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james seeley "bosun" (Dorset)

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Battle of the East Coast (1939-1945)
Battle of the East Coast (1939-1945)
by Julian Paul Foynes
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars excellent account of whole neglected part of war, 2 Nov 2013
This 450-page self-published 1990s book tells the whole story of the sea and air war, and army defences, along the 1939-45 English East Coast. Written from archives, interviews with veterans, and other original research, it steers away from the usual muddled memories and tedious group photos of Home Guard and fire brigades units, and instead concentrates oxplaining what happened and why.
I see a newer edition includes 6 or 7 pages of new info (and the odd correction).

The 70-odd maps and 17 appendices alone give a very good overview of the East Coast war. I'd estimate focus to be about 65% sea war, 20% air, 15% land. The naval war side is certainly strongest--indeed distinctly expert. Copies were bought by members of the RNPS Association. The foreword is by the late Captain Franks RN (good obit in "Daily Telegraph", should you wish to check on his credentials for writing it).

I learn from various websites that the book originally had a good review in "The Naval Review" (readable online?. Also, as I have pointed out before, that 2 authors "borrowed" about 3 chapters without permission a few years ago, made a mess of them, and were rightly sued!

The 200 photos vary a lot in quality--some are very small, token pics, others rather informative and certainly hitherto unpublished.

Much recommended, and only the rather variable photo collection and some other defects in finish stop me giving the full 5 out of 5.


Three Steps to Victory: A Personal Account by Radar's Greatest Pioneer
Three Steps to Victory: A Personal Account by Radar's Greatest Pioneer
by Sir Robert Watson-Watt
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb stuff, 26 Oct 2012
Watson Watt's book must be rated as an unparallelled classic because of his pivotal role in pivotal events, because of his scientific status, and because of its elegant (by today's standards) artificial prose. From his boyhood to the end of the war his own story unfolds along with that of British air defence. His account of life at Bawdsey is more than just a techical history--he captures somde of the romance (not the wrong word) of being there, such as in his descriptions of the idyllic Suffolk setting and even the eleganced of his great steel transmitter towers. Bowen, Lovell, Kinsey, Bragg and others have all written about the subject, but W-W must remain in a class by himself.
The book is expensive, because rare, and certainly deserves a reprint!


The War in the Channel Islands: Then and Now (After the Battle)
The War in the Channel Islands: Then and Now (After the Battle)
by Winston G. Ramsey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 21.31

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars on balance worthwhile, especially for Jersey folk, 30 Aug 2012
Winston G Ramsey, of "After the Battle", was/is a most industrious producer of illustrated books and magazines which attept to summon up the history of famous 2nd World War locations. This 253-page black-and-white, glossy-paper work includes scores of photos of the Channel Islands, mainly setting a wartime shot against one taken for the book in c.1980. Between the photos are texts describing the 1939-45 events and what became of some of the sites postwar.
The book is bound to be of most interest to Channel Islanders. For outsiders, even if they are military historians, it isn't all that fascinating to see numerous 30 year old photos of the Ramsey family and their friends standing alongside bungalows,shops or even car parks which used to be occupied by Germans. There are now better picture books of the abandoned German fortifications and Ramsey's text is somewhat dry and doesn't give us the feel for people and events that we can get from those who lived through the Occupation. Since 1980 such projects as the Jersey War Tunnels have been created, bringing togther ideas and exhibits which are rather randomly scattered through the Ramsey book.
The lighthearted style of some of the photo captions can irritate --"advert for a ciggy", "author forces his son to his knees", etc. Is the book about the contrast between the wartime and peacetime Channel Islands, or the Ramsey family's sense of humour? The author didn't quite make that clear and it is not fitting to find weak jokes in the same chapter as texts about Alderney forced labour camp.
I acquired my copy for 6 in Jersey Market (2nd hand bookshop there recommended), and am glad I did not pay 23 to order a copy through the mail.


Islands in Danger: Story of the German Occupation of the Channel Islands, 1940-45
Islands in Danger: Story of the German Occupation of the Channel Islands, 1940-45
by Alan Seaton-Wood
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars still valid and worthwhile, 30 Aug 2012
Several authors have written about the German occupation of the Channel Islands in the last 20-30 years, as a browse through any island bookshop will reveal. Some of the accounts fill quite bulky and glossy volumes. The Seatons, who wrote this rather cheaply produced little paperback 47 years ago (and republished it in the 1960s and early 70s) still merit special praise, though. They were the first to write a readable and accurate history of the subject, based on a stay in the islands and interviews with many islanders. They give us excellent pen-portraits of the key German and Island leaders. They bring us face to face with the nagging issue of just how generous and chivalrous the Germans were on the one hand, and how cooperative the islanders were on the other. Their theme is that both sides were on the whole rather fine folk, but the reader might want to be more critical.
Certainly a very portable piece of background reading for anyone touring the islands.


No Title Available

1.0 out of 5 stars sham and bogus, 3 July 2012
In the 1970s Paul Lund and Harry Ludlam brought out a good book called "Trawlers Go To War", on the Royal Naval Patrol Service. It was reprinted and has, I think, also now appeared online.
Mr Sutherland and Ms Canwell precised parts of it and copied other longs sections word for word, which in the view of many was legally actionable. They padded out the rest of the book with absurdly long appendices (making up 35% of the whole!) all lifted absolutely straight from websites, and again without permission.
Even the photos were used without their owners'consent.

And not only is the result unethical, but pretty dreary too.
No one should spend 47 for this dubious book.
Other reviewers have slated the version which costs 20, anyway (so why the 47?)
Please check if in doubt. This sort of rip-off needs exposing.


The Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland
by Jon Sutherland
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars mediocre ansd derivative, 3 July 2012
This review is from: The Battle of Jutland (Hardcover)
I am unimpressed by these authors for several reasons.

For one thing they have written several books a month in recent years, on every subject under the sun, including science, history, business, travel and cooking, and not to mention witches, ghosts, football and pharoahs.
They are, I see, former childrens' authors.

So, for starters, this book is a hack work, which takes better books, written by historians and naval experts, and rehashes them. Because of their lack of knowledge and genuine research, the resulting text is shaky and superficial.

Instead I'd recommend Bennett, the 1960s Batsford series, or the relevant vol. in Marder.
One other weakness was the absence of charts and the poor, grey, photos, which are all clearly reproduced from old magazines.
Though this "Jutland" looks OK at first sight, even the general reader would be must better off starting somewhere else.


The RAF Air Sea Rescue Service 1918-1986
The RAF Air Sea Rescue Service 1918-1986
by Jon Sutherland
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a mixed bag with disappointments, 3 July 2012
The RAF Air Sea Rescue Service operated in three oceans and several seas,but, of course, principally in the North Sea and English Channel, off the German-held Continent. This book has some data and narrative on ops in the Mediterranean between 1941 and 1943, but it is very thin (and rather poorly informed) as to those off the coast of England. There is no coherent attempt to describe the work of most of the marine craft units and bases there, and very few "home" rescue ops are given. The testimony of rescued airmen, or official reports giving praise or censure, are again largely absent. Another disappointment is the photographs (small and grey) and the absence of maps or charts.
There isn't too much excuse for these shortcomings, because the records of most A/SR units, and a good collection of RAF photos, have been available to researchers in London since the 1970s, and this book was written only a few years ago.


Special Forces Vehicles (Images of War)
Special Forces Vehicles (Images of War)
by Pat Ware
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.78

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars more inferior stuff, 30 Jun 2012
I am at a loss to understand what Pen & Sword are up to these days.

This "Images" series in particular is full of books which are based on very limited research, and, as the other reviewer says, just consist of badly written and inexpert texts and captions put round photos which you can already see on the Web and in other books.
The philosophy seems to be "Special Forces have been in the news a lot in recent years. Illustrated books sell better than ones with long texts. So let's bring out a photo book on Special Forces. Where do we get the content? Download other people's images. Get some one to chuck in a few words. Print and sell it before anyone criticises".

I see this series in libraries and because I help edit review publications. But there are few that I'd buy!


Armoured Warfare in the North African Campaign (Images of War)
Armoured Warfare in the North African Campaign (Images of War)
by Anthony Tucker-Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.56

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars another poor effort in a poor series, 30 Jun 2012
I agree with Andy that the text is awful--both poorly written and prone to inaccuracy.
Having checked several recent books in this series and by these authors I think I see a pattern, which I find offputting and also annoying. The authors shove in a clutch of photos from any source, without thought for quality, relevance, or avoiding repetition.
They (or Pen & Sword) get the thing into print without putting in the research or editing. And the result is superficially quite glossy but on proper study turns out to be superficial.

Pen & Sword have let standards drop with books of this type, produced by authors who seem not to be proper research historians, or military veterans, or specialised enthusiasts--or anything else that would make one take them seriously!


The Zulu Kings and Their Armies
The Zulu Kings and Their Armies
by Jonathan Sutherland
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 3rd rate and inexpert. Summarising better authors inaccurately., 30 Jun 2012
Must disagree with other review.

The book is superficially OK in sense it's more or less readable and has a varied set of pictures.
But it is full of inaccuracies and where it is correct the text, photo or other content has, I fear, been taken "neat" out of other, much better books without acknowleldgment. Elsewhere it's littered with clumsy factual errors which no one with any grasp of the subject would make.
The authors are not genuine historians in spite of publishing dozens of war history books.
It is amusing, but also in a way depressing, to google what they have published. I can see 200 titles listed over about 15 years, and 50 in the last 5. They include fantasy football, farming, cooking, kids' fiction and witches.
This is not a genuine history of the Zulus.
You might like to google websites about the subject and check out these authors. On most they are ignored, on some others there is negative comment.

The same goes for some of their other work, especially from the last 3-4 years.

JS


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