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Re: What Are You Reading? [Re: Geoff Hannis] #73248
24/05/18 02:27 PM
24/05/18 02:27 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 13,477
the path less trodden
Geoff Hannis Online content OP
Super Hero
Geoff Hannis  Online Content OP
Super Hero
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 13,477
the path less trodden

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
05/07/18 01:48 PM
05/07/18 01:48 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 13,477
the path less trodden
Geoff Hannis Online content OP
Super Hero
Geoff Hannis  Online Content OP
Super Hero
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 13,477
the path less trodden

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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