books monthly

  may 2018 - nonfiction and reference books

Home Page | Adult Fiction | Crime & Thrillers | SF & Fantasy | Children's books | Nonfiction | Pen and Sword | Nostalgia | The Jerry Dowlen Column

 

Image above copyright Paul Norman "Caterpillar Cocoon" taken 23rd April 2018

 

Rescue, Restore, Redecorate - Amy Howard's Guide to Refinishing Furniture and Accessories

Published by Abrams 8th May 2018

Whether you dream of restoring an heirloom to its former beauty, or just want to modernize a flea market treasure, Amy Howard has the design and refinishing secrets you need. Here are all the furniture finishing recipes, techniques, and tips that have made Howard’s beloved classes sold-out success stories, and made Howard herself the go-to guru of refinishing and “use what you have” redecorating. Try your hand at unique painted and faux finishes, and experiment with gold leaf, distressing, and marvelous graining effects. Along the way, you will learn a treasure trove of techniques, as Howard shares before-and-after makeovers from her studio and offers impeccable step-by-step instruction in all that is needed to achieve each look.

This is a hands-on type of book, describing techniques for restoring and refinishing older pieces of furniture that no longer cut it for you. Amy Howard has all the tips and tricks you need for helping you to makeover that chest of drawers or that cabinet you really like but really want to bring more up to date. Terrific.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Benson: Space Odyssey - Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C Clarke and the Making of a Masterpiece

Published by Simon and Schuster 19th April 2018

Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the film’s release, this is the definitive story of the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey, acclaimed today as one of the greatest films ever made, including the inside account of how director Stanley Kubrick and writer Arthur C. Clarke created this cinematic masterpiece.

Regarded as a masterpiece today, 2001: A Space Odyssey received mixed reviews on its 1968 release. Despite the success of Dr. Strangelove, director Stanley Kubrick wasn’t yet recognized as a great filmmaker, and 2001 was radically innovative, with little dialogue and no strong central character. Although some leading critics slammed the film as incomprehensible and self-indulgent, the public lined up to see it. 2001’s resounding commercial success launched the genre of big-budget science fiction spectaculars. Such directors as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and James Cameron have acknowledged its profound influence.

Author Michael Benson explains how 2001 was made, telling the story primarily through the two people most responsible for the film, Kubrick and science fiction legend Arthur C. Clarke. Benson interviewed Clarke many times, and has also spoken at length with Kubrick’s widow, Christiane; with visual effects supervisor Doug Trumbull; with Dan Richter, who played 2001’s leading man-ape; and many others.

A colorful nonfiction narrative packed with memorable characters and remarkable incidents, Space Odyssey provides a 360-degree view of this extraordinary work, tracking the film from Kubrick and Clarke’s first meeting in New York in 1964 through its UK production from 1965-1968, during which some of the most complex sets ever made were merged with visual effects so innovative that they scarcely seem dated today. A concluding chapter examines the film’s legacy as it grew into it current justifiably exalted status.

 

I am one of those people who reveres 2001: A Space Odyssey even though I don't understand everything about it. As a spectacle of pioneering science fiction cinema, it is peerless. As always with such books, I checked the index and found, to my delight, a short reference to Herbert Von Karajan described by Kubrick as the World's Greatest Conductor. I started work at Hawker Siddeley Dynamics in 1968, a few years after their work on the film took place, and Blue Streak, the massive ICBM that was built there, is also mentioned in the book. The press release mentions "several" books on 2001: ASpace Odyssey - I can recall an American Signet paperback released in around 1970 and a couple of years ago I reviewed a massive special publication which probably commemorated 45 years since the film was released. Michael Benson's book is by far the best I have ever read about this ground-breaking, revolutionary film, and covers in great detail Kubrick's approaches to and meetings with Arthur C Clarke, always one of my favourite SF authors. There is incredible technical detail also, on how Kubrick mastered the effects he wanted to achieve, together with a selection of fantastic photographs from the film. I now own it on Blu Ray - it is not only a piece of cinematographic history, it is also one of the most enjoyable cinematic experiences I have ever had. I saw it in Cinerama three times in the late 1960s and early 1970s, watched it countlesstimes on TV, bought a VHS video of it, then a DVD and now Blu Ray which finally does it justice. This book is an extraordinary triumph of journalism covering something that turned the cinema and the world of science fiction films upside down. Reading about the film in this manner is a privilege and a joy.

 

 

Barry Cunliffe: The Ancient Celts - 2nd Edition

Published by OUP 26th April 2018

Fierce warriors and skilled craftsmen, the Celts were famous throughout the Ancient Mediterranean World. They were the archetypal barbarians from the north and were feared by both Greeks and Romans. For two and a half thousand years they have continued to fascinate those who have come into contact with them, yet their origins have remained a mystery and even today are the subject of heated debate among historians and archaeologists. 

Barry Cunliffe's classic study of the ancient Celtic world was first published in 1997. Since then huge advances have taken place in our knowledge: new finds, new ways of using DNA records to understand Celtic origins, new ideas about the proto-urban nature of early chieftains' strongholds, All these developments are part of this fully updated , and completely redesigned edition. 

Cunliffe explores the archaeological reality of these bold warriors and skilled craftsmen of barbarian Europe who inspired fear in both the Greeks and the Romans. He investigates the texts of the classical writers and contrasts their view of the Celts with current archaeological findings. Tracing the emergence of chiefdoms and the fifth- to third-century migrations as far as Bosnia and the Czech Republic, he assesses the disparity between the traditional story and the most recent historical and archaeological evidence on the Celts. 

Other aspects of Celtic identity such as the cultural diversity of the tribes, their social and religious systems, art, language and law, are also examined. From the picture that emerges, we are - crucially - able to distinguish between the original Celts, and those tribes which were 'Celtized', giving us an invaluable insight into the true identity of this ancient people.

 

I don't know why Channel 4 had to cancel Time Team, that brilliant programme that explained archaeology to the masses and fostered an unparalleled interest in antiquity in a way that no other programme has done before or after. At least we have experts such as Barry Cunliffe to fall back on, and, twenty years on from the first edition of this groundbreaking book, he has revised and rewritten it. I don't have a copy of the first edition to hand, but that doesn't matter one bit. The text is as fresh and vibrant as anything I've read on this ancient civilisation that dominated the British Isles in the years prior to the Roman invasions. This is a triumphant book by a man who knows his subject intimately and is prepared to share taht knowledge with us. WOuld have been my nonfiction book of the month had Space Odyssey not materialised at the last minute.

 

James Gee: Prisoner of the Samurai

Published by Casemate 21st March 2018

James Gee was fresh out of college at the University of Texas and making plans for his future when World War II interrupted these happy pursuits. He and his friends joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1940 and after training he was posted to the U.S.S. Houston.

At first, assignments in Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines―whilst instructing him in the rough and tumble of crew life―were free of encounters with the enemy. But then in 1942 the Houston was first attacked during the battle of the Flores Sea and subsequently sunk by the Japanese fleet during the battle of the Java Sea. Witnessing the last moments of the great ship, Gee survived a prolonged period in the sea clinging to a makeshift raft, before being picked up by a Japanese ship. But this was just the beginning of his ordeal.

Initially held prisoner in Java and forced to load and unload enemy ships, he was then transferred to Burma where he worked on the notorious “death railway,” living on the banks of the River Kwai. Those who survived the hard labor and harsh conditions there would be sent on to Thailand, then Singapore before arriving in Japan in 1945. There, they spent the last few months of the war working in coal mines just 40 miles outside Nagasaki. The dire circumstances of Gee’s incarceration were only overcome through the compassion and companionship of fellow detainees and his determination to endure.

After his liberation, he was sent to Guantanamo Bay Naval Hospital, Cuba. There, he encountered Rosalie Hamric Smith R.N., who was serving as Charge Nurse in the Psychiatric Ward, and who helped him to record his experiences as part of his treatment. Rosalie worked his accounts into a manuscript which, following her sudden death, languished in an attic for over thirty years. Now rediscovered, James Gee’s incredible story can be told to a new generation.

 

James Gee is by no means unique - I used to work with a man when I was younger who had been a prisoner of the Japanese and worked on the Burma railway. What is unique, perhaps, is the fact that this extraordinary book was enticed out of Gee's mouth and formed into a remarkably frank and open ccount of his experiences by a nurse at Guantanamo Bay after his release. Harrowing and inspiring at the same time.

 

 

Chris McNab: The World War 1 Aviator's Pocket Manual

Published by Casemate 31st March 2018

Aviation was still in its infancy when World War I broke out. The first men to take to the skies above the battlefield undertook reconnaissance. Pilots and observers soon branched out into primitive bombing attempts, and attacking enemy aircraft when they came into contact. Nascent air forces produced manuals to help these pioneers as they took warfare into a new dimension.

Pulling together information from British manuals such as A Few Hints for the Flying Officer and Practical Flying, as well as American, German and French training guides, this pocket manual shows what type of information the pilots were given. From the basics of how to care for, start, and fly an aircraft, through tactics and strategy in the air, identifying whether vehicles below were friend or foe, interacting with mechanics, and coordinating with army or naval forces, this fascinating time capsule opens up the world of the Great War aviator. With introductions to the manuals by Chris McNab, setting them in context and providing background.

 

Not an official pilot's manual, but a selection of instructions cobbled together from various sources both European and American. Fascinating, though.

Christopher Sandford: Zeebrugge - The Greatest Raid of All

Published by Casemate 31st March 2018

The combined forces invasion of the Belgian port of Zeebrugge on 23 April 1918 remains one of Britain’s most glorious military undertakings; not quite as epic a failure as the charge of the Light Brigade, or as well publicised as the Dam Busters raid, but with many of the same basic ingredients.

A force drawn from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines set out on ships and submarines to try to block the key strategic port, in a bold attempt to stem the catastrophic losses being inflicted on British shipping by German submarines. It meant attacking a heavily fortified German naval base. The tide, calm weather and the right wind direction for a smoke screen were crucial to the plan.

Judged purely on results, it can only be considered a partial strategic success. Casualties were high and the base only partially blocked. Nonetheless, it came to represent the embodiment of the bulldog spirit, the peculiarly British fighting élan, the belief that anything was possible with enough dash and daring.

The essential story of the Zeebrugge mission has been told before, but never through the direct, first-hand accounts of its survivors – including that of Lieutenant Richard Sandford, VC, the acknowledged hero of the day, and the author’s great uncle. The fire and bloodshed of the occasion is the book’s centrepiece, but there is also room for the family and private lives of the men who volunteered in their hundreds for what they knew effectively to be a suicide mission.

Zeebrugge gives a very real sense of the existence of the ordinary British men and women of 100 years ago – made extraordinary by their role in what Winston Churchill called the ‘most intrepid and heroic single armed adventure of the Great War.’

 

This is a battle I didn't really know anything about whatsoever, and I suspect this is because it happened so late in the war, when things were beginning to wind down. An extraordinary account of something quite extraordinary...

 

 

Monte Akers: Year of Glory

Published by Casemate 14th February 2018

No commander during the Civil War is more closely identified with the "cavalier mystique” as Major General J.E.B. (Jeb) Stuart. And none played a more prominent role during the brief period when the hopes of the nascent Confederacy were at their apex, when it appeared as though the Army of Northern Virginia could not be restrained from establishing Southern nationhood.

Jeb Stuart was not only successful in leading Robert E. Lee's cavalry in dozens of campaigns and raids, but for riding magnificent horses, dressing outlandishly, and participating in balls and parties that epitomized the "moonlight and magnolia” image of the Old South. Longstreet reported that at the height of the Battle of Second Manasses, Stuart rode off singing, "If you want to have good time, jine the cavalry . . .” Porter Alexander remembered him singing, in the midst of the miraculous victory at Chancellorsville, "Old Joe Hooker, won't you come out of the Wilderness?”

Stuart was blessed with an unusually positive personality―always upbeat, charming, boisterous, and humorous, remembered as the only man who could make Stonewall Jackson laugh, reciting poetry when not engaged in battle, and yet never using alcohol or other stimulants. Year of Glory focuses on the twelve months in which Stuart's reputation was made, following his career on an almost day-to-day basis from June 1862, when Lee took command of the army, to June 1863, when Stuart turned north to regain a glory slightly tarnished at Brandy Station, but found Gettysburg instead.

It is told through the eyes of the men who rode with him, as well as Jeb's letters, reports, and anecdotes handed down over 150 years. It was a year like no other, filled with exhilaration at the imminent creation of a new country. This was a period when it could hardly be imagined that the cause, and Stuart himself, could dissolve into grief, Jeb ultimately separated from the people he cherished most.

 

This brilliant biopic in literary form of a larger than life hero of the American Civil War has everything! Covering a twelve-month period when Stuart dominated the campaigns and raids that cemented Robert E Lee's most amazing triumphs, this is hgely entertaining.

 

Mike Brlace: Spider Zero Seven

Published by Matador 15th March 2018

Silver Cross recipient, Mike Borlace is considered to be one of the most experienced combat helicopter pilots of recent times. Now he collates his experiences in this compelling wartime memoir set against the backdrop of the civil war fought in Rhodesia during the 1970s.

Helicopters were a vital component of the small Rhodesian Defence Force and as part of special forces, Borlace and his fellow aircrew soon became key weapons in the counterinsurgency operations. Adopting new flexible tactics and blending stealth with courage, they carried the fight by air to the heart of the enemy, establishing a fearsome reputation. In this vivid history, Borlace chronicles the story of airmen, soldiers and leading figures such as Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe's communist backed guerillas from the perspective of a professional officer at the sharp end.

In Spider Zero Seven, Borlace humorously recounts the training, living conditions and hardships of his time in the forces. He also touchingly depicts the human side of the military through his portrayals of his fellow pilots, technicians, medics, nurses and flying with his dog Doris.

Out of the 1096 days he served as a pilot in 7 Squadron, Borlace spent 739 days on combat operations. During his 149 contacts with the enemy he was shot down five times and wounded twice. He is one of only five recipients of the Silver Cross, the highest gallantry award given by the air force. With this authority he gives a powerful insight into the violent events of a brutal conflict, in a book that will appeal not only to those interested in military history, but also to a wider readership who enjoy a personal, true-life adventure.

 

Also from Helion, a superb castle model is the centrepiece for this entertaining and educational book about medieval castle warfare...

Sarah Ashley Neal: Emotional Sandwiches

Published by Matador 28th March 2018

In a time when we are encouraged to look within and search for answers that are supposedly destined to solve our dilemmas, Sarah Ashley Neal invites readers to fearlessly explore their relationships with words and in the process naturally allow those answers to surface.

The first in a series, Emotional Sandwiches introduces readers to the concept and characters of Sarah's brand, and in a refreshing and humorous book applies a fictional twist to a non-fiction idea. Considering some of the most influential words in the English language, this book transforms them into stimulating characters that readers will relate to emotionally.

While primarily a self-help book, Emotional Sandwiches will appeal to a wide range of readers, from those looking for a new perspective on life to those simply seeking a charming and entertaining read. This interesting and inclusive concept will leave readers feeling inspired and uplifted having had the chance to reconsider their emotional friends and foes along the way.

 

 

...and this superb piece of modelling history about the Jacbite rebellion of 1645.

April Laugh: Lifestyle Change With April

Published by Matador 28th MArch 2017

To live a healthy lifestyle, it is crucial that you find a balance between healthy eating and exercise. Do you want to live a healthier life? Do you need to eat better to lose weight faster? Do you want to stay motivated enough to crush your fitness goals? In this helpful new guide, April Laugh aka FitMrsFats, tells you just how to do it!

Lifestyle Change With April reveals a practical approach to healthy eating. Readers are shown how to stop binge eating, curb cravings and eat more for a sustained weight loss. April also includes a free meal diary to help readers to catch every calorie and make every meal count.

With a free seven-day detox plan and inspirational real stories from April's clients, Lifestyle Change With April show readers that they are not alone and that they too can live a healthy lifestyle. The book will appeal to readers seeking a proven method for healthy weight loss.

 

I always found that one of the finest ways to teach history was through the use of pictures and picture strip stories like I used to read ever week in my comics. This brilliant account of the Battle of Midway does just that.

Mohindra S Chowdhry: Defence of Europe by Sikh Soldiers in the World Wars

Published by Matador 28th March 2018

Defence of Europe by Sikh Soldiers in the World Wars is a fascinating history of the much-forgotten Sikh contribution to the two World Wars. Containing much new research and modern ideas, the book explores how an alliance with Britain enabled Sikhism to spread across the globe and Sikhs to step forward as global partners.

Mohindra S. Chowdhry begins his book by exploring the Sikh revolt against the Mughal Empire. He demonstrates how this revolutionary movement proved not that Sikhs were opposed to Islam, but that Sikhism stood for basic human rights, liberty and freedom to follow the religion of their choice.

The book also shows how Sikhs eventually allied themselves to the British, after first battling it out with them in the hills and plains of the Punjab. He describes the commonality between the two cultures and their ways of looking at life. This common ground developed into loyalty; a bond which gave the British access to a superb fighting force during the two World Wars, and an alliance which enabled the Sikh brotherhood to enter onto the world stage and has resulted in their spread across the globe.

Mohindra concludes with the argument that it is the duty of Sikhs, inspired by deep-rooted principles of justice and equality, to take up the challenges wherever they are to participate in the mainstreams of political and social life.

 

One wonders now if the "mutually assured destruction" threat has any real meaning with respect to Britain's nuclear deterrent. Fascinating slice of cold war history.

 

Ben Graff: Find Another Place

Published by Matador 28th March 2018

'Families are their stories,' said my grandfather Martin that late autumn day in 2001, as he placed a clear plastic folder containing his journal into my hands.'

Part historical meditation on people now gone, part detective story and journey of discovery, Find Another Place speaks to how we remember and re-assess what has gone before and how we make sense both of our here and now and the future. Ben's grandfather had always wanted to be a writer and gave the author his journal shortly before his death.

After many endings, paper often remains. Letters from his parents written in the 1970s before they were married, together with a handful of poems, extracts from diaries and other materials all form part of this reflection. It is possible to get to know people better, even after they are gone.

A family's interactions with the Isle of Wight, in war and peace, happy times and sad, run through the narrative. As does a relationship with literature, the desire to write and a passion for the game of chess. Anyone who has ever lost a parent; had a child or reflected on the fragility and beauty inherent in everyday life will enjoy this book.

 

One This is a fascinating account of a battle that changed the course of the history of the second world war, and in the current new cold war political climate it would be well to remember the part played by the Societ forces in the defeat of the Nazis as the Germans were forced back from the Eastern Front. Very well written account of a battle that gets too little recognition.

Yves Buffetaut: 101st Airborne in Normandy

Published by Monroe 31st January 2018

The World Turns to War weaves stories of combat veterans into an event by event history of the war. Includes the words of veterans of all forces ― in all theaters of operations. Illustrated by high-quality photographs, full-color images and detailed maps, War Stories: World War II Firsthand™ is the only multi-volume history of the war to include hundreds of first person interviews and oral history recollections of the soldiers on the ground, the sailors on the high seas and the airmen in the sky. Their words, augmented by quotes from military and political leaders and modern historical thought, give a complete picture of the war from those who fought it. This volume features firsthand recollections and perspectives from those who witnessed the Rise of Fascism in Europe, the invasion of Poland, and the 1940 German Blitzkrieg across Europe.


An altogether superior account of WW2 based on quotations and observations by people who actually took part in the conflict. An amazing book.

 

 

 

 

Jay Wertz: They Called Themselves The Battling Bastards of Bataan

Published by Monroe 10th September 2017

This fully-illustrated account details all the major battles, decisions and outcomes as the Japanese military sought to collapse the United States' principal military enclave in East Asia and seize a country rich in natural and human resources for their Greater East Asia Prosperity Sphere. The planned 50-day campaign took 133 days because they underestimated the grit of their foes. Despite horrendous conditions, lack of air support, food and medicine, sheer grit compelled the Americans and Filipinos not to give up, even if the rest of the world had given up on them.


Always great to see an account of a major campaign such as Bataan covered in  graphic novel format. Pictures tell so many thousands of words...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adrien Fontanellaz & Tom Cooper; Ethiopian-Eritrean Wars Volume 1

Published by Helion 15th February 2017

Ethiopia, a country of ancient origins in eastern Africa, has remained a military powerhouse of that continent until the present day. Currently involved in the war in neighbouring Somalia, Ethiopia was also involved in half a dozen of other armed conflicts during the last 60 years. One of the most significant was the Eritrean War of Independence. Fought 1961-1991, this was one of the biggest armed conflicts on the African continent, especially if measured by numbers of combatants involved. It included a wide spectrum of operations, from ‘classic’ counter-insurgency (COIN) to conventional warfare in mountains – with the latter being one of the most complex and demanding undertakings possible to conduct by a military force. Campaigns run during the Eritrean War of Independence often included large formations of relatively well-equipped forces, led by well-trained commanders, utilising complex plans based on home-grown doctrine. Airpower played a crucial – although not necessarily decisive – role in many of battles. Nevertheless, most of details about this conflict remain unknown to the wider public. Similarly, relatively few Western observers are aware of relations between the Eritrean liberation movements, and various dissident and insurgent movements inside Ethiopia – although the synergy of these eventually led the downfall of the so-called Derg government, in 1991. Reaching back to extensive studies of Ethiopian and Eritrean military history, this volume provides a detailed account of the first 25 years of this conflict: from the outbreak of armed insurgency in 1961 until the crucial battle of Afabet, in 1988. It is illustrated by over 100 contemporary photographs, maps and colour profiles.


I was always fascinated by the African continent because of my love of Tarzan of the Apes, but this is a quite different Africa to the one I was most familiar with. The face of the continent has been altered beyond anything familiar to me by a series of catastrophic wars and conflicts that have brought misery to countless millions of people. This detailed account of the Ethiopian-Eritrean Wars is harrowing and informative, but describes an Africa I wish had never happened.

 

Tom Cooper et al: The Iran-Iraq War Volume 4

Published by Helion 15th February 2017

The Iran-Iraq War was one of the bloodiest conflicts of the 20th Century and accidentally created the current nightmare of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. There have been many books on the conflict but this is the first detailed military history using materials from both sides, as well as materials obtained from US Intelligence circles and British Governmental archives. It provides a unique insight into a war which began through miscalculation and rapidly escalated into the longest conventional conflict in the post-Second World War era. Part 4 in this mini-series coversthe warfare between Iran and Iraq on the Central and Northern Fronts. Difficult terrain made it problematic for either side to assemble overwhelming superiority. Following initial Iraqi attacks that seized some territory, the Iranians began gradually nibbling back until achieving some success in the centre, in 1982. Subsequently, the Central Front saw only minor conventional battles until Iraq launched several major blows in 1988. In the north, fighting primarily revolved around several Kurdish insurgencies in northern Iraq, and culminated in the horror of the Halabcheh gas attack. The final campaign of the war saw Iraq-supported Iranian emigres launching a spectacular, but also a swiftly-crushed, invasion of their homeland.


Volume 4 of this fascinating account of the Itan-Iraq War. The worrying thing is that nothing seems to have changed, at least not for the better...

 

Nick Brokhausen: We Few - US Special Forces in Vietnam

Published by Casemate 18th April 2017

On his second tour to Vietnam, Nick Brokhausen served in Recon Team Habu, CCN. This unit was part of MACV-SOG (Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observations Group), or Studies and Observations Group as it was innocuously called. The small recon companies that were the center of its activities conducted some of the most dangerous missions of the war, infiltrating areas controlled by the North Vietnamese in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. The companies never exceeded more than 30 Americans, yet they were the best source for the enemy’s disposition and were key to the US military being able to take the war to the enemy. This was accomplished by utilizing both new and innovative technology, and tactics dating back to the French and Indian Wars. 

This small unit racked up one of the most impressive records of awards for valor of any unit in the history of the United States Army. It came at a terrible price, however; the number of wounded and killed in action was incredibly high. Those missions today seem suicidal. In 1970 they seemed equally so, yet these men went out day after day with their indigenous allies - Montagnard tribesmen, Vietnamese, and Chinese Nungs - and faced the challenges with courage and resolve.

This riveting memoir details the actions and experiences of a small group of Americans and their allies who were the backbone of ground reconnaissance in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It became a cult classic among the Special Forces community when first published over a decade ago.


I can see why this book soon became a cult classic on its first publication ten years ago - it is essential reading, and spectacularly well written and quite riveting, for anyone with an interest in the conflict that defined modern-day America.

 

Theodore P Savas & Kenneth D Alford: Nazi Millionaires

Published by Casemate 30th April 2017

During the final days of World War II, German SS officers crammed trains, cars, and trucks full of gold, currency, and jewels, and headed for the mountains of Austria. Fearful of arrest and determined to keep the stolen loot out of Allied hands, they concealed their treasures and fled. Most of these men were eventually apprehended, but many managed to evade capture. The intensive postwar Allied investigation that followed recovered only a sliver of this mountain of gold. What happened to the rest of it, and what fate befell these men?

Authors Alford and Savas answer these questions and many more in this fast-paced and well-written new book. Their groundbreaking study is based upon thousands of pages of previously unpublished and recently declassified documents. The result is a fresh and absolutely original reading experience that offers insights into the minds and methods of these SS thieves, the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) within which they labored, how they achieved their positions of near-absolute power, the complex Allied investigation into their activities, and what happened to the vast sums of wealth they looted from Europe's Jews.

Nazi Millionaires deftly captures the high drama surrounding these men and women and the secrets they carried with them during the closing days of World War II--and in some cases, to the grave. It is a remarkable tale of greed, lust, fraud, deceit, treachery, and murder. And it is one you will long remember.


This is a subject that has been partially covered in the film The Monuments Men, but it is clear there is so much more that we still don't know about the extraordinarily evil men who made up the higher echelons of the Third Reich. Nearly eighty years on from the start of the conflict and we are still uncovering untold secrets about these terrible, terrible crimes against humanity...

 

Richard Killblane & Jake McNiece: The Filthy Thirteen

Published by Casemate 31st March 2017

Since World War II, the American public has become fully aware of the exploits of the 101st Airborne Division, but within the ranks of the 101st there existed a notorious sub-unit whose formidable reputation has persisted among veterans over the decades. 

Primarily products of the Dustbowl and the Depression, and never ones to salute an officer, or take a bath, the Filthy 13 attained legendary status within the Screaming Eagles for its hard drinking, and savage fighting skill – and that was only in training.


I have never seen The Dirty Dozen - I'm simply not that enamoured of war movies. But reading war books has always been a pleasure. I always had t go out and buy the book after seeig such films as The Dambusters, Reach for the Sky, Above Us The Waves etc., and this is no exception. The true story of the Dirty Dozen is fascinating, funny, thrilling, fantastic, and larger than life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ian Van Der Waag: A Military History of Modern South Africa

Published by Casemate 11th April  2017

Twentieth-century South Africa saw continuous, often rapid and fundamental socio-economic and political change. The century started with a brief but total war. Less than ten years later Britain brought the conquered Boer republics and the Cape and Natal colonies together into the Union of South Africa.

The Union Defence Force (UDF, later SADF), was deployed during most of the major wars of the century as well as a number of internal and regional struggles: the two world wars, Korea, uprising and rebellion on the part of Afrikaner and black nationalists, and industrial unrest. The century ended as it started, with another war. This was a flashpoint of the Cold War, which embraced more than just the subcontinent and lasted a long, thirty years. The outcome included the final withdrawal of foreign troops from southern Africa, the withdrawal of South African forces from Angola and Namibia, and the transfer of political power away from a white elite to a broad-based democracy.

This book is the first study of the South African armed forces as an institution and of the complex roles that these forces played in the wars, rebellions, uprisings and protests of the period. It deals in the first instance with the evolution of South African defence policy, the development of the armed forces and the people who served in and commanded them. It also places the narrative within the broader national past, to produce a fascinating study of a century packed full of episode and personality in which South Africa was uniquely embroiled in three total wars.


Any volume that provides such spectacular knowledge about military forces in a country has to be of some use - my only knowledge of South Africa concerns the politics of apartheid and Mandela. This superb book goes a long way to providing me with extra knowledge about this extraordinary nation.


 

The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its twentieth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.