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Guns At Batasi [DVD]
Guns At Batasi [DVD]
Dvd ~ Richard Attenborough

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent period piece, 8 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Guns At Batasi [DVD] (DVD)
'Guns at Batasi' is fiction, although during the year it was released (1964) the scenario it describes was actually enacted with the army mutinies in Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika (now Tanzania), which were suppressed by British military intervention.

This film captures the politics of decolonisation, but it is also an excellent drama in its own right. Richard Attenborough's portrayal of the old-school RSM is exemplary, but there are a lot of other fine performances in it as well.

I won't say much more about this film, but it is politically sophisticated and also exciting, with a strong strain of dark humour and also pathos. It also captures the enduring character of the British Army, epitomised by the scenes between Attenborough and the young Pte played by John Leyton (and as an ex-Lance Jack I appreciate the fact that he pulls right under the noses of the SNCOs).

Go see.

The Polish Officer
The Polish Officer
by Alan Furst
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Polska walcz¹ca - a fitting tribute, 19 May 2013
This review is from: The Polish Officer (Paperback)
Let me start by saying one thing. Any novel by Alan Furst is worth reading, not just because they work as thrillers, but also because they also reflect the history of their times.

'The Polish Officer' is not only an excellent read in its own right. It is a tribute to the wartime Polish resistance, and their contribution to the fight against Nazism - a contribution which the Soviets and their apologists have tried to airbrush from history. It is a powerful novel which skilfully portrays the plight of a country caught between Nazi Germany and Stalin's USSR, but which is also in its own way uplifting. I will say no more other than if you want a thriller that grips you, educates you, and makes you think, this is well worth a purchase.

Stand Up & Be Counted
Stand Up & Be Counted

4.0 out of 5 stars Mighty Mighty, 2 April 2013
This review is from: Stand Up & Be Counted (Audio CD)
I bought this CD for three reasons - the full version of James Brown's 'Say it Loud - I'm Black And Proud', Gil Scott-Heron's 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' and Nina Simone's absolutely stunning ballad 'I Wish I Knew How I Would Feel To Be Free'. When you buy a compilation like this you stand the risk of buying a dud, but except for one track I was not disappointed.

The title and first track - 'Stand Up and Be Counted' by The Flames - made what is left of my hair stand on end. The CD as a whole is a reminder of times when music could be (1) politically aware and (2) bloody good. Singling out the remainder I'd cite 'Mighty Mighty' by The Impressions, 'East' by Billy Paul, 'Hang On In There' by Mike James Kirkland and 'Freedom Road' by The Pharaohs.

I give this four stars rather than five for the one poor choice by the compiler - 'When the Revolution Comes' by The Last Poets'. I felt like I was listening to a mirror image of the KKK with its rant about 'Jew Merchants' and blood in the streets. Gil Scott-Heron didn't pull his punches, but I didn't get the impression that he was a hater, and the lyrics of 'Mighty Mighty' - 'Black and White Power; It's going to be a crumbling tower' - is as eloquent as there is a statement of resorting to hate against hate. I'd have chosen an alternative; either Baby Huey's 'Hard Times' or Curtis Mayfield's 'Right On For The Darkness'.

That is my only criticism of what is an otherwise excellent compilation. I will just forget about track 9, and enjoy the rest.

The Nemesis File
The Nemesis File
by Paul Bruce
Edition: Paperback

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter drivel, 23 Jan. 2011
This review is from: The Nemesis File (Paperback)
Roger Morris has already helpfully referenced the newspaper accounts dealing with the exposure of 'Paul Bruce' as a Walter Mitty fantasist. And while there are more than a few murky stories about the Northern Irish 'troubles' (the Finucane killing, the FRU, 'collusion' etc), this 'memoir' of a supposed assassination squad working in NI in 1971-1972 is utterly fraudulent and the fact that John Blake has republished it is for me a source of complete amazement.

Any readers with military experience will spot the obvious howlers in this book (such as the fact that neither 'Bruce' or any of this three comrades - 'Don', 'JR' and 'Bennie' - know how to do a six-figure grid reference from a map). This supposedly elite and covert death squad have a code name ('Nemesis') known by every squaddie and RUC officer in the Province, have two local farmers who act as grave-diggers for their victims, and spend their off-duty time either playing football with local kids, or in the pub, or on the pull. If they were real, their slack operational security will have got them abducted and killed by the PIRA. Their behaviour (as related by 'Bruce') makes that of Robert Nairac look cautious.

For those with any doubts, ask yourself why Sinn Fein (not normally renowned for giving the British Army - and especially 22SAS - the benefit of the doubt) described 'The Nemesis File' as 'outlandish'. Ask yourself why human rights groups such as the British-Irish Rights Watch and the Finucane Centre aren't demanding an investigation into these 'revelations'. And ask yourself why the PSNI hasn't exhumed the two mass graves 'Bruce' lists in his 'book' (although if they follow the references he gives, the police would probably find themselves looking for the victims of the Nemesis Squad in the middle of the Irish Sea).

Finally, I know that there's many wannabes out there who claim that they're special forces, but it takes a particularly sick mind to invent a story involving non-existent murders committed by a fake death squad. 'Bruce' should be ashamed of himself for writing this dreck, and John Blake should be ashamed of publishing it without taking any basic measures to establish its veracity.

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