Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Books, books ... and more books!

For a variety of different reasons, the Christmas presents I received this year included a very diverse group of books. The first was from my wife, and it is entitled A SIMPLES LIFE: MY LIFE & TIMES by Aleksandr Orlov (Ebury Press [2010] ISBN 978 0 091 94050 8).

This is the autobiography of the owner and founder of ... and is, of course, a total fiction that has been created as part of what has been one of the most successful advertising campaigns of the past few years. It is a hoot ... and absolutely ridiculous! Reading it made me laugh out loud ... something that I have not done for quite some time.

The next two books were given to me by my old friend, Tony Hawkins. Tony knows me very well, and his choice of books was spot-on as usual. The first was GORDON: VICTORIAN HERO by C Brad Faught. It is part of the series of Potomac's Military Profiles (Potomac Books [2008] ISBN 978 1 59797 145 4).

Charles Gordon is an enigmatic character, and each biography I have read seems to shed more light (and sometimes even more shade) on his life and achievements. He has particular links with the area where I live. (His birthplace is less than half a mile from where I am sitting writing this blog entry, and every morning I look downhill from my house at the old Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, where he was educated.)

Tony's second present is entitled WHEN THE COMICS WENT TO WAR. It was written by Adam Riches with Tim Parker and Robert Frankland and published by Mainstream Publishing Company (Edinburgh) Limited ([2009] ISBN 978 1 84596 554 9).

Like most men of my generation, I was brought up on a diet of war stories told by relatives and War Comics.

Reading this book made me realise that we were not, in fact, the first generation to have this experience, although the earlier publications that included war stories for boys were told with fewer pictures and much more text.

I also received two military history books as present that I would not have chosen for myself ... but which are excellent books.

The first is THE BLOCKADE BREAKERS: THE BERLIN AIRLIFT by Helena P Schrader (The History Press [2010] ISBN 978 0 7524 5600 3). It tells the story of the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49, the largest peacetime resupply operation ever mounted.

The second book is DUNKIRK: THE BRITISH EVACUATION, 1940 by Robert Jackson. It was originally published in 1976, but was reprinted in 2002 by Orion Books (ISBN 978 1 4072 1463 4).

My maternal grandfather was wounded during the retreat to Dunkirk, and was very lucky as he was actually evacuated back to the UK. Many of his wounded comrades were not so lucky, and were left behind and spent the next five years in Prisoner of War camps.


  1. I got A Simples Life too. It's an awesome little book.

  2. Arquinsiel,

    I must admit, it gave me cause for a lot of laughter; it was a great little present for Christmas!

    All the best,


  3. Bob,
    I understand that the meerkat's 'memoir' has outsold Tony Blair's! - certainly there are plenty of the latter, but none of the former, being remaindered in the local shops.
    Will you be wargaming the Great Battle of Fearlessness?
    Good to hear that your father is now getting the care he needs and is settling in well.
    Happy New Year!

  4. Arthur1815,

    I must admit that it does not surprise me that a biography of a popular fictional character outsells the biography of a former Prime Minister; it says a lot about the average Brit's regard for the nation's politicians.

    Although I have no plans as yet to refight the 'Battle of Fearlessness', it would not surprise me if someone somewhere did ... especially at one of the bigger UK wargames shows!

    Happy New Year to you and your family (and thanks for your kind words about my father).

    All the best,



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