This is a superb read. It is well executed from the standpoint of the balance between recounting extensive research and engagement with a thrilling narrative. Hewitt covers ground that has been well covered before. Between the days leading up to the outbreak of World War One and the subsequent twelve months, a collection of often sole cruisers ranged the ocean’s wrecking havoc and tieing up substantial British and colonial capital warships. This book explores, the moral, economic and strategic implications of this short period. The individual tales of creative use of limited resources, the invention of new forms of sea-based warfare provide a primer for the evolution of fleet deployment for the next few decades. They question the value of the massive investment by the British ( allies and German navies in massive capital ships) but also the nature of the compromises between speed, armour, gun range and weight and cruising range. Continue reading
There is no disputing that Anthony Beevor is one of the most skilled raconteur’s of episodes from our recent military past. His new treatment of Operation Market Garden and its aftermath demonstrates tremendous research (not necessarily all his own – a point we’ll discuss later) as well as a unique ability to weave together disparate narratives into a single engaging narrative. He did this supremely well with Stalingrad, the Spanish Civil War and D-Day to name the more stellar – in my opinion.
Beevor’s stated objective for revisiting this previously explored operation was to reveal some previously untouched aspects. The result of his re-engagement with the existing record and previous narratives does drive a final nail in any defence that circumstances and not simple lack of solid military preparedness and good strategic foresight led to what can only be termed an abject military and humanitarian failure. Continue reading
I thoroughly enjoyed Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out: Goose Island, Anheuser-Busch, and How Craft Beer Became Big Business by Josh Noel. The style is engaging and lively and enticed me to read on through in the space of a day.
The title is carefully written and I sense can be read to appeal to various factions in the contentious argument between ‘craft brewers’ and ‘big beer’ around the world. What does ‘craft’ really mean? How big is big beer? Is the question of quantity versus quality? Who makes the rules? Who defines the terms? Regardless of how ‘you’ answer any of these questions and what side of the posed argument you find yourself on, this book will appeal. Continue reading
I think that the rather stratified opinions regarding our read this month: 12 Lessons for Life we well captured by the two generous reviews provided by absent members. Thanks for those.
The reactions to Peterson were mixed. Enticed by a rather intriguing interview on Channel 4, his latest work promised to be a controversial read if nothing else. Continue reading
Thanks in advance for the three reviews from away. Much appreciated and very thorough and well expressed.
I speak to the additional comments rendered tonight by a solid 5 members.
The overwhelming impression in both advance and at the meet was to the length of Middlesex. This is not a novella nor a short read. It’s full of deep description and a thick narrative streams. Two members shared that they had not yet completed the novel and so rendered incomplete evaluations – challenged by the length. Continue reading
Theo Aronson’s latest work, Queen Victoria and the Bonapartes, explores the personal relationships between Queen Victoria, Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie of France. It opens a wide window on a colourful and somewhat surprising series of encounters between monarchs that influenced relations and perceptions of each other in the eyes of the public. The Second Empire re-established Napoleonic aspirations in France and rekindled a sense of glory and elan superbly captured by Aronson. The revanchist ideals of the Bonapartist dynasty represented all that the British royal family should have been threatened by, yet a lasting (although sometimes fraught) personal relationship was established that influenced Anglo-French political relationships.
It’s almost a year to the day since I happened to stumble upon Annabel Scheme and spent the day engaged and enthralled.
I was already a huge fan of Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore/Ajax Penumbra 19691 and – if it’s any mark of appreciation for this superb author’s capabilities – I accidentally read Sourdough straight through today after it magically appeared on my Kindle this morning (I pre-ordered it a few weeks back). This is becoming a bit of a habit now. Continue reading
This book is an absolute gem.
I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend to anyone who appreciates a thought provoking read that repeatedly flips back layers of narrative upon itself gradually building to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. Continue reading