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The Mirror and the Light/Hilary Mantel

In these extraordinary times I feel entitled in reviewing a book that I have not read and am not going to read. It’s the third book in Hilary Mantel’s trilogy on Thomas Cromwell. Reviewers I respect have criticised it for being too long and needing editing. Why the fuss? It’s rather like [...]

March 24, 2020 // 0 Comments

The Splendid and the Vile/ Erik Larson

This an engaging and well-researched account by an American author and journalist of the Blitz. My initial reaction on reading the reviews was “Do I need this?” Over the last year I had read Andrew Roberts’ biography of Churchill, Appeasing Hitler, Nicholas Shakespeare’s Six Minutes [...]

March 17, 2020 // 0 Comments

The balance of life

Earlier this week (Monday 9th March) I alighted upon a piece by Clare Foges on page 21 of my copy of The Times commenting upon the latest developments in the coronavirus epidemic and the UK government’s official advice on self-isolation – “Remain in your home. Do not go to work, school or [...]

March 11, 2020 // 0 Comments

The Information Officer/Mark Mills

The Information Officer is set in Malta during its sustained bombing by the Luftwaffe. Mark Mills (author) It’s a crime thriller though the historical and location detail are impressive.  My knowledge of Malta during the war is constrained to the Malta Story starring Alec Guinness and the fact [...]

March 10, 2020 // 0 Comments

The Plot Against America / Philip Roth ( 2005)

I read this book for the second after time after finishing Those Angry Days (Lynne Olsen). Both cover that period in America from 1939 onwards when the nation was divided between isolationists and interventionists in regard to joining the war against Nazi Germany. In Roth’s work Charles Lindbergh [...]

March 6, 2020 // 0 Comments

The BBC – it was not ever thus

I am reading an excellent book – Last Hope Island by Lynne Olson. It is an account of how many Europeans notably heads of government, or self-styled ones like Charles de Gaulle, came to the UK in 1940 as it was the only substantial western European democracy not under the Nazi jack boot. The [...]

January 24, 2020 // 0 Comments

Clive James RIP

Yesterday my brother gave me a lift from the south coast back to my home. On the way I commented that we should remember the date Wednesday 27th November 2019 because one day in some far off Pub Trivia Quiz it was possible that the question might come up as to which three culturally-significant [...]

November 28, 2019 // 0 Comments

Rise and Kill First/ Ronen Bergman

Thi is an account of the targeted assassinations conducted by the Caesarea unit of the Mossad. The writer does not take a sympathetic stance and states their futility. Although the killings were sanctioned by the Prime Minister, the Mossad soon became a state within a state and though subject to [...]

November 22, 2019 // 0 Comments

I think I’m turning Japanese … [Not?]*

(Note: * above is a reference to the worldwide single hit Turning Japanese by The Vapors, taken off their 1980 album New Clear Days). Despite our Rust delegation out in Japan continuing to set new standards of reporting excellence, overnight I spotted a piece in the British media suggesting that [...]

October 30, 2019 // 0 Comments

Daphne Du Maurier

Recently I was speaking at a plenary session of a literary festival on Great Authors of the Twentieth Century. My co-speaker, a literary academic from Corpus Christi College Cambridge, advocated James Joyce’s Ulysses as the game changer of the century and rather pooh-poohed my choice of Daphne du [...]

October 22, 2019 // 0 Comments

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