SPITFIRE!-REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Spitfire by Dilip Sarkar
Spitfire by Dilip Sarkar
TitleSPITFIRE! The Full Story of a Unique Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron
AuthorDilip Sarkar
PublisherPen & Sword Air World (August 29, 2019)
Pages296
GenreAviation History, Military Aviation History
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131526732815 / ‎978-1526732811

AUTHOR

Learn more about Dilip Sarkar.

SYNOPSIS

Spitfire is a new version of the original book with the same title. The author has updated it with a ‘wider context including social, political, aviation and military history.’ It tells the tale of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) from its inception through the Battle of Britain and a little beyond. Its primary subject is Squadron Leader Brian John Edward “Sandy” Lane DFC; fighter pilot and flying ace of the RAF.

Mr Sarkar has written this book as a tribute to Squadron Leader (SL) Lane DFC; and all of the men and women, on both sides, that took part in the Battle of Britain. The book covers the RAF from WWI through the many changes into WWII. He explains the politics and tactics of the time used in defending England in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. He further discusses the men and women who made up the RAF, their jobs, and family lives. He tells the harrowing tales of the real life live-or-die dogfights that took place over England and the Channel. Mr Sarkar includes personal recollections, pictures, and stories from the real people that took part in this time of historic conflict.

The book is filled with the actual logbook entries of the pilots. Sarkar also includes the letters and diary entries of the actual people who participated in the action. Sarkar discusses the individual players, their lives, their careers, and for the survivors their post-war lives.

Although the book is focused on SL Brian Lane DFC, Sarkar incorporates 19 Squadron and all the key personal: the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF’s), the ground crews, the pilots, the decision making leadership, and of course the politicians. He further discusses the technology of the time and how it was used in the defense strategy.

The author thoroughly covers the Spitfire; from its inception through the many models and modifications. We discover the shortcomings of some models that have catastrophic consequences for the pilots that flew them. We learn just how the Spitfire stacked up to the Messerschmitt ME 109 and its different variants. Finally, Sarkar discusses the Spitfire against the Focke-Wulf  FW 190.

CONCLUSION

Spitfire is an exceptionally researched historical account of 19 Squadron and the Battle of Britain. The information contained within its pages is in-depth and vast. From the different types of airplanes the RAF used from WWI through the beginnings of WWII, to the political infrastructure and bickering that took place.

I found the book to be a bit confusing at times. My epub copy didn’t differentiate from the story to the photo captions causing confusion when the story just changed mid-sentence to photo caption. This issue occurred throughout the entire book. However, if you can get past that little inconvenience, the information contained within its pages is priceless.

Overall, I found this book a little difficult to read at times due to the jumping around from person to person and the photo captioning intermixed with the main text. However, I immensely enjoyed learning the history of Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC, and all of the men and women who took part in the book. I definitely enjoyed reading all about the Spitfire and the dogfights that the pilots flew.

I do recommend this book to anyone interested in Aviation History, the Battle of Britain, or the historic account of the Royal Air Force.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank Dilip Sarkar, NetGalley, and Pen & Sword Air World for affording me the opportunity to review SPITFIRE! The Full Story of a Unique Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron.

THE KING’S PAINTER – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

The King's Painter: The Life of Hans Holbein by Franny Moyle
The King’s Painter: The Life of Hans Holbein by Franny Moyle
TitleThe King’s Painter: The Life of Hans Holbein
AuthorFranny Moyle
PublisherAbrams Press (October 5, 2021)
FormatHardcover
Pages400
GenreArt History, Artist & Architect Biographies, Great
Britain History
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131419749536 / 978-1419749537

#Artist & Architect Biographies, #Art History (Books), #Great Britain History (Books)

AUTHOR

Granny Moyle Author of The King’s Painter Author Section

Franny Moyle is the author of The King’s Painter. She is a Cambridge educated art historian and biographer.

SYNOPSIS

The King’s Painter: The Life of Hans Holbein written by Franny Moyle is a long-awaited full biography of the great German Artisan. Moyle presents her research and analysis into his life, times and work. Moyle posits that Holbein was arguably the greatest renaissance Master painter in Northern Europe with a wide repertoire during the 1530’s until his death. Holbein was exalted by his peers as comparable to the German artist Albright Dürer and indeed there are some similarities in their style of painting. Nicholas Bourbon compared him to Apelles of Kos. Others have described him as a multifaceted genius, humanist, political propagandist and a satirist. A man who’s deft work consisted of loosely concealed symbolism and allusion, hidden in plain sight. Moyle’s focuses upon the period of Holbein’s life from the 1520s until his death and the administration of his will. 

The King’s Painter begins with the unique and close relationships that Hans Holbein enjoyed with King Henry Vlll of England. Holbein is at the height of his power, and his talent was known around Northern Europe. He was arguably the most notable painter in Europe during the Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England.  

Moyle’s research puts flesh on the bones of Hans Holbein the Younger. He was the son of Hans Holbein the Elder, also a painter famed for creating The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. Holbein the Younger earned his accolades through his skill, commitment and hard work. He aligned himself with wealthy patrons, principal amongst them: Erasmus of Rotterdam, Thomas Cromwell, Anne Boleyn, and King Henry Vlll of England.

The book begins in the 1530s; Holbein was an exalted artist enjoying the fruits of his labors. He had a wealthy clientele, fame and riches; all forged on his talent of creating realistic likenesses for his patrons. Such was his success that he was one of the few who could engage with King Henry Vlll in private, a very rare honor indeed. 

The gravitas of Holbein’s fame as Northern Europe’s most heralded painter comes into stark contrast when one considers his contemporaries. His peers during the period were: Leonardo da Vinci who was working in France at the time; Michelangelo who was painting the Sistine Chapel for Pope Paul lll; and the Venetian artist Titian da Cadore, also know as Tiziano Vecelli,, who was creating work for King Charles V The Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria.

Hans Holbein the Younger worked during some of the most tumultuous times in history. Times that were resplendent with great artists. His work was held in the highest esteem due to the verisimilitude of his portraits. He was respected and valued by the political elite, religious, and other connoisseurs.

It is difficult for us to imagine today just how popular Holbein’s art was during the late 16th Century’s European Renaissance period. When he released a new work, there was a frisson of excitement so powerful it was palpable. Holbein’s projects were considered to be a luxury. At a time before modern photographic processes, his paintings were seen as a way of passing down your visage to history and your decedents. At no time since Apelles had an artist been so able to depict his subjects with unfettered verismo.

By the end of Holbein’s life, he had accrued wealth and notoriety. Moyles posited that his sad demise was due to the plague. However, the absence of an identifiable resting place or his remains leave us with an enduring mystery.

CONCLUSION

The King’s Painter is a detailed history of 16th Century England, the Monarch Henry VIII and a testimony to the verisimilitude of the portraits painted by Holbein. Moyles book will be popular with those interested in; Hans Holbein the Younger, art history and those who wish to understand Holbein’s work through the context of his life and times. The King’s Painter is an authoritative dive into Hans Holbein’s past. It enlightens those of us who are fortunate to still enjoy the great artists work today. 

The King’s Painter is not a gallery book filled with images of either the artist or his works. Instead, Moyle has produced an academic examination of Hans Holbein, his associations and challenges. Moyles writing is exceptional and she maintains the readers attention with her deft narrative.

The King’s Painter is engaging, entertaining, informative and accomplished. The subject is handled masterfully and is impeccably researched. There are extensive and detailed Notes for each chapter and in addition a short, Selected Bibliography. The King’s Painter proved to be an addictive read.    

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Franny Moyle, Abrams Press, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review The King’s Painter: The Life of Hans Holbein.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

Turner: The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W. TurnerBy Franny Moyle
Turner: The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W. Turner By Franny Moyle

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The Eye of RA – Review

Litercurious Book Review

TITLEThe Eye of Ra ( Book 1 “Eye of Ra” series)
AUTHORBen Gartner
PUBLISHERCrescent Vista Press (February 1, 2020)
FORMATKindle, Hardcover, Paperback
FILE / PAGES3864 KB / 279
GENREChildren’s Historical Fiction / Children’s Egyptian Fiction / Children’s Archaeology Books. / Science Fiction
LANGUAGEEnglish
ASIN / ISBN 10/13B082WS8H4C / 1734155248978-1734155242

AUTHOR

Find out about Ben Gartner and The Eye of Ra series here.

SYNOPSIS

The Eye of Ra is the first book in the saga of Sarah and John. They are a preteen sister and brother who travel through time and experience all sorts of adventures and life challenging situations. Sarah is 12 and believes she is worldly. Whilst John is 10 and is more reserved and the “Little Chef” of the house. Together they make a great team of adventurers.

In this first installment, we are introduced to the siblings and their upcoming move from Colorado to Maryland. They experience all kinds of reservation about the move; the loss of friends and the unknown that lies before them in a new state. Sarah, the more adventurous of the two, is looking forward to the move. While John doesn’t want to leave his best friend and the only home he has ever known.

Prior to the move, the family goes for a hike up the mountain behind their house. Sarah and John go off on their own and find a cave. Of course Sarah wants to explore the cave while John thinks that is a bad idea. In the cave, they are astonished to find ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs on the wall. While tracing the Eye of Ra with her hand, Sarah accidentally transports the two to ancient Egypt.

Lost in the time of the Pharaohs, Sarah and John have to find a way back home. They meet a local boy, Zach, who takes them in while they are trying to figure out what happened and how to reverse it. While in Egypt they meet all kinds of people, learn about ancient Egyptian culture, and even help build the first pyramid! They even become temporary sleuths and uncover a local criminal. Along the way they have to deal with cobras, scorpions, and Nile crocodiles.

Will Sarah and John ever make it home? Will the criminal come after them? Will they ever see their parents again? Are they stuck in the land of sand forever?

CONCLUSION

The Eye of Ra is the introduction into the series. It is an entertaining and exciting historical science fiction story. In this first installment Ben Gartner sets the stage for the future adventures of Sarah and John. While it doesn’t have as much adventure as the later two books, it is a great beginning. Sarah and John experience life and death situations, criminals, venomous snakes and scorpions, and crocodiles. Along the journey we learn about ancient Egyptian culture, beliefs and their religion. Sarah and John learn valuable life lessons and more about their own strengths and weaknesses.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. While it isn’t as fast paced or as crammed packed with adventure as the next 2 books in the series; I found it gripping and hard to put down. I read it in less than 2 days.

The Eye of Ra is recommended for children 8-12 years of age, but I believe people of all ages will be entranced by this series. If you like science fiction, time travel, ancient history, travel and adventure; then you will enjoy this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

OTHER BOOKS IN THIS SERIES

ENTANGLED LIFE – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Entangled Life By Merlin Sheldrake

“If you only take one thing from Entangled Life take this; Mycorrhizal Relationships are the bedrock of life on earth.”

— DR. C. A. Hampson Ph.D.
TitleEntangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change
Our Minds & Shape Our Futures
AuthorMerlin Sheldrake
PublisherRandom House; Illustrated edition (May 12, 2020)
FormatKindle
Pages352
GenreMushrooms in Biological Sciences Ecology Biology
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/130525510311 / 978-0525510314

AUTHOR

Meet Dr. Merlin Sheldrake Ph.D.

SYNOPSIS

Entangled Life abounds with astounding facts about fungi. Sheldrake’s seminal work is densely packed with a plethora of scientific research, amazing facts and humor. Sheldrake has created a revolutionary narrative and is a must read for all ages.

Through Sheldrake’s eyes you will discover how mycelium networks manage to have such a superior ability to communicate over great distances at incredible speeds. Sheldrake describes how the communication methods include not just mushrooms or fungi, but insects, animals, plants and codependencies that are so eco-dependent that they become life and death. You will learn how mycelium computers could be in our foreseeable future.

The author explains how the very ground we stand on only exists because of fungi dating back into ancient history. Your forest walk will be forever changed when Sheldrake explains how ubiquitous the vast mycelium network is below ground. You will learn how fungi can assist urban rail architects in designing the most efficient routes. 

Sheldrake provides the historic context of fungi across eons of time. He explains how, from an experts perspective; the interconnectedness of mycelium has literally been central to earths evolution. In addition, he covers a myriad of practical applications and uses for mushrooms. Entangled Life covers every aspect of the importance of fungi from scientific advances in research that include the development of mycelium based neural computers. Then there are the revelations of fungi based medical advances that may provide improved treatments for depression and anxiety. The examples don’t end there; Entangled Life also contains detailed information relating to the complexity and quotidian nature of mycelium networks and structures. There isn’t a forest on the planet that doesn’t hum with activity of mycelium in epic underground networks across endless spaces of our global arboretum. 

Sheldrake further discusses the Wood Wide Web Labyrinth – AKA Mycorrhizal Relationships (the original WWW – Fungi, plants, bacteria, and trees). He details how fungi use chemicals to control or alter behaviors in plants, animals and insects. Zombie Ants are prime examples of how Ophiocordyceps, the zombie fungus, became totally dependent upon the Carpenter Ant. Even more exciting, is the possible environmental impact of fungi. Sheldrake reveals how in a process of mycoremediation, fungi are being used to decontaminate the environment.

Perhaps the most gratifying section of the book is the discussion on how mycelium networks manage complex communications in the absence of a central nervous system. Including the possibility of fungi based complex computer networks in the future.

If you are currently watching the latest Star Trek show then you know the Starship Discovery has a Spore drive. It allows the starship to instantly transport to any place along the mycelium network. A theory taken from some of the research described in Sheldrake’s book.

Zombie Ants and Ophiocordyceps

CONCLUSION

Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake is a stupendous publication. It is engaging, awe-inspiring in its breadth and span, and it challenges the reader’s world-view with every turn of the page. It is less of a book and more of a journey that once you begin, you have to complete. If you want to expand your knowledge of our world from the edge of space to the depths below, Entangled Life is a work that will thrill you. 

To write exciting and interesting prose takes a special kind of academic writer. We find such a scrivener in Merlin Sheldrake. It is even rarer to find an author that doesn’t dumb down the science. Sheldrake doesn’t patronize his audience, but through his expert knowledge and communication, he elevates the reader to the appropriate level of comprehension. The reader gains more from Entangled Life than a mere text book, the reader gets a whole new weltanschauung or world view.

If you are the kind of reader who wants to learn while you have fun reading, then this is definitely the book for you. A thoroughly enjoyable sojourn into the alien world that is just below our feet.

I am already looking forward to re-reading Entangled Life again in the near future. I was saddened and reluctant to put it down. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Merlin Sheldrake, NetGalley, and Random House for affording me the opportunity to review Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

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ADDITIONAL READING

The Mycelium as a network