Category Archives: Military History

THE KING’S SHADOW – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

The King’s Shadow – Edmund Richardson
TitleThe King’s Shadow: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Deadly Quest for the Lost City of Alexandria
AuthorEdmund Richardson
NarratorJulian Elfer
PublisherTantor Audio (April 12, 2022)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, Audiobook
Time8 hours and 18 minutes
GenreAfghanistan Travel Guides, Central Asia History,
India History
LanguageEnglish
ASINB09WG9P7K9

AUTHOR

Edmund Richardson is Professor of Classics at Durham University. He was named one of the BBC New Generation Thinkers. He is the author of ‘Alexandria: The

Quest for the Lost City’ (Bloomsbury) and ‘The King’s Shadow: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Deadly Quest for the Lost City of Alexandria’ (2022) (St Martin’s Press).

From Amazon’s Edmund Richardson Page

NARRATOR

Award Winning British born New York City actor JULIAN ELFER studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) and the British Academy at Oxford University. Other credits include roles in the film Reverie, the pilot of Models and Me, The History Channel, several audio books and the voice of Twinnings Tea. Julian

graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and studied extensively with famed British Theater director Frank Hauser.

Excerpt taken from http://nycshakespeare.com/about/

SNYOPSIS

The King’s Shadow is the story of a modernized England, in 1827, making his way through rudimentary India and Afghanistan. Using his wits to survive and evade the East India Company’s agents, James Lewis truly becomes a chameleon.

A disenchanted soldier in India, James deserts at a time when absconders where, if caught, “broken on the wheel.” He quickly learns how to con the locals for everything he needs to survive from food and lodging to clothing and money. He discovers that the more outlandish his con, the easier it is to pull off. Along the way, he makes acquaintance with every stratum of class structure. He his entertained by King’s and befriended by peasants.

Changing his name to Charles Masson, he teaches himself to be an archeologist. However, he cannot stay ahead of the East India Company, and his true identity is uncovered. He is then blackmailed into becoming one of the most important spies for England in the Middle East. Although a renowned archeologist for his work on finding the lost city of Alexandria, it is his spy network which is the most important to the East India Company and England’s interests in the region.

CONCLUSION

The King’s Shadow is a true historic spy novel. It has suspense, thrills, danger, intrigue, blackmail and world politics. Dr. Edmund Richardson has done a superb job researching and documenting the life of James Lewis, a.k.a. Charles Mason. His attention to detail and the past is unequaled in this historic tale. This true-life spy drama excites the mind and provides a look into the time and politics of the region.

Julian Elfer’s narration adds a depth to the story that was not there when I read the book. His accent, inflection, tone and pace are perfect accompaniments to the tale. I found the audio version better than reading it myself due to the Julian’s style of narration. He really makes the story come alive for the listener.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Dr. Edmund Richardson, NetGalley, and Tantor Audio for affording me the opportunity to review The King’s Shadow: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Deadly Quest for the Lost City of Alexandria.

OTHER POSTS

Mutiny On The Spanish Main – Review

It is 1797 and Captain Hugh Pigot, is the cruel and sadistic commander of HMS Hermione. After three men fall to their deaths the crew takes matters in to their own hands and what follows is the worst Mutiny in British Naval history.

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THE DEVIL’S TRAP – Review

The events described in The Devil’s Trap surround the preamble to the First Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, specifically the Cawnpore Massacre, and the subsequent remedial actions taken by the British to re-establish control over the canton.

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AGENTS OF INFLUENCE – REVIEW

Agents of Influence is the true story of a British Intelligence team tasked with swaying a reluctant United States of America (USA) to join with Great Britain against the Axis Powers in WWII.

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WOLVES AT THE DOOR – REVIEW

Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy is a very good book. It details the life of Virginia Hall and her contributions to the war effort. Virginia is a remarkable woman with a dedication and drives that far exceeds the average man.

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ARNHEM: TEN DAYS IN THE CAULDRON – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Arnhem - Iain Ballantyne
Arnhem – Iain Ballantyne
TitleArnhem: Ten Days In The Cauldron
AuthorIan Ballantyne
PublisherAgora Books (October 5, 2019)
FormatAudiobook, Paperback, Audio CD
Pages375
GenreDutch History / WWII Biographies /
World War II History (Books)
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131913099245 / 978-1913099244

AUTHOR

Iain Ballantyne has written extensively about navies past and present. A former newspaper defence reporter and current editor of the global naval news magazine ‘WARSHIPS International Fleet Review’, Iain has sailed in minefields off war-torn Kuwait, witnessed embargo enforcement in the Adriatic, and

reported on naval operations in the Arctic and counter-terrorism sweeps in the Mediterranean. He has contributed to national and regional newspapers, international magazines, as well as to television news, documentary programs, podcasts and radio shows. While working for a London-based multi-media production company, Iain played a pivotal role in creating training films and corporate communication projects for the Royal Navy. In 2017, Iain was presented with a prestigious Fellowship Award by the UK’s Maritime Foundation for making ‘a truly outstanding contribution to stimulating public engagement in maritime issues’. Iain’s books include ‘Bismarck: 24 Hours to Doom’ (Agora) ‘The Deadly Trade’ (Weidenfeld and Nicolson), ‘Arnhem: Ten Days in the Cauldron’ (also for Agora) and ‘Hunter Killers’ (Orion), plus ‘Killing the Bismarck’, ‘HMS Rodney’ and ‘Warspite’ (for Pen & Sword).

From Amazon’s Iain Ballantyne Page

SYNOPSIS

Arnhem is an in-depth look into the lives of the soldiers and civilians during Operation Market Garden. In September 1944, the British launched an intensive foray behind enemy lines to capture key bridge crossings in and around Arnhem.

A massive night-time insertion by paratroopers and gliders well behind enemy lines put around 10,000 British troops on the ground. Things never go as planned in war, and almost immediately this was the case here. Lack of communication, troops spread far and wide, gliders that were off course, and lost equipment in crashes and due to enemy fire only made the situation worse.

This story details the fighting on both sides for control of the bridges and the terrain. It depicts the struggle of not only the soldiers but the civilians that were involved as well. The first hand accounts and the stories told by the survivors are depicted in gruesome detail. The struggle for survival and the devotion to duty are laid out bare in this book.

CONCLUSION

This book is one of the best that I’ve read this year. The research into this pivotal battle, the first hand accounts of the survivors in their own words, the detailed battles from individual soldiers against tanks to higher headquarters manipulation of troops and equipment, all coalesce into a great historic account.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank Ian Ballantyne, Agora Books and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Arnhem: Ten Days in the Cauldron.

OTHER WORKS BY THIS AUTHOR

Operation Swallow – REVIEW

Operation Swallow is a no-holds-bar true life story of just one facet in WWII. Imagine this story multiplied across all the concentration camps run by the Germans and the scale of the atrocities is astronomical. Mark does a great job bringing this story to light and giving these soldiers who suffered at the hands of the Germans a voice. I definitely recommend this book.

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SPITFIRE!-REVIEW

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.

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THE CODEBREAKERS OF BLETCHLEY PARK – REVIEW

The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park is a unique take on an old subject and has managed to breathe new life into those who worked on the Enigma machine. It is the true-life account of the people, places and techniques employed for decrypting the machine that the Axis powers used during WWII to secretly encrypt their commercial, diplomatic and military communications.

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The Battle of Britain Broadcaster – REVIEW

The Battle of Britain Broadcaster: Charles Gardner, Radio Pioneer and WWII Pilot will appeal to anyone interested in British WWII history. History students will find the contents of this book revealing and a genuine look into the times of Britain’s greatest conflict.

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WOLVES AT THE DOOR – REVIEW

Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy is a very good book. It details the life of Virginia Hall and her contributions to the war effort. Virginia is a remarkable woman with a dedication and drives that far exceeds the average man.

Keep reading

Aircraft of World War II – Review

Litercurious Book Review

Aircraft of World War II: 300 of the World's Greatest Aircraft 1939-1945 by Chris Chant
Aircraft of World War II: 300 of the World’s Greatest Aircraft 1939-1945 by Chris Chant
TitleAircraft of World War II: 300 of the World’s
Greatest Aircraft 1939-1945
AuthorChris Chant
PublisherAmber Books (February 1, 2022)
FormatFlexibound
Pages320
GenreAviation History, Aircraft of WWII, Warplanes
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131838861904 / 978-1838861902

AUTHOR

Chris Chant is a successful writer on aviation and modern military matters. He has more than 90 titles to his credit and more than 15 co-authored titles. You can learn more about Chris on his blog.

SYNOPSIS

Aircraft of World War II: 300 of the World’s Greatest Aircraft 1939-1945 comprises a brief detail and the specifications of wartime aircraft during WWII. The introduction describes the aviation role in war and the evolution of the fighter plane. After the introduction each page has an airplane listed in alphabetical order, with a very brief description of the plane, its use and its specifications.

CONCLUSION

Aircraft of World War II is a very basic book. There are only three real pictures of aircraft in the entire book. Each aircraft described has only a profile depiction available to the reader. The information provided is short and concise.

As a military pilot I love books about airplanes, pilots, and especially fighter pilots. I have been fascinated with aviation since I was a child and love to read about pilots and aircraft. However, this book leaves a lot to be desired. The information is very basic, there are drawings instead of pictures and there is no scale in the depictions.

The author did a pretty good job trying to cover 300 airplanes in such a short book, but I would rather have 150 airplanes with more information and pictures. This book would have been better served if it were cut into factions and the airplanes given much more attention.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Chris Chant, Amber Books, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Aircraft of World War II: 300 of the World’s Greatest Aircraft 1939-1945.

SPITFIRE!-REVIEW

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.

WOLVES AT THE DOOR – REVIEW

Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy is a very good book. It details the life of Virginia Hall and her contributions to the war effort. Virginia is a remarkable woman with a dedication and drives that far exceeds the average man.

The Moth and the Mountain – Review

The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest is the story of a troubled WWI veteran and his trek to find solace and meaning in his life.

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.

City of death – review

Litercurious Book Review

City of Death, Scott McEwen & Ephraim Mattos
TitleCity of Death: Humanitarian Warriors In the Battle of Mosul
Author Scott McEwen (#1 Best selling Author of American Sniper) & Ephraim Mattos (Former US Navy SEAL)
PublisherCenter Street, Illustrated edition (October 23, 2018)
Pages 305
GenreHistory of Iraq, Philanthropy & Charity, Iraq War History
LanguageEnglish
ISBN/ASIN1546081828 / B079L5QNM3

#HistoryofIraq #PhilanthropyandCharity #IraqWarHistory

AUTHOR

Scott McEwen (#1 Best selling Author of American Sniper)

Ephraim Mattos (Veteran) United States Navy, Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL)

SYNOPSIS

City of Death by Ephraim Mattos and Scott McEwen is the recollections of Mattos’ time with the Free Burma Rangers (FBRs) in Mosul, Iraq, during April-July 2017.

Ephraim Mattos, a U.S. Navy Seal veteran and deeply spiritual man, becomes disenchanted with the military. Seeking a way to utilize his training and combine it with his spiritual beliefs he decides to invest himself in more philanthropic endeavors by joining the FBR. He wanted to use his skill set to help the FBR in their quest to provide humanitarian aid and record war crimes in high conflict areas of the world. 

The Free Burma Rangers (FBRs) are comprised of an eclectic mix of characters. They are a diverse multi-cultural, multi-denominational dedicated team of men and women. They share a unified mission to provide aid and comfort to those who require it the most in conflict areas of the world. 

Collectively, Mattos and the FBR quickly commingle to form a tight nit team. They unite spiritually, mentally, and emotionally in their commitment to provide medical aid to the Iraqi soldiers and citizens; whilst recording war crimes committed by The Islamic State a.k.a. ISIS/Daesh. The international melange manages to forge close bonds with the Iraqi Army during their efforts to retake Mosul. Although the FBR is mainly there to provide medical aid and comfort to the Iraqi soldiers and the fleeing citizens, they are targeted by ISIS and forced to fight for their own lives. Equipped with worn out AK-47’s and inferior equipment, the FBR continuously expose themselves to enemy fire while trying to evacuate the wounded soldiers and civilians. With bullets flying, bombs exploding and suicide bombers charging, the FBR set about their daily routine business. They witness horrific war crimes, bloody battles, and refugees trying to escape being gunned down by ISIS; victims that include small children. 

In an environment where alms meet arms, the FBR might be the civilians last best hope of help. 

CONCLUSION

City of Death is as gripping as it is gritty. It is action packed from beginning to end. The descriptions of daily life have a visceral intensity not normally present in works of this kind. The Author recreates the chaotic and unpredictable nature of modern urban warfare. The book describes the horror and humanity in the war to retake Mosul from ISIS in 2017. 

City of Death is, at times, deeply disturbing and infinitely inspirational. The synergy of Ephraim Mattos’ graphic reminiscences and Scott McEwen’s stirring prose provide a captivating read for lovers of real-life action adventure and war stories. 

Scott McEwen’s skill in writing top selling literature and his unique style combine to produce a breath taking look at humanitarianism meeting a merciless and unrelenting foe. The result is a deep dive into catastrophic effects on the lives of those souls living in Mosul during April-July 2017. 

City of Death is a compelling and heart breaking look at asymmetric warfare at its worst in the early years of the 21st Century. The climax of the book is unbelievably breath-taking; involving life and death decisions. The account is all the more intense because it was visually documented and is available online.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Scott McEwen and , Ephraim Mattos, and Center Street for affording me the opportunity to review City of the Dead: Humanitarian Warriors In the Battle of Mosul .

OTHER BOOKS BY SCOTT MCEWEN

Mutiny On The Spanish Main – Review

Litercurious Book Review

Mutiny on the Spanish Main by angus Konstam book review on Maritime History & Piracy and 18th Century World History
Mutiny on the Spanish Main by Angus Konstam
TitleMutiny on the Spanish Main: HMS Hermione and the Royal Navy’s revenge
AuthorAngus Konstam 
PublisherOsprey Publishing (October 27, 2020)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Hardcover
Pages320
GenreMaritime History & Piracy, 18th Century World History, Maritime History & Piracy
LanguageEnglish
ASIN/ISBN-10/13B0877CYJ72 /  1472833791 / 978-1472833792

AUTHOR

Angus Konstam 

SYNOPSIS

Mutiny on the Spanish Main is the bloody story of the HMS Hermione; the mutiny, murder, her transfer to the Spanish and subsequent recapture, and the Royal Navy’s never ending search and punishment for the mutineers.

In 1797 the crew of the HMS Hermione mutinied against its officers. They murdered the officers in a cruel and horrific manner. Then the crew stole the ship and fleeing for their lives and turned it over to the Spanish.

Mutiny on the Spanish Main is an in depth study of the causes and ramifications of the mutiny. Angus Konstam provides a look into the Royal Navy’s operating procedures, the lives of the seamen, and the hardships of the times. Life aboard ship was hard and trying. Punishment was severe and sometimes dished out without remorse. Seamen were “conscripted” into service and were basically no more than slaves. Men were stolen from all over and pressed into service. They were guarded at all times on shore to ensure they didn’t escape. Punishment ranged from beatings, to being keel-holed or even hung.

Captain Hugh Pigot, the commander of HMS Hermione, was a cruel and sadistic leader. He routinely dished out severe and arbitrary punishment to his crew. The crew was so distressed by the thought of being punished by the smallest infraction, that when Captain Pigot threatened to lash the last man down from the mast, three of them fell to their death.

The constant beatings, poor treatment, and lack of respect for human dignity finally forced the crew to takes matters into their own hands. What followed was the bloodiest and cruelest mutiny in the British Royal Navy. The Admiralty doggedly pursued the mutineers around the globe to bring them to justice.

CONCLUSION

Mutiny on the Spanish Main is a detailed account of the life and times of British sailors in the Royal Navy in the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. Angus Konstam details the methodology of seamanship, naval battles, politics, and discipline of the times. He provides an in depth look into the Royal Navy, the different types of ships and their primary purpose, the crew compliment, their different missions around the world, and how discipline was enforced aboard ship.

The research into this book is very good. The author provides an accurate look into the history of Naval Warfare and the British Royal Navy. He covers world politics, daily life, class structure, Naval Battles, supplies, disease, different ports, and the running and maintaining of the ships.

Overall, I found this book interesting and informative. I would recommend this read to anyone who has an interest in seamanship, maritime history, or the Royal Navy.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Angus KonstamNetGalley, and Osprey Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review Mutiny on the Spanish Main: HMS Hermione and the Royal Navy’s Revenge.

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The Moth and the Mountain – Review

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of
Love, War, and Everest
AuthorEd Caesar
PublisherAvid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
(November 17, 2020)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Hardcover, MP3 CD
Pages / File288 / 17784 KB
LanguageEnglish
GenreThriller, Suspense, Drama
ISBN 10/131501143379/ 978-1501143373

AUTHOR

Find out about Ed Ceaser here.

SYNOPSIS

The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest is the story of a troubled WWI veteran and his trek to find solace and meaning in his life. Maurice Wilson survived the war to end all wars, but not un-scathed. He was wounded in a horrific battle in France. Even though his physical wounds healed, his mental injuries could not be healed as easily. Maurice went through marriages, and traveled, looked for solace in different religions and beliefs.

Somewhere along the way he got the idea of climbing Mt Everest…alone. A man of determination, he learned how to fly, trained himself relentlessly, and started to procure supplies needed for his adventure. His plan was to fly to Everest, land on the lower slopes and climb to the summit. The authorities had other plans for him and worked tirelessly to prevent his trip. Maurice, however, sidestepped their attempts and just as doggedly continued his trek clandestinely.   

Maurice did make it to Everest, but to learn how and what happened, you will need to read the book.

CONCLUSION

The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest is a very good book. The author does a fantastic job describing the times, politics, and environment of the day. His descriptions of the horrendous battles leave little doubt as to the mental strain those young men endured, and later suffered from.

The author obviously researched his subject well and it is evident in the script how much he admires Maurice.

Overall, I found the book entertaining, thought provoking, and intriguing. The struggles that Maurice went through in life and his pursuit of Everest are inspiring. To overcome his post traumatic disorder, challenge himself, and embark on such a dramatic enterprise is awe inspiring.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in history, aviation, soldiers, or who will appreciate the inspiration that this man brings.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Ed Ceaser, NetGalley, and Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster for affording me the opportunity to review The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest.

THE DEVIL’S TRAP – Review

A LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

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Title The Devil’s Trap
Author James W. Bancroft
Publisher Frontline Books (February 19, 2020)
Format Hardcover
Pages 248
Language English
ISBN 10/13 1526718014 / 978-1526718013)
WARNING – This book is not suitable for children.

AUTHOR

James W Bancroft has almost 23 years of writing experience with more than a hundred publications and articles in a variety of subjects. Most of his works are based in Victorian Military History and non-fiction. He edits and publishes as well as writes. Other books by this author include Rorke’s Drift, Published by Spellmount Ltd., (1988) and is still in print today. As well as The Rorke’s Drift Men, Published by The History Press Ltd., (1 May 2010). James W Bancroft is known primarily for History of Southern Africa, African Historical Biographies, Civil War Biographies.

TARGET AUDIENCE

If you are an avid reader of Adult historic non-fiction and/or you enjoy thrillers, then this book is most certainly for you. Those who want to understand the context of The British Empire, are educators, students of history, or academics will find this book enlightening and disturbing in equal measure.

SYNOPSIS

The events described in The Devil’s Trap surround the preamble to the First Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, specifically the Cawnpore Massacre, and the subsequent remedial actions taken by the British to re-establish control over the canton. Whilst this may not be common knowledge to many people, the Indian *(see 1 below) massacre that took place against a British encampment created a tidal wave of brutal and violent retribution. The subsequent retribution in response to the attack stains the present-day relationship between Great Britain and India. Some of the changes wrought following the rebellion were set in stone until 1947. Arguably the single greatest change was the promise made to the Indian people in a Royal Declaration (see below for a link) issued by Queen Victoria immediately following the mutiny. The author contends that some Indian citizens still believe that this event was the beginning of the end of the British Empires Rule of India.

The central theme and focus of The Devil’s Trap take’s place at Cawnpore, off the beaten track near an area called The Grand Trunk Road near Sati Chaura Ghat situated on the banks of the River Ganges. It was a British Garrison with three Native Infantry Regiments all led by British Officers accompanied by their families and servants. In July 1857 an insurrection was started by the Indian soldiers, elements of the general Indian population, and the servants who were either stationed at, or near the British encampment. British men, women, and children were subject to violence so gruesome I feel unable to detail it here.

Once the enormity of massacre was discovered, the British violently reestablished the status quo however, the Empress of India chose a more diplomatic method to quell the natives. Whilst politics and time have forgotten the victims of the Cawnpore Massacre, James W Bancroft has attempted to bring them back to life through his skillful use of original source material, and by cross referencing the facts still available in the archives.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Some experts speculate that the Raj was shaken by the mutiny but their corrective actions saved the rule by addressing the mutineer’s issues and the Empress’s Declaration. Native Regiments that took part in the insurrection were disbanded. Loyal Native troops were formed into new regiments which remained in effect from 1858 until 1947. Those local Warlords who remained loyal to the British during the rebellion were rewarded. The disloyal peasantry was prevented from obtaining access to land for 90 years. Finally, the British authorities recognized the error of imposing British cultural norms and beliefs upon the native population. This promise came through Royal channels when Queen Victoria gave a proclamation that stated “We disclaim alike our Right and Desire to impose Our Convictions on any of Our Subjects..” * (See 2 below)

CONCLUSION

The Devil’s Trap is exceedingly well written, researched, and is easy to follow for those previously unfamiliar with these ground breaking historic events. The Massacre was as shaking to the British Empire as 9/11 was to the USA. It was devastating in terms of the loss of human life, and changed forever the relationship previously enjoyed by the protagonists. Despite the loss of life, the British Raj continued beyond 1858 until 1947 pretty much without radical change.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank James W. Bancroft, NetGalley, and Frontline Books for affording me the opportunity to review The Devil’s Trap

*1. The term Indian is used a general reference to the Pashtu, Sikh, and Hindu people as a whole.
*2. You can find a copy of the proclamation here: http://www.csas.ed.ac.uk/mutiny/confpapers/Queen%27sProclamation.pdf

WOLVES AT THE DOOR – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleWolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s
Greatest Female Spy
AuthorJudith Pearson
PublisherLyons Press (May 13, 2008)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Paperback, Hardcover
Pages288
LanguageEnglish
AudienceHistorians, People who like suspense and thrillers
ISBN # 10/13159921072X / 978-1599210728

AUTHOR

Judith Pearson is a remarkable woman. She graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in French and English. She continued her post graduate studies in Psychology. She is the founder of Courage Concepts, an organization dedicated to cultivating courage in women and girls. In 2012 she was an International Book Award Finalist for It’s Just Hair: 20 Essential Life Lessons. After her breast cancer diagnosis, she founded A2ndAct.org, an organization that supports and celebrates women survivors of all kinds of cancer. She is still very active conducting keynotes and workshops, not to mention writing. She currently lives in Phoenix (that just seems fitting).

SYNOPSIS

Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy is the true tale of Virginia Hall. Virginia lost her leg as a young woman in a hunting accident. Virginia always wanted to work for the Foreign Service. In 1929, at the age of only twenty-three, she applied for a consular position with the State Department. She finally received a job as a clerk with the State Department in 1931. She was told that because of her amputation, she was unfit to be a Consular.

At the outbreak of WWII, she enlisted in the Services Sanitaires de l’Armée, a Red Cross type of organization. She drove an ambulance outside of Paris. After France capitulated, she made her way back to England. On the way she had a chance encounter with George Bellows. He provided her with names and places in London that would eventually change her life forever.

Vera Atkins, an acquaintance of Bellow’s, met Virginia at a party in London. Unbeknownst to Virginia at the time, she was recruiting for the “Inter-Services Research Bureau.” This is where Virginia was enticed to work for the British as a spy. She attended a compressed spy training program; learning how to do such things as making bombs and planting explosives. Her leg was not seen as a detriment but a plus as most people wouldn’t think a one-legged woman is a spy.

Virginia went to France where worked tirelessly recruiting for the resistance, sabotaging German supply lines, and creating havoc whenever and wherever she could. She became such a thorn in the Germans side that they actively hunted her and offered rewards for her capture. She was forced to move constantly to stay ahead of the German spy’s that were tracking her. England tried to get her to return as the dangers were too great. She continued fighting for France. Eventually, the Gestapo forced her to flee for her life by making a perilous journey over the Pyrenees Mountains; not an easy feat for a woman with one leg.

Back in England she was assigned to the OSS. They sent Virginia back to France disguised as an old woman. Her limp accentuated the disguise. Virginia continued her work against the Germans until the end of WWII.

CONCLUSION

Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy is a very good book. It details the life of Virginia Hall and her contributions to the war effort. Virginia is a remarkable woman with a dedication and drives that far exceeds the average man.

Judith Pearson does an excellent job of describing the events, the feelings, and the suspense that Virginia endured. The story is remarkable in its own right, but Judith brings an element to the tale that makes this a must-read book. Full of danger, suspense, intrigue, and sorrow; this story is one that must be told. An extraordinary woman in a dangerous time, Virginia Hall is a heroine for all times.

I heartily recommend this book to everyone.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

AGENTS OF INFLUENCE – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleAgents of Influence                          
AuthorHenry Hemming                        
PublisherPublic Affairs (October 8, 2019)     
FormatPaperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook & CD       
Page400     
LanguageEnglish     
ISBN# 10 / 131541742141 / 978-1541742147     

“Foreign influence is truly the Grecian horse to a republic. We cannot be too careful to exclude its influence.”

Alexander Hamilton
(1757-1804) American statesman, Secretary of the Treasury
Pacificus, No. 6, July 17, 1793.
 

AUTHOR

The author of Agents of Influence is Henry Hemming. You can find more information about him and his other publications here.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?

I recommend this monograph to those with a general interest in military history and anyone with a particular interest in the asymmetric warfare of World War II.

SYNOPSIS

Agents of Influence is the true story of a British Intelligence team tasked with swaying a reluctant United States of America (USA) to join with Great Britain against the Axis Powers in WWII.

The central character, William (Bill) Stevenson is drawn into the murky world of undercover intelligence operations or a “war by other means.” He was assigned by the British Military Intelligence Agency (MI6) with the task of organizing a hand picked elite team of operatives to work behind the scenes influencing the U.S. populations opinions surrounding their role in the war. To this day His operation is considered to have been the most successful covert action ever to have taken place on U.S. soil. Spectacular in its scope, eye waveringly expensive in terms of cost and promethean in its use of an intelligence campaign, William’s enterprise is one of the greatest examples of mass population influence in modern history.

Hemming has us accompany Stevenson during the dark days of the 1940s following the tragedy of the evacuation from the beaches of Dunkirk. In June of 1940 the U.S. population had no interest in becoming embroiled in the war across the “pond.” Through William and his teams influence, the national opinion slowly changed. Within a year and half, the attack on Pearl Harbor propelled the U.S. into World War II.

Hemming’s Agents of Influence unrolls the characters and the methods, including “fake news,” that changed the history of the world and the ultimate outcome of the war. He explains the British motivation behind the occult actions employed. He takes us on the ship with Stephenson and the wealth of a nation from across the Atlantic. From there he describes how Bill Stephenson uses his considerable talents to assemble an effective team, integrates them into U.S. society and begins his influence operations behind the scenes. That is just the beginning.

CONCLUSION

Agents of Influence is so outrageous that it seems too unbelievable to be true, and yet it happened. Put simply, it is one of those manuscripts that you find yourself carrying around so that you don’t miss an opportunity to read what happens next. I have just discovered a new favorite author. The next step is to get my hands on one or two of the five other works that Hemming has written. This is a superb read; but don’t take my word for it, go out and get a copy and discover for yourself the pleasure of a Henry Hemming volume. This is the first 5 star review of the year.

Written with academic prowess, scholarly skill, intensively researched, extensively referenced and reads as a compelling novel, Hemming has created a genuine winner.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Henry Hemming, NetGalley, and Public Affairs for affording me the opportunity to review Agents of Influence.