Tag Archives: 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.

Keep reading

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.

Keep reading

A HAUNTED ROAD ATLAS – REVIEW

LITERCURIOUS BOOK REIVEW

A Haunted Road Atlas by Christine Schiefer & Em Schultz
A Haunted Road Atlas – Christine Schiefer & Em Schultz
TitleA Haunted Road Atlas: Sinister Stops, Dangerous Destinations, and True Crime Tales
AuthorChristine Schiefer & Em Schultz
PublisherAndrews McMeel Publishing (May 31, 2022)
FormatKindle, Paperback, Audiobook
GenreHistory Humor, Supernaturalism, Internet
Social Media Humor
Pages / Runtime304 / 6 hours and 45 minutes / 473 KB
LanguageEnglish
ISBN / ASINBook 978-1524872106
Kindle B09TVHJLLC
Audiobook B09VYDGBWQ

AUTHORS

Taken from the A Haunted Road Atlas

SYNOPSIS

A Haunted Road Atlas is written and performed by Christine Schiefer and her co-author Em Schultz. There is one word that sums up this insanity; cleverly wrapped up in either the written work or the unabridged audiobook, and that word is – fun. Schiefer and Schultz have created a powerful diversion from everyday irrelevant concerns with their fantabulous journey across the entire Continental United States!

Now back to the review. The book is subdivided into individual geographic locations. The reader joins the trip mentally with Christine and Em, visiting haunted hotels, paranormal tours and strange and weird places. That’s not all; oh no! A Haunted Road Atlas also covers: notorious criminals, murders, mayhem, massacres, and con-men. All these are accompanied by fun facts and opinions. I both read and listened to their productions, and I highly recommend the audiobook version. The narrative is rapid delivered and the staccato humor just blew my socks off.

CONCLUSION

Imagine for a moment the most unhinged but fun person that you know or can imagine. Now add in a touch of Zac Bagin’s of Ghost Adventures fame. Sprinkle in some spooky places with two uproarious, loud and gregarious story tellers, and you have a simple idea of just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

It confounds me just how they managed to cram so much humor into this book. If you enjoy alternative humor, delivered by consummate entertainers look no further.

I sincerely hope that they manage to get to visit Alaska and Hawaii just so that there will be another magical creation.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Christine Schiefer & Em Schultz, Andrews McMeel Publishing, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review A Haunted Road Atlas: Sinister Stops, Dangerous Destinations, and True Crime Tales.

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A Hunted Road Atlas by Christine Schiefer and Em Schultz
A Hunted Road Atlas by Christine Schiefer and Em Schultz

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London A-Z – REVIEW

Be it the times of Pax Romanaus or Pax Britainica always have your trusty and reliable cartographic entertainment on your person, because you never know when you’ll need the London A-Z.

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Norman 2 – REVIEW

Norman 2 is the sequel to Norman: The Doll That Needed to Be Locked Away. An ominous comment from the store owner peaked Lancaster’s interest, and he bought the doll and took it home. Almost immediately, strange and unexplainable things start happening.

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DEAD SILENCE – REVIEW

The crew, alerted to an emergency transmission, reluctantly answers the call and discovers horrors, mysteries, phantoms, and challenges beyond their imagination. Claire Kovalik must conquer her conflicted self, the crew, and the company to find her own salvation in the face of incredible odds. Dead Silence is expertly crafted and the stress ramps up as the story advances. There are shocks, jump scares, and descriptions of horrific encounters throughout.

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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.

Keep reading

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

The King’s Shadow – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe King’s Shadow
AuthorEdmund Richardson
PublisherSt. Martin’s Press (April 5, 2022)
FormatKindle, Hardcopy
Pages352
GenreAfghanistan Travel Guides, Central Asia History,
India History
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131250278597 / 978-1250278593

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

SYNOPSIS

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.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Dr. Edmund Richardson, NetGalley, and St. Martin’s Press for affording me the opportunity to review The King’s Shadow.

Other Books By This Author

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.

THE BYZANTINE WORLD WAR – Review

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.

WILDCAT – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Wildcat: The Untold Story of Pearl Hart, the Wild West's Most Notorious Woman Bandit Joh Boessenecker
Wildcat: The Untold Story of Pearl Hart, the Wild West’s Most Notorious Woman Bandit John Boessenecker
TitleWildcat: The Untold Story of Pearl Hart, the Wild
West’s Most Notorious Woman Bandit 
AuthorJohn Boessenecker
PublisherHanover Square Press (November 2, 2021)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, Audiobook, Audio CD
Pages385
GenreHistory of Southwestern United States, Criminal
& Memoirs of Criminals
LanguageEnglish
ASIN # B08QZHQZZT

AUTHOR

Author John Boessenecker

True West magazine, in 2011 and 2013, named Boessenecker Best Nonfiction Writer. He received a prestigious Spur award from Western Writers of America and Best Book award from Westerners International. He has appeared frequently as a historical commentator on PBS, The History Channel, A&E, and other media.

SYNOPSIS

John Boessenecker breathed new life into an old case; the case of Lillie N. Davy known by the noms de guerre of Pearl Hart. Drawing upon his research skills, he’s removed the fallacies, the myths, the lies and revealed in extraordinary detail the life and times of Pearl Hart. She was one of the most notorious late 19th Century female criminals of the old West. Pearl was a cross-dressing female with a flare for making herself incognito when the need arose. Her endless dalliances with numerous men doesn’t mark her as unique however, her need to control situations was unique for a woman of that time. At a period in history where women were meant to be housebound homemakers; meek, submissive, barefoot and pregnant; Pearl railed against the expected norms and challenged the mores of the time. 

What John Boessenecker has presented in Wildcat is the unoccluded view of a female recidivist from child to adulthood. His research is as exceptional as it is detailed and he comingles them into a completely engrossing narrative. Boessenecker artfully recounts Pearl’s story from her parents brief courtship to her birth and on. He details ad infinitum her early years as the daughter of an indigent, semi-literate, workshy child molester and petty criminal in Canada. We follow her itinerant lifestyle across  many years and locations culminating with the pinnacle of her criminal enterprise; a coach robbery. 

Throughout the book we discover Pearl’s life of bitter poverty, abuse, and abysmal parenting culminating in a damaged woman bereft of morals, dignity or honesty. Like many women in those historic days, she was often forced to make difficult decisions just to survive. After viewing her circumstances in the round one cannot help but be sympathetic.

Boessenecker reveals the uncompromising world that Pearl lived in and the uncompromising woman that it birthed. From his detailed accounts, she owned the ‘Wildcat’ nickname. She lived life her own way, loved risk taking and took the punishment where she found it. She was intelligent and ‘street smart,’ a potent combination for an erstwhile career criminal.

Living in a time where women rarely left the home once they were betrothed and were kept in check by societal and socio-cultural norms, Pear turned the world on its head to live her own way. She seamlessly integrates into the criminal underclass not as a woman, but as a boy and later a man. She would alter her outer appearance by cutting her hair and affecting a manly stride. She was often found in the company of the criminal class sharing or gleaning useful information for future criminal activities. Peal, we discover, took things to a whole new level when she began utilizing firearms. Weapons that no doubt added to her sense of safety and security, especially due to the company she would often keep. 

She is such an outrageous character, that it is amazing that her story has been lost in time until now. It seems strange that she is forgotten but characters like Big Nose Kate still hold a semblance of allure for many Western History fans. If I were to compare the two, I would say that Pearl’s story has far more impact than the latter. 

The review of Wildcat would not be complete without mentioning Katy Davy, Pearl’s younger sister. An outrageous character every bit as unique as her older sibling. Katy Davy, who used the sobriquets of Millie Davy has an incredible nerve and was talented physically and mentally. Both sisters were, without-a-doubt, survivors; Katy even more so. At thirty-six-years-old, in the 1890’s, Katy became an ascensionist and a descensionist. She took a rest from being a fille de joie started parachuting from a balloon at a thousand feet. Following a near fatal accident she retired, but not for too long. The many tales of prison escapes, her years as a teenage madam and rescuing her husband from prison, Katy appears to have an unending skill in creative problem solving. They sisters even made it into Cosmopolitan magazine, the nations most popular women’s publication at that time. The sisters were walking contradictions for women of their time.

CONCLUSION

John Boessenecker’s writing style is compelling from the very beginning. His research is second to none, and his narrative is fascinating throughout.

The book is entertaining, inspiring, alarming and touching in equal measure. The main characters are mentally re-created. Boessenecker did an exceptional job in breathing life back into the long dead. He avoided tainting the account with his own opinions and simply reported the facts previously occluded by time, myth, disinformation and lies. Overall, John Boessenecker created a fair illustration of the characters, the time period and the environment in which they lived. He’s managed to inject new life in the antics and life of Pearl Hart and her sister. It is a superior read. Some of the material discussed will remain with you long after you have read it.

I highly recommend Wildcat to all adults and children over the age of sixteen. It is entertaining, heartbreaking, outrageous and so much more in-between. If you enjoy reading about true survivors of extreme circumstances, look no further because Wildcat is the story of two consummate survivors.

Wildcat will resonate with you if you are an avid reader of Western History of the United States, Criminal Biographies or Women in History. This it is a rip-roaring tale. You know that if Pearl were alive today, she would be down at Cancún during Spring Break doing whatever she wants whilst engaging in some nefarious activity. You are left with the feeling that she was mad, bad and dangerous to know, but that she was also probably huge fun. 

Why not give it a read yourself? Be prepared, it’s quite a ride; remember to hold on to your hat!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank John Boessenecker, Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Wildcat: The Untold Story of Pearl Hart, the Wild West’s Most Notorious Woman.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

RELATED POSTS

HOLBEIN: Capturing Character – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Holbein capturing character Ed. Dr Anne Woolett
Holbein: Capturing Character Ed. Anne Woolett et al
TitleHolbein: Capturing Character
EditorDr. Anne Woolett et al
PublisherJ. Paul Getty Museum (October 19, 2021)
FormatHardcover
Page192
GenreIndividual Artistic Monographs, Art Portraits, Calligraphy Guides
LanguageEnglish
ISBN#10/131606067478 / 978-1606067475

EDITOR

Dr. Anne Woollett is curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, USA.

SYNOPSIS

HOLBEIN: Capturing Character was edited primarily by Dr. Anne Woolett. Her collaborator’s include: Ulrich Hans BirkmaierAustėia MackelaitėPeter van der Coelen, and John T. Qillen. This work is a comprehensive monograph of the work of Hans Holbein The Younger (1497/98–1543). This compact Gallery Book was published to accompany the exhibition of the 16th Century renaissance Master Hans Holbein The Younger. The exhibitions at the J. Paul Getty Centre on October 19, 2021, – January 9, 2022; and continuing at the Morgan Library & Museum from February 11, 2022, to May 15, 2022. 

HOLBEIN: Capturing Character, although petite at just 9×12 inches, contains a genuine treasure trove of ultra high quality plates that depict:

  •  a selection of Holbein The Younger’s most valued paintings, 
  • blockcutts, 
  • woodcut illuminations,
  • chalk illustrations “Trois Crayons” (three chalks), 
  • oils on panel, 
  • engravings, 
  • jewelry, 
  • hat badges, 
  • medallion designs on paper, 
  • arabesque ornament designs on paper, 
  • silverpoint by Hans Holbein the Elder (1460/70-1524), 
  • designs for a stained glass window, 
  • cartouches
  • paintings from tempera and oil on panel, 
  • oil on canvas, 
  • oil on paper glued to panel, 
  • mixed technique1,  
  • a selection of ornamental lids,
  •  page drafts, 
  • tempera on unprimed canvas, 
  • an example of a rundel portrait, and 
  • studies pen and brown ink, brown and black ash ink wash and highlights of white gouache and black chalk on paper. 

Anne Woolett and her associates have produced a invaluable asset for anyone who wants to study Holbein or those who simply enjoy his amazing talents.  

Each listing is individually numbered and contains essential details relating to the image containing information on:

  • the artist, the subject where available, 
  • the date, the material used, 
  • the dimensions of the original, 
  • its current location, and 
  • the current owner if known.

Hans Holbein was an artist with unsurpassed levels of observation and the ability to translate his vision to oil on panel or many other mediums.

Additional information included in the book are:

  • an impressive Forward that sets the context for the reader
  • a detailed list of Illustration Credits
  • a list of short biographies covering the most notable figures who sat for Holbein
  • a chronology of each of the more significant works
  • an extensive bibliography
  • a list of Lenders to the exhibition, and 
  • acknowledgements 

1(a method originally accredited to Leonardo da Vinci. It involved tempera and oil, called tempera grassa, to try and extend the limitations of the medium. He would use one part egg yolk mixed with one part linseed oil to form the binder for his pigments.)

CONCLUSION

The plates in this work are exquisite in their reproduction being large, high quality, full-color images of the Master’s works. They are accompanied by comprehensive pertinent details relating to each work of art. The Editor and her collaborators excelled at the presentation, format, and underpinned these with exquisite insights to the zeitgeist of the times.  

Holbein: Capturing Character is a catalogue that is engaging, entertaining, informative and an accomplished illumination worthy of the Great Master. The subject is handled masterfully and is impeccably researched. There are extensive and detailed notes for each chapter, and in addition a short comprehensive Bibliography. Holbein: Capturing Character proved to be an addictive read.    

It is often said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever and so it is for this pocket-sized library of perfection. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Editor Dr. Anne Woolett, et al. , J. Paul Getty Museum, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review HOLBIEN: Capturing Character.

OTHER WORKS FROM J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM

RELATED POSTS

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

A TALENT TO DECEIVE – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

A Talent To Deceive by William Morris
TitleA Talent to Deceive: The Search for the Real
Killer of the Lindbergh Baby
AuthorWilliam Norris
PublisherCamCat Publishing, LLC (July 7, 2020)
FormatUnabridged Audiobook
Time11 hours and 52 minutes
GenreMurder True Crime
LanguageEnglish
ASIN # B08BQKX1NW

AUTHOR

William Norris

SYNOPSIS

A Talent to Deceive, by William Norris, focuses on the kidnapping of Charles Augustus Lindbergh Junior on the evening of March 1st, 1932. He was the son of the renowned aviator Charles Augustus Lindbergh Senior; the first person to fly across the Atlantic non-stop. Norris’ work is an in-depth and skillful investigation using a diverse range of contemporary sources. He seeks to enlighten us to the facts, opinions, and contemporaneous evidence he discovered through his extensive research. What he discovers has convinced him there was a miscarriage of justice.

If you are familiar with the case then buckle up because your preconceptions are about to be shaken in an avalanche of newly discovered information. Forget about what you thought you knew, try to put aside your biases and open yourself up to Norris’ detailed version of the events. 

On a Spring evening 98 years ago, 20 month old Charles Lindbergh Jr. was kidnapped and murdered. Eventually, the perpetrator was tracked, tried and executed; at least that is what we thought. Norris reopens the case with a comprehensive breakdown of the people and events that led to the disappearance and subsequent death of the Lindbergh baby. He leaves no stone unturned, and his research indicates a miscarriage of justice took place and the wrong man was tried and executed. He delves into the characters surrounding the investigation and how they influenced the outcome; including how Charles Lindbergh Sr. took over the case. Norris makes a compelling case that the “Crime of the Century” still remains unsolved.

CONCLUSION

A Talent to Deceive begins as a non-fiction true crime drama but quickly evolves into a political psycho-drama with twists and turns, strong personalities and secrets. There is much to commend in A Talent To Deceive, not the least of these is the in-depth and detailed research undertaken by the author. His innate skill and deft prose are always engaging and entertaining. Norris manages to encourage the reader to empathize with the events that took place almost one hundred years ago. He quickly draws the reader into the historic case in such away that it affects you emotionally, intellectually, and psychologically. It is easy for the reader to become completely invested in Norris’ version of events. It is only with distance and hindsight that a dispassionate analysis is possible; even then a reader may still feel uneasy as to the events in those days so very long ago. 

If this is the first time you have come across the Lindbergh case, you can expect a real feast of information. Norris writes with conviction and clearly feels strongly about both the crime and the alleged unsafe-conviction. Most of all, he expresses his deep unease with regard to the motivations of the key players; including Charles Lindbergh Sr. and the State actors that conspired with, or for, Charles Lindbergh Sr.

A Talent to Deceive will live in your memory long after you have read it and certainly would stand a second or even a third read. This book is a must have for the avid true crime community and a special addition to the real crime aficionado’s library. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank William Norris, NetGalley, and CamCat Publishing LLC. for affording me the opportunity to review A Talent to Deceive: The Search for the Real Killer of the Lindbergh Baby.

OTHER WORK BY THIS AUTHOR

Willful Misconduct by William Norris
Willful Misconduct by William Norris

Sol Invictus – Review

Litercurious Book Review

TitleSol Invictus (book 2 “Eye of Ra” series)
AuthorBen Gartner
PublisherCrescent Vista Press (February 1, 2021)
FormatKindle, Paperback
Pages / File300 / 3901 KB
LanguageEnglish
GenreChildren’s Historical Fiction
ISBN 10/13173415523X/ 978-1734155235

AUTHOR

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

SYNOPSIS

Sol Invictus is the second book in the Eye of Ra series. It continues the adventures of its two main characters Sarah and John.

Sarah and John are pre-teens that are transported through time to the ancient Roman frontier. There they must unite the Roman Emperor Caesar Constantius with an enemy to save the time line and return home. This proves to be a difficult task since his enemy, the Alemanni teen Crocus, was made a slave after the Emperors soldiers killed his father. Crocus hated the Romans and only wanted revenge for his father death.

Sarah and John go through a lot of death-defying adventures to accomplish their task and return home. They fight in the arena, go on the run from the Romans, are turned into slaves, fight wild wolves and much more. The odds seem insurmountable, but they must endure if they ever want to get back to their own time and family.

CONCLUSION

Sol Invictus is an action-packed adventure into ancient Roman times. Mixed with a little history and a lot of imagination this book has it all for a young reader. There are ancient sword and shield battles, arena fighting with wild animals, chases through rough mountainous country, the defeat of capture and slavery, and the joy of friendship and camaraderie. This book has plenty to keep a young reader enthralled.

My only criticism is the constant referral to the first book in this series. My OCD wanted me to stop reading this book and start at the beginning of the series. Sol Invictus is a strong book and can stand on its own without the constant reminder of the previous book. If you can get past this little inconvenience, then you will truly enjoy this story.

My final thoughts on this book are: it is a great read. It has a lot of action and suspense, there are times of joy and sorrow, but overall, I’m glad I read it. Now, I must go get the first book, so I can appease my OCD.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank Ben Gartner, NetGalley, and Crescent Vista Press for affording me the opportunity to review Sol Invictus.