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Churchill and the Islamic World: Orientalism, Empire and Diplomacy in the Middle East
Churchill and the Islamic World: Orientalism, Empire and Diplomacy in the Middle East
by Warren Dockter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive volume here at last: very well worth buying, 21 April 2015
This is a magnificent and long-awaited book. It looks not just at Churchill's creation of the present-day Middle East in 1921 (when he created what is now Israel, Jordan and Iraq) but also the whole of his career, down to the Suez crisis in 1956. And in addition he has fascinating background to Churchill's whole world view which puts the great man into a wonderful new light, taking us back to the 1880s and Lord Randolph Churchill's circle.

This has been exhaustively researched and is the happy fruit of many years of labour in the archives, all made alive and put to good use. But it is readable as well as scholarly and we must thank his publisher for making it available at an affordable price.

Theses do not always make good books - thankfully for Warren Dockter the risk has in this case come off and paid dividends. And a book that has praise from both Boris Johnson and Richard Toye (of Exeter University) must be unique! In this instance you can believe a politician - this is a work of scholarship that casts new perspectives on one of the most important people in British history, and about a part of the world that today, half a century after Churchill's death, is as vital today as it was then.

Dr Christopher Catherwood (Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and author of FROM THE ASHES OF WAR: THE CREATION OF THE MIDDLE EAST http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ashes-War-Creation-Middle-East-ebook/dp/B00KNTSQWM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429624738&sr=1-1&keywords=catherwood+ashes


The Lawn Road Flats: Spies, Writers and Artists (History of British Intelligence)
The Lawn Road Flats: Spies, Writers and Artists (History of British Intelligence)
by David Burke
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Agatha Christie and Real Life Spies!, 4 May 2014
Agatha Christie and some real life spies - including many from the Soviet NKVD, one of whom was the man who recruited Kim Philby to commit treason. This is a truly exciting book and also an enthralling read - so many spies all living in the same block of flats at overlapping times, and most of whom were spies for the USSR and not for Britain. And when James Angleton, one of the key CIA spies appears as well, then it gets even better still.

Buy this book and then buy another copy for a friend! And this is all real life espionage - the fictitious James Bond has nothing on this.

Agatha Christie fans will in particular love this book! It beats Hercules Poirot for intrigue and mystery....

Christopher Catherwood (author on World War I and on Cambridge spies: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cuckoos-Nest-Years-Cambridge-Spies-ebook/dp/B00CRLKGQI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399160602&sr=1-1&keywords=Catherwood+Cuckoo%27s+Nest and http://www.amazon.co.uk/Everything-You-Need-Know-Battles/dp/0749015969/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399160682&sr=1-1&keywords=Catherwood+Everything


Churchill's Bomb: A Hidden History of Science, War and Politics
Churchill's Bomb: A Hidden History of Science, War and Politics
by Graham Farmelo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.00

6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graham Farmelo overturns The Two Cultures in this book, 3 Oct. 2013
Lisa Jardine, in her magnificent and wholly favourable review of this book, describes it accurately as "The result is a story as gripping as it is elegantly argued and precise."

This book is all these things! And as the Director of the Science Museum asked people who read it on the train to do so ostentatiously because it is so wonderful a book, I was more than happy to read it so that everyone could see me on the recent train journey that I took.

It is, as the specialist and other reviewers have said, a masterwork, or, perhaps to use a Farmelonian construct, a true "gold standard" work. It gives fascinating and unique insights into Churchill, the creation of the Atomic Bomb, and as the publishers say, truthfully, gives us enthralling new insights into Winston Churchill, his personality, his friendship with HG Wells, and the perhaps unique way in which he, as a humanities trained layman, was able to grasp the importance of science and do so well before the advent of nuclear research itself.

And of course how he dropped the ball during World War II and unwittingly gave the lead on nuclear development to the USA....

All this is told as grippingly and elegantly as Lisa Jardine suggests!

But while other reviewers can concentrate on the details, I think that a more important thing has happened with this book. Graham Farmelo is a leading scientist, writing some of this book at the same Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton where Einstein once studied before him and where some of the world's greatest scientific minds still work today.

This is however also a magnificent work of history - it is very much an interdisciplinary book, a superb piece of historical analysis by a physicist!

I read it on the train to Cambridge, the place where CP Snow coined the phrase the "two cultures", the humanities and the sciences, where never the twain should meet.

Yet in this book they meet and do so with all the effortlessness and gripping prose to which Lisa Jardine refers.

I think that this is an historical landmark book, the nail in the coffin of Snow's division of humanities and scientists, since Farmelo can be understood and enjoyed as much by those with history degrees as those with qualifications in the sciences. The Irish writer Neil Belton has rightly praised Farmelo for the latter's interest in the arts, in poetry, in prose fiction and in using the arts and music to come together with science to create a new synthesis in which Snow's division becomes a thing of the past.

So you don't need a degree in either history or physics to enjoy this book (and as someone has joked, even chemists can understand this book too!)

It is a book to read on the train, at home or on holiday, a work of brilliant prose, historical detection and scientific insight.

And once you have read it buy a copy to give to a friend!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 11, 2014 8:22 PM GMT


Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
by Simon Winder
Edition: Hardcover

43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simon Winder does it again, 16 Sept. 2013
For years I thought that I was the only person who had heard of Schwarzburg-Sonderhausen or Mecklenburg-Gustrow. So Simon Winder's book on Germany was proof that in my fascination with the old Holy Roman Empire I was by no means alone - and the fact that it became a well-deserved bestseller shows that either lots of other people out there prefer 15th century German small towns to getting sun poison on a Mediterranean beach or that Winder's brilliance convinced them that he (and I) were right after all.

Now comes the natural companion volume, on the Habsburg Empire, and it is fully worthy of its predecessor. No one was ever quite as wacky as the Habsburg dynasty, who managed to rule over most of Central Europe for a good 600 years, right down until 1918, and this book, that blends historical research, travellers' tales and the sheer enjoyment of the author, is the idea place to start for anyone who prefers Vienna to St Tropez, or Prague to the Ligurian Coast.

And in fact the book is just fun for anyone who loves accurate but popular history, enjoyable armchair travels and an old fashioned rattling good yarn.

And heard of Lower and Upper Austria? This book tells all you need to know about FURTHER Austria, and with its publication there will now be more than two of us for whom such places will be of total fascination.

Christopher Catherwood (Churchill and St Edmund's Colleges at Cambridge): [...]
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 17, 2013 6:39 PM BST


Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers: A Scotland Street Novel (44 Scotland Street)
Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers: A Scotland Street Novel (44 Scotland Street)
by Alexander McCall Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

10 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anyone who has read the others will LOVE this, 18 July 2013
Anyone who has read the other Scotland Street novels will LOVE this! And all the rich characters about whom we read! I know a lot of you (maybe most) will be reading this for Bertie, but some of us read them for Angus and Domenica, and my favourite character Mathew, with whom I always feel a great sense of affinity (how wonderful that our favourite novelist married him to Miss Harmony!)

And do you read Alexander McCall Smith's other novels? Are you also a Portuguese Irregular Verbs fan? An avid reader of Isabel Dalhousie? Someone who just loves Corduroy Mansions and the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency?

In fact surely ALL McCall Smith's different series are gems. I don't know why some people prefer one series over another since each book in the different series is a joy to read. And of course with summer and the beach coming I am sure we will be identifying again with poor Bertie, marvelling at our other favourite characters in Scotland Street (am I the only one so to enjoy Angus and Domenica - do write your reactions!)?

Being a McCall Smith fan is being part of an international club of unashamedly nice people, who enjoy niceness and being civilised, who share a mutual sense of humour and appreciate life as it ought to be and still can be if you try. Is it pompous to say being a McCall Smith fan is to have a certain lifestyle or world view?

How wonderful!

And you might be interested in what our favourite novelist has been so very kind to say about a book on Cambridge spies that is published on the same date:

The Cuckoos' Nest: Five Hundred Years of Cambridge Spies

"As Christopher Catherwood points out in The Cuckoos' Nest, spy stories - the real ones, that is - seem to have an endless fascination for us. When these stories have a connection with an ancient university and a charming city, then the fascination is all the greater. In this extraordinarily readable book, Catherwood explores the connection between place and intrigue, between a university committed to truth and people committed to dissemblance. The result is an extraordinarily rich narrative."

- Alexander McCall Smith

"Spies, as Christopher Catherwood's entertaining book shows, are a Cambridge tradition. Graduates from most British universities have joined the British intelligence services. Twentieth-century Cambridge, however, provided some of the best recruits for the KGB as well. The Cuckoos' Nest brings their extraordinary careers vividly to life."

- Christopher Andrew, Official Historian of the Security Service (MI5)
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 25, 2013 7:38 PM BST


Evacuees: Growing Up in Wartime Britain
Evacuees: Growing Up in Wartime Britain
by Geoffrey Lee Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book!, 15 July 2013
This is a fabulous book and not just for those of the generation like the Williams twins (and my mother) who survived the Blitz. It is a stirring tale, warmly told, often hilariously funny and truly engaging. People of all ages will love it, the young because they can identify with the characters and the old because this will bring back many memories of wartime. If you want to know how Britain managed to survive the Blitz, you cannot read better than this! And for those studying GCSE it is perfect reading as it shows that people over 75 do remember and with much clarity. The Blitz and British survival in World War II was one of the miracles of modern times and you cannot find a more delightful book to show you why than this one. Buy one for yourself and then a copy for any relative of over 75! And if you are in the latter category, buy one for each of your grandchildren! Dr Christopher Catherwood (aged a mere 58 but whose 80+ parents lived through the Blitz).


Churchill's First War: Young Winston and the Fight Against the Taliban
Churchill's First War: Young Winston and the Fight Against the Taliban
by Con Coughlin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb and timely book, 16 May 2013
This is not only a stand-alone biography of a part of Winston Churchill's life that has not been adequately covered, but a superb book that puts the struggles that he had on the North-West Frontier into the context of the struggle that Britain is facing in 2013 against the Taliban in present-day Afghanistan (and of course Pakistan, from whose present borders Churchill was operating in the days of the Raj).

So a book that will satisfy two kinds of reader: Churchill buffs and also those interested in the region today, one of the tinderbox regions of the 21st century world.

And an excellent example of how decision makers today absolutely must learn the lessons of history, for otherwise we are surely condemned to repeat them.

Christopher Catherwood, author of CHURCHILL'S TREASURES http://www.amazon.co.uk/Churchill-Treasures-Winston-Greatest-Briton/dp/0233003630/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345730389&sr=1-1Churchill: the Treasures of Winston Churchill, the Greatest Briton


C.S Lewis: A Biography Of Friendship
C.S Lewis: A Biography Of Friendship
by Colin Duriez
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book by Colin Duriez is always a gem!, 19 April 2013
A book by Colin Duriez is always a gem! This book proves it, since it shows wonderful theological insights into the mind of CS Lewis as well as evidence of Lewis' gift for friendship. Duriez understands both the real person and also the place that CS Lewis has achieved in the eyes of millions, and that is a rare combination. This book cannot be commended too highly.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 16, 2013 3:47 PM BST


Heart of Darkness: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe (Science Essentials)
Heart of Darkness: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe (Science Essentials)
by Jeremiah P. Ostriker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book, 15 April 2013
I agree with the other review - it is a truly excellent book, one that even someone with a degree in history could understand!

Astronomy is the one cutting edge science to enter the popular imagination, and not just because of Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox, though I imagine that they have helped to create the new interest in cosmology. This book, by a top Princeton scientist and a leading Cambridge science writer, show why we are all becoming astronomy fans these days. I was able to read and enjoy it thoroughly, and while there was some science the overall tenor of the book makes it one for those of us in the humanities to buy and have fun reading.

This is very well worth it! It is a great addition to the Princeton series and one that stands on its own as well.


Elizabeth's Sea Dogs: How England's Mariners Became the Scourge of the Seas
Elizabeth's Sea Dogs: How England's Mariners Became the Scourge of the Seas
by Hugh Bicheno
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive book upon the subject, 14 April 2013
Hugh Bicheno has written the definitive book upon the subject. Like all his books it is an excellent read - exciting even - and he wears his scholarship lightly, though it has been meticulously researched and possesses a unique degree of accuracy upon this subject.

It is also fun! That is unusual for a book of this kind but it is as good as reading a novel, except that it is also true. Anyone who loves Hornblower or the Master and Commanders series will love this work, though it is set many years earlier.

Hugh Bicheno also knows the area about which he is writing well, and this comes over superbly in the book.

The Summer holidays are coming - I can think of no better book to take with you to the beach!


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