Profile for William D. Freeman > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by William D. Freeman
Top Reviewer Ranking: 22,402
Helpful Votes: 410

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
William D. Freeman "wdavidfreeman" (Southern California)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
pixel
Blinker Hall Spymaster
Blinker Hall Spymaster
by David Ramsay
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great combination of adventure and history!, 20 July 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Blinker Hall Spymaster (Paperback)
The nature of espionage is such that it usually takes many years for all of the facts of an event to be known if ever. Nine decades after the First World War, David Ramsay has put together what is the most up-to-date and probably last word on the story of the Zimmerman Telegram, the astonishing German government proposal that drew the United States into the war. The key man in this important chapter of history was Admiral Sir Reginald "Blinker" Hall who must surely rank as one of the great spymasters of history.

Hall, whose excessive blinking due to an eye condition provided him his moniker, became Britain's Director of Naval Intelligence at the start of the war. His Room 40 operation in the Admiralty succeeded in capturing or breaking both the German naval and diplomatic codes providing priceless intelligence for the Allies. This "biography" is in fact a full history of how these achievements came about and how the material was put to use sometimes successfully, sometimes not. It all makes for exciting reading while covering many of the most crucial aspects of the war.

The book abounds with a host of colourful characters from astute diplomats to incredibly obtuse diplomats. There are swashbuckling businessmen, Mexican revolutionaries, anthrax-wielding German agents and a supercilious British naval officer who managed to lose the Battle of Jutland before it ever started. There is a quitessentially eccentric English don-turned-cryptanalyst who believed he worked best from his bath, proceeded to appropriate the one room in the Admiralty that had a bath and then married the secretary who worked with him in his "office" all the while decyphering coded German messages.

Through the war Hall interacted directly with such grandees as Churchill, Balfour and Admirals Fisher, Beatty and Jellicoe. Hall also did more than just see to it that codes were captured or cracked, he ran agents who put the information to use by capturing vital shipments of war supplies to Germany or luring U-Boats to their demise. Hall also knew how to use disinformation to cover his tracks and sources.

At the center of the story is Blinker's careful managing of the most astounding piece of information ever intercepted by the British during the conflict: the Zimmerman Telegram, Germany's astonishing offer to support Mexico in a war against the United States. Hall's patient management of this nugget, helped to draw the U.S. into the war, keep Mexico out and preclude the Japanese from switching sides.

Room 40 proved to be the prototypte for Bletchley Park in the Second World War and the gargantuan U.S. National Security Agency of today. Author David Ramsay has a commanding knowledge of the people who pioneered this field of work. Anyone with an interest in espionage, naval history or the First World War should enjoy this book.


Winston Churchill: The Flawed Genius of WWII
Winston Churchill: The Flawed Genius of WWII
by Christopher Catherwood
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful, 3 July 2009
Catherwood's thesis may be summed up as follows: The D-Day landings would have been much easier to carry out if only everyone had had less time to prepare for them. It was due to Churchill that they did not.

Suffice it to say the author never attempts to show that the planning, logistical and industrial support as well as the military operational readiness necessary for a successful invasion could have existed more than a year earlier than was the case.

Instead of providing such evidence the author rehashes subjects that have been examined many times before by much better historians and have nothing to do with proving his thesis. Repetitious and poorly written with many irrelevant observations, the book simply is not worth anyone's time.


Carrying the Songs
Carrying the Songs
by Moya Cannon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.14

5.0 out of 5 stars First Rate Irish Poetry, 28 Jun 2009
This review is from: Carrying the Songs (Paperback)
I purchased this book on a recent visit to Galway, which is where Moya Cannon now lives. Over a slow pint of Guinness in a hotel pub--the waitress remarking on how long I was taking to finish my first--I read this collection cover-to-cover completely absorbed by Cannon's verse.

I especially like "Forgetting Tulips" but multiple readings of the book will undoubtedly produce varying favorites--the test of a first-rate collection.

If you want to experience "what's going" in contemporary Irish poetry beyond just Seamus Heaney, this is a good place to start.


Kenny's Choice
Kenny's Choice
by Des Kenny
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Booklover's Delight, 22 Mar 2009
This review is from: Kenny's Choice (Paperback)
Desi Kenny, a second generation member of the legendary family of Galway booksellers, presents here his own choice of essential reading in modern Irish letters. The selection is eclectic, personal and idiosyncratic. He includes fiction and non-fiction in both English and Gaelic: histories, novels, plays and poetry from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Each of the 101 selections is described in a separate entry that tells you something about the book, the author(s) and the sixty-odd year history of Kenny's Bookstore. Entries for Irish-language books are written in Gaelic, but by far most of the text is in English.

Booklovers will enjoy appreciations of titles that they have read and introductions to books that they will immediately want to read. If you enjoy wandering about bookstores, you will enjoy this guided tour given by a fellow enthusiast.


The Corfu Trilogy
The Corfu Trilogy
by Gerald Durrell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars St. Spiridion!, 11 Feb 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Corfu Trilogy (Paperback)
At last all three books in one volume including the otherwise out-of-print Garden of the Gods. This is an excellent gift for the uninitiated or a convenient way of having the entire series available for yourself.


Winston Churchill (Very Interesting People)
Winston Churchill (Very Interesting People)
by Paul Addison
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Short Churchill Biography Ever, 22 Jan 2009
This is the text of the entry that Prof. Addison wrote for the new Dictionary of National Biography. It has rightly been hailed as a miniature masterpiece. It is perfect for anyone seeking a good, basic introduction to the life of Winston Churchill.


Churchill's Crusade: The British Invasion of Russia, 1918-1920
Churchill's Crusade: The British Invasion of Russia, 1918-1920
by Clifford Kinvig
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.14

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Major Work of History, 22 Jan 2009
It's hard to believe that no one has reviewed this book here since it was first published in 2006. This is a major achievement that tells a little-remembered chapter in British history when just after the end of the First World War, Winston Churchill tried to use British forces to "strangle Bolshevism in its cradle".

Kinvig, a retired Major General, has done a tremendous amount of research to tell the sorry story from start to finish. It emerges that Churchill attempted to do too much with too little while obviously lacking the necessary political backing. After the Armistice, people were exhausted from warfare. Churchill also lacked a proper understanding of the situation in war-weary and revolutionary Russia. The results of his efforts were counter-productive.

Bolshevism proved to be the great evil that Churchill forsaw, but after the First World War all the Russian people could see was the disaster that the incompetence, corruption and callousness of the tsarist regime bequeathed. In a solid and detailed narrative, Kinvig shows how the crusade was doomed from the start.


In Other Words
In Other Words
by John Mortimer
Edition: Hardcover

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His Last Bow?, 5 Jan 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: In Other Words (Hardcover)
I waited some time before buying this book from Amazon in order to see if Sir John would be doing any signings, but alas it appears he may now be too old for such tasks. The text, as I explain below, is not even recent. All of this leads me to fear that this may be the old raconteur's last book.

As it is, this books sets down in print the material that Mortimer used in his live-performance program known as "Mortimer's Miscelleny". Most of this book, then, will already be familliar to those who have seen the show in its various incarnations or who are already familliar with Mortimer's other books of reminiscences.

This book is quite small and short, just 112pages. Indeed, not all of the material is even Mortimer's as he includes a number of poems by favorite writers. Still five stars for one of my own favorite writers if indeed this proves to be his last bow.

The price is very reasonable as Amazaon have already dropped it just since I purchased the book before Christmas.

ADDENDUM: (16 Jan. 2009) Alas, we learn today of the great man's passing.


Stephen Fry in America
Stephen Fry in America
by Stephen Fry
Edition: Hardcover

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine milshake of a book: smooth, creamy and satisfying, 28 Oct 2008
This review is from: Stephen Fry in America (Hardcover)
Facing the Introduction to this book is a picture of a satisfied "Steve" (Fry's American alter-ego) enjoying a strawberry milkshake in a typical American diner. This sets the tone for what follows.

Fry's Great American Journey is both idiosyncratic and insightful. He present's the country as he finds it: take it or leave it. You be the judge. No doubt some will be disappointed by what is not included, but that is part of the nature of the USA that Fry tries to convey: it is too large and eclectic for anyone (even natives like myself) to get to know all it.

The United States is a giant grab-bag of a nation. Everytime you dip into it you pull out something different: strange, new, old, delightful, appaling or simply intriguing. You cannot stereotype a nation of 300 million people descended from the scrambled cultures of the world and spread over thousands of miles of varying terrain. To his great credit "Stephen" Fry does not attempt to do so. Here is one celebrity travelogue worth reading.


Blinker Hall, Spymaster: The Man who Brought America into World War I
Blinker Hall, Spymaster: The Man who Brought America into World War I
by David Ramsay
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great combination of adventure and history!, 21 July 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The nature of espionage is such that it usually takes many years for all of the facts of an event to be known. Nine decades after the First World War, David Ramsay has put together what is the most up-to-date and probably last word on the story of the Zimmerman Telegram, the astonishing German government proposal that drew the United States into the war. The key man in this important chapter of history was Admiral Sir Reginald "Blinker" Hall who must surely rank as one of the great spymasters of history.

Hall, whose excessive blinking due to an eye condition provided him his moniker, became Britain's Director of Naval Intelligence at the start of the war. His Room 40 operation in the Admiralty succeeded in capturing or breaking both the German naval and diplomatic codes providing priceless intelligence for the Allies. This "biography" is in fact a full history of how these achievements came about and how the material was put to use sometimes successfully, sometimes not. It all makes for exciting reading while covering many of the most crucial aspects of the war.

The book abounds with a host of colourful characters from astute diplomats to incredibly obtuse diplomats. There are swashbuckling businessmen, Mexican revolutionaries, anthrax-wielding German agents and a supercilious British naval officer who managed to lose the Battle of Jutland before it ever started. There is a quitessentially eccentric English don-turned-cryptanalyst who believed he worked best from his bath, proceeded to appropriate the one room in the Admiralty that had a bath and then married the secretary who worked with him in his "office" all the while decyphering coded German messages.

Through the war Hall interacted directly with such grandees as Churchill, Balfour and Admirals Fisher, Beatty and Jellicoe. Hall also did more than just see to it that codes were captured or cracked, he ran agents who put the information to use by capturing vital shipments of war supplies to Germany or luring U-Boats to their demise. Hall also knew how to use disinformation to cover his tracks and sources.

At the center of the story is Blinker's careful managing of the most astounding piece of information ever intercepted by the British during the conflict: the Zimmerman Telegram, Germany's astonishing offer to support Mexico in a war against the United States. Hall's patient management of this nugget, helped to draw the U.S. into the war, keep Mexico out and preclude the Japanese from switching sides.

Room 40 proved to be the prototypte for Bletchley Park in the Second World War and the gargantuan U.S. National Security Agency of today. Author David Ramsay has a commanding knowledge of the people who pioneered this field of work. Anyone with an interest in espionage, naval history or the First World War should enjoy this book.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6