What are you reading right now?

Max Hastings' "The Secret War: Spies, Codes and Guerrillas 1939-1945".

Pretty good so far - I'm about a quarter of the way through at the moment. MI6 and its boss, Menzies, have come in for a severe kicking; Richard Sorge has also shown up, apparently, he was a bit of a shagger, and everyone seems to be reading everyone else's' codes - though the Allies aren't telling each other about it yet.
 
Jutland: The Unfinished Battle by Nicholas Jellicoe.

I put off buying this book last year instead relying on two other volumes (in the one book) about the battle. As esteemed AARSERs' will know, Nicholas Jellicoe is the grandson of Sir John Jellicoe who commanded the Grand Fleet in that battle and consequently I felt that there may be more than a hint of bias. I am happy to say I was wrong.

The author gives a lot more detail about the development of both navies, the histories of the commanding officers of both navies and the political developments that shaped both sides to the battle. Far more detail than I have read anywhere else. In discussing the careers of Jellicoe and Beatty he also gives a lot of detail. Both men showed much bravery during the Boxer rebellion in China where both were wounded; Jellicoe in fact was not expected to live.

The other thing that is made very clear is that both Jellicoe and Beatty received a lot of support; Jellicoe on the back of a very distinguished academic and career achievement and Beatty on a good career performance but average academic performance. Both men had Churchill's favourable attention and owed their respective commands at the battle to him.

At this stage I am about a 1/4 into the book and enjoying it immensely.

 
I've got three on the go atm.

Bloody Belfast - Ken Wharton. Read it before & i've owned it for a while. Having a re-read as I'd exhausted my unread pile. Nothing much to say. Usual excellent stuff.

Picked this up from the local library..........

Forgotten Voices of the Desert Victory

His nibs, Julian Thompson is the author. Fair few similar style of books out there on the 'Voices' premise. I really like the way they are put together. I've got a real interest in the desert campaign at the moment too so its excellent stuff.




I downloaded a Kindle freebie a while ago..........

Zombies in London & a useless tw@t

Its still there buckshee but i'm not enjoying it too much. The 'hero' is a chopper. A total wet lettuce. He's stuck in the top floor of his house in London while the zombie apocalypse kicks off around him. He's got a broken leg & can't move with it in cast. Fair enough. He's an ex-political lobbyist cum party activist with the life skills of an amoeba it seems.

The book is written as journal entries & its works very well but I'm hoping our hero ends up being eaten by the hordes. While its boring to have a gung-ho hero who's got all the kit, the skills & drill needed to survive a zombie outbreak, this flips it entirely on its head to the point that when dipshit finally leaves his house to try & find other survivors once his leg is getting better & he's more mobile, he's about as much use as chocolate fireguard. Book is still good though so its worth a read. If he gets killed & we end up with someone different to follow around or he turns into someone with a degree of common sense by the end of it, i'll read the next one in the series.
 
Just finished The Last Broomsquire by Martin Hesp.

Loosely based on the trial and subsequent hanging of "Handsome Johnny" Walford in Somerset in 1789, my interest was first piqued as a teenager on holiday in the area (which I have visited almost every year since) when I got hold of a copy of Jack Hurley's book "Murder and Mystery on Exmoor". It turns out Martin Hesp was a young journalist at the West Somerset Free Press when Hurley was editor, and the story obviously grabbed his attention too.

The tragic events leading to John Walford's execution are unfortunately all too real, but Martin Hesp weaves the facts into a historical novel, introducing other well known contemporaries such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He freely admits to taking liberties with history, but taken as a work of fiction it is, by turns, gripping, heartbreaking, and wonderfully descriptive of the Quantocks and Exmoor.

@greyfergie just a bit more info for you.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
£1? 50p? 2009 Penguin ppbk of RV Jones' 'Most Secret War'. Back cover says it all really:

Jones 001.jpg


Jones, Physics doctorate at 22, had great trouble getting Scientific Intelligence facts upstairs through what he called 'hierarchical attenuation'. As a result many more civilians died in the Blitz than might have been, and many, many casualties in Bomber Command could have been avoided. Hs problem was that he was too young for the leadership who were senior and therefore 'knew better' although Churchill, when Jones got into meetings with him, recognised that Jones was right and the others were guessing. Turf wars and personalities (Lindemann vs Tizard etc) also contributed to this. Jones (mouldy CBE knocked down from a CB) was ill-rewarded for what he did for us. The courage of the agents in occupied countries who fed back information is well recorded.

A rich and fascinating story, with no end of fascinating tales and anecdotes, which I read long ago but oddly had no sense of deja vu when reading it again. Confidently 6 out of 5 for ARRSErs.
 
Having knocked over The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill I'm going to start Riptide by John Lawton tonight.

images.jpg


Synopsis:
Spring 1941. Britain, standing alone since Dunkirk; Russia, on the brink of entering the war; America, struggling to stay neutral. And in Germany, after ten years spying for the Americans, Wolfgang Stahl disappears during a Berlin air raid. The Germans think he's dead. The British know he's not. But where is he? MI5 convince US Intelligence that Stahl will head for London, and so recruit England's first reluctant ally into a 'plain clothes partnership'. Captain Cal Cormack, a shy American 'aristocrat', is teamed with Chief Inspector Stilton of Stepney, fat, fifty, and convivial, and between them they scour London, a city awash with spivs and refugees. But then things start to go terribly wrong and, ditched by MI5 and disowned by his embassy, Cal is introduced to his one last hope - Sgt Troy of Scotland Yard . . .
 
image.jpeg

The author starts as a pre war sergeant with 3 RTR off to France in 1940 back to blighty then North Africa,Greece back to the desert then Normandy to the Baltic still with 3 RTR finishing as a Major with MC and Bar.
Very good.
 
Having finished Dingo Firestorm I thought I'd read the book by the man behind it all, Bitter Harvest - Zimbabwe and the Aftermath of its Independence by Ian Smith:

Cover.jpg


The synopsis is probably unnecessary for the ARRSE readership, but here it is anyway:
In July 2007, Zimbabwe's worsening economy saw inflation skyrocket to 7,634 per cent, deepening the already chronic food shortages in a country where only one in five of the adult population is in employment. Months later, on 20 November 2007, Ian Smith, the former Prime Minister of Rhodesia died, leaving behind him a lifetime of resistance to black majority rule and the dangers that he believed it would bring to his country. Ian Smith was a man with the ability to excite powerful emotions in all who heard his name. To those who still revere his memory he was a hero, a mighty leader, a man whose formidable integrity led him into head-to-head confrontation with the Labour Government of Britain in the 1960s. To others, he was, and remains, a demon, a reactionary whose intransigence long delayed majority rule in an important corner of Africa.The last decades of the twentieth century and the first years of the new millennium have seen Zimbabwe spiral into a chaos of violence and towards the brink of economic collapse, prompting many to reappraise Smith's role and the prescience of his actions. In this revealing and important historical document, Ian Smith charts the rise and fall of a once-great nation. He tells the remarkable story behind the signing of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, as well as the excesses of power that Mugabe has used to create the virtual dictatorship which exists in Zimbabwe today.
 
Having knocked over The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill I'm going to start Riptide by John Lawton tonight.

View attachment 339499

Synopsis:
Spring 1941. Britain, standing alone since Dunkirk; Russia, on the brink of entering the war; America, struggling to stay neutral. And in Germany, after ten years spying for the Americans, Wolfgang Stahl disappears during a Berlin air raid. The Germans think he's dead. The British know he's not. But where is he? MI5 convince US Intelligence that Stahl will head for London, and so recruit England's first reluctant ally into a 'plain clothes partnership'. Captain Cal Cormack, a shy American 'aristocrat', is teamed with Chief Inspector Stilton of Stepney, fat, fifty, and convivial, and between them they scour London, a city awash with spivs and refugees. But then things start to go terribly wrong and, ditched by MI5 and disowned by his embassy, Cal is introduced to his one last hope - Sgt Troy of Scotland Yard . . .
Mr Lawton writes exceedingly good reads
Pre war wartime post war he has that gift that makes you seek out the Troy books
Wilderness pair share cameos from Troy’s world.
 
Just finishing

Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News by Clint Watts

The author wades into the mess that is the Russian active measures in the US election.

Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy

An extended read of the above but unanswered questions posed still remain outstanding:
The Obama administration has been slow to assess and respond to Russia’s social media manipulation, so Russia continues to push the envelope. The U.S. government will need to rapidly develop a strategy to mitigate Russian active measures starting in January 2017. How and when will they counter Russian aggression online? How will they protect citizens from influence operations and hacks? How should we respond to and ultimately deter interference with U.S. elections and the hacking of officials, companies, or citizens?
But a fun read of how open source used to be, before the Russians ruined it for everyone.
 

A very well researched and written book, an amazing story too.

1530182601025.jpeg

This book explains why Omaha beach was so difficult. Great read.
 
Jutland: The Unfinished Battle by Nicholas Jellicoe.

I put off buying this book last year instead relying on two other volumes (in the one book) about the battle. As esteemed AARSERs' will know, Nicholas Jellicoe is the grandson of Sir John Jellicoe who commanded the Grand Fleet in that battle and consequently I felt that there may be more than a hint of bias. I am happy to say I was wrong.

The author gives a lot more detail about the development of both navies, the histories of the commanding officers of both navies and the political developments that shaped both sides to the battle. Far more detail than I have read anywhere else. In discussing the careers of Jellicoe and Beatty he also gives a lot of detail. Both men showed much bravery during the Boxer rebellion in China where both were wounded; Jellicoe in fact was not expected to live.

The other thing that is made very clear is that both Jellicoe and Beatty received a lot of support; Jellicoe on the back of a very distinguished academic and career achievement and Beatty on a good career performance but average academic performance. Both men had Churchill's favourable attention and owed their respective commands at the battle to him.

At this stage I am about a 1/4 into the book and enjoying it immensely.

Cheers and ordered.
 
The Picture of Dorian Gray. am working my way through some classics have done Frankenstein, Dracula, 3 Musketeers. I must say the Picture of Dorian Gray is as you expect from Oscar Wilde, homo erotic and very camp.
 
A book reviewed by Foxtrot 40 U-Boat 977

U- Boat 977​


Heinz Schaeffer.​


On reflection a disappointing book on some levels, but none the less Interesting. It is subtitled the True story of the U-Boat that escaped to Argentina, but in fact this is really relegated to the last quarter of the book. This is really the story of Hans Schaeffer and his incidental command of U977 and his relationship with his crew during the voyage.

The details of the trip are really somewhat sparse in places and the style of the story is rather more of a report on what is without doubt something else. But there is another aspect the story, which is far more intriguing, which is about the birth of the Hitler survival stories and obvious connections to ODESSA, which Schaeffer tries to dispel. They survive in their legions today, together with the UFO fraternity and can be taken with a pinch of salt.



But details of how the boat survives without its principal periscope, which is damaged by the carelessness of the first Officer and on reflection may have been deliberate in order to sabotage the trip, are never really gone into, other than a pretext to relieve the first officer of his job later in the trip. There is a real jab at Schaeffer about how he navigated using only the secondary periscope in the appendix, but it had to be dead reckoning.

It is a valuable insight into how the Kriegsmarine was trained showing the limitations and complexity of the submarines then in service. I was, unaware that trials had been carried out for underwater
refuelling and I am assuming that the “Versorger” were the submarines referred to as “Milch Kuh” The hardships of the crews is underlined in “Das Boot” and it is difficult not to have an empathy for the lads who risked the lives in these tiny boats. All in all an interesting book, but not really what it says on the cover.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
£1, 1988 ppbk of the 2nd (1979) edition of Richard Hough's 1972 'Captain Bligh and Mr Christian'.

Perhaps one of the most famous sea stories of all, the Bounty mutiny. Apart from this narration being marvellously written, Hough (always worth reading) had access to records not previously available or used and goes in some depth into what happened and who said what, covering the whole voyage, Pitcairn, Bligh's amazing boat trip and what came after for all participants including the horrendous night of murder on Pitcairn. Bligh emerges as a brilliant navigator and seaman and the man to have leading you in really foul weather, but never able to restrain himself from unleashing a torrent of oaths and recrimination on his officers for the most minor problem, in front of the men. The last chapter tries to explore the private relationship over some years between Bligh and Christian but we'll never know the real answer. It was 1789, not 2018, that's for sure.

I've always been a fan of Bligh ever since finding a facsimile edition of his log in the Wardroom library at Whale Island, itself a rich source of naval history and where I first found Semenov's fascinating account of Tsushima. Long since dispersed I expect.


ETA one tiny epiphany - the story pf Bligh and the coconuts is surely the father of Herman Wouk's piece about Queeg and the strawberries.
 
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Lee Childs - Jack Reacher, Night School. Very good.
 

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