caddyman: (Default)
I think I am taking a break from The Forsyte Saga on my Kindle.

It’s one of those odd tomes that is entertaining enough while you’re reading it, but which does not call out for you to dash back, find a quiet alcove and carry on with it. I shall read the whole saga, but not just yet.

So what have I decided to launch into instead? Well, Furtle is anxious that I dip into her newly discovered and rapidly being devoured world of Shardlake books and I think I shall at some point soon. Trouble is, I also have the entire George RR Martin Game of Thrones sequence to tackle, too. I read the first one when it came out, but need to revisit it before launching on the other novels.

So, shall I be starting with any of this lot?

No. Instead, I am tackling Christopher Andrew’s Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5.

I bought it a couple of years ago when it was published for the centenary of the service. I have intended to read it since, but the sheer size of the bloody thing has put me off each time I’ve thought about it. But now I have taken the plunge and am lugging all 1,000+ pages around with me to do so. Admittedly over 250 of those pages are notes, bibliography and index etc, but nonetheless, my current read is indeed a weighty tome.

At least with this, I shall have the satisfaction of seeing the advance of the book mark through the pages. There has been a sort of exquisite despair with the Forsytes on my Kindle as the percentage read seems to remain the same no matter how many chapters I get through.

It is not a foregone conclusion that I shall manage this current opus: I have discarded, temporarily or permanently smaller books this year (Tony Blair, anyone?), but in theory at least, I like BIG BOOKS.

Listless

Thursday, August 21st, 2008 11:58 am
caddyman: (Don't give a damn)
I seem to be going through one of my periodical unable to settle with a book phases. I have a large number of books on my reading list and at least three on the go at the moment – though I think that I may have run out of steam with Kate Fox’ Watching the English about two thirds of the way through. What seemed funny and informative at the beginning now seems drab and repetitive. Back to the shelf with that one, I think.

Somewhere in the living room – on the shelf near my chair, I think – I have the half-read Eleanor of Aquitaine by Allison Weir. Considering the lengths I went to to get it (I seem to have purchased it between print or distribution runs), I really ought to plough on with it. The trouble is, it’s just that at the moment: plough. It’s not badly written or anything, though she does make a lot out of relatively thin contemporary documentation, but my mind set isn’t quite right for a learned tome right now and it is a rather poorer book than McLynn’s Lionheart and Lackland, which inspired me to look it out.

That brings me to the book in my bag at the moment. A novel that I started about ten days ago. I am on page 23. I was on page 23 ten days ago. The theory was that I should read it on the Tube in to work and again on the way home, but as it transpires, I just want to doze on the way in and I do the Times sudoku on my way home. At home I play Civ or watch the telly. Or doze.

Past experience suggests that this phase will last another two or three weeks and then suddenly all my reading buds will perk up again and I’ll be off…

Listless

Thursday, August 21st, 2008 11:58 am
caddyman: (Don't give a damn)
I seem to be going through one of my periodical unable to settle with a book phases. I have a large number of books on my reading list and at least three on the go at the moment – though I think that I may have run out of steam with Kate Fox’ Watching the English about two thirds of the way through. What seemed funny and informative at the beginning now seems drab and repetitive. Back to the shelf with that one, I think.

Somewhere in the living room – on the shelf near my chair, I think – I have the half-read Eleanor of Aquitaine by Allison Weir. Considering the lengths I went to to get it (I seem to have purchased it between print or distribution runs), I really ought to plough on with it. The trouble is, it’s just that at the moment: plough. It’s not badly written or anything, though she does make a lot out of relatively thin contemporary documentation, but my mind set isn’t quite right for a learned tome right now and it is a rather poorer book than McLynn’s Lionheart and Lackland, which inspired me to look it out.

That brings me to the book in my bag at the moment. A novel that I started about ten days ago. I am on page 23. I was on page 23 ten days ago. The theory was that I should read it on the Tube in to work and again on the way home, but as it transpires, I just want to doze on the way in and I do the Times sudoku on my way home. At home I play Civ or watch the telly. Or doze.

Past experience suggests that this phase will last another two or three weeks and then suddenly all my reading buds will perk up again and I’ll be off…

Freebies

Thursday, July 24th, 2008 11:26 am
caddyman: (Default)
Having missed the Times free book on Monday, I was happy enough to pick up Freakonomics on Tuesday, The World According to Clarkson yesterday and Jane Austen: A Life today.

Someone has clearly gone for an eclectic collection.

The blurb on the back of today’s offering tells me that the author, Claire Tomalin, is Britain’s premier biographer. Odd then, that she is so unknown. I wonder what Elizabeth Longford and Alison Weir have to say about that?



I must say, though, joshing apart, that these are really nice (stylish) paperback volumes, published by Penguin in their classic no-nonsense style, colour coded by genre: Light Blue for ‘big ideas’, Green for mystery, Orange for ‘fantastic fiction’, Pink for distant lands, Dark Blue for real lives and Purple for viewpoints.

Freebies

Thursday, July 24th, 2008 11:26 am
caddyman: (Default)
Having missed the Times free book on Monday, I was happy enough to pick up Freakonomics on Tuesday, The World According to Clarkson yesterday and Jane Austen: A Life today.

Someone has clearly gone for an eclectic collection.

The blurb on the back of today’s offering tells me that the author, Claire Tomalin, is Britain’s premier biographer. Odd then, that she is so unknown. I wonder what Elizabeth Longford and Alison Weir have to say about that?



I must say, though, joshing apart, that these are really nice (stylish) paperback volumes, published by Penguin in their classic no-nonsense style, colour coded by genre: Light Blue for ‘big ideas’, Green for mystery, Orange for ‘fantastic fiction’, Pink for distant lands, Dark Blue for real lives and Purple for viewpoints.
caddyman: (Default)
We piled out of the Athenaeum Club, Furtle and I, before 11.30 this morning, which is almost unheard of. I wanted to buy acrylic paints and watercolour pencils and she was on the hunt for a couple of books. We decided then, that a brief foray into the West End was in order and in getting there around the middle of the day meant that we could wander around and visit the various places we wanted before everywhere filled up with the world and His Wife.

The tube journey in was sedate enough, though a squabbling middle age couple got on the train at West Finchley. Once it became obvious to the lady of the pair that her other half was not having any of the furore and minding his own business, she settled down to stare at Furtle and myself in turn. A person really shouldn't get into a staring contest unless they are willing to see it through. Long practice has allowed me to perfect the art of staring at someone and allowing my eyes to drop slightly out of focus as I do so, so I can generally meet there gaze without too much of that uncomfortable feeling that staring at a complete stranger often generates. Anyway, she broke the staring contest first and that was that. Having demonstrated my dominance in a pointless pissing up the wall contest, I was happy to show haughty distain until they got off the train at Camden Town.

Wandering into Blackwells, we managed to find one of Furtle's books - a history of nineteenth century London. Somehow we also managed to come away with three others, too: a history of Prussia for me, a history of the First World War in Africa for Furtle (which I shall read, too) and a shared thriller with the unimaginative name The Shakespeare Code. We ambled to Foyles to find Lady Sale's Journal of the Afghan War, but even they didn't have a copy, which is the signal to give up and get it from Amazon.

Thence to the London Graphic Centre to acquire a brush and the watercolour pencils (entertaining Furtle by pronouncing the word as "pen-sill," just because I could). Next a diversion to Forbidden Planet, which yield a couple of magazines and a comic. A wander then, around the corner to Modellers' World (quondam Beatties) in High Holborn where, after a certain amount of "umming and ahhing" I picked up paints reasonably close to those I wanted. I had to substitute, see. Airfix, even in their new kits, refer to 'Humbrol Paints' and give catalogue numbers accordingly. Humbrol went bust a while back and no longer make paints, so I had to make my best selection from the Revel equivalents. A small thing, but annoying.

Feeling peckish by this time, we endangered ourselves and a rainforest by scarfing back a McDonald's with relish (both actually and figuratively) before deciding to walk back to the tube.

The walk to the tube could have gone one of two ways - either by retracing our steps into the West End and back to Tottenham Court Road for the Northern Line, or we could head of in the other direction and then cut across past Drury Lane and pick up the tube at Leicester Square.

Clearly my knowledge of central London's layout is not as comprehensive as I had imagined. The West End, from Belgravia and Fitzrovia to Bloomsbury, via Soho and Mayfair to Covent Garden is known to me pretty much like the back of my hand. I can make a fair stab at places further west to Earl's Court, too, but the City is pretty much a closed book to me. Clearly High Holborn does not go quite in the direction I thought it did, for when we crossed the road to cut across to where I imagined Drury Lane would be, we found ourselves on Fleet Street via Chancery Lane.

This was unexpected. As was our appearance at Ludgate Circus. It was only when we exited onto the Victoria Embankment next to Blackfriars Bridge that I realised quite how far east we had wandered. Still, it was sunny, if cold and we were next to the river and heading west again. Oddly, it was comparatively warm by the river and we enjoyed the walk past Temple to Embankment, with the vistas of the City and Westminster across the loop of the Thames. It did mean that it was close on 2.30 by the time we got back on the train, though.

Tonight we watched the second half of Manchester United's demolition of Arsenal in the FA Cup (which accounts for why it is so quiet in the pub across the road tonight: all the noise will be in happy Manchester and a little further east in north London in Tottenham, no doubt) followed by the enjoyably lightweight Primeval (watch, enjoy, discard and forget) and then X-Files and the episode of City of Vice we had missed a couple of weeks back (my DVDs arrived this morning). This was unexpectedly difficult as it transpires that Channel 5 had shown a couple of episodes out of order, so we had not missed the episode we thought we had. Confusing.

That then, was our day.

I have a couple more pictures of Opus' doings across the Pond, which I must upload and then I can tell the entire story of his American holiday. They are sadly rather small pictures, having been taken on a relatively old camera phone, but they serve to show that a plush toy gets better holidays than Furtle and me at this stage of our finances.
caddyman: (Default)
We piled out of the Athenaeum Club, Furtle and I, before 11.30 this morning, which is almost unheard of. I wanted to buy acrylic paints and watercolour pencils and she was on the hunt for a couple of books. We decided then, that a brief foray into the West End was in order and in getting there around the middle of the day meant that we could wander around and visit the various places we wanted before everywhere filled up with the world and His Wife.

The tube journey in was sedate enough, though a squabbling middle age couple got on the train at West Finchley. Once it became obvious to the lady of the pair that her other half was not having any of the furore and minding his own business, she settled down to stare at Furtle and myself in turn. A person really shouldn't get into a staring contest unless they are willing to see it through. Long practice has allowed me to perfect the art of staring at someone and allowing my eyes to drop slightly out of focus as I do so, so I can generally meet there gaze without too much of that uncomfortable feeling that staring at a complete stranger often generates. Anyway, she broke the staring contest first and that was that. Having demonstrated my dominance in a pointless pissing up the wall contest, I was happy to show haughty distain until they got off the train at Camden Town.

Wandering into Blackwells, we managed to find one of Furtle's books - a history of nineteenth century London. Somehow we also managed to come away with three others, too: a history of Prussia for me, a history of the First World War in Africa for Furtle (which I shall read, too) and a shared thriller with the unimaginative name The Shakespeare Code. We ambled to Foyles to find Lady Sale's Journal of the Afghan War, but even they didn't have a copy, which is the signal to give up and get it from Amazon.

Thence to the London Graphic Centre to acquire a brush and the watercolour pencils (entertaining Furtle by pronouncing the word as "pen-sill," just because I could). Next a diversion to Forbidden Planet, which yield a couple of magazines and a comic. A wander then, around the corner to Modellers' World (quondam Beatties) in High Holborn where, after a certain amount of "umming and ahhing" I picked up paints reasonably close to those I wanted. I had to substitute, see. Airfix, even in their new kits, refer to 'Humbrol Paints' and give catalogue numbers accordingly. Humbrol went bust a while back and no longer make paints, so I had to make my best selection from the Revel equivalents. A small thing, but annoying.

Feeling peckish by this time, we endangered ourselves and a rainforest by scarfing back a McDonald's with relish (both actually and figuratively) before deciding to walk back to the tube.

The walk to the tube could have gone one of two ways - either by retracing our steps into the West End and back to Tottenham Court Road for the Northern Line, or we could head of in the other direction and then cut across past Drury Lane and pick up the tube at Leicester Square.

Clearly my knowledge of central London's layout is not as comprehensive as I had imagined. The West End, from Belgravia and Fitzrovia to Bloomsbury, via Soho and Mayfair to Covent Garden is known to me pretty much like the back of my hand. I can make a fair stab at places further west to Earl's Court, too, but the City is pretty much a closed book to me. Clearly High Holborn does not go quite in the direction I thought it did, for when we crossed the road to cut across to where I imagined Drury Lane would be, we found ourselves on Fleet Street via Chancery Lane.

This was unexpected. As was our appearance at Ludgate Circus. It was only when we exited onto the Victoria Embankment next to Blackfriars Bridge that I realised quite how far east we had wandered. Still, it was sunny, if cold and we were next to the river and heading west again. Oddly, it was comparatively warm by the river and we enjoyed the walk past Temple to Embankment, with the vistas of the City and Westminster across the loop of the Thames. It did mean that it was close on 2.30 by the time we got back on the train, though.

Tonight we watched the second half of Manchester United's demolition of Arsenal in the FA Cup (which accounts for why it is so quiet in the pub across the road tonight: all the noise will be in happy Manchester and a little further east in north London in Tottenham, no doubt) followed by the enjoyably lightweight Primeval (watch, enjoy, discard and forget) and then X-Files and the episode of City of Vice we had missed a couple of weeks back (my DVDs arrived this morning). This was unexpectedly difficult as it transpires that Channel 5 had shown a couple of episodes out of order, so we had not missed the episode we thought we had. Confusing.

That then, was our day.

I have a couple more pictures of Opus' doings across the Pond, which I must upload and then I can tell the entire story of his American holiday. They are sadly rather small pictures, having been taken on a relatively old camera phone, but they serve to show that a plush toy gets better holidays than Furtle and me at this stage of our finances.

Crivens!

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007 05:35 pm
caddyman: (coat of many colours)
It’s been a busy day; this is the first chance I’ve had to break my silence, not that I have a lot to say.

I have been assailed by ludicrous deadlines brought about by our Legal Adviser deciding that the middle of the annual Subsidy Determination process is the ideal time for a fortnight’s leave. That plus the fact that our attempts to make an interim subsidy payment to a particular local authority seem to be dogged by misfortune, the latest being the inability of one computerised system to play nicely with another. The authority is being uncommonly civil about it; I doubt I would be in the circumstances. Still, it now looks as though they will get their money tomorrow, only two (additional) days late.

I am reading Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men despite it being allegedly for kids (or at least pitched a little younger than most of his Discworld novels). I’m only 68 pages in, but it’s already a great deal of fun. In anticipation I have acquired the further stories featuring trainee witch, Tiffany Aching: A Hat Full of Sky and Wintersmith. The “Wee Free Men” have barely made an appearance as yet, but it looks as the Nac Mac Feegle are going to be a great deal of fun.

Why the kids absorb Harry Potter when this stuff is available is beyond me.

Crivens!

I have been talked into opening a MySpace account. I have no idea what I shall do with it. I daresay it will lie fallow like my blogspot and the other blog thing, the name of which escapes me for now. MySpace seems inherently counter intuitive to use and extremely cluttered by the standards of good old LJ.

We shall see.

Crivens!

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007 05:35 pm
caddyman: (coat of many colours)
It’s been a busy day; this is the first chance I’ve had to break my silence, not that I have a lot to say.

I have been assailed by ludicrous deadlines brought about by our Legal Adviser deciding that the middle of the annual Subsidy Determination process is the ideal time for a fortnight’s leave. That plus the fact that our attempts to make an interim subsidy payment to a particular local authority seem to be dogged by misfortune, the latest being the inability of one computerised system to play nicely with another. The authority is being uncommonly civil about it; I doubt I would be in the circumstances. Still, it now looks as though they will get their money tomorrow, only two (additional) days late.

I am reading Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men despite it being allegedly for kids (or at least pitched a little younger than most of his Discworld novels). I’m only 68 pages in, but it’s already a great deal of fun. In anticipation I have acquired the further stories featuring trainee witch, Tiffany Aching: A Hat Full of Sky and Wintersmith. The “Wee Free Men” have barely made an appearance as yet, but it looks as the Nac Mac Feegle are going to be a great deal of fun.

Why the kids absorb Harry Potter when this stuff is available is beyond me.

Crivens!

I have been talked into opening a MySpace account. I have no idea what I shall do with it. I daresay it will lie fallow like my blogspot and the other blog thing, the name of which escapes me for now. MySpace seems inherently counter intuitive to use and extremely cluttered by the standards of good old LJ.

We shall see.

North v South

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007 11:15 am
caddyman: (Default)
Much to the amusement of [livejournal.com profile] colonel_maxim, [livejournal.com profile] ellefurtle and I have been watching her DVDs of North and South - at least we’ve been watching season one, I think. There has been quite a lot of TV time, four very long episodes and we’ve only just had the Harper’s Ferry incident. I am beginning to wonder if the show doesn’t re-enact the American Civil War in real time.

Some of the programme is very cheesy; I rather expect Rhett Butler to wander in on occasion and give them all a dressing down before wandering off to do something heroic back in Gone-With-The-Wind-Ville, but some of it is first class. It does suffer somewhat from the glossy, with decorous dirt and gallant injury syndrome of so much US TV drama, but then that should be expected for something filmed in the mid ‘80s, I guess1.

Anyway, the point is, that though we haven’t actually got even as far as secession and the outbreak of way (just) yet, I find that it has rekindled my interest in the history of the period. Somewhere I have a copy of Battle Cry of Freedom but I seem to have misplaced it. I was going to dig it out and have a re-read. As annoyed as I am that I cannot find it, I do recall that I found the writing style rather hard going last time I tackled it many moons back.

Does anyone out there have any recommendations for a readable (preferably single-volume) history of the American Civil War? I am aware that countless trees have died to provide paper for the hundreds (or thousands) of worthy tomes on the period, but I should like something a little more succinct and accessible.

1 I have always wondered why this should be; US TV is often very unadventurous, pandering to knot-browed Neanderthal sentiments on the religious right in the bible belt on the one hand and the slack-jaw intellect of the inbred mountain communities on the other. How does the mass of normal citizenry cope? Hollywood on the other hand often goes off in quite the opposite direction. The rule is not, of course universal (no pun intended) and a lot of TV in the past 10-15 years has been relatively more realistic in depiction if not story lines. Hill Street Blues was a standout in its day, but would be lost these days amongst the “gritty” crime shows, but US soaps are still very squeaky and plastic. Or at least the ones that make it over here, are.

North v South

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007 11:15 am
caddyman: (Default)
Much to the amusement of [livejournal.com profile] colonel_maxim, [livejournal.com profile] ellefurtle and I have been watching her DVDs of North and South - at least we’ve been watching season one, I think. There has been quite a lot of TV time, four very long episodes and we’ve only just had the Harper’s Ferry incident. I am beginning to wonder if the show doesn’t re-enact the American Civil War in real time.

Some of the programme is very cheesy; I rather expect Rhett Butler to wander in on occasion and give them all a dressing down before wandering off to do something heroic back in Gone-With-The-Wind-Ville, but some of it is first class. It does suffer somewhat from the glossy, with decorous dirt and gallant injury syndrome of so much US TV drama, but then that should be expected for something filmed in the mid ‘80s, I guess1.

Anyway, the point is, that though we haven’t actually got even as far as secession and the outbreak of way (just) yet, I find that it has rekindled my interest in the history of the period. Somewhere I have a copy of Battle Cry of Freedom but I seem to have misplaced it. I was going to dig it out and have a re-read. As annoyed as I am that I cannot find it, I do recall that I found the writing style rather hard going last time I tackled it many moons back.

Does anyone out there have any recommendations for a readable (preferably single-volume) history of the American Civil War? I am aware that countless trees have died to provide paper for the hundreds (or thousands) of worthy tomes on the period, but I should like something a little more succinct and accessible.

1 I have always wondered why this should be; US TV is often very unadventurous, pandering to knot-browed Neanderthal sentiments on the religious right in the bible belt on the one hand and the slack-jaw intellect of the inbred mountain communities on the other. How does the mass of normal citizenry cope? Hollywood on the other hand often goes off in quite the opposite direction. The rule is not, of course universal (no pun intended) and a lot of TV in the past 10-15 years has been relatively more realistic in depiction if not story lines. Hill Street Blues was a standout in its day, but would be lost these days amongst the “gritty” crime shows, but US soaps are still very squeaky and plastic. Or at least the ones that make it over here, are.

More books!

Sunday, July 1st, 2007 09:24 pm
caddyman: (Default)
I can now add to my reading list two Alexandre Dumas books I've never encountered in English translation before: The Women's War available in Penguin Classics, is set in the opening years of the reign of Louis XIV and centres on two women, supporters of Anne of Austria and the Condé respectively. I had never realised just how much Dumas likes his naive Gascon soldiers before, either; there another (hopefully not d'Artagnan) in this book, who fancies both women.

This is the first new English translation for 150 years apparently, which will account for why I've never seen it before.

The second book has never been translated into English before it seems, and is called One Thousand and One Ghosts and sees Dumas dealing with vampire victims, a man who is over 275 years old and a man who was bitten by the head of his guillotined wife.

Sounds a hoot.

More books!

Sunday, July 1st, 2007 09:24 pm
caddyman: (Default)
I can now add to my reading list two Alexandre Dumas books I've never encountered in English translation before: The Women's War available in Penguin Classics, is set in the opening years of the reign of Louis XIV and centres on two women, supporters of Anne of Austria and the Condé respectively. I had never realised just how much Dumas likes his naive Gascon soldiers before, either; there another (hopefully not d'Artagnan) in this book, who fancies both women.

This is the first new English translation for 150 years apparently, which will account for why I've never seen it before.

The second book has never been translated into English before it seems, and is called One Thousand and One Ghosts and sees Dumas dealing with vampire victims, a man who is over 275 years old and a man who was bitten by the head of his guillotined wife.

Sounds a hoot.

Reading List

Thursday, June 28th, 2007 12:11 am
caddyman: (moley)
Anyone who knows me already appreciates how hard I find it not to acquire new books. I can pick them up infinitely faster than I have the capacity to read them, even when I have plenty of spare time. It's almost like the literary equivalent of fattening up over summer so that I can get through winter. Except that I am hoping that such a winter is a long way off yet.

In addition to my current reading list which includes finishing off The Vesuvius Club and then starting The Devil In Amber, both by Mark Gatiss, finishing off Children of Hurin by Tolkein (which is pretty much what I expected it would be), Zulu by Saul David, starting The Cold War by John Lewis Gaddis, and Alibi by Joseph Kanon, I have others newly acquired or re-found.

I really don't know when I shall find the time to read them (and as I type this up, I realise there are around ten more downstairs I haven't read.... Hmmm.). Sorting out the cupboard at the weekend, Furtle rediscovered by just started and then misplaced copy of Kennedy: an unfinished life by the wonderfully named Robert Dallek. That goes back into the immediate pile.

For light entertainment, I have Sharpe's Fury by Bernard Cornwell, which in all honesty will probably find its way to the top of the list, followed by The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, world-renowned evangelical atheist(!), Fiasco by Thomas E Ricks, which deals with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the aftermath. I also have a copy of Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre. You may have seen this on advertising hoardings around the place recently; it deals with the improbable but true wartime story of Eddie Chapman, a conman who was caught in Europe by the Germans at the outbreak of war, trained as a spy and parachuted into Britain where he promptly turned himself over to the authorities who inducted him into the double-cross programme. He is and was the only Briton to be awarded the Iron Cross by a grateful Fuehrer... After the war he made a very good living as a crime correspondent for the Daily Telegraph...

On top of that lot, Amazon delivered me a copy of Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild a biography of the darling of the silent screen and original "It" Girl, by David Stenn.

On the less literary front, I also have a nice hardback copy of Marvel's Ultimate Galactus Trilogy to get through, but I don't see that taking too long!

OK; must go. I have to have a shower and then I guess I have some reading to do!

Reading List

Thursday, June 28th, 2007 12:11 am
caddyman: (moley)
Anyone who knows me already appreciates how hard I find it not to acquire new books. I can pick them up infinitely faster than I have the capacity to read them, even when I have plenty of spare time. It's almost like the literary equivalent of fattening up over summer so that I can get through winter. Except that I am hoping that such a winter is a long way off yet.

In addition to my current reading list which includes finishing off The Vesuvius Club and then starting The Devil In Amber, both by Mark Gatiss, finishing off Children of Hurin by Tolkein (which is pretty much what I expected it would be), Zulu by Saul David, starting The Cold War by John Lewis Gaddis, and Alibi by Joseph Kanon, I have others newly acquired or re-found.

I really don't know when I shall find the time to read them (and as I type this up, I realise there are around ten more downstairs I haven't read.... Hmmm.). Sorting out the cupboard at the weekend, Furtle rediscovered by just started and then misplaced copy of Kennedy: an unfinished life by the wonderfully named Robert Dallek. That goes back into the immediate pile.

For light entertainment, I have Sharpe's Fury by Bernard Cornwell, which in all honesty will probably find its way to the top of the list, followed by The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, world-renowned evangelical atheist(!), Fiasco by Thomas E Ricks, which deals with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the aftermath. I also have a copy of Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre. You may have seen this on advertising hoardings around the place recently; it deals with the improbable but true wartime story of Eddie Chapman, a conman who was caught in Europe by the Germans at the outbreak of war, trained as a spy and parachuted into Britain where he promptly turned himself over to the authorities who inducted him into the double-cross programme. He is and was the only Briton to be awarded the Iron Cross by a grateful Fuehrer... After the war he made a very good living as a crime correspondent for the Daily Telegraph...

On top of that lot, Amazon delivered me a copy of Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild a biography of the darling of the silent screen and original "It" Girl, by David Stenn.

On the less literary front, I also have a nice hardback copy of Marvel's Ultimate Galactus Trilogy to get through, but I don't see that taking too long!

OK; must go. I have to have a shower and then I guess I have some reading to do!

Book Purchases

Monday, October 30th, 2006 10:24 am
caddyman: (Default)
I can't quite follow Amazon's delivery or postal charging policy and their delivery/dispatch estimates seem to be gleaned largely through reading entrails.

Thus it is that I am still waiting for my copy of Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever, the new biography by Peter Cowie. Even the cover seems not to be settled, though this seems to be the favourite:

Lulu Forever


In the meantime the companion book, Jazz Age Beauties by Robert Hudovernik, which was supposed to be harder to get hold of arrived on Saturday morning.

Jazz Age Beauties


For once Amazon have at least not charged additional postage for splitting up the order. I am perplexed that the forecast delivery date for Lulu Forever is still 10 October...

Book Purchases

Monday, October 30th, 2006 10:24 am
caddyman: (Default)
I can't quite follow Amazon's delivery or postal charging policy and their delivery/dispatch estimates seem to be gleaned largely through reading entrails.

Thus it is that I am still waiting for my copy of Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever, the new biography by Peter Cowie. Even the cover seems not to be settled, though this seems to be the favourite:

Lulu Forever


In the meantime the companion book, Jazz Age Beauties by Robert Hudovernik, which was supposed to be harder to get hold of arrived on Saturday morning.

Jazz Age Beauties


For once Amazon have at least not charged additional postage for splitting up the order. I am perplexed that the forecast delivery date for Lulu Forever is still 10 October...

Reading list

Thursday, September 1st, 2005 12:57 am
caddyman: (moley)
Fresh from the shower, and sitting in a cool breeze up here in The Tower, I find myself to be enlivened just enough to stave off sleep for another half hour or so.

With that in mind I turn, as ever, to the keyboard for amusement: I don't want to play music as it's too late, and Beastie is abed downstairs in his pit, so it would be more than mortal man could bear should he wake after but an hour's kip. There is nothing on the TV this time of night - well, nothing worth its salt, and I can't be bothered to dig out a DVD or tape.

I could read, but right now I seem to be more in a mood to write up my reading list. Don't ask me why, I don't know. It just seems like the thing to do at just after 1.00 am on a Thursday morning.

As usual, I have a number of books technically on the go, but of them all, the one currently graced with my full attention is Saul David's Indian Mutiny, 1857.

For someone who professes an interest in history, I am profoundly lacking in knowledge of Britain's imperial past, and since many of today's current events are often lineal descendents of that past, I decided it was time to rectify this shocking lack. I saw the book on [livejournal.com profile] wallabok's shelf last time I visited, and made a note to purchase it. Well written, and not at all dry, it looks at the events of the mutiny in some detail, and depends upon original research. A lively, entertaining and informative look at one of the less fortunate events in our recent imperial past. Recommended.

About the same time, I saw that the same author has recently published Zulu: The Heroism and Tragedy of the Zulu War of 1879, an account as the title might suggest of the ill-conceived, poorly executed and bloodily irrelevant war between Britain and the Zulu nation. I have high hopes for this book if it is presented in a similar fashion to the Indian Mutiny. Again, it is a period of history about which I am woefully ignorant, other than a passing knowledge of the Battle of Isandlwana, the defence of Rorke's Drift and the death of the Prince Imperial, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, pretender to the throne of France.

Third on the list, and a book I bought a couple of months ago, but which is far too big to lug into work, and therefore earmarked as holiday reading in a fortnight or so, is The Lie That Wouldn't Die: the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, by Hadassa Ben-Itto, erstwhile Israeli High Court Judge. This is the history of one of the most infamous forgeries of the modern age, and the promulgation of the concept of Jewish world domination. The Protocols have been debunked on numerous occasions, and the evidence of their lineage is relatively easy for the layman to uncover with a little footwork around some of the better equipped municipal libraries. Nonetheless, the Nazis used them to underpin their antisemitic beliefs, and a quick search on the internet will find that they are still being published as fact on both arab and white supremacist websites even today.

I have read the first chapter or so, and again it is written in a clean, easy and accessible style.

Number four, is a book I started reading about three months ago, and then got distracted from. I'm not sure why, as it is a good read. Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman, by Frances Stonor Saunders, relates the tale of Sir John Hawkwood, a knight who found himself out of work at the end of hostilities between England and France in the 14th Century. He went on to become leader of the White Company, the most successful of the condottieri. He turned the business of war into an exorbitant art, and by pitting city state against city state, against pope and vice versa, forced mediaeval Europe's richest country, Italy, to buy herself back from him with tiresome regularity over a thirty year period.

A fresco in his honour can be found in the Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence should anyone wish to check.

Finally, also on a historical note, but this time fictional, I have Bernard Cornwell's latest (paperback)offering, The Last Kingdom, a story from the time of the Viking wars in England at the end of the 10th century. It won't be great literature, but it will be well-researched and a ripping good read.

Right, that's me done.

Night, all.

Reading list

Thursday, September 1st, 2005 12:57 am
caddyman: (moley)
Fresh from the shower, and sitting in a cool breeze up here in The Tower, I find myself to be enlivened just enough to stave off sleep for another half hour or so.

With that in mind I turn, as ever, to the keyboard for amusement: I don't want to play music as it's too late, and Beastie is abed downstairs in his pit, so it would be more than mortal man could bear should he wake after but an hour's kip. There is nothing on the TV this time of night - well, nothing worth its salt, and I can't be bothered to dig out a DVD or tape.

I could read, but right now I seem to be more in a mood to write up my reading list. Don't ask me why, I don't know. It just seems like the thing to do at just after 1.00 am on a Thursday morning.

As usual, I have a number of books technically on the go, but of them all, the one currently graced with my full attention is Saul David's Indian Mutiny, 1857.

For someone who professes an interest in history, I am profoundly lacking in knowledge of Britain's imperial past, and since many of today's current events are often lineal descendents of that past, I decided it was time to rectify this shocking lack. I saw the book on [livejournal.com profile] wallabok's shelf last time I visited, and made a note to purchase it. Well written, and not at all dry, it looks at the events of the mutiny in some detail, and depends upon original research. A lively, entertaining and informative look at one of the less fortunate events in our recent imperial past. Recommended.

About the same time, I saw that the same author has recently published Zulu: The Heroism and Tragedy of the Zulu War of 1879, an account as the title might suggest of the ill-conceived, poorly executed and bloodily irrelevant war between Britain and the Zulu nation. I have high hopes for this book if it is presented in a similar fashion to the Indian Mutiny. Again, it is a period of history about which I am woefully ignorant, other than a passing knowledge of the Battle of Isandlwana, the defence of Rorke's Drift and the death of the Prince Imperial, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, pretender to the throne of France.

Third on the list, and a book I bought a couple of months ago, but which is far too big to lug into work, and therefore earmarked as holiday reading in a fortnight or so, is The Lie That Wouldn't Die: the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, by Hadassa Ben-Itto, erstwhile Israeli High Court Judge. This is the history of one of the most infamous forgeries of the modern age, and the promulgation of the concept of Jewish world domination. The Protocols have been debunked on numerous occasions, and the evidence of their lineage is relatively easy for the layman to uncover with a little footwork around some of the better equipped municipal libraries. Nonetheless, the Nazis used them to underpin their antisemitic beliefs, and a quick search on the internet will find that they are still being published as fact on both arab and white supremacist websites even today.

I have read the first chapter or so, and again it is written in a clean, easy and accessible style.

Number four, is a book I started reading about three months ago, and then got distracted from. I'm not sure why, as it is a good read. Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman, by Frances Stonor Saunders, relates the tale of Sir John Hawkwood, a knight who found himself out of work at the end of hostilities between England and France in the 14th Century. He went on to become leader of the White Company, the most successful of the condottieri. He turned the business of war into an exorbitant art, and by pitting city state against city state, against pope and vice versa, forced mediaeval Europe's richest country, Italy, to buy herself back from him with tiresome regularity over a thirty year period.

A fresco in his honour can be found in the Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence should anyone wish to check.

Finally, also on a historical note, but this time fictional, I have Bernard Cornwell's latest (paperback)offering, The Last Kingdom, a story from the time of the Viking wars in England at the end of the 10th century. It won't be great literature, but it will be well-researched and a ripping good read.

Right, that's me done.

Night, all.

A book at bed time

Wednesday, August 10th, 2005 02:56 pm
caddyman: (Default)
Those of you who take the Fortean Times may have read a review of a book in the latest issue, which attracted rave reviews and a 20/10 rating by the reviewer.

Not one to sit idly by and allow a recommendation to pass un remarked, I instantly (well, a couple of days later) nipped out and purchased the book. I’m not sure what it was doing being reviewed in the FT, since it’s not even remotely fortean, being instead the story of a rather odd British military expedition into Africa during the First World War, and therefore history, even if entertainingly written.

The book in question is Mimi and Tou Tou Go Forth The bizarre battle of Lake Tanganyika by Giles Foden. It recounts the strange and very amateur expedition despatched by the Admiralty in 1915 to wrest control of Lake Tanganyika from the Germans.

It is the sort of story that has to be true, because no-one could make it up. As it says on the fly leaf:

It was the First World War and Britain was in trouble. Kaiser Wilhelm had put two warships on Lake Tanganyika in Central Africa, giving him control of the region, and it was vital for Britain that those ships be destroyed. But who could be trusted with such an important mission?

Step forward Lt. Commander Geoffrey Spicer-Simpson – a man court martialled for wrecking his own ships, an inveterate liar and a wearer of skirts. Since no-one else was available, Spicer-Simpson was despatched with a crack team – half of them at least as unhinged as their leader – on a dangerous mission to drag two gunboats through the Congo, and engage an enemy with a few surprises still up its sleeve…


Learn of the officer known as ‘Piccadilly Johnny’, the man with a monocle and canary yellow hair. The two Scots seamen who spoke little, ate more and responded to the names Gog and Magog. Read of the man addicted to Worcester Sauce, who ensured that two full cases accompanied him on the mission so that he could drink it neat as an aperitif before every meal.

Bloody marvellous.

And it’s true.

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