Posts tagged Books
Sword of Kings by Bernard Cornwell

Uthred of Bebbanburg returns for his 12th adventure in Bernard Cornwell’s latest novel, Sword of Kings. Uthred is goaded into returning south to rescue a queen and make a King. Yet Uthred is not getting any younger and the return to London prompts our ageing hero to consider that his days in the shield wall may be coming to an end.

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Arnhem: Ten Days in the Cauldron by Iain Ballantyne

In September 1944, 10,000 airborne soldiers were dropped 64 miles behind the German lines and were required to hold the vital bridges at Arnhem. What would happen would go down in legend. Iain Ballantyne crafts a breathless look at the men on the ground and the civilians who found the war entering every room in their homes.

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Normandy '44 by James Holland

D-Day can tend to be remembered by the beaches, the bocage and the Tigers. In his new history of the Normandy campaign, James Holland looks at the myths of the campaign and reminds us that without the incredible logistics machine supporting the tip of the spear, the liberation would never have gotten very far inland at all.

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The Colour of Time by Dan Jones and Marina Amaral

In Marina Amaral and Dan Jones’ The Colour of Time, we have two historians bringing the colour back to our history, one which we have become so used to seeing in monochrome. The subtle and powerful marriage of the images and text brings an excitement to each turn of the page that makes this a very special book.

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The Deadly Trade by Iain Ballantyne

The submarine is one of man’s greatest, and most deadly, inventions. In The Deadly Trade: The Complete History of Submarine Warfare from Archimedes to the Present, Iain Ballantyne takes us from the theory of the underwater warship, through Jules Vern to the U-Boot and today’s Intercontinental Ballistic Submarine. Where Ballantyne’s superior work excels is to look at the development of the submarine through the eyes of the men who took them to war and who, mostly, never came home.

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Boney's Review of 2017

2017 is almost done, but it hasn't been all bad, right?  In this post, I look back at the things I've loved and discovered in 2017.  I look at Books, Films and Podcasts as these are the things that have taken up most of my free time.  Hope you like it.

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A Legacy of Spies by John le Carre

With A Legacy of Spies, John le Carre returns to the scene of the novel that put him on the map.  While the much publicised return of George Smiley is making the headlines, the story is set upon the shoulders, in my opinion, of one of his most interesting characters, Smiley’s right hand, Peter Guillam.

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The Plots Against Hitler by Danny Orbach

The men and women who resisted Hitler have been cast as heroes and villains of both the left and right.  The conspirators and their actions have been remembered in black and white, with the viewer choosing the colours with which to paint them.  In Danny Orbach’s new history of the resistance, The Plots Against Hitler, he very convincingly shows us that rather than pure saints or sinners, the complexity and contradictions of the conspirators makes them that most difficult of things to digest, human.

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Tigerman by Nick Harkaway

Superheroes are funny old things.  I remember when reading a comic would get you ridiculed in the playground and possibly duffed up a bit.  Especially if it was one of those American comics, you usually could get away with 2000AD because, well, Dredd.  But these days, thanks to the movies and the rise to power of The Geek, comics are cool and Superheroes are big bank.  The films and books we get these days try, to a greater or lesser extent, to ground their characters in a sense of reality.  Gone are radioactive spider bites or gamma rays, in are gene splicing and good old evolution.

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The Periodic Table of Cocktails by Emma Stokes

Cocktails are a wonderful, delightful and subjective thing.  The latest addition to the the ever increasing library of Cocktail tales is Emma "Gin Monkey" Stokes' scientific look at drinking.  The science may be beyond me, but the book and its take on the cocktail reference genre is an impressive, even if she does spoils some Castia-specific secrets.

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The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan

We live in a world where our focus is constantly drawn East.  We see terrible things happen, our leaders contemplate doing terrible things and dropping equally terrible things in response.  We look at what we call the Middle East as a modern problem, as if our focus has only recently turned to it.  But, living in the West we forget that everything has come from the East.  While Rome was falling, the East was flourishing.  Before we worried about oil and gas, we sent gold and silver East for silks and knowledge.  We owe everything to the East.  And yet, with our minds firmly on our own importance, we tend to think of it as a dusty backwater.  The Silk Road, to modern minds, is a website on that bit of the internet you can't find when you pop it into Google.

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Why Sinatra Matters by Pete Hamill

We live in an age where an artist's "Reienvention" is hailed as something special, something remarkable.  Every time Lady Gaga appears in a new frock, the media goes nuts, because, that is what their readers expect.  The thing is, Madonna did it before and David Bowie did it better than all but one, the man who never really reinvented himself, but was always there, Frank Sinatra.  To my generation, he was "Old People's Music".  We knew Nancy from the constant reworking of "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" and kids today probably know Frank Sinatra Jr better for his appearances on Family Guy better than they have ever known his dad.  But through all the static and preconceived ideas, the music, THAT voice, still moves us and causes us to remember.

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Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House Of Caesar by Tom Holland

Looking back to the misty days of my schooling, Rome was one of those highlights of history lessons that appeal to teen aged boys.  The period has everything you could want to distract you from the fact that you are actually learning.  Rome, two millennia on, still thrills, delights, repulses and titillates like no other that has come since.  One thing that does slip from mind usually that the line of Julies Caesar only lasted until 69 CE, yet produced the Emperors that most spring to mind.  A decade after he crossed the Rubicon, Tom Holland (Historian, cricketer and not Spiderman) has returned to Rome to tell us the story of the men and remarkably formidable women that took up Caesar's mantle and finished the dismantling of The Republic.

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The Martian by Andy Weir

I have a terrible habit of discovering great books late through film.  So, it is through another film I discover something I wish I'd picked up when it was released.  Ridley Scott's new film, due in November, is an adaptation of Andy Weir's The Martian.  It looks really good, even if the cast cross over with Interstellar's big "surprise" reveal is unfortunate.  I'll embed the trailer at the bottom, but it's the book were are going to chat about here.  Well, maybe, gush.  I read it in one sitting.

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Mother of Eden by Chris Beckett

One of the great things about being a book addict is the joy of stumbling across something total new.  A decade or more a ago, an ill advised membership to the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Club (do book clubs even exist any more?) brought with it a book of the month called The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.  Not being one for "fantasy", I intended to send it back, but general lethargy stopped me.  This turned out to be a good thing as the world of Locke and Jean is an amazing place to spend time in.  Likewise, about a year ago, a random Amazon recommendation offered up Dark Eden by Chris Beckett.

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Waterloo by Bernard Cornwell

Two hundred years ago, the single most decicive battle of an age of war was fought.  Three armies fought three battles over fours days that would shape Europe, and the world, for the next 100 years.  The next time British and Prussian troops would meet in Belgium, they would not be saving Europe, but tearing it apart.  The Battle of Waterloo is possibly the most famous battle in history.  It has occupied a place in British popular culture, popular history and the British psyche that is rather odd, the British named train stations after it.  It's odd to think that a train station is named after a few square miles of farmland, near hamlet in the rolling Belgian countryside where 200,000 men crammed onto a tiny battlefield and slaughtered each other.

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Woollybucks, Starflowers and Leopards... Oh, My!

Very rarely do you buy a novel on a whim and find yourself truly captivated by every line.  A couple years ago, in the days of constant travelling, I felt the need to escape my rather bland world of the inside of airliners flying to yet another bland customer office.  I can’t remember what lead me to find Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden, possibly a review in the Books section of the every trusty The Week, but whatever it was, it was one of those choices that you are always happy you made.

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