What are you reading right now?

I just finished this book, don't be put off by the cover which makes it look like an airport pulp thriller. It's actually a well researched work.

It outline's Churchill's plans for attacking the Soviet Union in the immediate aftermath of WWII, he got the chiefs of staff to draw up a war plan. It was a matter of urgency for him as he wanted to move on the USSR before they got too comfortable and the US demobilised their forces. Given that it involved instructions to Monty not to destroy any captured German equipment or weapons as we might be using their former users pretty soon the plan was called "Unthinkable".

Of course the Yanks thought this was all madness and typical of Churchil the arch-imperialist war monger. Until a few months later when they drafting their own plans and wondering why the Brits weren't so keen on it now.

A good read.

unthinkable.jpg
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
£2, virtually new hback of Max Hastings' 'Nemesis' chronicling the fall of Japan. Mentioned briefly on here several times by various people, I completely forgot I already had (from 2014), and had already read, the ppbk. The odd thing was I did not have any sense of deja vu, don't know what happened there.

Apart from understanding the obvious consequences to Japan of the USN and later (with B29s) the USAAF mining campaigns which MH believes might have starved Japan into submission by November 1945 and avoided the 'Olympic' invasion (isn't hindsight wonderful?), MH clearly has no understanding of the realities of maritime warfare and seems to think that such as the destruction of most of Japan's surface fleet at Leyte Gulf and our sinking of two cruisers in Malayan waters was unnecessary to strategic success.

I can only imagine that MH's disgusting belittling of RN efforts in general is because someone in a blue suit in 1982 failed to recognise MH as the Grand Panjandrum he thought he was. The result is the author gratuitously disclosing his own puffed-up vanity, let alone his want of understanding. 'Radio Guided Proximity Fuzes' are actually 'Radio Activated Proximity Fuzes' and MH can't even have the decency, re the sinking of the Takao, to get Manley Power's name right.

Otherwise, a VG account (as long as MH stays on land) covering Burma, China and the Philippines etc as the net closed in on Nippon. A bit wobbly as regards Le May and the bombing but MH has to second-guess ALL commanders to prove that he, MH, would have been better at war than they were.
 
£2, virtually new hback of Max Hastings' 'Nemesis' chronicling the fall of Japan. Mentioned briefly on here several times by various people, I completely forgot I already had (from 2014), and had already read, the ppbk. The odd thing was I did not have any sense of deja vu, don't know what happened there.

Apart from understanding the obvious consequences to Japan of the USN and later (with B29s) the USAAF mining campaigns which MH believes might have starved Japan into submission by November 1945 and avoided the 'Olympic' invasion (isn't hindsight wonderful?), MH clearly has no understanding of the realities of maritime warfare and seems to think that such as the destruction of most of Japan's surface fleet at Leyte Gulf and our sinking of two cruisers in Malayan waters was unnecessary to strategic success.

I can only imagine that MH's disgusting belittling of RN efforts in general is because someone in a blue suit in 1982 failed to recognise MH as the Grand Panjandrum he thought he was. The result is the author gratuitously disclosing his own puffed-up vanity, let alone his want of understanding. 'Radio Guided Proximity Fuzes' are actually 'Radio Activated Proximity Fuzes' and MH can't even have the decency, re the sinking of the Takao, to get Manley Power's name right.

Otherwise, a VG account (as long as MH stays on land) covering Burma, China and the Philippines etc as the net closed in on Nippon. A bit wobbly as regards Le May and the bombing but MH has to second-guess ALL commanders to prove that he, MH, would have been better at war than they were.
I seem to remember that he was a tad miffed in 1982 at a Marine proffing his gore-tex gloves.
 
I just finished this book, don't be put off by the cover which makes it look like an airport pulp thriller. It's actually a well researched work.

It outline's Churchill's plans for attacking the Soviet Union in the immediate aftermath of WWII, he got the chiefs of staff to draw up a war plan. It was a matter of urgency for him as he wanted to move on the USSR before they got too comfortable and the US demobilised their forces. Given that it involved instructions to Monty not to destroy any captured German equipment or weapons as we might be using their former users pretty soon the plan was called "Unthinkable".

Of course the Yanks thought this was all madness and typical of Churchil the arch-imperialist war monger. Until a few months later when they drafting their own plans and wondering why the Brits weren't so keen on it now.

A good read.

View attachment 388894
Churchill was very cognisant of the Muscovite threat from the start. The Soviet Union only became one of the allied powers by necessity. As the successor state to the Muscovite Russian Empire, it was in pursuance of its own agenda for territorial expansion, as it had been since Muscovy had risen to power as the tax-collector for the Mongols, who had smashed the original Russian principalities.

Thus Stalin started WW2 by making a non-aggression pact with Hitler to divide up the Eastern half of Europe, so that Germany would be able to concentrate all of its resources in an attack on the West. It was estimated that like in WW1, the Western Front would stalemate and exhaust all combatants, enabling the Red Army to eventually steamroller to the Atlantic with the help of the Comintern controlled Communist Parties in Western Europe (particularly in France) which had been ordered to sabotage their own countries’ war efforts and not to resist the Germans until the Moscow ordered uprisings to coincide with the Red Army’s planned assault westwards.

Churchill was well aware of this. Before the fall of France there were various UK-French plans to thwart the Soviet Union which was then a de-facto ally of Germany. Among them assistance to the Finns in the Winter War and long range strikes against the Caucasian oilfields (which were supplying oil to Germany).

Stalin was under no illusion that the pact with Germany was just a convenience for both sides and that Hitler had plans for war in the East, However, just like many others, Stalin was taken by surprise by the swift German victory over France in 1940, but he still took the rational view that Germany would not expose itself to a two-front war and would not attack eastwards until the western front was secured. But in 1941 Hitler was constrained by economic necessity to launch Barbarossa.

At the various Allied conferences Churchill attempted to thwart Stalin’s ambition for hegemony over Europe, but was himself thwarted by American naivety vis-a-vis Muscovite imperialism and by their suspicion of British motivations.
Churchill’s original plan (once North Africa was secured) was to land in Greece and advance north through the eastern Balkans towards the Baltic, thus denying Moscow the lands it had occupied when in alliance with Hitler at the start of WW2. This plan was nixed by Washington.

In 1945 any plans that Moscow may have had for an onward strike westwards, were put on hold by the American demonstration of power that was the atomic bomb. This more than anything made Moscow adhere to the Yalta agreement on territorial division and not intervene in the Greek Civil War on behalf of the Greek Communists (much to Tito’s disgust), despite the fact that the British Army was heavily involved supporting the Greek Nationalists. Under Yalta (at Churchill’s insistence) Greece was to remain in the western allied sphere of influence.
 
Still going through my bookshelves re-reading the ones that made an impression for one reason or another. This time, Chasing The Scream by Johann Hari. I have mentioned it on this august thread before so I won't bore you with a mini-review.

However, it is fair to say that it is one of the most insightful books I have read and that reading it will change every preconception that you had about drug addiction and addicts. It traces the reason drug laws came into existence, why those laws spread around the world, what happened to people or countries that tried to introduce some reason into the argument about drugs, why the 'war on drugs' is a total failure and what happens when you stop treating drug addicts as criminals. The book makes clear that the answer to the drug problem is blindingly clear but that too many people have too much invested in the current method of treating the problem to take that route. Essential reading.

Chasing_the_scream_cover_UK.jpg
 
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Metropolis
, the final Bernie Gunther novel from Philip Kerr (RIP).

Set in 1928, with Bernie's first case on the Murder Commission. Very Weimar, with lots of legless war veteran cripples and tarts with hearts. The Threepenny Opera even makes an appearance in the background. Makes a good companion to the first series of Babylon Berlin.
 
Still going through my bookshelves re-reading the ones that made an impression for one reason or another. This time, Chasing The Scream by Johann Hari. I have mentioned it on this august thread before so I won't bore you with a mini-review.

However, it is fair to say that it is one of the most insightful books I have read and that reading it will change every preconception that you had about drug addiction and addicts. It traces the reason drug laws came into existence, why those laws spread around the world, what happened to people or countries that tried to introduce some reason into the argument about drugs, why the 'war on drugs' is a total failure and what happens when you stop treating drug addicts as criminals. The book makes clear that the answer to the drug problem is blindingly clear but that too many people have too much invested in the current method of treating the problem to take that route. Essential reading.

View attachment 389043
I always thought it unusual and thought provoking that, historically, mind-altering drugs were tolerated when it was mostly an issue concerning the upper classes and only became to be seen as a criminal matter when the availability of drugs extended to the lower classes.
 
I always thought it unusual and thought provoking that, historically, mind-altering drugs were tolerated when it was mostly an issue concerning the upper classes and only became to be seen as a criminal matter when the availability of drugs extended to the lower classes.
Something the book makes plain in spades and not just historically as it is still very prevalent when you look at the statistics coming from court proceedings.
 

Gout Man

LE
Book Reviewer
View attachment 386069

Although I don't agree with the author when he's on BBC QT, this is a very entertaining and informative book. His writing style is that of a Court gossip, although backed up with political and military history of the times and the allegiances required of an English King.
If you like that period of our history then if you haven’t try reading some of Allison Weir books on The Tudors. She’s a very good writer of history and also did a book on that chaps wives.
Books by Alison Weir
 
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Just finished The Trinity Six.

Hard-up Russia expert Dr Sam Gaddis finally has a lead for the book that could solve all his career problems. But the story of a lifetime becomes an obsession that could kill him.

When his source is found dead, Gaddis is alone on the trail of the Cold War’s deadliest secret: the undiscovered sixth member of the infamous Cambridge spy ring.

Suddenly threatened at every step and caught between two beautiful women, both with access to crucial evidence, Sam cannot trust anyone.

To get his life back, he must chase shadows through Europe’s corridors of power. But the bigger the lie, the more ruthlessly the truth is kept buried…
Not his best, too many plot holes, strange co-incidences and the baddie is instantly obvious 'cos he's got no redeeming features at all. Worth a 50p bargain bucket buy, but no more.
 
With all the wahoo on Notre Dame, I was inspired enough to locate my well thumbed copy of Victor Hugo's - The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was one had 'studied' in my youth for A level English.

Most co-incidentally it commences with a fire, albeit in the area of the Cathredral. Hugo unfurls both his characters and story in a series of 'book' headings as opposed to 'chapters' and it's as so, that a description of Notre Dame in 'book' three arrives.

If you never had any inclination to read Hugo, book three is worth a go. I wish many of the journalists proffering words on the history of this Cathredral had troubled to spend ten minutes with Hugo's novel.

Many were critical of the lavish splendor of this particular Parisian edifice, choosing to emphasise the wealth of a Christian sect rather than a unique vision of an architect who broke a mould in moving from a Roman formula of design to that of Gothic. This for it's 14th.C period proved an original blend of both art and science.

Book 11 / part 4 is titled - 'The Marriage of Quasimodo ' the epilogue of Hugo's tome. Stunningly emotional in both it's French and English language translations.
 
View attachment 389155

Just finished The Trinity Six.



Not his best, too many plot holes, strange co-incidences and the baddie is instantly obvious 'cos he's got no redeeming features at all. Worth a 50p bargain bucket buy, but no more.
Won a copy of this way back on release in the Book Competition on Arrse. Felt the same way. I struggled to get into it and enjoy it.
 
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Metropolis
, the final Bernie Gunther novel from Philip Kerr (RIP).

Set in 1928, with Bernie's first case on the Murder Commission. Very Weimar, with lots of legless war veteran cripples and tarts with hearts. The Threepenny Opera even makes an appearance in the background. Makes a good companion to the first series of Babylon Berlin.
His final book, is it not? And finished for him after his sad demise. he did write other books apart from the Bernie Gunther series, I'll have to ferret them out.
 
I too have just finished a Philip Kerr/Bernie Gunther book, in my case it was If the dead Rise Not. It was excellent, as always, and had, for me, a surprise ending.

I have just started the next Christopher G. Moore/Vincent Calvino book:

9-gold-bullets.jpg


Synopsis:
A priceless collection of 9 gold bullet coins issued during the Reign of Rama V has gone missing along with a Thai coin collector. Local police find a link between the missing Thai coins and Calvino's childhood friend, Josh Stein, who happens to be in Bangkok on an errand for his new Russian client. This old friend and his personal and business entanglements with the Russian underworld take Calvino back to New York, along with Pratt.

The gritty, dark vision of 9 Gold Bullets is tracked through the eyes of a Thai cop operating on a foreign turf, and a private eye expatriated long enough to find himself a stranger in his hometown. As the intrigue behind the missing coins moves between New York and Bangkok, and the levels of deception increase, Calvino discovers the true nature of friendship and where he belongs.

“Moore consistently manages to entertain without having to resort to melodramatics. The most compelling feature of his ongoing Calvino saga, in my view, is the symbiotic relationship between the American protagonist and his Thai friends, who have evolved with the series. The friendships are sometimes strained along cultural stress lines, but they endure, and the Thai characters' supporting roles are very effective in helping keep the narratives interesting and plausible.”
—Japan Times
 

Lacking Moral Fibre

Old-Salt
Book Reviewer

Just started reading the "A Race too Far" by Chris Eakin. It tells the story of the first round the world solo non stop yacht race in 1968. Mainly a British affair and organised by The Sunday Times. It's full of Great Britons like commander King of the RN, the only submarine commander to survive WW2 from the start. Chay Blyth of the Para Reg, a sgt at 21. Blyth and a Capt Ridgeway had rowed across the Atlantic. In later years when a reporter did a hatchet job on Blyth's scheme to get the public to sail on ocean going yachts around the world, the wrong way. Blyth hunted the journo down with the idea of battering him, when he found him at a marina and noticing the guy was small Blyth picked him up and threw him in the water. Then kept his foot on the hapless journos head stopping him from climbing out.
Robin Knox Johnson who had his own 32' boat built in India and planned to sail it home to England with his wife and two kids. His wife refused and left him, he sailed it home with his brother instead.
Then of course the tragic Donald Crowhurst subject of a recent film "The Mercy" starring Colin Firth.

Unlike today, the boats were normal weekend type yachts, Knox Johnson used his Indian yacht made of strong heavy teak. Blyth and Ridgeway having fallen out both decided to enter and both simply went to yacht dealers and bought what was on offer. Blyth had no sailing experience apart from 7 days beginner lessons. Ridgeway wasn't much better.
Radio's were basic and when Knox Johnsons failed he was out of touch for 4 months.
Nowadays this race could never have been allowed to happen. I'm only a little ways into it but it's a gripping read so far.
 

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