My first London story and yes he can write; really damned well. Semi autobiographical tales from his youth when he road the rails as a Hobo, challenging the Shacks, wandering day to day across America and Canada. If you want to understand what the life of a rambler was like at the turn of the twentieth century this is a good starting point.
Interesting read. A twisted Groundhog Day meets the holo doctor from Star Trek Voyager. A doctor relieves the experience of being a member Ivan expedition to investigate an alien structure from a sailor to a spaceman, each experience different but adding to the overall knowledge. A doctor needs empathy but what happens when it you feed it stories and it forgets it true nature.
The author of Nomads goes to the Sierra Madres in Mexico; a province noted for drugs, organised crime (Kind of) and anarchy. At first cautious but growing bolder as he travels deeper into the mountains getting to know the locals until an encounter with several men intent on his murder leave him fleeing for his life. A fascinating picture of machismo and anger which convinced me that there are some parts of Mexico that I do not wish to travel to.
Written by a 21 year old pilot as he recovered from burns he received when shot down during the Battle of Britain. Less a combat narrative than philosophical examination of why he continues to fight when friends and colleagues die around him. A selfish man coming to see the need to fight for a greater good based upon the sacrifices of those around him. Hillary would ultimately not survive the war.
Well I picked this book up after mistaking the author for another that I had read. That being said it was a serendipitous mistake as the author is a knowledgeable and talented storyteller. Part biography of thirty years as a sailor of small to mid sized yachts both professionally and for pleasure, part how to guide providing advice for sailors getting into the hobby.(or profession).
A English journalist who has lived in America most of his life and examines the role of the nomad in American tradition from Native Americans to mountain men to hobos to the modern one percenters who cannot fit into society. And he knows his subject having lived the life for years, travelling months at a time on the road in pursuit of both stories but also a great understanding of why some people must always wander. Dated but fascinating.
Okay onto the second of this series and am kind of hooked. An old colleague/husband of Elizabeth is in hiding in the neighbourhood from the London underworld accused of stealing 20M pounds in diamonds. Murder and chaos results and the team of septuagenarian and octogenarian nursing home residents undertake to investigate the resultant murders. Light, cliched but overall a lot of fun
A fascinating read about a now little know incident in arctic exploration. In 1926 an Italian expedition sought to fly the airship Italia (Officially N-4) to explore the arctic and travel to the North Pole. After initial success the Italia crashed upon the ice and a series of international expeditions including explorers such as Roald Amundsen sought to rescue the survivors.
I really enjoyed this story which is effectively the events of the “Spy who came in from the cold” told from the viewpoint of a retired Peter Guillam. A storm is brewing in London with MI6 being sued by relatives of those who died during the operation and Peter as the senior surviving (?) participant is required to explain his version of events. Ghost are confronted, collateral damage is assessed and the point of the Cold War is questioned.
I really enjoyed this book which is essentially a history of “The George” a inn in Southwark London which has existed since the time of Shakespeare and potentially considerably longer. From being one of many such establishments it is now the last, reduced in size from a series of buildings around an enclosed courtyard capable of holding theatrical performances to a much smaller public house as culture and technology changed.
A fascinating history of the siege of the Przemysl fortress at the start of World War One. Przemysl was the great defensive bulwark created by the Austro-Hungarian empire to defend against invasion from the Russians and held out for a total six months before finally falling to starvation breaking both armies in the process. The author makes a convincing argument that the ethnic cleansing that resulted set the pattern for future atrocities.
A well written historical murder mystery set in Deptford being one of the English terminus of the Triangle Trade (goods to Africa, Slaves to the Americas, Sugar to Europe) where a reforming lawyer has been murdered. Our protagonist is an old friend of the reformer and hero of the revolutionary war who finds a conspiracy stretching to the heights of society and a murderer determined to ensure details will never come to light.
What happens if we had our first encounter with an extraterrestrial technology and we missed it? In this book Loeb argues that it could very well be the case in 2017 when Oumuamua, a interstellar object passed through our solar system only being observed as it exited. Most believe this to be a asteroid but Loeb an astronomer at Harvard argues that it‘s flight path was more characteristic of a technological artefact. A book asking for a more
A history of Egyptology from the early days of lone European travellers in the 18th century through to Carter in the 20th. However a word of warning this is the story of the archaeologist and the politics that they faced and in some cases helped to create as opposed to the archaeology which is often covered at a very high level. Found myself fascinated by the unique style of Flinders Petrie to the point of seeking out a more detailed biography.
An interesting checklist of the major Egyptian tombs which are known to exist but have yet to be located from Imhotep a royal minister of the old kingdom through to the famous last Ptolemaic ruler Cleopatra. If you are interested in archaeology, Egyptology or simply lost treasure this is a worthwhile read.
A biography of Joseph Conrad; the Polish Gentleman, the sailor, the British merchant officer and author. Fascinating in the way that the author shows how his life and career mirrors the changes which were occurring in the society in which he operated. A book of much insight and beauty.
The memoirs of the greatest English test pilot - a man who was the first to land a twin engined plane on a carrier. The first to land a jet on a carrier. A pilot who flew over 400+ planes including German. Italian and Japanese. A officer who personal accepted the surrender of over two thousand enemy combatants. A man who comes across as humble, smart and completely imperturbable. Deserves to be better known,
A really good tale of the life of a carnie. The author is a journalist who decided to spend a period of time living the life of a itinerant carnival worker, moving from show to show with the intention of seeing America and experiencing as much of the life as possible. A tale of both freedom and living the dream but also hard work, poor wages and long hours. Not my life, but I am kind of pleased that such a life still exists for the one percenters
I really enjoyed this and now want Stanley Tucci to be my friend. A memoir of family, friends, tradition and food. Many tales, rants and happy memories interspersed with recipes related to the narrative, some of which I have tried, other of which I will need to cook. Like sitting with a old friend over a nice glass of wine, interspersed with “Oh you need to try this” moments.
I really enjoyed this narrative about the British sailor in the 18th and 19th centuries a period during which they ruled the seas. A fascinating picture of an almost unbearably hard life, offset by the wonder of exotic locations, adventures and bravery in the face of national enemies. Both a call to adventure and an awareness that for most such a call would result in an anonymous death. I found myself thinking of Roy Batty from Blade Runner.
Okay perhaps a subject of limited appeal; the development of the Indian Railway network initially as a strategic asset to move the small English army and then as means of moving the population. The author. Provides much details on how the infrastructure decisions were made and how it was financed and how those decisions impacted future development. And as always third class subsidised first class.
Well apparently this was a serialised release? I picked up the consolidated version; Tom Swann bastard grandson of John of Gaunt has decided to try his hand as a mercenary at the end of the 100 year war. Captured by the French, Tom finds himself in the Mediterranean in a recently fallen Istanbul, travelling to Rhodes with the knights of St John, fighting galleys making enemy and friends. Very much in the style of Dorothy Dunnett.
A fun light history of the USA during the war of revolution from the viewpoint of the teenage French nobleman Lafayette who joined Washington‘s army in the fight for freedom. A worthy reminder how the French intervention in the revolutionary war shortened the conflict and how much this intervention would ultimately cost the French nobility. And also very funny.
Yes the movie was based on a novel… fascinating retelling of the Sutton Hoo dig. As war approaches the owner of Three barrows seeks the assistance of a professional digger to investigate what they contain. It quickly becomes apparent they have located the greatest Anglo-Saxon ship burial ever found. A site which redefines the dark ages. On a more personal level a interesting picture of the tension between professional and academic archaeologists.
Hmmm okay. I know Cthulhu, I have seen the first series of True Detectives so it only made sense I would get to this. And I was slightly disappointed. Chambers wrote gothic horror and romance and in this book came up with fascinating idea of a play about the lost city of Carcosa ruled by the eponymous king which drove many who read it insane. And if this was a core of the book I would be happy, but rather it is an idea mentioned and the forgotten.
Just another book indulging my interest the colonial period in the east. Purchased cheap and not what I was expecting. Was hoping for a memoir of service during the inter war period. What I got was Much more an essay discussing the decision to use Singapore as the main base for the British navy in the east between the wars and failing of this decision during the Japanese invasion.
Okay the key question as to whether you like this story is how you feel about digressions. At heart a simple tale of who has the right to own and sell fossils, especially rare and potentially priceless fossils. But what could have been a long essay becomes a book when the author digresses to Mongolian history, American dinosaur wars, early English fossil hunting in Lyme Regis etc. Which for me is fine because I find this fascinating.
Bourdain was one of the unique voices who I still miss. This is in theory his last book, but in reality it is a book he had an idea for, with his experiences and previous in show commentary as the core of this idea. Unfortunately at the time of his death he had not started this task which was then picked up by another author using his tv programmes for quotes and travel preferences. So not so much a book by Bourdain as guide based on his tv shows
An old passion, cryptozoology and the supernatural in general which despite over the years becoming much more about skepticism and doubt still provides a guilty pleasure. In this case the authors investigate the stars of cryptozoology Loch Ness and other lake and sea monsters, Bigfoot and Yeti‘s documenting the origins of the stories, the key beliefs associated with these creatures and other explanations for these tales.
Well contrary to other reviews I found this fascinating. Basically a verbal narrative of the history and experience of being a Foreign Legionnaire from recruitment, to training and deployment to some truly remote and dangerous locations around the world. Provides an insight into what makes the legion different; commitment to unit rather than country, the legion as a substitute family where a recruit can spend the rest of life.
A history of the battle of Verdun in ww1. Although not well known in the commonwealth this battle was one of the most important for the French. A surprise German offensive nearly captured the city of Verdun and for months following both sides contested for control of the strategically important city and surrounding fortresses. Although ultimately a French victory the battle bled the French army white and lead to the mutinies of 1917.
Are you a fan of boxing or the combat sports, if no then move on else this collection of stories/essays make for an interesting read. The author writes in a simple colloquial manner and does not just concentrate on champions boxers but also on could have beens, the also runs who had promise but failed due to a variety of vices from drugs to booze to simple loss of discipline to parties and excess.
Well I enjoyed if not necessarily loved this book, Berryman is primarily known as a intellectual and poet so it is interesting to read this novel that he wrote about a very similar character and his experiences with alcoholism and battles with twelve steps programs and group therapy. A personal insightful tale with surprising flashes of humour
Last book I reviewed was about how coffee has screwed large parts of central and southern American, this book .... fruit. In the late 19th and 20th century, several m major American companies used the cheap resources of the local communities to produce a variety of new tropical fruits including bananas. By the 1950‘s said fruit companies assisted by the CIA were overthrowing governments who dared to ask for a share of the profits (Damned commies)
Hands up who is a coffee addict. Yep I am as guilty as the next guy which for me makes this comic even more fascinating. Ostensibly he history of a English family who moves to El Salvador and becomes the foundation of the coffee industry, but on a deeper level a history of coffee from its origin to its progression to the status of mono culture in many of the countries whose economies are now intrinsically linked with its ongoing production.
A serial killer is on the loose and clinical psychologist Joseph O‘Loughlin is afraid that it may be one of his clients who is responsible. But this just one of Joseph‘s problems, he has just been diagnosed with Parkinson‘s, he has secrets which must not share with his family and the lead detective is coming to believe that he may be the killer. Despite one moment which for me fell flat, a good overall crime story.
Third and final book in the Ibn Battuta series, in which Mackintosh-Smith follows the path of 13th century Islamic traveller, judge, Sufi who crossed pretty much the entire known world making it as far as China and as far south in Africa as Timbuktu. Part travel guide part enquiry into what is left from Battutas time, but mostly seeking a connection with the old traveller.
Finally got around to picking up this book and it lived up to expectation. In simplest terms during WW2 an eccentric American inventor cane up with the idea of using a bats (millions of them) strapped with incendiaries to set Japan ablaze and for the length of the war pursued the project despite the objections of the traditional military. A fascinating oddball selection of characters, knowledge of bats and the possibility that it may have worked.
What can I say - it was Bill Bryson and Audible gave to me for free. Bryson and his old travelling companion Katz decide to walk the Appalachian Trail as middle age men. Full of Bryson‘s normal humour and slightly off centre way of seeing the world. An amusing way to spend a few hours.
What a strange novel(la) . Two professional killers at the turn of the twentieth century are approached by daughters of a famous scientist to kill the monster that now inhabits the laboratory of his mansion in Oregon. Will leave what happens next to you to find out. Cannot say I was satisfied completely with the conclusion, but I now understand Brautigan‘s reputation as a great writer - he hooked me and I finished in a sitting.
Picked this up based on my love of the writing in True Grit. A naive young soldier acquires a copy of a book claiming to initiate the readers into the mystery of Atlantis and uses it to form a mystical society whose members range from the deluded, the believers to con men. Story covers the trials and tribulations of the society over the next fifty years. Perhaps not to everyone‘s taste, but I found it to be whimsical and beautifully written.
Tale of the authors walk from the west of England to the South of Spain via the London, with no means of support except his fiddle which he used to busk, living the life of the hobo, learning from other travellers on the road. . He arrived in the south of Spain just in time for the civil war to commence. Lee was a hell of a writer, whose prose for description of place and time and feelings, I would rate favourably with Orwell.
A worthwhile read which I pickrd up cheap. The author was one of top forensic scientists in the UK with a 30+ year year career touching upon incidents of international and domestic terrorism, mass murder and natural disaster. But equally as appropriate for memoirs the author discusses the impact that his career has had upon his life and the life of his family and friends eventually resulting in a diagnosis of PTSD.
A book about the lesser known corner of Bohemian lifestyle based around Soho and Chelsea in London, home for hundreds of years to writers, painters and poets, radicals both home grown and from the continent copying the actions of better known communities in Paris whilst trying to creat something individual and unique. A wild dangerous place of alcohol, drugs and betrayal which I would have liked to visit but not necessarily live there.
A enthralling tale of a man killer tiger and the men sent to destroy it in the Russia Far East. What makes this story different is the action of the tiger which appear deliberate and planned acts of Vengeance against the poachers who had wounded it. A microcosm of the world at large; shrinking domains, increased human demands for resources while in the background the Soviet Union and the lifelines it provide to local citizens collapse.
Chivers is a fine reporter and this book is a collection addressing the experiences of the American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chivers seeks to capture many experiences from special forces to regulars, naval aviators, helicopter pilots and corpsmen who put their life on the line to aid others. Soldiers who are wounded and killed with no real understanding of their objective and who are dropped back into regular life when they return.
A comprehensive history of submarine warfare in WW2 both in the Atlantic and in the Pacific. Covering from the start of the U-boat war, to the end when Japan was besieged by us fleet boats and detailing the experience of both the submariners and the sailors who opposed them and how the technology deployed by all sides improved as the war progressed. A good one stop history.
James Randi passed away recently, so it seemed appropriate to revisit his classic book which made me a skeptic. Randi was a magician and for many years made his living as a performer, but also specialised in exposing charlatans and frauds- psychics, new age healers, diviner‘s, UFO abductees - all where fair game. But he always approached his investigation on the basis of “show me”, if you have this ability let‘s test in in control conditions.