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Child of the Fifties

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A Higher Call: The Incredible True Story of Heroism and Chivalry During the Second World War
A Higher Call: The Incredible True Story of Heroism and Chivalry During the Second World War
by Adam Makos
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading - just don't expect a huge amount, 14 Jun 2014
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Plus points:
A true story about how one man in particular (and others in general) became disillusioned with war.
Main incident (B-17/ME-109) described well.
ME-262 section interesting.

Minus points:
Takes a while to get into its stride.
Written for the American market - American-centric view very apparent with the RAF in the desert being seen as the 'bad' guys.
Really a biography of Franz Stigler - other characters from Charlie Brown downwards revolve around him.

My verdict:
It's a pity that there is so much scene-setting and that the main meeting (and subsequent ones) between Stigler and Brown form only a relatively small part of the book - a disappointment as this is certainly why I chose to buy this book and I suspect it is why others have also made a similar choice.

Other reviewers have already amplified the above points and made others that I agree with and so I shall not repeat them here.

Wartime Sites in Paris: 1939-1945
Wartime Sites in Paris: 1939-1945
by Steven Lehrer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Darkness in the City of Light, 9 Dec 2013
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Most people know that France was occupied by Germany during the Second World War.

Walk anywhere around Central Paris and you will almost certainly come across 'Ici est Tombé' plaques noting the names of those who died during the Occupation and Liberation.

Look at a Metro map and you'll see the names of Résistance heroes such as Guy Môquet, Jacques Bonsergent, Jean Moulin and Colonel Fabien.

Indeed if you know where to look you can still see walls damaged by the weapons used by both sides as the city was fought over.

This little book takes you beyond these 'obvious' reminders of the darkness that fell on Paris during the four years of occupation.

Steven Lehrer catalogues many of the buildings used by the German armed forces, the Gestapo and those with a distinct Holocaust link as well as information on Hitler's visit to Paris.

But it does not confine itself to central Paris, with information on the Army HQ at St Germain en Laye, Fort Mont Valérien and others.

If you have been to Paris before and done the more mainstream sites, if you have an interest in the Occupation or simply have ever wondered where some of the building are that you might have seen in films such as 'Is Paris Burning?' then this is the book for you.

Tiffen 438Y2 43mm 8 Yellow 2 Filter
Tiffen 438Y2 43mm 8 Yellow 2 Filter

4.0 out of 5 stars Essential for black and white landscape film photography, 1 Dec 2013
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Well made and robust, I bought this for use on an old camera I found in a local charity shop - paying twice as much for the filter as for the camera!

The only slight problem is that the filter rim is too shallow to fit on the camera, requiring a second filter ring to throw it clear of the lens. This is not a fault of this (modern) filter, simply how things change.

British Home Defences 1940-45 (Fortress)
British Home Defences 1940-45 (Fortress)
by Bernard Lowry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helps me to identify lumps of concrete!, 1 Dec 2013
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Having become interested in pillboxes and other anti-invasion paraphernalia through a local history project, I found this a good general introduction to the subject. As with all of Osprey's military history books you are paying for good information, interesting photographs and full colour artwork.

The down side of owning this little book is that car journeys take longer as I'm distracted by what I previously never gave a second glance at!

Free Frances Lion: The Life of Phillippe Leclerc, de Gaulles Greatest General
Free Frances Lion: The Life of Phillippe Leclerc, de Gaulles Greatest General
by William Mortimer Moore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.36

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move over De Gaulle!, 1 April 2013
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Almost everyone knows of De Gaulle's wartime exploits and, as interested in French Second World War history as I am, I'm embarrassed to write that I for one know little beyond the 'headlines' of Phillippe Leclerc's brief life.

This book ends that. Detailled but never getting bogged down, this is an excellent, well written and above all readable biography.

If you are interested in the regular Free French Forces in the Second World War or just wonder what could have happened if Leclerc had made different choices then this book is for you.

Argentine Fight for the Falklands
Argentine Fight for the Falklands
by Martin Middlebrook
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.08

5.0 out of 5 stars A view from the other side, recounted with honesty and humanity, 19 Feb 2013
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Like many I came to Middlebrook's work via his 'First Day on the Somme', a book I enjoyed enormously. As someone who was working as a civilian with the British military at the time of the Falklands War, I had to read this book when I rediscovered it recently on Amazon.

This book continues the format he set there, reading as it does like a battlefield tour; each thread of the conflict's tapestry being loosened and examined but never detached from the whole.

If this gives the impression of a boring bone-dry analysis then nothing could be further from the truth. The author blends analysis with the accounts of the Argentine military in the conflict to produce a moving account of the Falklands conflict.

Nor is this some propaganda-laced account, stating that the islands should be Argentinian - such a thing would be contrary to Middlebrook's ethos.

No, we are presented with a tactically precise and detailed description of the conflict based on interviews with the protagonists in which their personalities shine through in such a way it is impossible not to empathise with them.
Indeed this appears to have happened to the author as well, as on more than one occasion he writes of how even when the book is being written (five years after the conflict) some of those taking part still hold on to false information regarding the success of Argentine attacks.

He also corrects British over-claims where necessary, but with those from the Argentine side there appears to be a sadness, almost like that of the patient friend who having explained and presented the evidence carefully can still not convince one, and slowly shakes his head.

Having been to Argentina twice since the conflict ended - and although I have never having spoken to veterans there about the war, I recognise the passion that could blind people to the evidence.

Essentially this is a portrait of two proud nations going to war as seen through the eyes of the Argentine military reminiscing more than a quarter of a century ago. I wonder how a revised edition would read, what further insights might come to life, both militarily and personally.

by C. J. Sansom
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.60

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A story lost in the smog, 7 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Dominion (Hardcover)
A giant of a book, an author I haven't read before and a genre I like... what can possibly stop this product getting five stars?

It's a novel about truth, nationalism versus patriotism and discrimination.
It is well researched as the bibliography testifies, and has potentially a good story line. It uses detail to (re)create (a) London of the early 1950s very well - so much so that at times I wanted to shout 'OK! I GET IT! STOP SHOWING OFF!'

So why does it loose three stars?

Perhaps having read Deighton's 'SS-GB', Harris' 'Fatherland' (which the author acknowledges as the best example of this type of novel) and even Owen Sheers 'Resistance' I have been spoilt.

The story doesn't start to 'move' until about two-thirds through the book.

The twists in plot are (to my reading) telegraphed ahead and even when they divert off that path they are soon back on it. The characters are not developed enough for me and are too 'black and white'.

And most important for me... I didn't care what happened to them.

I read this book while in bed with heavy flu.

As such, reading it was something TO DO not something I WANTED TO DO.

As other reviewers point out the historical notes are fascinating. To my mind they were the best part of the book, although the part about the author's view of the SNP were perhaps over documented - and I'm English!

Four Weeks in May: A Captain's Story of War at Sea
Four Weeks in May: A Captain's Story of War at Sea
by David Hart Dyke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Like sitting having a chat with the author in his front room..., 28 Dec 2012
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A subtle book; if you are looking for 'there-I-was-with-nothing-on-the-clock-except-the-maker's-name' action (or indeed cliché) then this is not the book for you.

If you want a strategic view of the Falklands Conflict, or a detailed day-by-day history then it's best to look elsewhere.

But if you want to learn from what seems a very private man about his feelings of being sent to war in the latter part of his career, how he was as afraid as his crew but couldn't show it and how he and his ship's company felt that they had somehow failed when the ship - their home, workplace and mode of transport - was attacked by what the author himself acknowledges were brave enemy pilots, then read this book.

And if you are not moved by the sadness of the loss of his command, the physical ship, the men who were injured and killed and the sudden end of his raison d'etre - at least as far as the conflict was concerned - and his multiple feelings of being able to return home again, then you must be made of stone.

A wonderful book on so many levels - personal memoire, leadership, coping with trauma and loss and (that awful phrase) 'moving on'.

The Elements of Photography: Understanding and Creating Sophisticated Images
The Elements of Photography: Understanding and Creating Sophisticated Images
by Angela Faris Belt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.95

5.0 out of 5 stars If you know the basics then it's time to go up a level..., 1 Dec 2012
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I bought this book after coming across it when on a photography course. Indeed my discovery has resulted in a number of copies being bought.

As a glance through the contents, index or the preview pages on Amazon will confirm, it is not a complete beginner's photography book. Yes, there is material about exposure, aperture and framing but in my experience it is not a `do this, do that book' but rather a `think about this, reflect on that' one.

And that for me was the attraction. As someone who has been making photographic images for almost five decades I found much to interest me and a lot of new information, as well as a new slant on what I already knew.
Like many who practice photography I have many books on the subject - and if I'm honest many have been on the shelves almost permanently.

But this one I believe is different.

It's the book that makes me think about why I make a particular image, what I am doing when I do so and - perhaps most importantly - what I am going to do with that image and how it will exist with others I've made.
To some the language may be a little difficult to grasp but push through that, absorb the information that you want to, be inspired by the portfolio sections and then shoot images in a new and more thoughtful way.

At least I have...

The Day of the Lie (Father Anselm Novels)
The Day of the Lie (Father Anselm Novels)
by William Brodrick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.66

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I've come to expect from this author, 27 Nov 2012
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Like many of the other reviwers I grown to like the very human Father Anselm - but this seems a derivative book, The Sixth Lamentation (Anselm's first appearance)under a different guise, a different country and time period.

But unlike that book, the people he comes into contact with don't seem as fully rounded as Broderick's other characters and at times it even appeared to me that he was writing to a page target rather than telling a story.

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