Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's
Profile for Dr Barry Clayton > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Dr Barry Clayton
Top Reviewer Ranking: 178
Helpful Votes: 17812

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Dr Barry Clayton (United Kingdom)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Air Force Blue: The RAF in World War Two - Spearhead of Victory
Air Force Blue: The RAF in World War Two - Spearhead of Victory
by Patrick Bishop
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Brylcream Boys Were Courageous Stars Of The Skies., 23 Sept. 2017
This is the final book in Bishop's wonderful trilogy about the Royal Air Force in the Second World War. The previous two volumes, Bomber Boys and Fighter Boys were highly praised by critics. This account is written with the same flair and attention to detail as they were. No matter the extent of your knowledge about the RAF you will learn many new things.

In early 1943, Arthur Harris, the controversial C-in-C of Bomber Command, ordered that any man who contracted VD during the standard tour of 30 operations would have to do a second tour. Harris believed men were deliberately getting infected to avoid flying. Seeing that the chance of surviving one tour was only around twenty per cent this was tantamount to a death sentence. Lindholme airfield near Doncaster had the dubious distinction of having the highest VD rate in Bomber Command. The rate was appreciably higher among fliers than ground crew. A shocked Air Ministry soon countermanded the order.

Bishop has written an engaging account that is a blend of operational and social history. He examines the RAF from its inception to 1945. In this time the Air Force changed from a force of 175,000 in 1939 to 1 million by 1944/5. Pre-war it was derided by the army but after the Battle of Britain it became a glamorous fighting force. Bishop argues it was air superiority that was the key factor that won the war. Not everyone would agree.

In America the RAF was regarded as a world beater. Because Fighter Command was starved of funds during the inter war period, it entered the war in 1939 with Hurricanes and Spitfires instead of obsolete planes. The Americans saw an image in the RAF that differed from that of the British army or navy. They represented the past. The airmen were the young and modern and democratic ace of Britain. They did not demand deference. The RAF was seen as a repository of a new set of British values. The new Picture Post of 1936 praised the RAF saying it held a position of importance higher than the other two Services. Its more democratic nature was lauded. Fliers knew their life was in the hands of the ground crew . The RAF was not a classless body. Birth, money and education as well as accent mattered. But it was a meritocracy. Competence was far more important than who you were. The educational gap between ranks was much narrower than in the army and navy. Fliers came from a wide variety of backgrounds. Garage workers mixed with public school boys. No longer did all the nice girls love a sailor. Grammar school boys with technical skills were much sought after.

The author discusses the well known addiction in the Air Ministry to bombing. Stemming from the writings of the Italian Douhet in 1919/20 there was a belief that war could be won from the air by targeting the civilian population and key industries. It was said the bomber will always get through. This led to a focus on an independent bomber force instead of a tactical fighter-bomber force. Tedder in North Africa did his best to adopt the latter. Tedder was a close friend of Eisenhower and the latter chose him when picking his commanders for the DDay landings. He was an outstanding airman.

Coastal Command at last gets praise for its battle against U-boats. The pages on the controversial strategic bombing campaign particularly the period after October 1944 go over ground that has been well tilled by historians like Richard Overy, and the author in his other volumes.
Whether or not the tonnage of bombs dropped on Dresden, and Leipzig , for example, was justified will long be debated. Bishop reminds us that in the final nine months of the war, Bomber Command, on the orders of Churchill, dropped over half the tonnage of bombs it dropped in the previous three and a half years. In the bombing war in Europe, Bomber Command dropped 873,348 tons of ordnance , the US 8th Air Force 621,,438 tons. Cities were the main target for a very simple reason, bombing accuracy was, as two major reports proved, so poor that targeting factories, railways , and so on was ineffective, particularly at night. Daytime bombing by the US led to catastrophic losses of planes and crew. Pin point bombing beloved by film directors remained a myth for another fifty years. Even today, as a report from Afghanistan has shown, targets are still missed by 'smart' bombs

Bishop has written a very enjoyable, informative and very readable account. He writes with authority and verve. As he says the book is essentially about the 'spirit of the Air Force, its heart and soul'. The sources used include: contemporary papers, diaries, letters and memoirs. Interviews with veterans were also invaluable. There are notes, pictures and maps.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 23, 2017 7:38 PM BST


Armageddon and Paranoia: The Nuclear Confrontation
Armageddon and Paranoia: The Nuclear Confrontation
by Sir Rodric Braithwaite
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Threat That Really Deters., 22 Sept. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The author's book Afghantsy about the Russian invasion of Afghanistan was warmly received. His intelligence and vast diplomatic experience and Foreign Office career shone through every page. He was also foreign policy adviser to John Major, and Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. He is admirably equipped to write this book, a book that should be read by all concerned with the security of our nation.

The nuclear bomb as Bernard Brodie said not only dramatically increased he capacity to kill it changed the whole nature of warfare. THomas Schelling pointed out that it revolutionised strategic thinking. Many others warned that since a conventional war could turn nuclear, strategy must now act as a brake on tensions; restraint and war prevention were now the order of the day ( It is to hoped that Trump and the North Korean leader understand this). Battles were no longer necessary now you were able to exterminate your enemy's civilian population in some thirty minutes. The nuclear issue is extremely complex and its nature is abstract. It requires a logical and a rational intellect. The arguments are finely graded. The author rightly therefore quotes and pays tribute to the writings and work of the late Sir Michael Quinlan. He was a remarkable civil servant who was the Permanent Under Secretary of the MOD in the late nineteen seventies and early eighties. He was also a devout Catholic with a strong interest in ethical issues. Quinlan had a formidable intellect. As he was responsible for strategy and policy, he played a key role in formulating our defence policy. He spent a great deal of time thinking about nuclear weapons. He firmly believed that nuclear weapons would not be given up until the international system was transformed and war was no longer a common feature of international relations.

By definition, all thinking about nuclear strategy is speculative. It is filled with unknowns. Deterrence is essentialy a psychological concept. It targets the mind. This book reminds us of this

Those who have studied nuclear matters, deterrence theory and the multitude of Byzantine publications about arcane nuclear issues including nuclear war will find little new in this account but it is a very well-written and comprehensive cover of most of the key nuclear issues that have dominated the world since 1945. Students will be grateful .

There are three parts. Part one deals with the explosion of the test bomb, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the events leading up to it. It is important to remember that in the Pacific War the taking of one island, Okinawa, cost America just under 13,000 dead, thousands wounded. 150,000 civilians died in addition to 80,000 Japanese troops. Saipan and other islands fell only after a bitter and fanatical resistance that included mass suicide. Critics of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should remember this as a warning of what the cost would have been if American forces had invaded Japan. It would have been horrendous for all participants. Part two covers thinking about the unthinkable- this is the title of Kahn's dense but important book. I remember hearing Kahn in London reiterating his famous statement in that book that, ' The living would envy the dead'. Part three examines the Cold War, crises like the Cuban Missile crisis and the strategy of MAD. An Epilogue is entitled Russian Roulette, a somewhat overused analogy. it includes the famous and clever piece of graffito in the lavatory of the London School of Economics and Political Science. There are excellent notes, a timeline, sources, photos and illustrations. The secondary sources are quite comprehensive but surprisingly omit the books by Thomas Schelling a brilliant economist whose writings on strategy greatly influenced policy makers in America. The author reminds us that a great deal of key information is still under wraps in the archives of Russia, America Britain and elsewhere.

So far the ultimate and horrific catastrophe has not happened. Braithwaite outlines the familiar reasons. Two reasons are in my opinion crucial: the possibility today of an accident, a technical failure, or human error is very, very remote given the locks and checks in being, and no nation no matter how belligerent is going to risk incineration. No prize is worth that. Deterrence based on a guaranteed nuclear holocaust works. It is the sheer magnitude of the threat that deters. Nuclear war makes no sense. It was Dennis Healey, a superb Defence Secretary, who said when in charge of defence that the enemy will be deterred even if it thinks there is only a one per cent chance the button will be pressed. Kim knows this as does Donald. So does Iran.

Those who want all nuclear weapons scrapped fail to understand the ways of science. You cannot uninvent the nuclear weapon. My former tutor Professor Sir Michael Howard said this many years ago.

This is a book by a highly intelligent writer who has seen and worked at the coal face. It ranges over many issues including the religious aspects of nuclear weapons, just war theories and the morality of using such horrendous weapons that can wipe out hundreds of thousands in minutes. The historical examples chosen are apt and informative. This reviewer has never doubted the need for Britain to have a nuclear deterrent, in spite of its nature an cost. A non nuclear Britain threatened by a nuclear state would be wide open to blackmail. To those who argue that America would come to our aid, I say would they if it risked tens of thousands of its citizens being killed? Currently, the threat of insurgency and terrorist atrocities are all the rage but history tells us that the current threat can and often does change with little warning.

Hopefully, this excellent book will inform sceptics and at the very least result in debates on the complex issues involved being conducted on the basis of knowledge not ideological rhetoric and ignorance.

The book demonstrates that a renewed intellectual effort on nuclear deterrence is needed and soon. Today unlike the 1950s and later the key actors are more diverse , more opaque and at times more reckless. Deterrence is a dynamic relationship and this diversity and so on has to be taken into account. Traditional concepts like escalation and extended deterrence are still relevant but they need to be adapted. It is very important to remember that today's leaders unlike those in the Cold War have not experienced living through a major war. Today, a few small states can obliterate thousands. They present major challenges to major states. Space and cyberspace now increases tension. Even nuclear terrorism remains a possibility in the future.

Very, very highly recommended.


If Only They Didn't Speak English: Notes From Trump's America
If Only They Didn't Speak English: Notes From Trump's America
by Jon Sopel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Slight Account of a Great Foreign Country., 22 Sept. 2017
Sopel is a familiar face on the television news. Always informative, clear and succinct.I have never seen him smile on television, not there is much to smile about in America at the moment unless it is another monumental gaffe by the President.

Regarding language it was Oscar Wilde who said it was the only thing we and the Americans didn't have in common. Typically pithy but untrue. In fact language is one of the few things we do have in common. Sopel is right. Despite an avalanche of news, films, dramas and so forth, our knowledge of America is very slight. It is amusing to be told 'we have been to America'. My response is always, which one? Go to Alabama then to Michigan and it is a different world. Texans regard Wisconsins as foreigners.

Listening to, say, Beyoncé will tell you very little about America. America is in truth a foreign place for many. Thousands of Americans will admit they do not know vast tracts of their own land. It was Trump who understood this and his wily opponent who did not. That is why she lost.

Sopel aims in this account to examine the underbelly of this massive land, a salad bowl of different ethnic groups. It is a friendly book written with enthusiasm. He has chosen popular themes such as guns, religion, race and insularity. I am glad he has also chosen paranoia for it is common.

Sopel is an excellent broadcaster but he is not an historian or a writer. This shows. Cliches abound along with overblown adjectives. For example, a city is always a giant melting pot. In addition, the book is like a series of short pieces that have hurriedly been bolted together, some are dated. You look in vain for new issues or a new perspective. Ther is far, far too much about Trump. He and his maverick personality have been thrashed to death in,to date, over 134 books. Some are dreadful, little more than a regurgitation of campaign notes.

Sopel is unfortunately no Alastair Cooke.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 22, 2017 9:50 PM BST


The Earth Gazers
The Earth Gazers
by Christopher Potter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.29

5.0 out of 5 stars No One Had Seen Mother Earth Like Them., 21 Sept. 2017
This review is from: The Earth Gazers (Hardcover)
2018 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the moment when three men escaped the pull of the Earth's gravitational field for the first time, and witnessed what no one had ever seen before, the Earth as a sphere falling through space. Only 24 humans have shared that experience. They are of course the Apollo astronauts who went on 9 manned missions to the Moon between 1968 and 1972. The Enterprise and The Blue Marble photographs they took have been massively reproduced.

Potter has written a very absorbing account about the early days of flying and of the three men who inspired space flight. : Charles Lindbergh, Robert Goddard and Wernher Von Braun. On 20 December 1968, Lindbergh and his wife were taken around Cape Kennedy, a 'city' of 30 launch towers. They saw the Vehicle Assembly Room where the rockets were assembled from parts made by thousands of American companies. In 1968 it was the tallest building in the world. The lower bay alone was the size of the UN Building. They also saw vintage rockets that ' looked as dated as Civil War cannon' .

The title of this book is taken from the word 'Earthgazing' , a term used by early aviators denoting gazing out of the cockpit at the Earth below. The chapter on Lindbergh is particularly interesting .There are three Parts and 22 chapters plus plates, and a short bibliography.

Potter reveals many things about the early pioneers of flight, each of the big thre had problems .Lindbergh was a philanderer and antisemitic. He was dashing, and he became the patron saint of NASA. He flirted with the Nazis and urged the US to keep out of the war. Goering the head of the Luftwaffe awarded him the Orderof the Golden Eagle.

Potter shows how the roots of space programme were bound up with Hitler's V2 missile. Below the Harz mountains 10,000 slave labourers built the rockets. Many were hanged for minor errors. Water was almost none existent. A mobile crematorium was built to get rid of the dead all of whom had come from concentration camps. The chief engineer was Von Braun. He and several rockets were shipped to New Orleans in 1945. As Bob Hope once said on stage, our Nazis were better than theirs.

This is a very fine piece of writing. It is a superb sequel to his previous book You Are Here. The astronauts did not bring back any great insights. The sense of ourselves has not changed. Sadly several had unhappy lives shortly after their space travels.Aldrin's book says it all.


Entitled: A Critical History of the British Aristocracy
Entitled: A Critical History of the British Aristocracy
by Chris Bryant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.00

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An Awful Diatribe That Demonstrates Poor Historical knowledge., 20 Sept. 2017
The author admits to being fascinated by the aristocracy of past centuries. Like many he was intrigued by their homes, life style and art collections. However, when he began researching the archives to write this book he found things that undermined his long time admiration.

He writes that he discovered a history of violence, theft and greed. In particular, he writes, four major themes stood out : a craving for wealth and property; envy and jealousy; pride; and ostentious display. Each theme is examined with carefully chosen examples.There are 16 chapters, pictures, notes and a bibliography.

The word aristocracy comes from Ancient Greece. It meant a forum of government by the best. Plato said the best would be the guardians, while his pupil Aristotle preferred rule by a virtuous few. They had to be wealthy to enable them to resist temptation. They also had to be ' of good birth'. Hence, from the time of the Anciient Greeks the aristocracy had clear and distinct social overtones. In England until the 19th century the aristocracy wielded political power.

Bryant is an Oxford educated Labour MP. In this book he has resuscitated an old scapegoat, the aristocracy. His bias is all too clear. We get a relentlessly negative indictment of the British aristocracy over the past one hundred years. Historians will note the cherry picking of evidence. The aristocracy are devilishly cunning, corrupt, tricky, untrustworthy and so on. Negative adjectives flow endlessly from page one.

The problem with all this is that in addition to it being very poor history it conveniently omits to mention what our aristocracy achieved. Unlike their European counterparts it went from strength to strength. The reason was because unlike the French nobles it had the backing of the gentry and later the middle classes. Even some of the working classes were its allies, as even Marxist historians have reluctantly admitted.

The author's attempts to examine popular resistance are flimsy. In 1832 the aristocracy including the Duke of Wellington gave way during the Reform Bill. Again and again the aristocracy diluted its power in order to avoid what was happening on the Continent. Of course, there were some inflexible peers but compromise was always the rule.

Unlike in certain quarters today, it was never us vs them. Stability of the nation is what mattered. Bryant has not read his history thoroughly.. It is terribly easy to find examples of a Bullingdon tendency but it was not typical. Even the author has to admit, it must have hurt, that our aristocracy has enriched the social, cultural and sporting life of the country.

The research is poor and as a result this account is deeply flawed owing to the prejudice that seeps from every paragraph. He does his best to escape his public school past. The end product is unfair, unbalanced and wanting. It is a great pity that Bryant knows so little of life or history. If he did he would know that greed, cunning, the desire for riches and property can be found among ALL social classes. Given the tone of this polemic, I find it ironic that he accuses the aristocracy of envy and jealousy.

It is a great pity that the author has written this thin account through a lens coated in envy and class. I am surprised as are my colleagues he has found the time to write this while representing his constituents as their Member of Parliament.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 22, 2017 5:00 PM BST


On Form
On Form
by Mike Brearley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cricketing Star and Analyst., 19 Sept. 2017
This review is from: On Form (Hardcover)
The author is arguably the most intellectual cricket captain England have ever had. He is also known to be charming and, unlike some, self-effacing. Those who have listened to his talks on the psychology of leadership have been impressed by the depth of his knowledge. I cannot think of another professional cricketer who could have written an erudite book like this. The opening is a gem. Brearley was never an oustanding cricketer but he was a magnificent leader and motivator. He was a great liberator of talents.

There are nine parts covering: Zen and the art of batting, rapture, technique, the team, seeing the wood and the trees, fear of failure, radical change, and Ithaka. In addition, there is a bibliography and pictures. Some of his stories are sheer delight, for example the one about a player who has fallen into a hole and the reactions of four coaches.

His comments on the importance of empathy ought to be pinned on the wall of every pavilion and dressing room. He has wise things to say about practise. He says no amount of practise will guarantee a great performance. Professional sport is full of casualties. Even the most gifted can and do fail to achieve the heights.

He played in 39 Tests and was captain in 31. He was a notable scholar at university and lectured in philosophy at Newcastle University before returning to cricket. In retirement he worked as a psychoanalyst and journalist. He was also president of the MCC. He wears his deep learning lightly. He has a flexible and open mind.

It was Mike who was restored to the captaincy in the middle of what threatened to be a disastrous 1981 Ashes tour. Some players like Botham and Willis were jaded and dispirited. He motivated them and their subsequent performances won the battle.

His most compelling description of form is in his discussion of tree cutters in India, a country he knows very well. His wife is Indian.

Brearley makes several interesting comments about psychoanalysis arguing it is not discredited. It is still vigorous and has much to offer. He admits to it being very useful as a player and test captain. When he captained Middlesex for four years he had analysis five times a week prior to play.

He came from a very background. His father was a teacher. Mike was the first to stay on at school and enter the sixth form. He did well and passed the entrance examination for Cambridge.

While at Cambridge he joined the Samaritans because he was interested in the philosophical teaching and writing of John Wisdom, Professor of Philosopher.

This book coming from someone who was once England's Test Captain is unique. It will fascinate anyone interested in the mind and psychology. It ought to be read by all interested in sport for it contains very useful nuggets about confidence, motivation, leadership, and teamwork. The author shows that sporting prowess is very much dependent on one's mental state.

Brearley wrote a book entitled, The art of Captainsy , some years ago. This one is different it homes in on the psychology of cricket and life. It probes and prods how our minds work and how that influences performance in our chosen career. Cricket, and he should have added golf, is essentially a psychological game, rather like chess. Bluff, craftiness, and resilience are crucial.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 19, 2017 1:50 PM BST


What Happened
What Happened
Price: £11.99

23 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Her Reaction Is Understandable But This Is Too Self-Serving., 18 Sept. 2017
This review is from: What Happened (Kindle Edition)
I am very surprised that several people have claimed that some reviewers had not read the book for this has been commonplace over many years. Indeed many actually admit this in their so-ca!led review.
Relevant facts so far available about Hillary include: she is intelligent, a very wily and experience politician, demonstrably economical with the truth ( read her other books), has held high office, and who is married to a man who in the words of the Washington Post ' brought the Presidency to its knees'.

This book is pure Clinton. It should have been entitled : Weep With Me. in a library it will be on the bereavement shelf.
Understandably, she and Bill were shell shocked when the result was announced for they had been certain of victory. She will never ever recover. Bill is shattered because he was looking forward to inhabiting the White House again and being the President 's mentor.
Her constant reiteration that she won the popular vote is pointless. This has happened five times before. She knows the American constitutional system if many others obviously do not.

It is wise of her to take the full blame for defeat but at the same time it is untrue. Her campaign was very badly run. Her advisors were a mix off expert and unexpected hangers on. Two were picked to the astonishment of politicians in her party.

The key reasons why Clinton suffered a humiliating defeat were: her failure to see and understand the rapid rise of populism since 2010. It was there and written about by esteemed sociologists and historians but she and her team dismissed it; the constant criticism of Sanders. Many of his barbs to the jugular went home ; her wooden performance in the te!evised debates; her failure to win over many of the 18 to 25 age-group; the unique intervention of the FBI Director over her emails never been known before; her personality; the media and the fact she is a woman. Despite his grimy reputation, Trump got thousands of female votes.

No matter what she says or does, many Americans simply do not believe her because of proven lies about her finances, her lies about Palestine, her lies about her daughter and many more. For many she is Lady Macbeth. Her marriage is rumoured to be a sham.Did she kill Vince Foster? The stories are endless. A leading west coast paper said democrats were asked to choose between cyanide and strichnyne.

There is minutia here that should have been edited out. We don't need to know she ate pork chop on a stick in Iowa or that a young woman with a baby simply had to hug me. Some of her gaffes, for example about putting miners out of work, are another sign of her weaknesses.

Her book is part memoir, part political science. It is part self-defence, part message to her party. It is angry, full of hate and frustration. It is her autopsy. She clearly loathes Trump. Obama could have done more and Putin played dirty tricks, she claims.

She claims she has let down her guard. I doubt it. You finish this book and are left with the feeling that truth with her and Bill depends on how you define it. His definition of sex remember was an example. The New York Times did a fact check on her so-called facts. It transpired that only 51% of 196 checked were accurate.

Her claim that she won the vote of more white women than Obama obscures the truth. Her 43% is less than other Democrat contenders in recent memory. Cherry picking again.

The style and syntax is at times very poor. A good editor would have removed some 50 pages.

Clinton has resorted to reading and yoga to try and heal the wounds. Every reminder of her defeat feels like ' ripping off a scab'.
Trying to determine the guilty party is akin to solving an Agatha Christie murder but at the heart of her defeat is her collossal failure to connect with the deep anger so many Americans feel. As a result, the Executve is now in the hands of a maverick , a potentially dangerous one
.
Let us hope this lightweight account proves to be therapeutic. For those who feel sorry For the Clintons remember that five weeks before Hillary hit the campaign trail she was paid $750,000 (not a misprint) for speeches to three business consortiums. Each lasted under 50 minutes. Bill has been paid similar sums over the years to deliver mundane generalisations about the world and his achievements. People regularly pay around £2000 a time to hear them. Their deep flaws are of course kept under wraps.

President Coolidge said keep cool, its business as usual. The election of Trump signalled a seismic shift in American politics. It is now more anarchic and unprepared. It is the last thing we need in a very unstable wor!d.


The Wardrobe Mistress
The Wardrobe Mistress
by Patrick McGrath
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping Gothic Tale., 18 Sept. 2017
This review is from: The Wardrobe Mistress (Hardcover)
The place is London the time is January 1947. It is the coldest winter for a hundred years. G
Food is rationed as is fuel. Mosley's supporters are still making life difficult for Jews. Scaffolding is everywhere. Charlie Grice, the husband of Joan, is dead. He was a top and charismatic actor. Joan loved making his suits and repairing torn garments. Charlie had fallen down steps after an argument with their son-in-law.
The author became known in 1988 with his Blood and Water and Other Tales. It was replete with bizarre happenings and repression. The Angel tale, one of 13, is full of ghoulish humour. All 13 are modern day gothic. His novels, The Grotesque, The Spider, and Asylum are gripping and delve into our mind. The Asylum is set in mental institution. His father, a forensic scientist, was once the Superintendent of Broadmoor. Patrick grew up in the grounds of the hospital.
His latest novel is full of chill. London exhibits the dreadful effects of bombing. At Charlie's funeral are his wife, and Vera his adult daughter. Other mourners include Frank Stone, a Jewish refugee who has replaced Charlie in the role of Malvolio. Frank becomes involved with both women.
Vera is an actress of renown while her mother is one of the top wardrobe mistresses in the Capital.
Her sewing room is now dark and forbidding. I doubt you will ever view a Singer sewing machine again without a shiver after reading what takes place.
Charlie's wardrobe becomes a place of enclosed horrors. We shiver with Joan as she cuts up a banana. You see, Charlie is dead but not gone. His wife believes his spirit is squatting in Frank 's body and haunting Vera.
Vera loves drink. She has a lover. One night Vera spies Charlie in the stalls. Is it a ghost, is it the gin or is she mad? Any more would spoil it for the reader.
Technically, this is very impressive for McGrath used the difficult first person plural to narrate and he changes tense often. He is a master at evoking atmosphere and a sense of time. You can smell ravaged London. He describes Joan's grief superbly. No doubt his background enables him to empathise with death and madness.
You put down this novel full of admiration for the writer. It is a very clever piece of fiction.The
Highly recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 18, 2017 5:50 PM BST


All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8" HD Display, 16 GB, Black - with Special Offers
All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8" HD Display, 16 GB, Black - with Special Offers
Price: £79.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Budget-Friendly Tablet., 18 Sept. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
With Alexa, the cloud based voice service and a battery life of around 12 hours, and it has, this new tablet is excellent value. Its build is sturdy and like all fire tablets it is reliable.
The keys on the board are large and hence very easy to use, particularly for children.
The absence of Google Play is not a problem as the apps available on Amazon are perfectly adequate for most people. Prime members are particularly well served. The Fire 7 HDX is a sound and cheap machine but the latest 8 is far superior.
Its twin speakers give excellent stereo sound even without the use of plugs. In portrait they are on the left hand side, in landscape they are on the top.
Alexa is simple to use. Compared to Echo she is limited but she answers clearly and promptly. Answers can be heard several metres away.
Colour options are good and the design is sleeker. OS update support and an improved screen resolution make the HD 8 amazing value .
Set up is simple and quick particularly if you have an Amazon account. Wi-Fi connection is easy.
If you want a reliable tablet for under £100 this is a very good buy. Those with a good smartphone wanting a cheap tablet that easily beats its competitors will not be disappointed. For children it is easy to use and the kids content in the Appstore is remarkably good. Parents are able to monitor age appropriate content.
You can easily sync your other Alexa powered devices, such as Echo.
Some have criticised the camera. It is poor, only 2 megapixel, but who buys a tablet for the camera?
Note that you cannot transfer apps from Google Play.
There is a slot for a microSD card that can increase your storage to 256 GB.
Blue Shade is available for bed-time reading. You simply adjust in Settings the backlight. This is strongly advocated by doctors to reduce exposure to white light which can adversely affect your sleep cycle.
The 7th generation HD 8 compares very favourably with, say, the mini Apple tablet, price wise. You can buy several 8's for the price of the mini.
Strongly recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 18, 2017 2:55 PM BST


Lost Girls: The Invention of the Flapper
Lost Girls: The Invention of the Flapper
by Linda Simon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Age of Elimination: Waists and Calves Had To Go., 17 Sept. 2017
This entertaining book reveals that flappers were not a mainly 1920s phenomenon. Meaning young prosttute, the term can be traced back to the 1890s. It then came to describe thin,adolescent girls with long legs. They were, it was said, flapping their butterfly wings. Simon has written a very interesting social and literary history of them.

She describes the shimmy and tango, smoking, the absence of chaperones and Rudolph Valentine on screen kissing a flapper. Simon explains the anxiety caused to parents and clergymen by the antics of these young, flat chested girls.

The author is Professor of English at Skidmore College, New York. As such she loves quoting galore from American books, some very old owned? Her chosen book title is linked to Peter Pan and the lost boys. In the flood of silent movies that came out after 1900 these girls became stock heroines. The Sheik, a sensational desert romance pulled in the audiences and shocked adults. Cartoons mocked the flapper. Flappers said calm down, dear.

Fad dieting and calorie counting became the rage ? Hips and waistline had to go. Smoking was widely promoted as a way to diet. Slenderness was mandatory. It denoted inner strength. Simon tells us the first face-lift was carried out in 1901 surgery on the calves soon followed. Failure led to amputation. There sprang into being the giant cosmetic companies, Max Factor, Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein, among others.

All this caused a degree of panic. What if these women declined motherhood? What if race suicide occurred, asked eugenics specialists? Some of the fears described here are ludicrous and comical but many older people believed them. In response, flappers said they were fully justified in revelling after years of campaigning to win the right to vote.

Simon has written a book about young girls who scandalised society. With bobbed hair the flapper flaunted her freedom. For a while they caused a tsunami in American high society.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20