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J. D. Ryan

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The Manor of Death (Crowner John Mystery)
The Manor of Death (Crowner John Mystery)
by Bernard Knight
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More medieval mayhem, 16 Nov 2010
If, like me, you like your whoddunits with a historical flavour, you will enjoy this, and other stories of Sir ( Crowner ) John de Wolfe, his man-at-arms Glyn of Poldruan, who fought with him in the Crusades and is now returned with him to this country, and his clerk, Thomas de Payne, ( literate, numerate, and curious rather than courageous ) taken on as a favour to a clerical friend. Amidst the corruption and intrigue of the times when Richard Lionheart was abroad, spending money on wars, and another John, "Lackland", was at home plotting to take over the throne, you may well wonder how someone who is so essentially honest and loyal to Richard can survive till the end of the story.

The "manor" of the title is not just an upmarket fortified dwelling for a local "nibs", it comprises all the land and facilities, such as seaports, which fall under its jurisdiction, and where various matters come under Sir John's scrutiny - including a dead whale! To help new-comers to the genre and times, Bernard Knight provides ample notes and Glossary entries and explanation of why the written language is ( mostly ) modern English. Our illiterate Knight must have spoken at least five diverse languages fluently, and used a mix of
them in his everyday speech.

So, never mind me, read and enjoy for yourself. If you want more commentary, also see my review of
Crowner Royal (A Crowner John Mystery)

Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944-45
Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944-45
by Max Hastings
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mind-opening history, 14 April 2009
Max Hastings has taken advantage of still being able to obtain evidence from many
survivors of WW II to build a comprehensive view of events and outcomes - and
correct some mis-conceptions that previous, partial commentaries, including
contemporary propaganda, may have created in readers' minds. Being in the fifth year
of my life during the period described, I was aware of the war, and its ending,
but, like many adults, totally unaware of the undercurrents. This book makes clear
where some of the troubles that followed WWII came from, and may shake some readers.

As I write, a picture comes to my mind of a Georgian, who was our coach-driver on
part of a holiday visit to the USSR, whose English seemed to be confined to "Winston
Churchill - Uncle Joe" followed by a gesture showing a strong bonding. As if...!

Most Secret War (Coronet Books)
Most Secret War (Coronet Books)
by R. V. Jones
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars WWII War-Winning Science - or why we need bright young researchers!, 22 Mar 2009
I bought this book to give to a friend, who otherwise likes to borrow my copy! Some
may remember Prof. Jones' TV Series of the same title; this book includes and
expands the history of his work as a Scientific planner and adviser to Winston
Churchill when a young scientist. Apart from revealing some fascinating aspects of
the real work that was the inspiration for Nigel Balchin's novel "The Small Back
Room", the truth about what we really did know on the night of the Coventry air-raid
is set out, tales of over secrecy leading to well-meaning frustrations are told, as well as the consequences of jealousy amongst established Civil servants. One of his
worries was that a German, who was a fellow researcher ( and practical joker ) at
Oxford before the War, might be given a similar role to his by Hitler - and thus be
able to recognise his handiwork and frustrate it!

And did Britain really say thank you for the work that was done?

An essential read for anyone interested in making sense of the War - or judging
how well UK is managed by those who claim so to do.

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