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A. Hunter (Merstham, Surrey United Kingdom)
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Bloody Red Tabs
Bloody Red Tabs
by Frank Davies
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An important point forceably made about WW1 British & Commonwealth generals, 15 May 2015
This review is from: Bloody Red Tabs (Paperback)
The first part of the book refutes the popularly accepted myth that our general staff in the First World War were shirkers, and if the tone is somewhat forceful, it is because that erroneous and "dishonourable" generalisation has been so persistently accepted by subsequent generations, not least during the current centenary commemorations. The political origins of the myth are exposed and the extent to which so many of the generals were fighting soldiers explained. As Karl Marx said: "To leave error unrefuted is to encourage intellectual immorality"!
The rest of the book is an alphabetical resume of each general casualty and is a useful reference point, which was researched before the internet made such publications less marketable. Apart from the sheer number of generals who were included in that 4 year bloodbath, I found it interesting to note they were mainly in their 40s (one was only 25) - younger than their popular image - and well seasoned in campaigns in which they had earned their promotion.
One small criticism is that officers in our Indian Army, who tended to have seen more action than their British Army counterparts until 1914, had to spend their first year in a British regiment before moving to their Indian regiments. So, to duly note their first British regiment but ignore the Indian regiments in which they spent their main formative years, strikes me as a disservice to that essential part of our wider regimental history.


1000 Little Holes in the Dark
1000 Little Holes in the Dark
Price: £2.33

1.0 out of 5 stars Not everyone's taste - sample it first, 17 Feb. 2015
I did try, based on others' reviews, but really couldn't read beyond the first few pages. This was a good lesson to me to use the "Sample" feature of Kindle next time before paying out good money.


Oranges for Christmas
Oranges for Christmas
by Margarita Morris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Simply told story well grounded on the reality of the Berlin wall., 14 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Oranges for Christmas (Paperback)
Reading this while on a trip to Berlin was a good way to get some idea of the Wall and what it meant to those in the East at the time, especially as it is now near impossible to distinguish East from West Berlin - happily. The story draws well on the facts, more so than many a so-called historical novel. So it may seem unfair to criticise this neat and inexpensive tale. However, the writing style is very simple and the sentences short enough to suggest to me that it was a translation. But no, the author is from the Bronte country. It should appeal to a younger reader, and that would be no bad thing if it helps remind us all of what it is like to be trapped in a totalitarian state.


The War of 1812 (Essential Histories)
The War of 1812 (Essential Histories)
by Carl Benn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars For a non-Canadian like me, this was a handy discovery, 5 Dec. 2014
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Clear, concise dispassionate account.
For a non-Canadian like me, this was a handy discovery. The subject matter is well organised: the author sets out the complex background to the war, and the various parties and motives involved, before briskly taking one through each annual campaign, on land and sea, and ending with an evaluation of the outcome as well as noting how different the main protagonists portrayed the war at the time and since. It is well illustrated with contemporary prints and maps, and includes a decent index. My only surprise is a chapter given to John Strachan, but I guess he is more familiar to a Canadian reader.


Hatred and Contempt
Hatred and Contempt
by Peter Rawlinson
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Did the ex-Cabinet Minister previously betray the Royalist Serb partisans to Tito? Will this libel case uncover the truth?, 26 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Hatred and Contempt (Hardcover)
When a impoverished former Royal Yugoslav army officer publically contradicts the memoirs of a peer of the realm, accusing him of cowardice and treachery of 50 years previously, only a libel action is considered adequate to clear his name. But it isn't that simple and Lord Rawlinson weaves a cunning legal plot that keeps the reader in suspense. The issue as to who - or what - led the Allies to switch support from the royalist partisans to the communist ones in Yugoslavia in 1943, is contentious still. So the author did well to avoid ending up with a libel case himself (anyone interested in the true players of the time should google Sir Tommy Macpherson and Sir Fitzroy Maclean). The style is not dissimilar from Lord Archer's. The characters are well drawn, the pace good and, yes, there is a twist or two to end with. It's more than 20 years since it was published but it still reads well.


Highwayman: Ironside
Highwayman: Ironside
Price: £1.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shortened, rather than short, story, 1 Jan. 2014
I thoroughly enjoy the Stryker novels with their evocative prose and coherent plots that are well grounded in the period. And this starts off in similar vein, but then slips into an increasingly less credible series of events, as if the author changed his mind as to what to do with the earlier material. Still, it's priced right for it's size and thus OK for brief commuter reading.


The Secret Rooms: A castle filled with intrigue, a plotting duchess and a mysterious death
The Secret Rooms: A castle filled with intrigue, a plotting duchess and a mysterious death
by Catherine Bailey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Trapped by one's class, 28 Dec. 2013
It says a lot of the present duke that he was prepared to let this story of his grandfather, and indeed great grandparents, be published. The author delved deep into the family papers to uncover the turning points of their lives against the backdrop of the First World War, and a fascinating read it is. She writes well - I expected no less after her earlier Black Diamonds book - and keeps the reader wondering what the next chapter will reveal. It is a detective story: She is obviously intelligent enough to have guessed the likely reasons but carefully eliminates the other possibilities before substantiating the true ones, always with first hand material. That can seem laboured at times, but she thus gives a real insight into the attitudes and mores of the ruling class of the time, shocking by today's standards, certainly, but not entirely surprising (I came across very similar behaviour of a member of the nobility during the Crimean War). It is well worth reading, not least for the light it sheds on some of the senior British commanders in the early stages of that Great War.


The Perfect English Spy: Sir Dick White and the Secret War, 1935-90
The Perfect English Spy: Sir Dick White and the Secret War, 1935-90
by Tom Bower
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A "safe pair of hands" at the helm?, 23 Dec. 2013
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A very interesting, well researched, biography. More a civil servant than a spy and more balanced than perfect, Sir Dick White presided over the secret services at a crucial period, possibly the most crucial period, when the focus was necessarily imperial, had to switch from fighting fascism to fighting Communism, from handling mavericks in the field to coping with the pressure of politicians of very different hues. It is not an uncritical biography and the shadow of Burgess, Maclean et al stretches across his career. Yet he was trusted by a variety of governments in a way that suggests there was more to him than mere bland governance. I didn't expect an "M" of the Ian Fleming novels, but I felt there must have been more grit to his character than he appears to have evidenced. Perhaps his degree of discretion left his biographer guessing as much as his foes.


Conquer or Die: Wellington's Veterans and the Liberation of the New World
Conquer or Die: Wellington's Veterans and the Liberation of the New World
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unblinkered spotlight on our mercenaries' support of Bolivar's campaigns, 23 Dec. 2013
Mercenaries tend to bear the brunt of the fighting, display the widest variety of attributes - good and bad - and are carefully expunged from the later histories of the wars that they helped bring to a conclusion. The British soldiers (largely Irish, but also including elements from the King's German Legion) who shipped over to modern day Venezuela to help Bolivar's ambitious goal to evict the Spanish from the whole area North of Brazil were no different. Clearly well researched, the tale focuses on those campaigns for which the author found most first hand accounts. As a result one is left with a fluent story of bravery and cowardice, of privation and brutality tinged with the occasional bit of gallantry and solidarity. It is highly readable and left me with a wish to know a little more about Bolivar himself, the merchants who financed him, and indeed the Spanish foe who must have felt as wanted and as doomed to failure as the French in Algeria, and who have suffered the same fate of being quietly forgotten as much as the mercenaries who defeated them. A note of caution: If you get the Kindle edition, make certain you have map of this part of Latin America to hand.


Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz
Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz
by Thomas Harding
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.95

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable story of how a final solution was served on the main agent of the Final Solution, 25 Sept. 2013
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This is a highly readable account of two Germans of much the same age: one who had to flee his privileged Berlin background and become immersed in a new country, culture and language; the other who rose from a more humble provincial background to be responsible for one of the most efficient extermination camps of all. That the former became responsible for bringing the latter to justice makes a fascinating story in itself, but the author, nephew of the hunter, has done a brilliant job of exploring the attitudes and motives of each, while keeping them firmly rooted in the events and influences of the time. The result is a more individual view of how Nazi Germany escalated it's attack on its own Jewish countrymen to the 'final solution' of mass murder, and the hasty rush in the immediate aftermath to bring the perpetrators to justice. It also explains how ground-breaking the Nurenburg trials were. The paradox is how Hess wrote up his story prior to his execution while Hanns generally refused to talk about it for the rest of his life.
This is a well researched and readable biographical study that is also a fine tribute to the author's uncle.


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