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.

Warship Prints

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007 11:34 am
caddyman: (Default)
I’ve found some excellent warship art prints on eBay, and have taken the opportunity to pick up three quite splendid pictures; two of HMS Warspite – one depicting the ship in heavy seas, about to attempt the ramming of a U-Boat whilst on its way home for repairs after the Battle of Jutland, the other in Narvik Fjord, 1940 bombarding fleeing German ships and one of an anti aircraft destroyer, HMS Egret on arctic convoy duty.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingHidden Menace Photobucket - Video and Image HostingNarvik Photobucket - Video and Image HostingDusk Gathers

It turns out that the chap selling the prints is also the artist and he emailed me to tell me that his printer had broken down and that the second two of the prints would be delayed until next week. He offered to refund my money if I couldn’t wait, or as a gesture of goodwill, a couple of A4 size prints for free from his catalogue ( www.warshipart.com ). So that’s what I have gone for.

As it happens, I was in the shower when the first print arrived this morning, so I couldn’t take delivery. I shall have to collect it tomorrow morning. I need some frames now, I guess.

Warship Prints

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007 11:34 am
caddyman: (Default)
I’ve found some excellent warship art prints on eBay, and have taken the opportunity to pick up three quite splendid pictures; two of HMS Warspite – one depicting the ship in heavy seas, about to attempt the ramming of a U-Boat whilst on its way home for repairs after the Battle of Jutland, the other in Narvik Fjord, 1940 bombarding fleeing German ships and one of an anti aircraft destroyer, HMS Egret on arctic convoy duty.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingHidden Menace Photobucket - Video and Image HostingNarvik Photobucket - Video and Image HostingDusk Gathers

It turns out that the chap selling the prints is also the artist and he emailed me to tell me that his printer had broken down and that the second two of the prints would be delayed until next week. He offered to refund my money if I couldn’t wait, or as a gesture of goodwill, a couple of A4 size prints for free from his catalogue ( www.warshipart.com ). So that’s what I have gone for.

As it happens, I was in the shower when the first print arrived this morning, so I couldn’t take delivery. I shall have to collect it tomorrow morning. I need some frames now, I guess.

Fire broadsides!

Monday, January 29th, 2007 03:40 pm
caddyman: (Default)
I don’t seem to be able to dispense with the nautical theme today. I was mooching about on teh intarweb last night and came across some art prints of various Royal Navy ships, primarily but not exclusively, dreadnoughts of the First World War. I think that I am going to have to treat myself to one of the cheaper reproductions in the near future. You wouldn’t believe the prices some of them fetch (or more precisely the prices they try to charge), particularly the bigger ones. If the picture is a limited edition print – actually printed, numbered and signed by the artist, it’s not so bad, but for what amounts to a photograph of the artwork that just happens to be printed on reasonable quality heavy paper…

Well.

So anyway, I may take a trip down to the Imperial War Museum on Wednesday and take a look around. With luck they may have some reasonably sized and priced prints, or at least be able to provide pointers to where I can get something at a reasonable price.

I have been (especially) interested in naval history and warships since I was about 8 when someone (Mum, probably) bought me an Airfix model of HMS Victorious. It’s one of those interests that just sprung up and never went away. I’m less interested in modern warships, powerful as they may be, visually they are blando di tutti blandi; not enough twiddly bits, see?

If I can find a good print of HMS Warspite, I shall be in hog heaven. Failing that, a good picture of any of her sisters of the Queen Elizabeth class would do. Or the “Mighty Hood”.

I have seen this nice pair of HMS Barham and HMS Royal Oak at Jutland that would fit the bill.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
HMS Barham and the 5th Battle Squadron, Jutland 1916


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
HMS Royal Oak at Jutland 1916


or this:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
HMS Warspite and HMS Ramilles, off Normandy, June 1944
.

Fantastic.

Fire broadsides!

Monday, January 29th, 2007 03:40 pm
caddyman: (Default)
I don’t seem to be able to dispense with the nautical theme today. I was mooching about on teh intarweb last night and came across some art prints of various Royal Navy ships, primarily but not exclusively, dreadnoughts of the First World War. I think that I am going to have to treat myself to one of the cheaper reproductions in the near future. You wouldn’t believe the prices some of them fetch (or more precisely the prices they try to charge), particularly the bigger ones. If the picture is a limited edition print – actually printed, numbered and signed by the artist, it’s not so bad, but for what amounts to a photograph of the artwork that just happens to be printed on reasonable quality heavy paper…

Well.

So anyway, I may take a trip down to the Imperial War Museum on Wednesday and take a look around. With luck they may have some reasonably sized and priced prints, or at least be able to provide pointers to where I can get something at a reasonable price.

I have been (especially) interested in naval history and warships since I was about 8 when someone (Mum, probably) bought me an Airfix model of HMS Victorious. It’s one of those interests that just sprung up and never went away. I’m less interested in modern warships, powerful as they may be, visually they are blando di tutti blandi; not enough twiddly bits, see?

If I can find a good print of HMS Warspite, I shall be in hog heaven. Failing that, a good picture of any of her sisters of the Queen Elizabeth class would do. Or the “Mighty Hood”.

I have seen this nice pair of HMS Barham and HMS Royal Oak at Jutland that would fit the bill.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
HMS Barham and the 5th Battle Squadron, Jutland 1916


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
HMS Royal Oak at Jutland 1916


or this:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
HMS Warspite and HMS Ramilles, off Normandy, June 1944
.

Fantastic.

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.

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.

This day in history

Monday, July 4th, 2005 01:27 am
caddyman: (drunk)
July 4th, a memorable day for anyone interested in history.

Today in 1187, Saladin defeated Guy de Lusignan at the Horns of Hattin.

In 1976, Israeli forces, in Operation Thunderbolt, rescued Jewish hostages held by the Baader-Meinhof Gang (Red Army Faction) and the Palestine Liberation Organisation at Entebbe International Airport.

I'm sure that 4 July is famous for something else, too. But that escapes me right now.

This day in history

Monday, July 4th, 2005 01:27 am
caddyman: (drunk)
July 4th, a memorable day for anyone interested in history.

Today in 1187, Saladin defeated Guy de Lusignan at the Horns of Hattin.

In 1976, Israeli forces, in Operation Thunderbolt, rescued Jewish hostages held by the Baader-Meinhof Gang (Red Army Faction) and the Palestine Liberation Organisation at Entebbe International Airport.

I'm sure that 4 July is famous for something else, too. But that escapes me right now.

Live L8er

Saturday, July 2nd, 2005 09:18 pm
caddyman: (Default)
I stopped watching so I could do some shopping and then improve my brane with Time Team's Great Roman Dig on Channel 4 for a few hours.

I reconnect with Live8 just in time to hear Sir Paul telling Jonathan Ross that before today he'd never played Sgt Pepper live. Ah, advancing age has clearly dulled the old boy's mind. I saw his world tour at Wembley in 1990, when they played a 10 minute version including an extended jam session in the middle and ended with the heavy reprise from the album. And since he did around 40 dates on that tour...

Anyway, I shall now go and listen to another live rendition of the same song by Sir Paul and his band, from the Tripping the Live Fantastic album.

Shame. Poor old lad's memory giving out like that.

Live L8er

Saturday, July 2nd, 2005 09:18 pm
caddyman: (Default)
I stopped watching so I could do some shopping and then improve my brane with Time Team's Great Roman Dig on Channel 4 for a few hours.

I reconnect with Live8 just in time to hear Sir Paul telling Jonathan Ross that before today he'd never played Sgt Pepper live. Ah, advancing age has clearly dulled the old boy's mind. I saw his world tour at Wembley in 1990, when they played a 10 minute version including an extended jam session in the middle and ended with the heavy reprise from the album. And since he did around 40 dates on that tour...

Anyway, I shall now go and listen to another live rendition of the same song by Sir Paul and his band, from the Tripping the Live Fantastic album.

Shame. Poor old lad's memory giving out like that.

Not quite Live8

Saturday, July 2nd, 2005 03:17 pm
caddyman: (Default)
Not being a total Philistine, I have been watching the early acts on TV, but now I have retreated to The Tower, and thought it would be fun to listen in on the radio, and by webcast. Both are tuned to Radio 2, and the TV is on BBC 2 - my thought was that I could wander between the rooms without actually missing anything. I was prepared for a mixture of things during the downtime between acts, but...

How naive.

If we allow that the BBC TV broadcast is live, then there is a five second delay on the radio, and ten on the webcast. There is something of a strange cacophony going on now; oh, that's Dido, so it may not all be down to the varying time lags.

This experiment may not take long.

Not quite Live8

Saturday, July 2nd, 2005 03:17 pm
caddyman: (Default)
Not being a total Philistine, I have been watching the early acts on TV, but now I have retreated to The Tower, and thought it would be fun to listen in on the radio, and by webcast. Both are tuned to Radio 2, and the TV is on BBC 2 - my thought was that I could wander between the rooms without actually missing anything. I was prepared for a mixture of things during the downtime between acts, but...

How naive.

If we allow that the BBC TV broadcast is live, then there is a five second delay on the radio, and ten on the webcast. There is something of a strange cacophony going on now; oh, that's Dido, so it may not all be down to the varying time lags.

This experiment may not take long.

The Dark Continent

Friday, July 1st, 2005 12:46 am
caddyman: (Default)
I have just tried, and failed, to work out how much it would have cost to mount an expedition for six Europeans into the African interior in 1860. Starting from Zanzibar, and travelling by way of Mombasa, with suitable numbers of bearers and askari, total travel time there and back, six months.

I am not sure whether it is google that has let me down, or my lack of imagination in search parameters.

I'm tired now, and I'm going to bed. If anyone has ideas for suitable resources, I'd be pleased to hear...

The Dark Continent

Friday, July 1st, 2005 12:46 am
caddyman: (Default)
I have just tried, and failed, to work out how much it would have cost to mount an expedition for six Europeans into the African interior in 1860. Starting from Zanzibar, and travelling by way of Mombasa, with suitable numbers of bearers and askari, total travel time there and back, six months.

I am not sure whether it is google that has let me down, or my lack of imagination in search parameters.

I'm tired now, and I'm going to bed. If anyone has ideas for suitable resources, I'd be pleased to hear...

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