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Re: What Are You Reading? [Re: Geoff Hannis] #72729
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' Grey Wolf: The escape of Adolf Hitler - Gerard Williams/Simon Dunstan ' - The more I read, the more it sounds like this was a very real possibility. think

Re: What Are You Reading? [Re: Lee Bradley] #72731
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Old Adolf must be knocking on a bit now, though. whistle

Re: What Are You Reading? [Re: Geoff Hannis] #72732
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Originally Posted by Geoff Hannis

Old Adolf must be knocking on a bit now, though. whistle


You would hope so at 128 years old laugh

But did he make it to Bariloche, Argentina before he kicked the bucket? The clues say so according to Gerrard think

Re: What Are You Reading? [Re: Geoff Hannis] #73094
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Last night I finished off Andrew Marr's "A History of Modern Britain" (2007). It covers the period from the end of the Second World War. A time when we were blessed with real leadership and vision; the era of Churchill, Attlee, Beveridge and Bevan (to name but four). As I waded my way through this hefty *602 page tome I couldn't help comparing such giants (and those who followed them, such as Macmillan, and - arguably - Thatcher) with the crop of mediocrity we are presently saddled with. The book takes us up to the Blair and Brown years, but is not only about politics; Marr also provides lively sketches about what was going on in the arts, popular culture and societal changes in general. The book is very well written and even enjoyable! As it concludes before the "financial crisis", a new, updated, edition is obviously now much needed. Recommended. 10/10.

Earlier in the week I finished off James Holland's "Burma '44" (2016) about the little-known (to me at any rate) "Battle of the Admin Box" that took place in the Arakan jungle of Burma early on in 1944. It is hard to imagine a more inhospitable place to be surrounded by brutal attackers, fight them off for three weeks, and finally prevail. Luckily, the leadership on the ground was of a high order. But what is interesting from the historical point of view, is that this marked a turning point in the fortunes of the 14th Army, due in the main to new operational methods instigated (and insisted upon) by Mountbatten and Slim. Drawing upon eye-witness accounts from various sources, Holland has produced a very readable account. 8/10.

As a footnote, the other day I picked up a copy of James Lunt's "The Retreat from Burma" (1986). It was a pity I had not found that before the one mentioned above, as it obviously relates to an earlier period in British military history (1941/42).

* Yesterday I picked up for a quid (in paperback, and in new condition) Robert Fisk's "The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East" (2005). It is only 1,286 pages long! Rather like John Simpson (plus a few others), Fisk has very much been a "witness to history" (and often a bit too close for comfort). I wonder if I'll ever get through it.

Re: What Are You Reading? [Re: Lee Bradley] #73095
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Originally Posted by Lee Bradley

"Grey Wolf: The escape of Adolf Hitler" ... the more I read, the more it sounds like this was a very real possibility.


Yes, habeas corpus at the Bunker ... but surely the clincher was that *Blondi was spotted lolling about in Patagonia! smile

* Adolf's dog.

Re: What Are You Reading? [Re: Geoff Hannis] #73103
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Question is Geoff, who's body was identified as Hitler? One of Hitlers look a likes? Apparently he had several and evidence suggests at least a few of them were present in the fuhrers bunker and their bodies accounted for.. It must have been a terrible game of guess who for the Russians! ( " Did he have a little nazi mustache? "... " yes ", flips down all other characters )

I wonder if Blondi had a little tache? ( Didn't he kill blondi with cyanide in the bunker? I could be wrong but I'm sure I read that somewhere? ) think

Re: What Are You Reading? [Re: Lee Bradley] #73106
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Fake news! think

Old Adolf and his Mates (Kumpeln) were pretty good at that.

Re: What Are You Reading? [Re: Geoff Hannis] #73165
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I have now finished off the book I mentioned the other day:- "The Retreat from Burma" by James Lunt (1986). The writer was an officer throughout that 900 mile ordeal. After Dunkirk, Churchill famously remarked that "wars are not won by evacuations"; and the same might have been said about Burma (although in both cases, of course, the blokes later went back, and prevailed). Before reading this book, I had not known too much about the long slog out of Burma; once again it is a sobering tale of ordinary blokes "toughing it out" (as we might say today) under (in the main) good leadership. 8/10 and required reading for anyone interested in the Burma campaigns(s).

Last night I finished off another one about Burma:- "Nunshigum" by Arthur Freer (1995). Anyone who has had any dealings with the 3rd Carabiniers would no doubt recognise that place name. Sub-titled "On the Road to Mandalay", the book tells the story, in diary format, of an M3 (General Lee) tank crewman who was often at the sharp end of the British advance into Burma 1944/45. Nunshigum was but one of many battles (and Battle Honours won) along the way.

On 13th April each year B Squadron of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys) parades without officers, as a reminder of that fateful day in 1944 when the Squadron lost all it officers, leaving the Squadron Sergeant Major to continue the fight (and win)! This book is especially interesting as it deals with things at the crewman's level, with descriptions of such matters as gunnery, radio procedure, river crossings, medical problems, and how co-operation was effected with infantry (British, Gurkha, Indian and Punjabi). The appendices also contain interesting details. 7/10 (it would have been better had it been thoroughly edited), but recommended all the same.

It seems that I now need to look out for "Tank Tracks to Rangoon" by Bryan Perrett (2014). smile

Re: What Are You Reading? [Re: Geoff Hannis] #73192
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Last night I finally (switched off the computer and) got around to finishing off "On Writing" by Stephen King (2000). This has simply been one of the most inspiring books about writing I’ve ever read. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the writer's craft. 10/10 (the first one)! smile

Originally Posted by Stephen King

If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write.


Another one I liked was (and there were [are] many):-

Originally Posted by Stephen King

Once I start work on a project, I don't stop and I don't slow down unless I absolutely have to.


Re: What Are You Reading? [Re: Geoff Hannis] #73196
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"This Boy" by Alan Johnson (2013) tells the story of the future Labour Cabinet Minister's impoverished early life in 1950's and 60's London W10. I had started this one some months ago, and needed to finish it off. It is very moving in places; but the real heroine of the book is really Alan's elder sister. Not much "snowflakery" there. No self-pity by the author, either. 8/10 I think.

Originally Posted by Alan Johnson

You may be poor, but don’t show poor.


The title, by the way, comes from an early (forgotten?) Beatles number of the same name.

Following on from that one I got through "Please, Mister Postman" (2014) by the same author in only three sittings. It continued with his life story and I found the recollections of his time as a postman, and the inner workings of the (then) Post Office system interesting enough. I must admit I was not quite so fascinated by his tales of climbing through the ranks of the trade union, though. Sad in places, the book felt a bit rushed at the end. Perhaps Alan had a deadline to meet. Only 6/10 for this one.

Originally Posted by Alan Johnson

I fell into trade-union work like an Artic explorer into a hot bath.


Another song covered by the Beatles, of course.

Apparentlty, there is a third (and final) autobiographical book in the series:- "The Long and Winding Road". I shall have to look out for it.

Re: What Are You Reading? [Re: Geoff Hannis] #73248
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I came across Alan Johnson's "The Long and Winding Road" today, but decided against picking it up; I really need to get through my existing pile of books before buying any more! smile

Meanwhile, I have recently cleared another two good ones:-

"Phoenix" (sub-titled:- "Policing the Shadows") by Jack Holland and Susan Phoenix (1996) tells the true story of one of the RUC Special Branch officers killed in a helicopter crash on the Mull of Kintyre on 02-Jun-94. It is co-written by his wife, who brings an element of "humanity" to an otherwise rather depressing chronicle of 24 years of policing the darker corners of the so-called "Troubles" in Northern Ireland. Hardly a "light read", I felt I needed to plod through to the end, if only as a mark of respect for Detective Superintendent Ian Phoenix (ex-3 Para) and other brave men like him. 7/10.

"SAS Secret War" by Tony Jeapes (1996) tells the true story of SAS operations against insurgents in the Dhofar region of Oman in the early 1970's. Jeapes was the first SAS officer to reach Major General rank (and I believe this was the only book he has written), but during the period in question he was commander of the first SAS squadron sent to fight in Dhofar, to return three years later as the Commanding Officer of the regiment. I had read this book before - it is a well-written account of a successful and mostly forgotten (by some) counter-insurgency campaign. It offers insight into the cultural as well as military tactics employed - the deployment, for example, of the firqat (militia of local tribesmen) irregulars. Originally published in 1980 after editing by the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office, this later edition was released without the censorship. The author does still change some names but includes the previously censored material. There are a few colour photos (but without the now customary blacked-out faces)! I regard this SAS book (and I have probably read most of them) as a classic. 10/10.

Re: What Are You Reading? [Re: Geoff Hannis] #73475
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Another Maigret:- "Maigret's Boyhood Friend" expertly* (as far as I could tell) translated in 1970 by Eileen Ellenbogen. After enjoying this one I looked to see what was available on YouTube, and found that the Granada TV production starring Michael Gambon was (once again) the best. I was also able to follow the French film version starring the infamous Bruno Cremer. As always (for me) the book itself was the best "version". I also noted that the French film lacked the atmospheric music (in fact, no music at all) of the British production(s); and - even more odd - Maigret never wore a hat in any of the scenes. Sacré bleu! 9/10 for the story (and the translation).

I have recently waded through (thankfully not too many pages) of Patrick Cockburn's "The Rise of the Islamic State" (2014). Cockburn is a well known journalist who reports from the Middle East, and indeed this book comes across as a series of newspaper dispatches. But it lacks structure, and he repeats himself throughout. By now, of course, this book could do with an updated edition; but I found it to be a somewhat superficial overview. In fact I would recommend those with an interest in this area to look elsewhere. Only 3/10, I think.

On the other hand I can recommend "Sisters in Arms" (2008) by Nicola Tyrer. This book tells the story of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service during the Second World War. There are many quotable passages, but the one that stays with me is when a Japanese officer in Hong Kong asks:- "Do English women never cry"? To which the Matron replies:- "Not when they have work to do". The nurses endured harsh conditions in many theatres of the war, and were often nearer to the front lines of fighting than I had imagined. Many nursed on hospital ships, and some survived shipwrecks (due to enemy action). I had not realised how many QA nurses there actually were (more than 10,000 at their peak)! All in all a powerful depiction of wartime nursing. 10/10.

* In that, had I not known that the original "L'Ami d'Enfance de Maigret" (1968) was written in French by Georges Simenon, I would never have guessed whilst reading Ellenbogen's work.

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