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Ian Fleming SOE And Operation POSTMASTER – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleIan Fleming and SOE’s Operation POSTMASTER
AuthorBrian Lett
PublisherPen and Sword Military (February 19, 2020)
FormatKindle, Paperback
ISBN-10 / 131526760681 / 978-1526760685



Anyone who enjoys history or WWII military operations.


Ian Fleming and SOE’s Operation POSTMASTER: The Untold Top Secret Story, is a historical look at just one of the Special Operations Executive’s (SOE’s) missions in West Africa. The author draws parallels between this mission, the makeup of the SOE, and Ian Fleming’s James Bond series.

The story follows a small group of soldiers from Dunkirk through special operations training to mission “Operation Postmaster.” Brian Lett explains how Ian Fleming was involved with the SOE, how he knew the individuals involved, and how he incorporated certain characteristics from each member into his fictional character James Bond. Brian breaks down the makeup of the SOE and the code words and letters utilized during the time and how Ian Fleming incorporated those into his series.

Operation Postmaster is the tell of a small group of highly motivated soldiers from all walks of life and multiple nationalities banding together to accomplish a single goal. These soldiers trained in England and Scotland, and then went to work on the Spanish island of Fernando Po, now known as Bioko, off West Africa in the Gulf of Guinea. The story describes the trails and tribulations that the SOE went through just to be able to do their job. From the pushback of the Admiralty, to the international political scene.

The detailed planning, the timely execution, and the personal fortitude of the men is quite evident. The fact that they received almost no help from their own military only added to the tale. The British General Officer Commanding (GOC) West Africa Command refused to support the mission. The only way they could accomplish this mission was to get help from the Governor of Nigeria.


Operation Postmaster is sometimes thrilling, but for the most part it just tedious. This is in no part due to the author, but due to the lack of support from the British military. In order to tell the story, the author has to incorporate the long delays, the trials, and tribulations that the men had to go through. When the story really picks up it is very good. Overall, I found it an interesting read but one I could do without. The whole operation just seemed a waste of resources for little gain and the possible international ramifications. The way the story is told it seems that the whole operation was just to prove that the SOE could “do it.”

Although there are similarities between the code names of the soldiers and Fleming’s books, there is no evidence that he used this particular mission to from his James Bond 007 series. It is evident that he used his experiences working with the SOE for the background of his series, but I believe the author put too much emphasis on this one mission. My greatest disappointment is that Ian Fleming, although promoted heavily on the dust cover, features less than I expected.


My sincere thanks go to: The Author, NetGalley, and the Publisher, for affording me the opportunity to review Ian Fleming and SOE’s Operation POSTMASTER: The Untold Top Secret Story.

The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Title The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth: And Other
Curiosities from the History of Medicine
Author / Narrator Thomas Morris / Ruper Farley
Publisher Penguin Dutton; 1 edition (Nov 20, 2018)
Format Unabridged Audiobook, Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover
Time9 hours and 7 minutes
Language English     
ASIN # B07K1FC2C1  


Thomas Morris was a successful radio producer for the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) for many years. He is now a freelance writer and medical historian. His first book, The Matter of the Heart: A History of the Heart in Eleven Operations, wonthe Royal Society of Literature and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation award. The award is one of three annual awards, one of £10,000 and two of £5,000, offered to authors on their first works of non-fiction. Mr. Morris now lives in London.


This book is for everyone 16 or older. The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth is written for the masses and not just for those who want to learn about historic medicine. The book is full of individual cases hand-picked through time to provide the reader with a glimpse of common medical procedures, some uncommon medical procedures, and allot of very interesting cases.


The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth: And Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine, is a sojourn into some of the most interesting medical cases and the procedures used in those cases. It is told through the eyes of the people who were actually there. This book is a conglomeration of notes, letters, personal views of the doctors, and sometimes the patients. The author does a great job of finding the most interesting cases in history. There are some interesting cases that include various items escaping the bodies from all different places, some not very good places. How about the surgeries where the patient is not anesthetized and is an active participant? There is a chapter of patients who survived extreme injuries, some lived normal lives after their injuries.


After reading this book, I listened to the audible version and the narrator added so much more to the enjoyment. He does a great job with the inflection of his voice and the bits that are in French. The little jokes he throws in are awesome. This tome, at times, had me laughing, cringing, crying, and always wondering about the historic doctors and their sometime weird practices. The cases offer a wide variety of injuries and maladies; the causes of some of these will haunt me. I would definitely recommend this book to a friend.


Dr. Mütter Marvels by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz  #Medicine History & Commentary #History of Medicine
#Trivia & Fun Facts

Dr. Mütter’s Marvels was established by Dr. Mütter who sadly died prematurely at the age of 48. He left behind an immense collection of medical oddities that form the basis of Philadelphia’s renowned Mütter Museum. Dr Mütter’s Marvel by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is an insight into the dedicated surgeon’s career as well as his life and times. Aptowicz presents her view on Dr. Mütter’s medical practices and the prejudices he witnessed. Aptowicz draws upon Mütter’s speeches and lectures which reveals his humanist based approach.

Mütter Museum Historical Medical Photographs #Medicine History & Commentary #History of Medicine
#Trivia & Fun Facts

Mütter Museum: Historical Medical Photographs Is a cornucopia of high quality photographs taken by professional photographers. Between the 1860s and the 1940s, photographers took pictures of these oddities as records for physicians to share among medical colleagues. They also functioned, at the time, to demonstrate various techniques used in medicine such as micrography and X-ray. During the earliest days, they utilized the method of photography known as the daguerreotype. This processing method required the photographer to polish a sheet of copper plate with silver halide coated to a mirror finish, and treat it with fumes that made its surface light sensitive. There is much more to the Mütter Museum however, and it is not for the squeamish.


Fire And Fortitude – REVIEW

A Litercurious Book Review

Title Fire And Fortitude
Author John C. McManus
Publisher Dutton Caliber; 1st Edition (July 30, 2019)
Format Hardcover
Pages 640
Language English
ISBN # 0451475046 (ISBN-13: 978-0451475046)

Authors Bio

John C. McManus is a 54-year-old Professor, and Military Historian. McManus is also a long-established author of Military history focusing on the United States involvement in the battle space of World War 2. McManus has more than 14 books currently in print and Fire and Fortitude is his most recent foray into his favored genre. Among his previous publications are such notable works as: Grunts, World War 2 Through Iraq, and The Dead and Those About to Die. A graduate of the University of Missouri he experienced a short stint as a sports journalist before electing to study his Masters in American History at his alma mater. He followed his successful completion of that qualification and began his doctorate, also in American Military History at the University of Tennessee. The primary focus of his Ph.D, was the Normandy battle grounds. McManus style of writing focuses on humanizing the military machine by focusing upon individuals, and the sometimes-insuperable challenges they sometimes face. His earlier work Grunts and The Dead and Those About to Die follow that method. Fire and Fortitude is his first forage into the Pacific Theater of Operation.


I must say, first and foremost, that Fire and Fortitude is very well researched. It is resplendent with quotes from dairies, personal letters, newspaper clippings, and magazine articles. Professor. McManus provides a glimpse into the horror, the desperation, the futility of some of the major battles from all sides of those in this great conflict. Whether the soldier is Japanese, American, Australian, or an indigenous island person the reader feels what they felt at the time. 

Part One: Onslaught of the book was tedious to get through. I felt that the author exhibited a degree of bias against General McArthur. The picture of McArthur painted in the book makes him out to be an egomaniacal mommas’ boy; with a narcissistic personality disorder who could do nothing right and the whole Philippine debacle was his fault. I don’t deny the facts, but reading the same thing over and over is tedious. MaArthur’s failings as a General, leader, friend, and politician are a theme throughout the entire book.

The chapters of life in Australia were a bore. I really don’t care about mutton hot dogs, drinking, womanizing, bar fighting, or the recreation practices of soldiers in Australia while they waited to join the war effort. I want to read about the Fire and Fortitude that I was promised in the title of the book. 

The author seems to want to brush over the atrocities committed by the Japanese soldiers and write them off as a byproduct of war. He briefly describes a few atrocities during the Bataan Death March and in China, but fails to bring the full extent of their hideous war crimes to the reader. He makes out that the Japanese soldiers were victims of circumstance. The fact that the Japanese soldiers committed vile, brutal acts on POW’s, soldiers, and civilians in different parts of the world at the same time, describes the mindset of the Japanese as a society during WWII.

Part Two: Turnabout of the book is where the author really shines. He finally gets into the Fire and Fortitude of armed conflict. The soldiers, the battles, the fear, the suffering, and the constant hand-to-hand fighting are all brought to life in vivid detail. There is still political infighting and poor leadership but there is also heroism, undying loyalty, and bravery on all sides. Once I got into the second half of this book, I just couldn’t put it down. It was absolutely enthralling. The suffering that the soldiers went through, both Japanese and Allied, was incalculable. Disease, famine, and wounds all surrounded by the dead and dying was equally prevalent to all sides of the conflict. Some soldiers were reduced to cannibalism just to keep alive because of the environmental and logistical nightmares of resupply. Soldiers faced hand-to-hand fighting to the death in the dark wet jungles or Alaskan muskeg. Soldiers were  just trying to survive another night, another day.


Fire and Fortitude is a very good book if you start at Part Two: Turnabout. The research into this book is phenomenal. The reader can’t help but to learn something new. Sometimes the book is tedious, other times it is exciting and nerve wracking. Regardless, the book is an overall good read.


My sincere thanks go to: The Author, NetGalley, and the Publisher Dutton Caliber for affording me the opportunity to review Fire And Fortitude.