Jews survived.

The blood libel took root. Jews began to be accused of all manner of crimes including deaths of children. The accusations spread to France where riots against Jews led to 30 being killed. In 1183 King Philip Augustus had the Jews expelled from his country. Their wealth was seized. In 1189 King Richard 1 's coronation was the scene also of anti-Jewish riots. In 1290 all Jews were expelled from England. It was 1519 before they returned.

Rose reminds us that Chaucer's 'Prioress's Tale ' added to anti-Jewish feelings. It is riddled with prejudice. And all of this hatred and distrust can be traced back to poor William of Norwich and a dodgy bishop.

A fascinating book that reminds one of the origins of the irrational hatred of Jews by far too many people. This is a fascinating account written by Professor Rose who adopts historical reasoning to examine a welter of documents to provide a story of deceit, lies and extreme vile accusations. In so doing she reveals an aspect of medieval culture that is very disturbing. Sadly, little has changed despite the passing of some 850 years. It deserves a wide audience. Sadly, anti-semetics will avoid.

The Times Guide to the House of Commons 2015 (Times Guides)
The Times Guide to the House of Commons 2015 (Times Guides)
by The Times
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £45.10

4.0 out of 5 stars Pricey But Useful., 26 July 2015
This is the latest Guide in a series that has been published after every General Election since 1880 except for a period in the 1920's. It is a remarkable and very useful reference work despite the current edition showing that financial stringency has affected its contents somewhat.

There is a useful contribution by Peter Kellner in which he attempts to explain the failure of polling organizations to predict the outcome of the recent election. It is not very convincing. There is also a piece by Robert Rogers the former Clerk of the Commons which students will find very useful.

As usual, there is a great deal of interesting trivia about how individual MPs fared in the election. This reviewer found particularly interesting data that refutes many claims about our political parties such as that: the Conservatives are all toffs and they all went to private schools and then Oxbridge. In fact the Guide sbows that 17 per cent of Labour MPs also went to independent schools while only 48 per cent of Tory MPs did. Also, 34 per cent of Tories are Oxbridge educated as are 23 per cent of Labour. Clearly labels are very misleading.

It has been claimed that the SNP is decidedly left-wing; the Guide shows that in fact almost 30 per cent have a business background. This is the same percentage as the Tories.

There are some very interesting details about the votes that MPs needed to win a seat. There is a huge discrepancy that with other factors demonstrates the unfairness of our electoral system. It needs an overhaul, and soon.

Still a very useful guide to our politicians and electoral system, even at £60.

Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition
Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition
Price: £12.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Poisoned Relationship In The Subcontinent., 26 July 2015
If you wish to understand one of the most murderous events of modern times this book is a must. Nisid Hajari's superb book recounts the horrendous progroms that took place when the British announced in 1947 that they were leaving the subcontinent immediately . As he says, what then happened : ' was unrivalled in scale until the 1994 massacres in Rwanda'.

The Partition of British India is not one of Britain's finest hours. It led to barbarity between Muslim and Hindu that is vile and blood-curdling. Men, women, children and babies were defiled, hacked to death and even roasted on spits. Clearly, the current appalling acts of members of Islamic State have a precedent. What happened is yet another example of man's inhumanity, his capacity for evil. Slaughter was carried out by both sides indiscriminately. Religion as is so often the case was the reason but it was religion wrapped in and warped by gross ignorance among millions of illiterate people. In addition, as the author points out, firebrand politicians deliberately fanned the flames.

The author focuses in part on the plight of the 14 million refugees who were uprooted. It was the biggest such event in history. Muslims fled to the newly created Pakistan while Hindus and Sikhs got out of it in order to survive. Hajari's main concern,however, is to examine the sources of distrust and outright hatred that developed between Jinnah's Muslim League and Nehru's Congress Party. The two leaders were poles apart in terms of personality. They were both trained lawyers and both spoke English fluently. Jinnah was a wily tactician while Nehru was a theorotician who dabbled in Marx. Other than that their relationship was toxic. The author's description and analysis of these two ambitious politicians is excellent and fair. They held the fate of 400 million people in their hands, and they failed them badly.

When the communal violence broke out in Calcutta in the summer of 1946, the British, even when the death toll exceeded 5000, did nothing to stop the marauding gangs wielding machetes. Minorities were left to their fate. Jinnah and Nehru didn't even visit the city. The British demonstrated their desire to depart as soon as possible for financial reasons and because Viceroy Wavell had warned Attlee that our rule was at and end. We were no longer able to pacify and rule. Some British units had in fact mutinied over the delay in getting them home.

The author's description of that running sore, Kashmir, is objective. He rightly describes it as ' a cauldron of discontent'. Anyone who has studied the relations between India and Pakistan since Partition, relations that have included two wars, will agree with Hajari when he writes that Pakistan is obsessed with the perceived threat from her neighbour. India has done little to alter this perception. She steadfastly refuses to permit international arbitration over Kashmir, where as Hajari says, its human rights record is in sharp contrast to India's posturing.

The author believes that relations could be significant improved by trade between the two states. This is very debatable because like all enmeties rooted in religion the distrust and hatred is very deep. When Attlee announced without warning on 20 February, 1947 that the days of the Raj were ended he ushered in a Dante-like inferno fueled by inept planning and failure to foresee what much research has revealed was foreseeable.

To write this enthralling and clearly written account Hajari has used many recently declassified sources together with many well-known and respected secondary ones. The result is a graphic and compelling picture of a terrible upheaval in the subcontinent that still reverberates today. Given the presence of nuclear weapons, the mistrust and antagonism that lingers berween the two protagonists is one of the most worrying features of that part of the globe.
In a remark to Nehru, Jinnah exposed the gulf that separates the two nations. He said in every way we are different. Our clothes, food , beliefs are different. We treat women differently. He added : 'we differ at every point of the compass'.

Very highly recommended.

Empire of Fear: Inside the Islamic State
Empire of Fear: Inside the Islamic State
Price: £6.64

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Terror State., 24 July 2015
In the summer of 2014, over the course of 100 days, Islamic State transformed the politics of the Middle East. It killed or forced to flee all apostates and polytheists. It committed butchery on a scale not seen since the Khmer Rouge some 40 years earlier.

Hosken is a well-known BBC journalist who has reported from around the world. In this book that adds to a crop of books on the same subject, he examines the birth and barbaric activities of Is or Isis, Daesh or so-called IS. While there is little that is new it is written with verve and attention to detail that is refreshing. He clearly details the genocidal slaughter of thousands of Shia Muslims, Yazidis and Christians. Apostates, or kuffar are deemed by is as deserving of death. It was Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi who said in 2015 that 'islam is the religion of war'. For IS the only law is God's law or Sharia.

Hosken says we shouldn't be surprised at the emergence and growth of this cancer in the body politic. Its parents include Al-Qaeda and the failed invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. In international law to be a state you have to have certain attributes. IS has some, namely territory that includes a quarter of Syria and one third of Iraq, it has massive funds from captured oil refineries, kidnappings and Saudi Arabia. It has two capitals, one in Iraq and one in Syria.

Hosken reminds us of the promise by BaghdadI that IS will ' wage war untill Allah rules the world'. At the opening of the book is a map. It shold be studied by anyone who doubts what Is plans. The map makes it very clear that IS is not a regional problem. The map shows blacked out areas in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. This is the planned new Caliphate, a Caliphate that Hosken fails to mention is becoming a ' digital Caliphate ' because it is using the dark Web, video, twitter and facebook to brainwash new members. There are also worries that it is using its vast financial resources to undertake cyberwarfare. Indeed, AbdelBari Atwan has argued that without digital technology it is very unlikely that IS would ever have come into existence, let alone been able to thrive.

In January 2015 it declared cyber war on the US. It hacked into the Pentagon's Central Command data and then disseminated sensitive information . It is paradoxical that a group whose aim is to take us back to the seventh century has become dependent on sophisticated and modern technology. Most members. of course, have never known a world without the internet , mobile phones and social networking platforms. Their leaders are very tech-savvy. Online expertise has proved to be a formidable weapon.

IS has deliberately recruited IT and marketing specialists to hijack 'Twitter storms'. Its recruitment machine is mainly online. Other methods involve Twitter or Facebook or friends and relatives already inside IS. IS has even produced its own video game by modifying 'Grand Theft Auto'. It is renamed 'Salil al-Sawarem', Clashing of Swords. The terrain resembles Iraq. Those killed are US soldiers. IS uses a constant stream of information to present an image of itself that is benign and emotionally attractive. Chillingly, martyrdom is marketed as normal and death is something to celebrate. Anyone who does not fear death presents a very potent enemy. To illustrate the sophistication of their video production it is known that the burning alive of Moaz al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian pilot, was disseminated in seconds reaching hundreds of thousands of people plus all the key media outlets. The event was broadcast through its own Its own radio station in Mosul.

Islamic State is a murderous group of butchers that bears several features in common with the barbaric hordes of Genghis Khan.. Negotiation with thugs that kill by beheading, burning alive, drowning, crucifixion and by throwing you off high buildings is impossible. They are desert pirates who enslave young girls for sex and warp the minds of young boys-one was recently seen about to murder a prisoner, he looked no more that ten. Hosken reminds us that these evil monsters hate those Muslims who do not agree their interpretation of the Koran every bit as much as Westerners. David Cameron is right, although a little late, to tell us we are all involved in the fight against such evil, particularly when some 700 British Muslims, male and female, have voluntarily gone to Syria to aid the butchers. Brainwashing by face to face contact plus the social media is rampant among certain sections of our society. It plays in particular on second-generation Muslims who dislike our values and culture and lures them by promising the purity of life in Is. Given that there is much in our culture to dislike, for example a fixation on sex, foul language, greed and corruption in high places and drunkenness on our streets every weekend, it takes little brainwashing to convert those who are already highly susceptible.

One of the main aims of IS is to be for Sunnis what Israel is for Jews, a state in their ancient land that protects them. No matter how vile and repugnant this comparison is it is potent and seductive message for disenfranchised Muslim youth who live in a political vacuum. No other armed group has managed to redesign the boundaries of two Middle East states, boundaries set in 1916 according to the Sykes-Picot Accord. It is this plus its adaptability and the thousands of foreign fighters who have joined IS that makes it unique. This is why the threat it poses is causing global concern.

Hosken sets out try and understand the savagery and ruthlessness of those who have created IS . To do so he has interviewed experts, politicians, mlitary personnel, and eyewitnesses. In addition, he has trawled through documents that include some found at the home of Osama bin Laden. On the whole he succeeds but to get a fuller picture one needs to read, for example, the book by Stern and Berger, and Ayaan Ali's informative and courageous book. A read of the three versions of the Koran helps understanding also. In the film about Butch Classify and the Sundance Kid the outlaws ask about the posse chasing them: ' Who are those guys?' Readers will have a better idea who or what IS is after reading this book. Above all, they will learn that IS is the most deadly incarnation of the global jihad movement. It is now a country. It controls an estimated population of some six million, larger than Denmark and Finland. Since October 1914 it has had its own coinage, bank, police force, own car number plates and uniform. The nightmare scenario for the west is that the diverse global jihadists groups around the world come together and act under the IS banner. Another major concern touched on in the book is the return of battle-hardened jihadists returning to their adopted western country. It should be noted here that de-radicalisation is extremely difficult and complex. It can take a very long time. In some cases it fails.

It is worth reminding ourselves of the words of Baghadl's media guru Adnani as quoted by Hosken: ' we will conquer your Rome, break your crosses,and enslave your women, by the permisssion of Allah, the Exalted. He does not fail in His promise'. There is one thing that is certain; this threat to liberal democracy will not be defeated by air power.

The illustrations are excellent as are the notes and maps.

Go-Betweens for Hitler
Go-Betweens for Hitler
Price: £12.92

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High-Born Aides., 23 July 2015
The aim of Urbach's book is to uncover a number of go-between missions, their origins, their significance, and their consequences. It covers the period 1914 to 1939. Dr Karina Urbach has also written acclaimed books on Queen Victoria and Otto Bismarck.

It focuses on the Duke of Coburg but also examines the work of people such as General and Lady Paget, Lady Barton, Prince Max von Baden and Prince Max Hohenlohe-Langenburg..The book's second purpose is to refine the popular perception of the way in which diplomacy was conducted in the first half of the 20th century. A third aim is to illuminate an aspect of Hitler's foreign policy tactics which has been largely ignored. These are complex and contentious issues but on the whole the author achieves her aims.

What are go-betweens? Dr Urbach asks this question and answers it by likening their work to network analysis. Go-betweens are people whose network connections permit them to act as go-betweens in organizations, connecting otherwise disconnected people and groups. As the author says diplomatic historians tend not to know or bother about this covert side of diplomacy. The result is an incomplete picture.

Political go-betweens have no accepted definition. Sometimes they are called unofficial contacts or backroom diplomats. Americans call them back channels. Germans use the term substitute diplomacy. They are people who work in the shadows. They are unelected, never civil servants and always speak off the record. The author insists they must not be mistaken for lobbyists or mediators. Putin said in 2007 that : 'international relations is equal to mathematics. There are no personal dimensions'. Urbach disagrees arguing that the personal element does play a part and go-betweens are that personal element.

They work on the assumption that in the real world people act irrationally and this can crucially affect decision-making. The key go-betweens up to 1939 were members of the higher aristocracy. These were ideal because they were blood-related or connected by friendship to the elites of many countries.

Urbach explains why Hitler and the Nazi leaders feared the higher aristocracy and why despite this these go-betweens were used by Hitler in 1933 for secret missions to Britain and many other countries. Dr Karina Urbach says Hitler did not trust his foreign office officials. One of the most notorious was the Duke of Coburg, a grandson of Queen Victoria. Another was Prince Charles Edward, a grandson of Queen Victoria. He was given a monthly retainer of £16,000, in today's money, from Hitler. He was used by Hitler to visit George V1 in 1938, to Japan to tell the Emperor not to worry over the pact with Stalin. His diplomatic missions were highly influential. His cousin had supervised Buchenwald concentration camp. After the war the Prince was interned, rightly, as a traitor. However, his sister Alice, the Countess of Athlone, contacted Palace officials and, guess what, he was released in 1946. If you were a traitor it clearly paid to have royal connections.

In this fascinating book the author deals with the aristocratic amateur ambassador. They made an ideal conduit for unofficial diplomacy. They could propose, suggest listen air opinions without this being recorded or leaked. No embarrassing memoirs to fear! Carl Eduard's work in this respect is detailed. Women played a major role as go-betweens. Urbach tells us of the important missions of one, Princess Stephanie Hohenlohe, a well connected lady. She played a key role in preparing the controversial visit of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Germany in 1937. After Pearl Harbour she was interned by the Americans suspected of being a spy. In 1945 she was released and began again her shadowy work. Her contacts included two US Presidents.

Urbach has trawled through hundreds of European archives as well as many non European. Her book is an important example of investigatory scholarship. Highly recommended.

Dr Urbach has asked , as have many of us in the recent past, that the secret letters between our royal family and their German relatives be made public. She says , for example, that those from George V1 would shed important light on his attitude to appeasement, particularly during the Sudeten crisis of 1938. She works at the Institute of Historical Research and is clearly unhappy that she was refused permission to see Anglo-German correspondence when researching this book.The current position is that only official biographers are permitted to see political documents from archives dating after 1918, and their work is carefully vetted.

As she says the papers of the Duke of Kent who travelled a lot to Nazi Germany and was killed in 1942, the mission of Anthony Blunt to Germany in. 1945 , and many other unexplained activities of the royal family would provide invaluable information for historians of the period. In many cases 80 years have past and the people are all dead. It has long been suspected that Blunt who was unmasked as a soviet spy had been sent to Germany as had Owen Morshead, the roylal librarian, to search Nazi records to find any that could embarrass the royal family.

On July 30 Channel 4 are showing a documentary about the Duke of Edinburgh's sister Sophie. It will reveal details about how she and her husband Prince Christoph of Hesse who was an SS officer entertained Hitler in 1932. Sophie is a godmother to Prince Edward. She has written that she and her husband were ' impressed by this charming and seemingly modest man and by his plans to change and improve the situation in Germany'.

The recent publication of the Queen as a very yound girl apparently mimicking a Nazi salute doesn't help to quell rumours. Neither did Prince Harry's stupid act of wearing a Nazi armband at a party.

This country has long had an obsession with secrecy unlike, for example , America or France. Until royal archives are publicly accessible historians will be frustrated and rumours will abound, no doubt many, but one suspects not all, of them false.

Worrying: A Literary and Cultural History
Worrying: A Literary and Cultural History
Price: £6.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Worrying Is Good For You., 22 July 2015
How many of us worry? How many of us tell our Wife/husband to stop worrying? I suspect the majority of us would answer yes to both questions. If so, read this excellent book that is refreshingly original and whose author is not afraid to state possible alternative answers to his own.

O'Gorman is Professor of English at Leeds University. He is also a muscian and a literary critic. His book focuses on the irrational trivial worries that bedevil our lives and keep us awake in the early hours. We do not know how many of us are worriers partly because worriers are often too ashamed to admit their worries. The author nevertheless writes : ' worry is a great but buried human trouble'.

Centuries ago the word worry meant maul. In Richard 111, Shakespeare uses it to describe dogs worrying lambs. Only from Victorian times was the word used in the modern sense. O'Gorman tells us that a 1907 book said Spaniards, Greeks and Italians were not worriers because they were too idle (I suspect the author of that book would exclude the Greeks today).

Worry involves thinking about the 'What if's'. Why we worry may have an evolutionary explanation or a Freudian one or be the result of maternal neglect when we were young. The author is not impressed by Freud's view based on birth trauma, and he tells an amusing story with regards to the maternal neglect theory..

He makes us ponder our true motives when we worry about our offspring if they don't ring/text or come home late. Is it, he asks, because we love them or is it selfish concern for our peace of mind? O' Gorman is very critical of self- help books, books that stress will- power. He says they tell us we must stop telling ourself we are inadequate or unsuccessful. But what, says the worrier, if I am? He regards such books as superficial.

The author admis that to worry is pointless . He tells us how he has observed acquaintances drink themselves silly in order to escape worry. However, he argue better to worry than exhibit glossy happiness. To worry is far more realistic, it serves to divert our minds from dreadful events that we are incapable of preventing or alleviating.

The professor's way of reducing worry is concentrating on the past. He says past holidays are more enjoyable than the fuss and preparation for them. Old photos again give comfort because they show people free from the worries that once plagued them. Being a musician he finds contrapuntal music an antidote to worry, particularly the music of JS Bach.

A remarkable book that makes you think. It serves to remind us that worry is what makes us human. So stop worrying!

It is written with clarity, verve and wit.

Highly recommended

Something Will Turn Up: Britain's economy, past, present and future
Something Will Turn Up: Britain's economy, past, present and future
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Decline of the Workshop of the World., 21 July 2015
By the 1960's British manufacturing output had doubled in twenty years. The majority of adult males worked in manufacturing, cars were made almost entirely in England, and the unions dominated the workplace. This book by the Sunday Times's economics editor states his views as to how and why this changed dramatically over the next fifty tears or so.

Anyone who grew up in, say, the West Midlands in the period 1950-65 would not recognise it today. David Smith did grow up in that region during that period, and this book is a personal account of how things have altered. The result is a fascinating social document.

From around the mid 1960's things began to go badly wrong. By the turn of the century we were, for example, running an annual manufacturing trade deficit of £60 billion. What caused this calamitous decline? Smith argues, and many other economists and social historians have said the same, it was the result of: opening up of our economy to international competition and our failure to adapt, the fact that Germany re-engineered with the latest technology while we carried on using plant and tools over 70 years old, the export of poor quality goods to our Commonwealth, plus delivery times that became derisory, trades union militancy, the failureof management to invest in training and skills, and government's decision to follow polcies that invited high inflation. Spending and borrowing he says were at times reckless.

Smith applauds Margaret Thatcher's economic revolution. He doesn't fail to note her mistakes but he admires her reform of the unions and her decision to remove capital controls. He praises her single-mindedness and her belief in monetary polcy over fiscal policy. Smith rates Howe as the best Chancellor of her premiership. His 1981 Budget gets high praise despite being heavily criticized by no less than 364 economists. This provoked Howe to joke that ' an economist is a man who knows 364 ways of making love, but doesn't know any women'. He could have quoted many others, for example, ask three economists a question and you will get four answers.

The book recounts many other key events of the time such as the miner's strike, the IMF rescue, unemployment and the many booms and busts. He criticizes the lack of house building pointing out that from 1948 to 78 council house building never fell below 100,000 a year. It sometimes reached 250,000. But by the 1990's the building of such houses had virtually ceased.

Smith , nevertheless, remains optimistic about the future. He reckons iin three years our economy will be bigger than that of France, and by 2030 it will be bigger than Germany's. As his book title says, 'Something Will Turn Up'. We hope he's right.

Much in this book is not new, particularly if you are an economist or closely follow domestic and global events. There are also some notable gaps such as a discussion of our membership of the EU. A mention of the dubious value of government statistics which are trotted out to support arguments and policies, and soaked up as gospel by the media and the publc would also have been very welcome.

However, an interesting account of one man's journey from the immediate post-war period to the present day. It is a useful analysis of the social history of a bygone age.

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