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The Invasion Handbook Paperback – 19 May 2003

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (19 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057121858X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571218585
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.5 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,337,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Never let it be said that Tom Paulin lacks for energy: in The Invasion Handbook, his latest volume of verse, the television pundit, Oxford academic, accomplished essayist and lauded biographer has taken World War II as his theme.

To be more precise, it's the origins, genesis and inception of the 20th century's greatest struggle that serve as his subject matter. The book begins with the signing of the Versailles Treaty in 1919, when the seeds of German discontent were arguably sown: "maybe they're Hessians who like Jack Falstaff are--mortal men, sir--full of sack and sorry the war has staggered to an end". From there the backdrop switches to 1930s Germany, with the rise of Nazism and the end of Weimarism. Some of Paulin's poems at this stage are almost pointillist, litanies of one-liners reminiscent of Heathcote Williams's work on whales and elephants. Here's Paulin on the moral and intellectual decadence of 20s and 30s Berlin: "Karl Denke sold human flesh smoked in jars as goat's meat... They teach Kant and live off the interest... Of Berlin Goebbels said the spirit of the asphalt democracy is piled high". Soon after this Hitler comes to power, the Rhineland is invaded, Chamberlain dithers--and Paulin has a lot of fun weaving his dense web of metaphors, references, offstage remarks and iffy jokes, as he describes the fall of European Civilisation.

Is it any good? Difficult to say. The writing is interesting, playful, readable but it is also rather allusive and presuming. Some of the simpler, shorter poems, the ones examining the minor figures of the time: Albert Speer, George Orwell and so on, are pithy and provoking. Some of the other, longer poems are lacking in verbal beauty and lyrical life. Perhaps, as this is the first in a promised series of books, the ultimate verdict on this intriguing volume must be withheld; watch this space, in other words. --Sean Thomas --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Tom Paulin is among the best of a great generation of Irish poets." --" The Sunday Telegraph" "Paulin writes an extraordinary language, even when he's not inventing words or exhibiting some unsuspected prize from the hoard of Irish English." --"Guardian"

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Format: Hardcover
This is the best poetry book I've read in years. Tom Paulin approaches his subject matter from a myriad of tangents, creating an impressionistic collage of voices and scenarios that combine to give an overview of the people and events that led up to World War 2.
However, what really distinguishes this book is its language. On every page words are really alive, fizzing and sizzling on and around the page. There is verse, prose, extracts from letters and other documents, interior monologues, newspaper headlines - in short, all manner of words become grist for Paulin's mill, showing us how the 20th century's biggest catastrophe came to happen, and showing us also a poet at the hight of his powers, in love with language and the uses it can be put to. This is a deeply generous book, giving the reader every opportunity to really get stuck in and grapple with poetry at it's best. But don't take my word for it, buy the book - you won't be disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover
This collection of poems, or possibly one long poem, recounts Europe's inter-war tensions and the road to the Second World War. Several countries feature although the focus is inevitably Britain, with occasional references to the poet's childhood home in Northern Ireland. Despite being written so long after the period, it adopts a perspective which is old fashioned in as much as it focuses on the actions of `great men'. Aside from a few fleeting references, there is little here of popular attitudes to another world war. The appeasers are denounced, and Churchill comes out unscathed. It could be suggested this is a deliberate or possibly unconscious effort to conjure up the period, yet it has a very present-day History Channel preoccupation with conspiracy, in particular, freemasons and the alleged collaboration of the Duke of Windsor. A brave and often interesting collection, but in eschewing insights learned with hindsight, a more authentic voice might be better found in the poetry of the late 1930s.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elegant and Erudite 14 July 2003
By Patrick Odaniel - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A noble addition to a fairly small collection of important poems about WW II. This is part one of Paulin's project epic regarding that conflagaration. It begins with Versailles and ends with the beginning years of WW II. Paulin assumes a fairly recondite and comprehensive knowledge of the inter-war years. This is not easy reading--but if you prefer formalism about grand subjects, run out and buy this book.
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