Category Archives: Politics

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 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 BYZANTINE WORLD WAR – Review

A LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

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Title The Byzantine World War
Author Nick Holmes
Publisher Matador (May 23, 2019)
Format Kindle, Paperback
Pages 233
Language English
ISBN # 1789017580 (ASIN: B07S7DGSGH)

AUTHOR

Nick Holmes is a graduate of Cambridge University with degree
in history. He was entranced by the ancient walls that circle Istanbul, Turkey and became intrigued with Byzantium following a trip to the region. The juxtaposition of the modern and the ancient engaged him and surprised him. The massive escarpments over a thousand years old decorate the city with imposing battlements. Hagia Sophia, a key location in the events that transpire in his book still stands in testament to the events of the past that still color our world today. Holmes finds the important role of Constantinople and the fulcrum around which Europe and the Near East pivot to be a wonderful backdrop of the events that took place so long ago. Nick posits the importance of the period beginning in 1068 that leads to the first, of several, Crusades and its effect on modern history.

AUDIENCE

If you are the kind of person that loves to read history books that are not dry and stuffy, but engaging and conversational, then look no further. The Author, Nick Holmes, shares a style of writing not so different from Simon Winchester or Erik Larson. Well-constructed, and set in an important time in world history, Holmes posits his opinion on the what, when, and how of the now distant history. The Byzantine World War, is a perfect fit for teenagers or adults bookshelf, and is a must read for anyone who enjoys intelligently constructed concepts set against the context of tumultuous times.

SYNOPSIS

The Byzantium World War is set at a time when the power of Rome was beginning to ebb and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) was beginning. Some of the Key locations of historic importance include; Anatolia, Byzantium, The Middle East, The Balkans, The Caucuses, and North Africa. The timeline is 1068-1097 and this book is written almost as a thriller in its style. The range of characters is extensive, and Holmes does a masterful job in recreating them and their foibles for the modern audience. It is  a must read for all those who want to extend their knowledge of pivotal historic events, and for those who enjoy their history made three-dimensional and easily consumed.

CONCLUSION

This book is a great primer for those who are looking to increase their knowledge of the rise of Turkey in the form of the Pax Ottomana, and the fall of Pax Romana. The book is written in an easily accessible style, in a clear, chronological order, and illustrated with images, maps and detailed timelines. It is an engaging look at past events that still have influence over our period of history. I would like to see a more extensive referencing and bibliography, as well as the addition of some footnotes. That said, I did enjoy the fact that the key players in the book are listed at the rear for examination. I really enjoyed reading this book and I have no hesitation in recommending it highly. It is a rare treat in the world of dusty, dry history books that such a pleasantly written, brief but comprehensive volume comes along. Although I received this book for review; I loved it so much, I bought a copy for my library.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My thanks go out to the following: NetGalley, Matador
Publishers
,
and Amazon Digital Services LLC, for affording me the
opportunity to read this rare gem.

Hi there, our records show you are a frequent visitor to Litercurious and I wanted to say a personal thank you for your patronage. Thank you for liking and sharing our posts. Please feel free to reblog any or all of the reviews. I look forward to your valuable input again in the near future.

STOLEN – Review

LITERCURIOUS BOOK REVIEW

Title Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped Into Slavery
and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home
Author Richard Bell
Publisher 37 Ink (October 15, 2019)
Format Kindle, Hardcover         
Page 247     
Language English     
ISBN # 1501169432     

AUTHOR

Richard Bell is the author of Stolen. He currently teaches Early American History at the University of Maryland.

TARGET AUDIENCE

In a word; humanity.

SYNOPSIS

The time is 1825, the place Philadelphia, North America, and a small group of free black boys are about to be kidnapped. They are about to be transported as slaves to serve the needs and wants of a slave hungry South and its human Grissom for the Cotton Kingdom Mill. The real story, however, relates to the titanic strengths and fortitude exhibited by the 5 boys placed in the untenable excruciating predicament of having lived free and taken as slaves under the threat of violence. Despite the seemingly overwhelming odds, the boys seek ways to escape their bondage and return home. To discover if they manage to escape and the consequences of the events affecting their lives you will have to read it yourself. At its worst, this is one example of mans’ inhumanity to man. At its best, this is a call to the resilience of spirit and the power of unity in the face of extremes of privation and enormous adversity.

CONCLUSION

Masterfully written, flawlessly researched, and a tale of 5 free men abducted and taken on a journey of epic proportions. This is a work for our times; lest we forget. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

My sincere thanks go to: NetGalley, and 37 Ink for affording me the opportunity to review “Stolen.”

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

The Organ Thieves – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

IN MEMORIAM OF
BRUCE TUCKER
DECLARED DEAD ON SATURDAY MAY 25, 1968 AT 3:33 PM

Still waiting for an apology that will never come.
R.I.P.

TitleThe Organ Thieves: The Shocking Story of the
First Heart Transplant in the Segregated South
AuthorChip Jones
PublisherGallery/Jeter Publishing (August 18, 2020)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, Audiobook, Audio CD
Pages400
Language:English
ISBN 10/131982107529 / 978-1982107529

Imagine ‘House’ meets ‘A Few Good Men.’

AUTHOR

Chip Jones is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist. You can learn more about this author here or visit his Facebook page here.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?

The Organ Thieves has broad appeal. Everyone from medical students to senior professors and laymen alike will enjoy this work. Students of history, ethics, research fellows or anyone who wants to know more about the early history of heart transplants in the United States will find this book invaluable.

SYNOPSIS

The Organ Thieves is a compassionate retelling of events that introduced a new and highly anticipated advance in medical science. It’s a real-life drama of a radical new cutting-edge medical procedure, involving esteemed surgeons and a seemingly inebriated, impecunious victim of an accident. The apparent theft of the heart and two kidneys from a decent hardworking man, eventually resulting in a $1,000,000 lawsuit.

The subsequent trial spans the whole gamut of questions relating to ethics, motivations, incompetence and a questionable disregard for state law and patients care. The trial covered poor medical administrative practices, prejudice and ethical questions that still plague modern medical ethicists. All this set against the contextual history of medical research set in the segregated South. From the dark days of slavery and the Devil’s Half Acre, to the ‘demonstrators’ and the ‘resurrection-men’ of pre 1884, through to the mid 1990s.

CONCLUSION

The Organ Thieves is well-paced throughout, resplendent with historic detail, clear and concise prose that make for a work that is difficult to put down. I read the last 4 hours in one sitting and I was more enthusiastic in my praise and admiration with each passing chapter.

My only criticism is, I felt at times, there was an understandable bias exhibited by the author. Rather than simply presenting the facts, thus leaving the reader to make their own independent assessment, I sensed he was assessing the historic interactions by todays values.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Chip Jones, NetGalley, and Gallery/Jeter Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review The Organ Thieves: The Shocking Story of the First Heart Transplant in the Segregated South.

THE DAILY THOMAS PAINE – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Daily Thomas Paine: A Year of
Common-Sense Quotes
AuthorThomas Paine (Author) (Author Editor Edward G. Gray)
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
FormatPaperback
Pages176
LanguageEnglish
ISBN #9780226653518

AUTHOR / EDITOR

The eponymous Thomas Paine was the Enlightenment era Philosopher, Political activist, and some say Revolutionary. During his 72 years on earth, he made a lasting impression in the field of political science and philosophy. You can find out more about this extraordinary thinker here. Editor Edward G. Gray Professor of history at Florida State University.

WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE

Those unfamiliar with the importance of Paine as a philosopher will benefit most from this brief introduction of the man through his published thoughts.

SYNOPSIS

The Daily Thomas Paine could be described as a conspectus or a brief compendium of the learned man’s published thoughts. The main work is proceeded by a comprehensive Forward that acts as context to the broader work. Structured as a standard calendar year beginning on January 1st, there are quotes on each page in bite sized nuggets of wisdom ending on 31 December. The manuscript culminates with a brief Index of Sources.

CONCLUSION

I don’t prefer this method of reductionism, and it provides neither a sense of the philosopher nor an adequate take on his concepts and perspectives. There are little gems of wisdom sprinkled throughout the text but they are too few and too brief. I never felt that this volume was a satisfactory salute to Thomas Paine’s great acumen or his humanity. I wish I could say that The Daily Thomas Paine would have made a primer for those who wish to gain some insight into the man, but I’m unable to do so. I found this book to be something of a disappointment and a wasted opportunity. You may hold a different view, but you will only know if you read it for yourself.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank Thomas Paine, NetGalley, and University of Chicago Press for affording me the opportunity to review The Daily Thomas Paine.