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april 2018 - nonfiction and reference books

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Rob Hume: Birds of Britain and Europe

Published by Dorling Kindersley 5th April 2018

From owls to auks, from Kingfishers to pipits, find out everything you need to know about the birds we see every day. RSPB Birds of Britain and Europe is a necessary addition to any birdwatching enthusiasts collection, from experienced to beginner. Flick through the highest quality photography, bringing over 500 bird species to life on the page, as well as detailed profiles of some of the most well-known birds in Europe, such as swallows, storks, and woodpeckers. Authenticated by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, this really is the ultimate guide to our local birds.

This is the fifth edition of our go-to guide to the birds we see here in North Norfolk every year. The illustrations are simply superb, and the descriptions are as good as they can possibly be. You need look  no further for a comprehensive and brilliant guide to the birds of Britain and Europe.


Laurence Green: George Butterworth Soldier and Composer

Published by Fighting High Publishing 11th February 2018

George Sainton Kaye Butterworth was one of the most brilliant, enigmatic and promising young composers of the early twentieth century. Intensely fond of his country, he composed hauntingly beautiful English choral and orchestral music while struggling to make a living as a reviewer, teacher and demonstrator of Morris dances. He was a direct and diffident man who was fiercely loyal to his few close friends. Under his slightly forbidding exterior was a man with a great sense of humour and a strong sense of duty to his family, friends and country.

When Kaiser Bill cast his mad shadow over Belgium and France, Butterworth joined the army as a private in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. He recorded his early military career with a sense of farce and frustration. Within a short time Butterworth and his friends were commissioned in the Durham Light Infantry and eventually sent to France to fight in the unspeakable horror of the Battle of the Somme. 

This book outlines Butterworth’s brief life and achievements and concentrates on his months in the army culminating with his rendezvous with death at the disputed barricade of Munster Trench just outside of the ruined village of Pozieres near the highest point of the Somme battlefield. Among the illustrations are a number of previously unpublished documents and pre-war photographs from Butterworth’s own album. The author has made use of war diaries and letters as well as conversations with Butterworth’s close relatives. He has walked over the ground that Butterworth and his men fought so hard to hold. 

George Butterworth turned out to be an outstanding army officer. Conscientious and quick thinking he invariably put his men and his friends before himself. He was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and had a trench named after him by his men. In his own words: ‘The war gave me something to do.’

I have always loved the music composed by George Butterworth and the opportunity to read his short life story both as a composer and as a soldier, is most welcome. George is a fascianting subject and his biography by Laurence Green is engaging and fascinating. This is a man who could well have rivalled Ralph Vaughan Williams had he survived WW1, and his bravery and dedication to his country and his covereign are exemplary. A superb reminder of a remarkable man.


Kim Brophey: Meet Your Dog

Published by Chronicle Books 20th March 2018

Every dog owner knows that along with the joy can come the stress and frustration of behavioral problems, which are expensive to diagnose and treat. Enter Kim Brophey, award-winning canine behavior consultant. Using cutting-edge research, Brophey has developed a groundbreaking system that allows owners to identify what their dog is struggling with, why, and how they can fix it. Brophey's approach is unlike anything that has been published before and will give dog owners a new understanding of what motivates and affects their dog's behavior. Brophey's innovative technique rethinks the way we categorize dogs, and distills information from over twenty scientific disciplines into four comprehensive elements: learning, environment, genetics, and self. With revolutionary tips for specific dog breeds, this book will change the life of every dog owner and lead to happier human-canine relationships.

There must be countless books promising to aid dog owners as they struggle to deal with their dog's behavioural problems; and there is the crux of the matter, most of these experts call us dog owners. I don't own my dog - he is a companion, someone I live with. When Every day I see people dragging their dogs away from smells on their walks, and forbidding them to socialise with other dogs. These are mostly the tourists who visit our seaside town, bringing their dogs with them, although there are some residents who d it too. When you come to terms with the fact that our dogs are entities in their own right, and have certain rights of their own, such as meals, a bed, regular changes of drinking water and walks, you can start to understand how a dog's mind works. It is the dog's walk, not yours. If he or she wants to cross the road to say hello to another dog or even a human, why on Earth should you stop him or her from doing so? Dogs are naturally sociable animals and have lives and souls of their own. Don't treat them as property, treat them as you would any other family member. You are accompanying them on a walk - it's a privilege. Treat yout dog with respect and things will quickly fall into place. You'll gather from the above that I'm afraid that I am not convinced by Kim Brophey's book at all.


Mr Boddington's Etiquette

Published by Chronicle Books 27th March 2018

The witty and eloquent Mr. Boddington offers dos and don'ts for polite society in this comprehensive and thoroughly amusing guide that provides modern advice with a traditional perspective. Covering everything from weddings to gift-giving moments, social events, hosting guests, and so much more, Mr. Boddington shares the basic etiquette one needs to know and presents it all in his signature style. Filled with charming illustrations from the beloved Mr. Boddington's Studio, this jaunty handbook is just the thing to make manners less of a fuss.

Knowing what to do and say in any one of a huge number of given situations can be trying. Mr Boddington's charming and beautifully illustrated Etiquette book goes a long way towards preparing us for such situations. I can't fault it, although I pride myself on thinking that I knew the vast majority of it already. A lovely little book.






Bible Characters Visual Encyclopedia

Published by Dorling Kindersley 1st March 2018

A unique visual guide to more than 90 bible characters from the Old and New Testaments, from Adam and Eve to Jesus and the Apostles. Packed with profiles of leaders, prophets, and apostles, Bible Characters Visual Encyclopedia tells their stories and explains their teachings simply and clearly. Stories are beautifully illustrated and supported with key quotes and historical context. Spreads focusing on particular biblical events highlight a character's role - making this the perfect study companion. Bible Characters Visual Encyclopedia is the ultimate guide for young readers to the key characters in one of the most important books ever written.


I don't know about young readers - some of these stunning illustrations are featured in the DK Illustrated Bible, which I reviewed last year in Books Monthly, and they serve as a brilliant reminder of all the rich and colourful characters in the Bible, which is a fantastic sourece of great stories, whether or not you believe in the Christian faith. A sumptuous addition to the DK library of Bible-based literature.





Phoebe Howard: Coastal Blues

Published by Abrams 20th March 2018

From design expert (and interior design readers’ favorite) Phoebe Howard comes a new book focused on decorating with beautiful blue color schemes. Coastal Blues is a glorious decor book filled with inspiring images of beach houses, seacoast getaways, vacation cottages, and luxurious seaside manors. It is also a hardworking how-to-get-the-look book that offers solid interior design and styling advice. Featuring brand-new, never-before-published projects, every page reflects the ease and casual elegance of shoreline living. With chapters such as Sea Glass (brilliant blue color schemes), Indigo Bay (true blue schemes), and Ocean Mist (pale blue schemes), Phoebe Howard shows design lovers how to make the coastal style modern, fresh, and very much their own.


Living on the coast as we do, it comes as no surprise to me that someone should come up with an entire book based on coastal-themed designs for home interiors. Phoebe Howard has featured in a previous Abrams book, some time last year, and this follow up is both delightful and inspirational.



Frederic Beniada and Pierre-Yves Brunaud: Paris-Orly Airport 100 Years

Published by Abrams 27th March 2018

Over a century, Orly has turned from a military station into an international platform open to the world and an innovating enterprise. Created in 1918, Orly was first a military camp and quickly became a major stake during WWII as the place represented much of an interest for the Allies and the Axis. At the end of the war, the US Army Air Forces settled in for two years before the company “Aéroports de Paris” was created in 1945, and the management of the airport given back to the French. Orly finally developed into a commercial gateway, organizing the first transatlantic flights and opening to international airlines. It also became a glamorous spot when American movies were shot there. Today, the airport has grown a real city in itself, becoming the heart of Orly and the business center for a whole community, competitive and innovating. This book is an invitation to journey through the evolution of Orly Airport as a mirror of our history.


A stunning piece of social history - the Paris Orly airport in a superb series of photographs - a must-see!

FPeter Tomasi (Illus. Sara DuVall): The Bridge

Published by Abrams Comic Arts 17th April 2018

More than 130 years after its completion, the Brooklyn Bridge remains one of the most extraordinary landmarks and symbols of Brooklyn and New York City―and the story behind this architectural marvel is just as extraordinary. The Brooklyn Bridge was originally designed by John Augustus Roebling, but it was his son, Washington, and his daughter-in-law, Emily, who oversaw the bridge’s construction. As work on the bridge went on, Washington developed caisson disease, leaving him bedridden for the majority of the bridge’s 14-year construction. Washington’s wife, Emily Roebling, took his place running the work site, deftly assuming the role of chief engineer, supervising the project and overseeing the workers, contractors, a hostile press, and greedy city politicians―an unusual position for a woman to take on at the time. In this inspiring graphic novel, author Peter J. Tomasi and illustrator Sara Duvall show the building of the Brooklyn Bridge as it has never been seen before, and the marriage of the Roeblings―based on intellectual equality and mutual support―that made the construction of this iconic structure possible.


The story of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge told in the form of a graphic novel - brilliant!


Robin Cormack: Byzantine Art

Published by OUP 29th March 2018

The opulence of Byzantine art, with its extravagant use of gold and silver, is well known. Highly skilled artists created powerful representations reflecting and promoting this society and its values in icons, illuminated manuscripts, and mosaics and wallpaintings placed in domed churches and public buildings. This complete introduction to the whole period and range of Byzantine art combines immense breadth with interesting historical detail. 

Robin Cormack overturns the myth that Byzantine art remained constant from the inauguration of Constantinople, its artistic centre, in the year 330 until the fall of the city to the Ottomans in 1453. He shows how the many political and religious upheavals of this period produced a wide range of styles and developments in art. This updated, colour edition includes new discoveries, a revised bibliography, and, in a new epilogue, a rethinking of Byzantine Art for the present day.


There is something other-worldly about these iconic images that fascinate, whethere or not you have any religious faith. Stupendous !

Florian Richter: The Battle of Trafalgar 1805

Published by Helion 15th February 2018

In the first of a potential new series Florian Richter presents colour profile models of every ship on both sides in this epic battle. In a change to previous paper soldier titles, these ships can be cut straight out of the book to create the British, French and Spanish fleets.


This remarkable book will appeal to wargamers everywhere - the models are excellent and the colours are engaging - the entire book is an engineerign triumph!






Peter Dennis: Castle Assault

Published by Helion 15th February 2018

The Scottish and Welsh wars of Edward the first and second up to the Battle of Bannockburn, with barded knights, Scots schiltrons and wild Welsh archers fighting again for freedom. Featuring an extensive castle model with a siege assault force and a siege game included in the rules.


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






Peter Dennis: Jacobite '45

Published by Helion 15th February 2018

Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites try again to restore the Stuart monarchy and overthrow the redcoat army of the Hanoverian King. Highlanders, lowlanders and all the panoply of the British army can take to the field once more in this, the final title of the series.

Drawing upon family links, original letters and photographs, The Horsekeeper’s Daughter offers a unique perspective on the forgotten story of a working class girl, and the experiences of the hundreds of young North East women who left North East England and sailed to Australia to forge new lives in the late 19th Century.






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

Jay Wertz: Midway

Published by Monroe 10th November 2017

After the attack on Pearl Harbor the U. S. Pacific Fleet was bent but not broken. The fact that the fleet’s aircraft carriers were away from base at the time of the attack helped the navy under new commander Admiral Chester Nimitz react to further Japanese expansion in the Pacific. American task forces staged a series of raids, mostly ineffective except in letting the Japanese know that their continued aggression would not go unchecked. Then came the Battle of Coral Sea, the first naval battle fought entirely in air to sea actions – the opposing ships never saw each other. Through experience gained in this battle and advances in code breaking by U. S. Navy cryptologists, the Pacific Fleet was ready for Japan’s attack on the American base on Midway on June 5, 1942. Navy fliers attacked the Japanese carriers and sunk four of the six present. And while America lost some ships as well, the two-day battle so damaged the Combined Fleet that the Japanese were never able to mount another strategic offensive in the Pacific. All the preparations, actions, personalities and results of the Battle of Midway are chronicled in graphic story form in Midway – The Battle That Changed the Pacific War.


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.

Eric Thompson: On Her Majesty's Nuclear Service

Published by Casemate 28th February 2018

During the Cold War, nuclear submarines performed the greatest public service of all: prevention of a third world war. History shows that they succeeded; the Cold War ended peacefully, but for security reasons, only now can this story be told. 

Eric Thompson is a career nuclear submarine officer who served from the first days of the Polaris missile boats until after the end of the Cold War. He joined the Navy in the last days of Empire, made his first sorties in World War II type submarines and ended up as the top engineer in charge of the navy’s nuclear power plants. Along the way, he helped develop all manner of kit, from guided torpedoes to the Trident ballistic missile system. In this vivid personal account of his submarine operations, he reveals what it was like to literally have your finger on the nuclear button.

In his journey, the author leads the reader through top-secret submarine patrols, hush-hush scientific trials, underwater weapon developments, public relations battles with nuclear protesters, arm-wrestling with politicians and the changing roles of females and homosexuals in the Navy. It is essentially a human story, rich in both drama and comedy, like the Russian spy trawler that played dance music at passing submarines. There was never a dull moment.

Behind the lighter moments was a deadly serious game. This, the inside story of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, reveals the secretive life of submarines and the men who served on them; they kept their watch, and by maintaining the threat of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ helped keep Britain and the world safe.


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.


Alexei Isaev: The End of the Gallop - The Battle for Kharkov

Published by Helion 15th February 2018

Based heavily on inaccessible Soviet records, this book presents a lively account of a pivotal battle on the Eastern Front, illustrated with photographs and maps.

In the history of war there are not that many battles that changed one side’s strategy over a considerable period of time, becoming not only a material, but also a psychological factor in decision making. A classic example of this is the Battle of Smolensk in 1941, which forced the German leadership to change their strategy for ‘Barbarossa’ and to deploy their troops towards the northern, and eastern flanks of the Soviet-German front. We can however find another example on the other side of the front line: this was the battle in the area around Kharkov in the winter of 1943, which had even more of an impact. Following the simultaneous defeat of several of the shock troops on the two fronts and the loss of a large tract of territory the vector of Soviet strategy changed. A passive expectation of the enemy’s actions replaced the attacking momentum that was traditional for Soviet command. To begin with there were objective prerequisites: Red Army units were exhausted and had incurred heavy losses in the German counterattacks during February–March. By May 1943 however, when the troops had recuperated and reserves had been drawn up, the psychological factor continued to play a role. Recalling their bitter experience during the winter battles outside Kharkov the Supreme Soviet Command decided not to go on the offensive, but await the start of German offensive operations. Up until the very last day before the start of Operation ‘Citadel’ the Commander of the Voronezh front N.F. Vatutin was pleading, he demanded that precious summer days not be spent waiting for the enemy to attack but for the Red Army to take up the offensive themselves. All these proposals distracted supreme command, as they remembered Vatutin’s failures outside Kharkov a few months previously.

From a military historian’s point of view the battles outside Kharkov between February–March 1943 were dramatic manoeuvring battles and the success of both sides hung in the balance on a daily basis. Operations such as these are always much more interesting than the tedious, meat grinding positioning for a ‘house in the forest’, that is abundant in the histories of both world wars. Manoeuvring, the deployment of corps and divisions around an area to attack an enemy where they are most vulnerable, played a much more important role than the arithmetic of the numbers of tanks and guns. The steady equalisation of both Soviet and German sides added spice to this menu of a classic manoeuvring battle. During the course of the battle for Kharkov Soviet forces encountered a new, powerful enemy in the shape of the Panzer divisions of the SS. These were elite mechanised formations equipped with the latest technology, which were soon to become leading participants in decisive battles in the East and the West in the second half of the war.


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 Casemate 28th February 2018

101st Airborne Division was activated in August 1942 in Louisiana, and its first combat mission was Operation Overlord. On D-Day―June 6, 1944―101st and 82nd Airborne dropped onto the Cotentin peninsula hours before the landings, tasked with capturing bridges and positions, taking out German strongpoints and batteries, and securing the exits from Utah and Omaha Beaches. Things did not initially go smoothly for 101st Airborne, with cloud and antiaircraft fire disrupting the drops resulting in some units landing scattered over a large area outside their designated drop zones and having to waste time assembling―stymied by lost or damaged radio equipment―or trying to achieve their objectives with severely reduced numbers. Casualties were high in some areas due to heavy pre-registered German fire. Nevertheless, the paratroopers fought on and they did manage to secure the crucial beach exits, even if they only achieved a tenuous hold on some other positions. A few days later, 101st Airborne were tasked with attacking the German-held city of Carentan as part of the consolidation of the US beachheads and establishment of a defensive line against the anticipated German counteroffensive. The 101st forced their way into Carentan on 10 and 11 June. The Germans withdrew the following day, and a counteroffensive was put down by elements of the 2nd Armored Division. This fully illustrated book details the planning of the airborne element of D-Day, and the execution of the plans until the troops were withdrawn to prepare for the next big airborne operation, Market Garden.

Always good to read a detailed account of one division's controbution to Operation Overlord. The detail is exceptional and fascinating.


Yves Buffetaut: The 2nd Panzer Division Das Reich

Published by Casemate 31st December 2017

The 2nd SS Division, “Das Reich,” was a battlefront mainstay for Nazi Germany throughout WWII―from the invasion of Poland in 1939 to the final surrender in May 1945. In between it was switched back-and-forth between east and west depending on the crisis, and it fought in nearly every major campaign, from Barbarossa to Normandy, and from Kharkov to the Ardennes. 

Das Reich was the first Waffen SS division created (though the title “1st” was reserved for Hitler’s Leibstandarte). Originally named the Verfügungs Division, its regiments fought through the campaigns in Poland, the Low Countries, and France, earning the respect of Wehrmacht leaders who originally doubted the efficacy of SS units. Renamed “Das Reich” after the French surrender, its elements served as a spearhead in the Balkans campaign, achieving a daring capture of Belgrade.

In Operation Barbarossa, Das Reich fought with Guderian’s Second Panzer Group, first in the drive on Moscow, then toward Kiev, then Moscow again. Pulled out of the line after gigantic casualties, it seized Toulon in France, then was sent back to Russia, as part of the SS Panzer Corps, to retrieve the German debacle after Stalingrad. At the titanic tank-battle of Kursk, Das Reich was at the forefront.

In June 1944, as a full SS-Panzer Division, Das Reich played an infamous role in its approach march to Normandy, as the French Resistance temporarily reached a high tide. On the Allied invasion front, Das Reich not only escaped from the Falaise Pocket but was sent back into it, to retrieve other German units struggling to get out.

Das Reich fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and was then transferred to Hungary, for Hitler’s last counteroffensive of the war. Failing to retake Budapest, elements of the division were able to mount a gallant defense of Prague. When the end came, some formations were forced to surrender to the Russians while others made it to American lines. Its reputation, for better or worse, had already been established.

This lavishly illustrated book by renowned French historian Yves Buffetaut lays out the full history of Das Reich in World War II, with rare photos, informative text, and true insights into a unique combat division in modern warfare.


And here is another fascinating piece of military history from the opposite point of view. Contrast this with the poor offering from OUP last month - this doesn't purport to be an illustrated history of the Reich, but it damn well is!

Neil Cogswell: Olmutz to Torgau

Published by Helion 31st January 2018

Following the disastrous conclusion to the campaign of 1757, the Austrian Army regrouped in Bohemia. Meanwhile, the King of Prussia sought to complete his reconquest of Silesia before seizing the initiative and thrusting directly towards Vienna. In his path stood the town of Olmütz, which would prove to be a high-tide mark of the war. 

Over the next three years, Austria and her allies inflicted a series of heavy defeats on the Prussians at Hochkirch, Kunersdorf, Dresden, Maxen, Landeshut and Glatz. By the end of 1760 - with Berlin open to insult by Swedish, Austrian and especially Russian raiders - the King of Prussia was left with no other option than the desperate measure of attacking the Austrian Army in a renowned, strong defensive position on the heights of Süptitz (outside Torgau). From the near-balletic formality of the battles and sieges of a prior age, the business of war changed during these campaigns. Many of the actions were designed with the objective of annihilation, and the critical moment of several battles came at night; the geometric precision of siege warfare gave way to the indiscriminate horrors of bombardment.

Throughout these campaigns, Horace St Paul - an English gentleman volunteer - continued to accompany Marshal Daun. He noted the day-to-day progress of the army and recorded the essential connective tissue which links the great events of these campaigns - often highlighting occasions where a general action was expected, but does not occur. In parallel, this volume includes accounts from the Prussian perspective - including that of Henri de Catt, to whom the King of Prussia confided his thoughts.

The text is accompanied by 242 plates of maps and statistical information, as well as a detailed gazetteer and lists of persons and regiments named.

This is an extremely detailed account of the Austrian Army campaign of 1757, compiled with the help of notes from Horace St Paul, who was an eyewitness even if he didn't take part in the fighting. Absolutely superb.

Mike Brown: Dear Old Blighty

Published by Sabrestorm 11thth February 2018

In the summer of 1914, Britain felt secure that the old order was firmly in place. Britain, through its navy, ruled the waves, and a fair part of the world through its Empire. Yet this security was an illusion; a war of unimaginable scale was just days away. 
The war would affect every level of British society; first through the urgent need for a massive expansion of the armed forces, drawing in ever-more men from civilian life. This in turn denuded the factories, shops and farms of labour, at a time when industry needed to expand to clothe and supply the armed services, and agriculture needed to fill the shortages of food created by the U-boat assault on our merchant fleet.

The armed forces had first call on men, food, and material, so shortages hit the civilian population hardest; replacement labour was found in women, who began to take on work previously the reserve of men; in the factories, transport, commerce, and agriculture. Food remained a problem; shortages led to food queues, leading to increasing Government control and eventually rationing. Civilians were also hit by shortages of petrol and clothing, leading to petrol rationing, gas-cars, and ‘standard’ cloth.
There were also more immediate dangers; raids by German ships on coastal towns, and air raids throughout the country by Zeppelins, and later, aeroplanes.

In ‘Dear Old Blighty’, Mike Brown looks in depth at the experience of the civilians, men, women and children, of Britain throughout those four momentous years.


This terrific book tells the story of the Home Front during the years of the First World War - beautiful photographs and illustrations make this a must-read for anyone interested in the social history aspect of the conflict.


Daniel McCohan: South Downs Way

Published by Trailblazer 18th January 2018

The South Downs Way is a 100-mile National Trail footpath which follows the line of chalk hills stretching from Winchester to Eastbourne in southern England. Walking the length of the Downs is the best way to experience this beautiful landscape with its mixture of rolling hills, steep hanging woodland and windswept fields. You'll also pass through picture-postcard villages with welcoming pubs, thatched cottages and country gardens. * 82 Maps: 60 large-scale walking maps - 1:20,000 (3-1/8 inches to 1 mile) - the largest-scale maps available, 11 town plans, 10 stage maps with trail profiles showing hills and descents, and 2 overview maps. * Detailed accommodation with reviews: B&Bs, campsites, pubs, hotels, bunkhouses. * Where to eat with reviews: cafes, teashops, pubs, takeaways and restaurants. * Comprehensive public transport information with frequency of services for all access points on the Path. * Downloadable GPS waypoints. * Itineraries for all walkers, whether hiking the entire route or sampling highlights on day walks, weekends or short breaks. * Unique mapping features - walking times, directions, tricky junctions, places to stay, places to eat, points of interest written onto the maps. * Flora and fauna - four page full colour flower guide, plus an illustrated section on local wildlife * Green hiking - understanding the local environment and minimizing our impact on it.


Trailblazer books are the must-have for anyone walking the British isles. A superb collection of town plans, walking maps, local items of interest and eating places, together with reviews of available accommodation etc., etc. As comprehensive and therefore as helpful as it is possible to get. Accept no substitute! Trailblazers are the only way to go!


James Downs: Joseph Pike - The Happy Catholic Artist

Published by Matador 28th February 2018

Joseph Pike has been described as an artist of unusual merit , who recorded with outstanding ability the architecture of all periods which exists in contemporary Britain . A master of the art of pencil drawing, he produced evocative sketches of old churches, and colleges, monasteries and modern offices, picturesque street scenes in historic towns such as Rugby and Chester, as well as a great number of London landmarks. His illustrations were commissioned by authors, architects and publishers, reproduced in books and on postcards, sold as prints and exhibited on the walls of the Royal Academy. 

When he died in 1956, the Catholic Herald referred to him as a distinguished artist, though not personally well known , and until the publication of this biography little has been written about his life and work. Joseph Pike: The Happy Catholic Artist reveals the man behind the art, beginning with his roots in Bristol and his education by the monks of Ampleforth Abbey, marking the beginning of a lifelong association with the Benedictines. Early attempts to launch a professional career as an artist were interrupted by military service in the First World War, and it was only through dogged determination and hard work that he managed to establish himself in the 1920s. 

Although there is little explicit religious content in his work, Joseph Pike was a devout Roman Catholic who worked with many of the leading figures in the literary and artistic revival that transformed Catholic culture in interwar Britain. This biography explores his friendships with the likes of Ronald Knox and Bede Camm, his work for the Benedictine monks of Caldey Island and the Dominican Friars in London and Oxford, and demonstrates how his artwork helped preserve the memory of the Catholic martyrs and forgotten shrines of historic England. 

This is the story of a remarkable artist and quiet, modest man, hugely admired by his contemporaries, whose contribution to 20th century British art deserves greater recognition. 


This is a comprehensive and detailed look at the stunning artwork of painter Joseph Pike, whose devotion to the workings of the Catholic Church make him one of the most important painters of the twentieth century in terms of preserving the memories of various martyrs and their associated shrines.


Kenny Salami: To Everyman a Brain

Published by Matador 28th February 2018

With a global population of seven billion, the world has a large percentage of honest and hardworking youth. However, they are more of an army of `doers' than a legion of `thinkers'. This community of `doers' is where the real problem lies. That is the irony; for although vital to executing ideas, `doing' alone will always remain inferior to `thinking'. But why is thinking the primordial senior brother to doing? To Everyman a Brain takes the reader on a journey of discovery uncovering the myth around creative thinking and introducing vital methodologies that will help each individual become a creative and innovative genius. Can you ever imagine a world without ideas? Without them, all one can imagine is a picture of `doers' moving robotically from one odd task to the other, ultimately destined for a dismal cul-de-sac. If, like Kenny, you would rather picture a different world for yourself, your family, your company or your country, then To Everyman a Brain is for you.




John Neville Greaves: Sir Sam Fay

Published by The Book Guild 28th February 2018

John Neville Greaves has penned the biography of Sir Sam Fay, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest British railway managers. From a rural background in Hampshire, Sir Sam Fay began working on the London and South Western Railway. He rose repidly through the ranks of management and became the General Manager of the new Manchester to the London Great Central in 1902. Though he is not so widely recognised for his work for the war office during 1916 to 1919, Sir Sam Fay had the immense task of managing railways roads, inland waterways as the Director of Movements. This also involved the transportation of troops, supplies, ammunition and bringing back the wounded. This is the first full-length biography of a man who played an integral role in the development of our railways. It will be enjoyed by all train and railway history enthusiasts.








Dennis Newton: A Spitfire Pilot's Story - Pat Hughes: Battle of Briain Top Gun

Published by Amberley 15th March 2018

Pat Hughes is today perhaps the greatest unsung hero of the Battle of Britain. Ranked sixth in the ‘ace of aces’ of the aerial campaign of summer 1940, he shot down at least fourteen enemy aircraft, mostly the Spitfire’s closely matched rival the Messerschmitt Me 109.

As a flight commander in 234 Squadron he advocated bold, close-in tactics and during July 1940 scored the squadron’s first victories of the epic battle for air supremacy. The burden of command fell on his shoulders before the squadron transferred to the heart of the Battle in the south-east of England, where he endured the heaviest and most sustained period of fighting of the Battle of Britain.

Revered by his fellow pilots, Hughes began a shooting spree on 15 August that only ended when he was killed during the first huge daylight attack on London on 7 September. In his last three days alone he contributed at least six kills. His death in mysterious circumstances left Kathleen, his bride of just six weeks, a war widow. This volume is illustrated with over forty photographs, including many from his family that have never before been published.


Dennis Newton's stirring and amazing account of the life and exploits of Spitfire pilot Pat Hughes reminded me of the great picture strip stories of WWII I used to read in my weekly comics in the 1950s. Fabulous.


Stephanie Allen-Early: Take Me With You When You Go

Published by Matador 28th February 2018

Based on authentic love letters, written to the author by a hapless bullfighter Discover post civil war Andalusia, with its Moorish past through the language and culture of local people Compares 1950s Ireland with Franco's Spain in the same period, both in the grip of unbending Catholicism Take Me With You When You Go is the true story of a young girl who leaves her Dublin home to take her chances in Southern Spain. It takes the form of a first person memoir, written with pathos and humour. Not many choices were available in the Dublin of that period to "a fatherless child like you with no examinations to your name" and Stephanie is sent off to live in a feudal family of the sherry aristocracy in Jerez de la Frontera. She will be a "Miss" to the children and give them English conversation lessons. The Garvey family are landowners of vast and beautiful estates throughout Spain and she travels to each of these in turn, learning about Spanish life and landscape. The writer perfectly captures the atmosphere of a feudal household in post-Civil War Spain, which is still recovering from the cruelty and bloodshed perpetrated by both sides. Eventually she is allowed an afternoon visit to the local hotel where she meets young ex-bullfighter, Javier, who takes a strong liking to her and begins to write her the letters of love and friendship which form the backbone of the memoir. This book will appeal to readers with an interest in the history of Catholic Spain and Catholic Ireland, Spanish travel, culture, and romance.



Dr Okechukwu Michael Mwim: My Rich Prince

Published by Matador 28th March 2018

My Rich Prince is a unique book tackling subject matter that is pertinent to teenage and young adult readers. The author offers readers life advice on a number of issues and warns them of what to look out for. It also discusses what is important and what is not, and explains how readers can maximise happiness and fulfilment. My Rich Prince is a collection of notes written for Michael's son and compiled over many years. The book covers issues relating to money, individuality and responsibility. Michael addresses each topic in a straightforward and direct manner, creating a book which challenges beliefs and ways of life in a sometimes controversial manner. Michael has had to constantly dig into his experience of challenges faced on the background of leaving behind a life of struggle, at various levels, to emigrate to Europe and to become a practising medical doctor and entrepreneur in the UK to inform his writing. My Rich Prince will appeal to young people seeking honest advice about a number of different issues.






Esther Onions: The Alternative Baby Keepsake Book - Laugh Out Loud Memories from Baby's First Year

Published by Matador 28th January 2018

Having a baby is a beautiful, life-changing event, but it also comes with more than a few comical, cringe-inducing and very, very smelly moments. Capture the not-so-magical moments of pregnancy, birth and parenthood with The Alternative Baby Keepsake Book.  A hilarious take on traditional baby record books. In years to come will anyone really care when Baby first ate a carrot or travelled on a bus? Celebrate never-should-be-forgotten firsts instead, such as First Projectile Vomit, First Public Meltdown, and the all-important First Alien Object up Nose. The perfect Baby Shower present... Not only will new parents have huge fun filling in this book, they can also look forward to sharing it with their beloved sproglets many years from now. 


Esther's wonderful book is a superb alternative to all those more serious publications that profess to help you through the birthing process and the first year with your baby - Esther doesn't pull any punches, and invites parents to be able to see through the pain and the stress, and instead to look for the humour in all of the situations you might find yourself in. The hilarity is genuine and real, the embarrassing moments are real, the real problems you actually have to deal with are dealt with with a straight face that might crack into hysterical laughter at any moment. This book is sheer joy, and celebrates the sheer joy of mother- and fatherhood in a way that you will want to remember forever. Superb.


Jan Bondeson: The Lion Boy and Other Medical Curiosities

Published by Amberley 15th March 2018

In this book of amazing oddities, the successor to his popular Cabinet of Medical Curiositiesand The Two-Headed Boy, Jan Bondeson explores various surprising and bizarre aspects of the history of medicine: Does people’s hair go white after a sudden fright; can the image of the killer be seen in the eyes of a murdered person; does the severed head of a guillotined person maintain some degree of consciousness? Giants, dwarfs and medical freaks are paraded in front of the reader, to say nothing of Johnny Trunley, the Fat Boy of Peckham, who was a sensation in Edwardian show business, and his various rotund rivals. 

In this book, Bondeson combines a historian’s research skills with a physician’s diagnostic flair, as he explores our timeless fascination with the freakish and bizarre people and events in the colourful history of medicine.


An amazing collection of freaks and curiosities from an age when such things were considered entertaining rather than tragic. The illustrations are superb and chilling, the actual curiosities at times defy belief. Jan Bondeson's latest book is a marvellous catalogue of the kinds of things the Victorians found entertaining, things we wouldn't. Absolutely fascinating.



Emma Kay: Dining With The Victorians - A Delicious History

Published by Amberley 15th March 2018

From traditional seaside holiday treats like candy floss, ice cream and fish ’n’ chips, to the British fascination for baking, the Victorian era has shaped British culinary heritage. Victoria’s austere attitude after an age of Regency indulgence generated enormous cultural change. Excess and gluttony were replaced with morally upright values, and Victoria’s large family became the centre of the cultural imagination, with the power to begin new traditions. If Queen Victoria’s family sat down to turkey on Christmas day, so did the rest of the nation. 

Food was a significant part of the Victorians’ lives, whether they had too much of it or not enough. The destitute were fed gruel in the workhouses – the words of Dickens’s Oliver are forever imprinted on our minds: ‘Please, sir, I want some more.’ The burgeoning street traders spilling over from the previous century devolved into a whole new culture of ‘mudlarks’, trotter boilers and food slop traders, to name but a few. Wealthy Victorians gorged with the newly emerging trend for breakfast, lunch and tea. Public dining became de rigeur, and the outdoor ‘pique-nique’, introduced a new way of eating.

Victorians also struggled against many of these trends, with the belief that denial of food was a moral good. This was the era of educating and training in food management, combined with the old world of superstition and tradition, that changed British society forever.


A brilliant, in-depth look at the Victorians' attitudes to food, together with the kinds of foods they ate, the ingredients they used, etc. Emma Kay's slice of social history shines a light on Victorian eating habits in a detailed and informative, and quite entertaining way. Magnificent.


Jessika Coker: Juniper The Happiest Fox

Published by Chronicle Books 3rd April 2018

Juniper's adorable snaggletooth smile and fun-loving personality are vibrantly captured in this heartwarming book. With gorgeous photos, a charming narrative about Juniper's life, and a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to live with a fox, this book will capture the heart of any animal lover. Juniper's story chronicles her adoption and real-life Fox and the Hound relationship with a dog named Moose as well as the hilarious shenanigans she regularly gets herself into―including adapting to her new companion Fig, a younger fox who was rescued from a fur farm. Readers will also get a look at the thing Juniper is best known for: she paints with her paws! Juniper's paw paintings sell out instantly on her website, and readers will delight in learning more about her artistic adventures. With her signature grin, Juniper reminds us that there is always something to be happy about; you just have to know where to look.


Juniper looks for all the world like a European Red Fox... Already an internet sensation, Juniper at last has a book about her and the family who adopted her. This kind of thing usually only happens in America, but the story is heartwarming and the disturning thing for me is that she would be subject to the evil machinations of the upper classes were the story to have taken place in Britain. Beautiful photographs of a pampered pet fox - an amazing tale.


Emma Kay: More Than A Sauce - Worcestershire's Culinary History

Published by Amberley 15th March 2018

Worcestershire is one of the smallest counties in England, but has many claims to fame, not least as the birthplace of Worcestershire sauce. Despite this famous piquant accolade, little has been written about the broader narrative of the county’s rich culinary heritage. This book will explore centuries of a variety of food production, revealing a cultural identity steeped in food and drink consumption.

Worcestershire has a vast and varied tradition of growing, manufacturing and trading in food and drink, from Pershore plums and other fruit and vegetables (notably asparagus), to cider and Malvern spring water, cheese, meat and poultry, and in times of conflict and economic uncertainty, the agriculturally rich landscapes of Worcestershire have frequently played an integral role in food production for the whole country. The towns and villages of Worcestershire have produced a wealth of specialist fare over the centuries and the county is home to many fascinating customs and traditions relating to this, such as planting kidney beans as soon as the elm leaves grow to their biggest size and Kidderminster blessing cakes distributed on New Year’s Day.

Worcestershire also has a long history of attracting food and food-related industries. Some have disappeared, like the great fruit and vegetable canning business Smedley’s of Evesham, but other household names live on in the county, not least local legendary sauce company Lea & Perrins. In this book author Emma Kay explores Worcestershire’s successful link with food and drink manufacture both from the past and from a contemporary perspective.

The book will appeal to all those who are interested in the history of Worcestershire as well as those interested in Britain’s regional food and drink heritage.


Worcester Sauce is not the only foodstuff from Worcestershire tackled by Emma Kay in her second book on this page this month, but it sort of dominates. Wonderful photographs of adverts etc., make this a perfect piece of social history for food buffs. And it inspired me to put Worcester Sauce on my beans on toast, which we had for last Sunday night's tea!


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.