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A. Hunter (Merstham, Surrey United Kingdom)
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Gibsons Waterloo Scotland Forever Jigsaw Puzzle (1000 Pieces)
Gibsons Waterloo Scotland Forever Jigsaw Puzzle (1000 Pieces)
Price: £11.55

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tricky but worthwhile, 6 Mar. 2016
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A great picture but a challenge to complete since the cut seems to allow more than one piece to fit where the earth or sky detail is ambiguous. Be bold!


The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj
The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj
by Anne de Courcy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A reality check to E M Forster's view of the young memsahibs of the time, 6 Mar. 2016
This is a useful description of how young ladies coped with marrying into the British India social structure. By dividing her research into themes, the author has given a more rounded insight into the different aspects of the girls' introduction to that major part of the Empire that was never a colony. She captures their moral code, sense of social precedence, and acceptance of the strict separation between British, Eurasian and Indian societies. It tells of the high life and the hardships, and conveys the distances, both physical and mental, that were part of family life. It is more an anthology than a history and thus makes for a broader expose of attitudes and experiences, without falling into the trap of judging by contemporary standards. It certainly reminded me of my ICS grandparents and their expectations.


One Man's Window
One Man's Window
by Denis Barnham
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars What it was like for a pilot to daily face superior odds April-June 1942, 29 Dec. 2015
This review is from: One Man's Window (Paperback)
I fully endorse the review by Davies: This is a remarkably vivid account of a Spitfire pilot's intense experience of his role in defending Malta at the most critical period of its siege. It is a fluent and honest picture drawn from his diaries. The images that he conjures up will stay with me for a long time to come. The second hand paperback that I came across supplied no blurb on the author or his subsequent life but fortunately James Holland fills that gap in his more recent "Fortress Malta" book. He adjusted from his 'baptism of fire' to be, as Davies notes, an art teacher - at Epsom College.


Bonaparte and the British: prints and propaganda in the age of Napoleon
Bonaparte and the British: prints and propaganda in the age of Napoleon
by Tim Clayton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant study of caricature of a man held in esteem, awe, fear and contempt by that "nation of shopkeepers"!, 5 Dec. 2015
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This companion to a first class exhibition is beautifully compiled and clearly very well researched. There is a degree of objectivity that is rarely found when dealing with this period - all the more of a surprise given the objective is a study of caricature and propaganda in a rapidly changing political climate! Loved it.


The Rise and Fall of the Scottish Cotton Industry, 1778-1914: 'the Secret Spring'
The Rise and Fall of the Scottish Cotton Industry, 1778-1914: 'the Secret Spring'
by Anthony Cooke
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £60.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Laudable effort to encompass a key element of our industrial revolution., 5 Dec. 2015
The cotton import, manufacturing and export explosion at the start of the Industrial Revolution has been described as the UK’s first truly global industry and this book puts the significant Scottish element alongside the better known Lancashire one. Indeed it makes the links between the two very clear.
However, the title (and price!) suggested a more in-depth study than I found it to be. The author picks up the key threads of the shift from linen to cotton, the expansion of Scottish manufacturing throughout the 1778-1815 wars and its decline as peace brought increased competition. The separate chapters on Technology, Workers and Employers ensure that those history chapters are not unduly cluttered, though it also leads to some duplication of information (e.g. we are told of the first powered mill in Scotland several times).
This book will give you some idea of what happened but not so much of the why. Fashion is mentioned but not a lot on import duties; Scottish links to America and India are mentioned but not a lot on their London dealing partners; a few of the many incorporated banks are mentioned but not a lot on the many families’ capital that helped ensure failed partnerships were replaced by fresh ones. The early chapters give some idea of the intense see-saw of the cotton trade as a result of wars without explaining sufficiently why they recovered. The author mentions Napoleon’s blockade announced in 1805/6, but incomplete until Russia was forced to join, which led to the 1810/11 bankruptcies. Did the Luddites of that time not extend North of the border? This book invites as many questions as it answers.
That said, Glasgow’s Cotton Kings need a champion for the part they played in bringing prosperity to Scotland following the success of the better known Tobacco Lords, and this study is a good starting point.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2015 4:54 PM GMT


Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty
Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty
by Catherine Bailey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.48

4.0 out of 5 stars A well described chronicle of the destruction of one of the wealthiest peerages, fairly told., 3 Jun. 2015
More about the fall of the Fitzwilliam dynasty than its rise. But it consists of some highly readable chapters on the family rifts and love affairs, as well as their paternalistic approach to their mining dependents against the background of the growing political change through the first half of the 20th Century, that viewed such aristocracy as plutocrats to be brought down. As she says, the 1945 confiscation of their mines severed the long held ties of "inheritance with responsibility and of wealth with social service". If the then 8th earl became one of the more decadent members of post war society, it is not entirely surprising. It is a well researched tale of the demise of one of the leading aristocratic families, despite the gaps caused by the deliberate destruction of virtually all the family papers of the period.
One crucial element is missing and that is how much death duties must have been a major factor in the family's fall. She states the mines were transferred into a company in 1933 to mitigate this threat, but the 7th Earl died when estate duty was 65% and the 8th died 5 years later when it was 80%. The 9th Earl died only 4 years after that. Within a decade most of the family's wealth must have gone to the State? Their main house, Wentworth Woodhouse, has survived three further owners and is currently on the market. Whatever its future, this book has established its association with some key events of the 20th Century as well as the family's role in them.


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: £12.99

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.


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