ARmy Rumour SErvice

Political Wings: William Wedgwood Benn, First Viscount Stansgate

This is the first biography of Rt. Hon. William Wedgwood Benn DSO, DFC, first Viscount Stansgate, cabinet minister under MacDonald and Attlee, Air Commodore with active service in both World Wars, defector from the Liberals to Labour over his dispute with Lloyd George, and father of Tony Benn. Benn served in the army and RAF during the First World War,
To be honest I was a little disappointed with this book. Only two chapters cover Benn’s entire military career. As stated in the book Benn left two ISO containers of notes and records but very little is written about his war years.
As a political reference it is very good.
4 mushroom heads.


Hitler’s Last Day: Minute by Minute By Jonathon Mayo and Emma Craigie

cover

Using diaries and letters produced over the period of 29 – 30th April 1945, this is a chronological narrative, as seen through the eyes of those who were with Hitler in last days and those fighting throughout Europe and Asia. It’s a fascinating read with plenty of detail the book employs contemporary written accounts of many famous people – Audrey Hepburn, Alan Whicker, George Orwell just to name but a few.
Many readers on here will be aware of the events in the Führerbunker during those historic two days but this book also focuses not just on that.
I found this an interesting, enjoyable but sometimes uncomfortable book especially the diary entries of those encountering the concentration camps for the first time and the extraordinary attempts of those attempting to escape the madness of Berlin.
4 mushroom heads

hotel_california


Review: 17 Carnations by Andrew Morton

‘Hark the Herald Angels sing,
Mrs Simpson’s pinched our King’
Christmas carol 1936

An experienced biographer, Mr Morton has now graduated to a serious subject and here focuses on the life of the Duke of Windsor and his unwise flirtations with the German Nazi leadership. He has had access to primary records and papers in Germany and post-Soviet Russia and also presents a ‘Select’ but actually extraordinarily comprehensive bibliography. He has also sourced some very interesting photographs which have not been in the public gaze before.

My take on Edward has three strands, all reinforced by Morton:

1. Edward was dim.

2. He never experienced loving parenting.

3. In spite of his professed sympathy for Welsh miners, he had little sympathy for the British people, possibly due to the bullying he had experienced in his schooling and as a naval cadet.

An example (not in the book): A parent of a contemporary of Edward’s, visiting Dartmouth, recalled a rather sad boy standing alone with fifteen pairs of rugger boots tied by their laces and hung round his neck. The explanation was that his confrères felt the need to take him down a peg. Read more ›


British Military Operations in Aden and Radfan: 100 Years of British Colonial Rule by Nick van der Bijl

This book covers the period of time from 1839 to 1967, the times when Britain was the colonial power in the area, the times when a presence ‘East of Suez ‘ was a common enough phrase.  It is a book that could well surprise a number of people, especially those who have little knowledge of the conflicts there.

Aden became an important port during the first world war and that importance increased greatly in the second round between 1939 and 1945 but I suppose that it is the post war periods that have become more of a focus.

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Review: So You Want To Be A Celebrity by Steve Allen

The author has been a presenter on LBC Radio since 1979 so has had to deal with more than his fair share of vapid celebs. So You Want to Be a Celebrity is another of the LBC polemics on modern life. Apparently 80% of newspaper and magazine coverage is of celebrities rather than the current affairs. This short book investigates their world, how it works and how they get paid. It’s well written, easy to read and compelling. It paints a profoundly depressing picture of contemporary Britain.

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Review: The Dumbing Down of Britain by Duncan Barkes

This is another of the series of polemics by LBC Radio presenters, of which Duncan Barkes is one. This short book does what is says on the cover. It is well written; the prose flows and the general tone is one of reasonableness, with justifiable flashes of exasperation. It skilfully avoids being an angry rant and therefore poses some awkward questions. It is a comforting and enjoyable read, at least for middle aged curmudgeons.

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Book Review: Its Politics… But Not As We Know It by Nick Ferrari

Nick Ferrari hosts the breakfast show on LBC Radio, spending much of that time interviewing politicians. This short book, which is another of the LBC polemics, addresses what he sees as the disconnection between Westminster and the rest of the country. Read more ›


Book Review: Loathe Thy Neighbour by James O’Brien

James O’Brien is a journalist presenter on LBC Radio. This short polemic (their choice) is written as part of a series on contentious current affairs subjects being produced by LBC.

This book is about immigration. We get off to a brisk start with the politics of fear and then canter onto identity and the human fear of the other. The author’s contention is that there is only one humanity and that expressing concern about immigration is in fact racism. He advances his case fluently and engagingly but the lack of facts and supporting data means his argument is attractive rather than compelling.

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Book Review: The NHS: Things That Need To Be Said by Iain Dale

The author presents the drive time show on LBC Radio, the UK’s only national news talk radio station. This short book is one of a series of polemics being published by LBC on contemporary topics. Sensible debate on the NHS is long overdue and this is a welcome start. The prose flows lightly and well and points are tellingly made. Unsurprisingly the tone is chatty rather than learned, but that does not detract. It is a pleasure to read. Read more ›


Equipment Review: Pilgrim HL GTX MTP Forest Boot

Firstly I would like to thank Paul, the MD of Trekitt, (http://www.trekitt.co.uk/) for his help as well as generosity.

So, I have had these boots just over a week and have just this afternoon returned from an eleven mile walk confronted/accompanied by a good sea breeze, rain and a bit more rain. I am not going into the technical side as that has been covered already in the two previous reviews, I will just say as I find. Read more ›


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