Profile for C. E. Utley > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by C. E. Utley
Top Reviewer Ranking: 535
Helpful Votes: 1240

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
C. E. Utley "Charles Utley" (London, UK)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-13
pixel
Widows & Orphans
Widows & Orphans
Price: £5.39

5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Novel, 5 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Widows & Orphans (Kindle Edition)
Francombe, a seaside resort on the south coast of England, is in decline. As if to reinforce the point, the pier goes up in flames at the beginning of this glorious novel. For many years that great champion of Francombe, the editor and proprietor of the Mercury, the local newspaper, (Duncan Neville) has battled to persuade the council to bring the pier back to its former glory. But money is short, and the Weedons, local property developers of the worst sort (one of whom is now married to Duncan's former wife), have been allowed to buy it. They do not seem distressed at the fire. Indeed, their plans for turning the site into an adult entertainment complex with a sex museum at its heart may even be assisted by the disaster.

And the Mercury itself, founded by Duncan's great-great-grandfather, is clearly on its last legs as the digital revolution reigns supreme. But Duncan's widowed mother, a wonderful character, is quite unable to accept that the great days of the past are now over.

And what about Duncan's own personal life? His wife, Linda, has left him for a Weedon. His thirteen-year-old son, Jamie (who lives with Linda), is deeply embarrassed by his father and infatuated by his step-brother, the awful sixteen-year-old Craig. Then on to the scene comes Ellen, a speech and language therapist who has moved to Francombe after her previously highly successful husband has been imprisoned for five years for fraud. Ellen's daughter, Sue, who quickly becomes Craig's girlfriend, and Ellen's son, Neil, who is Jamie's age, have also come to Francombe. Ellen and Duncan are immediately attracted to each other, but can anything come of it while all these frightful teenagers are ruling the roost? And Ellen's mother, Barbara, an elderly hippy, is hardly making things easy.

There are other beautifully drawn characters. Chris, Duncan's mother's gay cook, and Henry, the tortured anglican vicar (who is also gay) immediately come to mind.

Not a great deal happens. Don't read this novel if you yearn for murders and endless sex. But, if you enjoy well-written prose, humour and magnificently realistic characters this is the book for you.

Charles


Emma
Emma
Price: £9.02

4.0 out of 5 stars Rather Good Fun, 27 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Emma (Kindle Edition)
I gather, from other reviews, that this is a part of a series of modern takes on Jane Austen's novels. I fear I haven't read the others. But I decided to read this one because I am an admirer of McCall Smith. I thought I wouldn't review it until I had re-read the original. That was a delight. I am in my 60s and had not read Emma since I was about 14. Reading it again was an enormous pleasure.

On the whole, I think McCall Smith has done rather well. I was amused to read another review which was very critical of McCall Smith's effort on the grounds that it was not faithful to the original. But, of course, it would be impossible to be faithful to the original without being ludicrous. Young men and women in their twenties in the 21st century would not think it the end of the world if they were spotted walking together without others being present. The assumption that a young woman of good breeding (a concept which is itself alien to the modern world) must either marry or, if she is poor, become a governess doesn't really work in 2015. Regrettable though it is, many young people these days even live together before marrying.

McCall Smith decided to start the story much earlier than Jane Austen did. We begin with the arrival in the Woodhouse household of Miss Taylor (in the original, of course, Miss Taylor has already become Mrs Weston). She is to be a sort of companion and governess to Isabella and Emma, Mr Woodhouse's very young daughters. We follow Miss Taylor's excellent work over many years. We see the two girls developing in different ways. They go to the same school, but Isabella, as she becomes a late teenager, is desperate to get away from Norfolk (another change since the original is set in Surrey) to enjoy the delights of London. Her father decides she had better be married off. His plan is to get her photographed. The picture should appear in Country Life. That will lead to the right man coming forward. He remembers that his neighbour, Mr Knightley, has a younger brother, John, who is a photographer in London. John agrees to photograph Isabella. And then, lo and behold, John and Isabella become an item. They get married and settle in London.

Meanwhile, a romance is blossoming between Miss Taylor and Mr Weston. Miss Taylor moves out to cohabit with Mr Weston. He has a son who has been brought up by his sister-in-law and her husband (Mr and Mrs Churchill). They live in Australia. The son, Frank, is due to pay a visit to his father. At about the same time, Jane Fairfax, an extraordinarily talented girl of Emma's age, has come to stay with her aunt and grandmother (Miss and Mrs Bates). They live in greatly reduced circumstances since their fortunes were lost following a disaster in the insurance market (both were names at Lloyds). Emma becomes friends with Harriet Smith. a girl who is working at a school for teaching English as a foreign language based on a disused airfield and run by Mrs Goddard. Harriet is rather keen on a young man who works at his parents' hotel (or B & B as Emma insists on describing it). Emma thinks Harriet can do better. She reckons the non-stipendiary Vicar, Mr Elton, would be a better catch, if only for a year or two. Mr Knightley disagrees.

I think you can guess the rest (though perhaps not the part Mrs Goddard plays at the end). The book is amusing and entirely readable even though the reader, obviously, knows what is going to happen.

Charles


Mightier than the Sword (Clifton Chronicles Book 5)
Mightier than the Sword (Clifton Chronicles Book 5)
Price: £7.64

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Gripping, though Preposterous, Story from Archer., 27 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the fifth novel in a series which was originally meant to be a trilogy. But don't think the story of the Clifton and Barrington families is now over. Number six is due to be published next year. My guess is, since we have only reached 1970 so far, that there will be several more after the sixth.

Let me say at the outset that, in true Archer style, this is a thoroughly gripping yarn (as you can tell from the fact that I started reading it yesterday on the bus to work and finished it this morning on the same journey). The story is, as we have come to expect from this series, mostly absolutely preposterous. But that doesn't stop the reader desperately turning the pages to see what happens next. I trust that nothing I now say will put off readers in search of true escapism. They, like me, will find it impossible to stop reading until the last page is reached.

But, as always with Archer, one comes away from the book thinking how much better it could have been done. His writing style has not improved over the years. The prose remains wooden. The characters, and this has been true throughout the series, are all either saints or demons. No one recognisable as a real human being is to be found here. And there are the usual tiresome snippets of historical or literary information thrown in for no apparent reason other than to demonstrate the author's wide knowledge and culture.

Then there are the glaring errors. Let us take the libel trial. As some of you may know, Archer himself is no stranger to the libel courts in England. It is therefore unforgivable that he should make so many extraordinary blunders when describing a libel trial in Court 14 of the Royal Courts of Justice. The client is certainly not permitted to sit in the row reserved for QCs next to her advocate. The judge would never wear a full bottomed wig for a trial (they are reserved for occasions such as the state opening of Parliament). The witnesses would not, when taking the oath, conclude by saying (as I believe Americans may do) "so help me God". QCs specialising in the law of defamation would never get so muddled between the defences of justification and fair comment. Archer should have known all that, but so should his editor. Each error could easily have been corrected before publication. It was sloppy that that was not done.

But, as I said at the outset, the story, despite all the faults, despite its wholly incredible nature, continues to grip the reader. And, once again, we end with a cliff hanger (actually more than one). Another year will pass before we know what happens. And maybe we will have to wait even longer, for numbers seven, eight or nine, before all the loose ends are satisfactorily tied up.

Charles

P.S. I should apologise for one of my criticisms (in an earlier review) of part 4 of this series. I pointed out that Archer had referred to the Queen Mother as "HRH", rather than "HM". A year later, in this the fifth book, we discover the error was deliberate.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 27, 2015 7:11 PM GMT


My History: A Memoir of Growing Up
My History: A Memoir of Growing Up
Price: £9.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Could Have Been Much Better, 8 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It seems awfully rude to say so, but this is a slightly disappointing book. I kept thinking, as I read it, that there was a lot which could have been said, but wasn't. It must be very difficult to write an autobiography of this sort without losing the readers' attention. Lady Antonia has taken the easy way out: she has written an account of her early life which gives the impression (obviously false) that, apart from the regulation inspirational teacher, she never met anyone who was not famous. And she is far too keen on telling us how enormously clever she has always been. We are even assured that she was the cleverest four-year-old who ever lived (because that was when she started reading history).

But there are some gems in this book. I loved the anecdote about her parents, just after they got married. They had very little money (an annual income of £1,000 - worth only £50,000 in modern money). They set up home in a cottage on their own. Elizabeth, the future Lady Longford, asked her husband how they would wake up in the morning. Frank, the future Lord Longford, said that, surely, "they" would bring them a cup of tea. Elizabeth had to explain to him that there was no "they". There were no servants. And then there was the story about Longford walking with the Duke of Norfolk (premier Catholic layman) down a corridor in the House of Lords. The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster approached them. Longford, who had recently become a Catholic, fell to his knees and attempted to kiss the Cardinal's ring. The Duke of Norfolk looked down at him and said "bloody converts".

But it is stories like those which lead me to wish Lady Antonia had tried a bit harder with this account of her early life. And it really would have been quite nice of her to acknowledge, as must have been the case, that she was sometimes influenced by people who were not famous.

Never mind, this is an amusing read. I don't want to put you off buying it.

Charles


Curtain Call
Curtain Call
Price: £8.75

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in Parts, 6 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Curtain Call (Kindle Edition)
It is 1936. Stephen Wyley, married society portraitist, and Nina Land, accomplished West End actress, have had a pleasantly steamy time in a hotel bedroom. They find they have no cigarettes. Nina sets off for the hotel bar to get some. On her way she passes room 408. She hears cries from within. She knocks, then enters. A man is trying to strangle a young woman. The young woman escapes. It soon becomes apparent that the man was the notorious "Tie-Pin Murderer". Stephen is determined that his presence in the hotel with his glamorous mistress should not be revealed, but Nina can describe the murderer. Something must be done.

Stephen, under Nina's direction, draws a picture of the villain. She must take it to the police, claiming she drew it and denying she was with anyone else in the hotel. So the scene is set for the detective part of this story.

But there is a lot more to this novel than that detective story. There is Jimmy Erskine, the acerbic homosexual theatre critic. There is Tom, his long-suffering heterosexual secretary who falls for the prostitute who was the intended victim of the vile murderer. There is Laszlo, the Hungarian Jew who had been a musical prodigy but who has now fallen on hard times. There is Gerald Carmody, a former Labour MP who is now a prominent fascist. There is even William Joyce (later known as Lord Haw-Haw).

I can't put my finger on it, but there is something about this generally very amusing novel which doesn't quite work. It may be the rather laboured references to current affairs (Joyce doesn't really fit in and the abdication crisis feels as though it only appears in order to demonstrate the period in which the story is set). There is the, fortunately entirely isolated, description of Jimmy's disgusting behaviour in the establishment he visits in order to consort with young men. Perhaps it is just that the book seems a bit too long.

All that said, this is a good read. It is not a great novel, but it is one which is worth reading.

I hope you enjoy it.


As the Crow Flies (The DI Nick Dixon Crime Series Book 1)
As the Crow Flies (The DI Nick Dixon Crime Series Book 1)
Price: £3.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Promising Start, 6 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was a pleasant and easy read.

Detective Inspector Dixon, a graduate entry police officer, has moved from the Metropolitan Police to the Avon and Somerset force. He is now based in Bridgwater. He is in charge of an investigation of a series of burglaries of houses whose owners have recently died. The oddity about the burglaries is that only documents are stolen, nothing else. It seems that the burglars are specialists in identity theft. While that investigation is under way Dixon learns that his former climbing partner, Jake Fayter, has died in a fall from a rock he was climbing. Everyone assumes it was an accident, but Dixon is suspicious. So the scene is set for the story.

I mustn't spoil it for you. I will say no more about what happens. It is enough to say that all unfolds in a fairly satisfactory way. True, there are some holes in the plot, and the intelligent reader identifies the villain long before Dixon does. But this is a first novel and detective stories are notoriously difficult to plot.

It is to be hoped that the characters of the other police officers are developed in the later novels (several seem to have been published at the same time as this one). At the moment, Dixon's colleagues are what one might call "cardboard". We are assured, for instance, that Dixon's immediate superior (Chief Inspector Lewis) is not much liked by our hero. But there seems to be no adequate reason for that. Lewis comes across as an extraordinarily decent and helpful superior, and yet we are required to believe that Dixon can't stand him. Then there is Jane, the bright DC. Could Jane and Dixon hit it off? It seems so, but then nothing happens.

It will be interesting to see whether Mr Boyd's later Dixon novels improve on this one. I will certainly give them a try.

Charles
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 27, 2015 7:17 PM GMT


The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
Price: £6.02

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A promising author who will do much better next time, 1 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Paula Hawkins definitely has a future as a writer of thrillers. She has a natural talent for keeping the reader's attention. The story starts with Rachel's fantasies about the couple she has decided to name Jess and Jason outside whose house her train stops, at a signal, every day. Those fantasies are about the only vaguely humorous parts of what, it does have to be said, is a relentlessly gloomy novel. Gradually, we learn that Rachel is an alcoholic whose recent life has been miserable. Her husband, Tom, has left her for Anna. Tom and Anna live in Rachel's former matrimonial home, a few doors away from "Jess" and "Jason". But Rachel can't bring herself to look at Tom's house. She has eyes only for Jess and Jason. Then, one day, she sees something startling in the garden of Jess and Jason's house. Later, when the newspapers report that someone has gone missing, Rachel decides to investigate. I mustn't say more about the plot.

The reader works out who the villain of the piece is long before Rachel does, but that doesn't matter. The opposite. Our knowledge of what happened keeps up our great sympathy for Rachel. We long for her to see the truth that we have seen ages ago, and we dread the mistakes she may make as she continues her, sometimes, drunken investigation.

This is a book which is bound to do well. The current fashion for deep gloom in fiction will guarantee the novel high sales. But I think it has more than that. Ms Hawkins has demonstrated an ability to tell a story which is truly remarkable. But she does need to learn about humour. I don't think there is any great novel which does not have its light moments. This book, sadly, is very short of them. My bet is that, should Ms Hawkins lighten up a bit, she will become one of the best novelists of the 21st century.

For the moment, however, this is not a book which could get more than three stars.

Charles


Lonesome Road (Miss Silver Mystery Book 3)
Lonesome Road (Miss Silver Mystery Book 3)
Price: £4.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Vast Improvement on Grey Mask, 2 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A couple of days ago I read the first of the Miss Silver books (Grey Mask). I found it a pleasant, light read, though it seemed to me that Miss Silver's character had not been developed at all. I resolved to read another, to see whether Miss Silver ever came into herself. I decided against the second in the series (Amazon reviews were not terribly glowing and they tended to complain that Miss Silver hardly appeared at all). I went for this book, the third. It was an excellent decision.

Miss Rachel Treherne, aged thirty-eight, has an awful burden. Her millionaire father left her his entire fortune, passing over her older sister. On his death bed he gave her unusual instructions as to what she was to do with the money. In particular, she was constantly to keep under review the question of which members of the family should benefit on her own death. She was to change her will once a year to take account of how her relations had been behaving.

Miss Treherne is a naturally generous woman. Her large country house is often occupied by her relations, most of whom are in need of money. She does her best for them, but she doesn't feel at liberty, in view of her father's death bed instructions, to give them the large sums of money that most think they deserve.

Miss Treherne becomes frightened. She has received anonymous letters threatening her life. And then, to her horror, attempts are actually made. She decides to visit Miss Silver, a retired governess who has become a private investigator. Miss Silver agrees to help. She is to be a house guest in Miss Treherne's house.

It would be wrong of me to say much more. Suffice it to say that there is no shortage of action. There seems to be evidence potentially incriminating all Miss Treherne's relations. But which, if any, is the one who is trying to kill her? We are kept guessing (usually wrongly) right to the end.

Miss Silver has come into her own in this book. I note it was written (in 1939) ten years after the first. Perhaps Patricia Wentworth needed the time to mature as a writer. I don't know, but I have no hesitation is saying that Lonesome Road is much better than Grey Mask. I will certainly read more of the Miss Silver books.

Charles


Grey Mask (Miss Silver Mystery Book 1)
Grey Mask (Miss Silver Mystery Book 1)
Price: £4.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, 1 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
How embarrassing that I had never heard of Patricia Wentworth until stumbling across this delightful book.

It is, I think, about 1928. Charles Moray has returned from his four years of foreign travel, He left England after his fiancee, Margaret Langton, cancelled their wedding a week before it was due to take place, without giving any reason. He goes to his London house, without announcing his arrival. The door is open. The servants are out. He tiptoes in and comes across a strange and disturbing scene. A man in a grey mask seems to be holding court. The men who come and go are addressed by numbers, not by names. A dastardly crime seems to be being plotted. Charles plans how to capture the crooks. But then, to his horror, he sees a woman, with a number, approach Grey Mask. She hands over a package. He can't hear what she says. But he knows, instantly, that she is Margaret Langton. His plans must be abandoned. He can't possibly go to the police. He must act alone.

But Charles is not entirely alone. He goes to a private investigator, Miss Silver. He doesn't tell her all, but Miss Silver quickly works it out. Quite how she does so (and this I suppose is the story's weakness) is never apparent. We just come across her every now and again, in her office, knitting and telling Charles all sorts of startling facts.

Miss Silver is no Miss Marple. Maybe she acquires a real character in later books (I shall certainly read them), but, in this one, she is entirely cardboard. Others, however, are great fun. Margot Standing, the eighteen year-old heiress who seems to be the criminals' target is gloriously silly and fun. Freddy, Margaret's step father, is splendidly vague and amusing. Archie, constantly misquoting Shakespeare, is almost certainly much brighter than he wants people to believe.

Anyone who enjoys light English literature from the inter-war years will love this book.

Charles


The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History
The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History
Price: £9.49

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Churchill Did Make a Difference, 29 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Boris Johnson tells us, at the beginning of this charming portrait of Churchill, that he was one year-old when the great man died. Like every other child of his generation, he was brought up on endless stories of Churchill. He confesses to a feeling of pride that he and Winston were alive together for that one year. I understand that pride. I am a little older than Johnson. I was 12 when Churchill died. He was Prime Minister for the first three years of my life. There is no rational reason for my being proud of that fact. But I am, and always have been.

Churchill's death, of course, impressed me enormously. I remember it as though it were yesterday. I was alone at home in the Berkshire village where we then lived. The door bell rang. The Vicar was there. He asked if my father was in. I told him he wasn't, and that my mother was out shopping. I asked if I could help. He explained that he had just heard of the death of Sir Winston Churchill, and he didn't know whether he should lower the flag over the church to half-mast. I had no hesitation in telling him he should. I am pleased to report that he took my advice, and that my father later confirmed to me that it was obviously correct.

Then, I suppose it must have been a few days later, I was given the day off school to go to London with my mother to file past the coffin in Westminster Hall. I remember it was raining and cold. We queued for some hours. There were all sorts of people in that queue. Many of them, as one would expect, were (to my eyes) elderly. They had lived through the war. They had every reason to mourn the death of the man who had led them to victory. But there were plenty of younger people there (I was certainly not the only child). And it was not only those elderly people who were fighting back the tears. All of us were immensely moved by the passing of an undoubtedly great man. When we finally got into Westminster Hall and walked slowly past the coffin, with the guardsmen standing motionless, presenting arms, I think I felt tears coming to my own eyes. I certainly knew that I was saying goodbye to a truly great man.

As my mother and I were about to leave Westminster Hall a man walked in, through a side door. He saw us and came over to speak to us. He was an MP, and an old family friend. "You should have told me you were coming," he said, "I could have got you in without all that queuing". My instant thought, I swear this is true, is that I would have hated not to have been in the queue. Waiting in the rain for hours on end to walk past the coffin of the greatest Englishman was plainly a more fitting tribute to him than waltzing in through a side entrance with an MP would have been.

Please forgive the anecdote. I only give it in order to explain why I understand entirely where Boris Johnson is coming from. I may be a bit older than he is, but we are really the same generation when it comes to Churchill. We both lapped up stories about him throughout our childhoods. We worshipped him as the man who did more than anyone else to save our country, and the whole free world, from tyranny. And it comes as a shock to both of us to discover that there is a new generation which seems to know little or nothing about the man we were brought up to believe was greater than almost any other who ever lived.

Not only is there widespread ignorance of what Churchill did (Johnson tells us that a recent survey revealed that most British children thought Churchill was a dog used in an advertisement for an insurance company), but, inevitably, a new breed of historians has grown up which is determined to re-write history. They tell us Churchill was evil. He was a warmonger who refused to allow Britain to negotiate a settlement with Hitler which would have prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people throughout Europe. And anyway, they say (slightly illogically), Churchill had no impact on events: all would have been the same if he had never been there. To them, Churchill was no more than a grossly politically incorrect member of the aristocracy who had no right to be Prime Minister in a modern democracy.

All that brings us to Johnson's purpose in writing this book. One thing he did not set out to do was to write a major biography of Churchill. As he points out, there are countless such books already written. No, what he wanted to do was to provide a new generation with a thoroughly readable account of why Churchill was so important and to answer those modern critics who say he made no difference to modern history.

It seems to me that Johnson has succeeded in both his aims. He has written a book which is extraordinarily readable (I bought it yesterday and finished reading it today). The style is glorious, as we have come to expect from the author. I see one newspaper review described it as "fizzing". I can't improve on that. It really is very difficult to put the book down. There is not a single dull page. Even the most dreary modern teenager, addicted to his portable telephone, would be bound to be gripped by the amazing story Johnson has to tell. And that teenager may even be prepared to read the book when he is told how his teachers would disapprove of him reading about a great man who spent almost every waking minute drinking alcohol and smoking cigars!

What about the other aim? Johnson succeeds again. There will be those who quarrel, on reasonable grounds, with his "fiasco factor" and Churchill factor" assessments (he gives points for each in relation to the mistakes Churchill is said to have made). But that isn't important. His main, and best, point is that, without Churchill, we would have caved in in 1940. And, if we had done so, we would have become a puppet in Hitler's hand. Here Johnson takes on those modern historians who reckon we would have been better off doing a deal with Hitler than winning the war.

This needs to be taken in two parts. First, did Churchill make any difference? Second, if he did, was his influence malign?

Johnson's argument that Churchill did make a difference is, it seems to me, almost unanswerable. There was, as France crumbled in 1940, a strong movement in British politics in favour of negotiation with Hitler. It is well known that Halifax and Chamberlain were both inclined to negotiate. It looked very much as though the war cabinet would support them. It was only Churchill's insistence on calling a full cabinet meeting and his impassioned speech to that meeting which led Halifax to back down. I agree with Johnson that, if Churchill had not been there, the probability must be that Britain would have opened negotiations with Hitler in the Summer of 1940. He did make a profound difference to history.

But would we have been better off making a pact with Hitler? This is where I part company with the revisionists in a big way. They, even speaking with hindsight, with full knowledge of the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany, say Churchill was wrong to fight. Hitler, they contend, would have allowed a neutral Britain to remain free while he embarked on conquering the whole of the continent and overthrowing Russia. Hundreds of thousands of British soldiers and civilians who lost their lives in the war would have lived. And then, when Hitler ruled all of the continent, he would have been happy for Britain to govern herself. I am with Johnson on that. It is first rate poppycock. If we had not had Churchill and Halifax had given in to Hitler Britain would for ever have been a puppet state of the Third Reich.

There may be arguments as to whether things would have been different if Churchill had been removed in 1941, once the decision to fight had been made and before America joined the war. It is certainly possible, I accept, that Churchill's influence was not vital then (though we would have been deprived of some glorious oratory). But I am convinced that Johnson is right to say that the free world owes its salvation to Churchill's stand in 1940.

I do hope this book will reach its target audience, those youngsters who know almost nothing about Churchill. But I also have no hesitation in commending it to people as ancient as I am.

Charles

P.S. I hate to ruin a good story, but Nicholas Soames's anecdote, recorded towards the end of the book, about the Ministry of Defence cleaner is not quite true. I have studied the 1945 resignation honours list. No Dames of the British Empire were appointed in that list.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-13