The book I read to research this post was A Century Of Cycling by William Fotheringham which is a very good book that I bought at a car boot sale. This book has a foreword by Sean Kelly who was a past winner at the Tour de France. It is around 160 pages so is fairly long. This book was published in 2003 so some of the stuff is a bit dated. It mainly looks at the 3 main cycling events the Tour de France, the Tour of Italy and the Tour of Spain. There is also information on the World Championships and the various 1 day events. This book came out before the Lance Armstrong was discovered to be taking performance enhancing drugs. Apparently one of the great cyclists won the Tour de France 3 times around the years of World War 1 and would have won it more times had it not been suspended during the war years. Probably the greatest cyclists was Eddie Merck who won more than 250 races in his career. For most cyclists 20 is considered pretty good. He entered lots and lots of races and it is unlikely modern riders would enter anything like the amount he did. There have been some very colorful characters in these races over the years. For example in the case of Eddie Merck he rarely used to smile. There is another rider who had a 30 minute time penalty for not showing a broken cycle to a marshall but incredibly still won the stage despite that. In France, Spain and Italy when they run the races people are almost as passionate about the cycling as they are about soccer. It has been said a visiting dignitary wouldn’t attract the same crowds. The Tour de France started in 1903 and there are certain things repeated each year like it starts in Paris and there are stages in both the Pyrenees and the Alps. I did very much enjoy this book and do recommend it.


The book I read to research this post was The Great Depression and The New Deal A Very Short Introduction by Eric Rauchway which is a very good book that I bought from kindle. The great depression was something that happened on a worldwide scale although associate it with America. It’s roots begin with the Stockmarket Crash of 1929. There was also the widespread unemployment of the 30’s. President Hoover presided over much of it and was famous for doing just what was necessary. He had shown hiimself to be quite competent at dealing with the floods in Illinois before that. He also set up a national flood agency to co-ordinate efforts. President Roosevelt succeeded him as president. He established a social security program and because they were doing it after other countries had they learned a lot from their mistakes. Black people were largely excluded from the program. They also started large building projects to help curb unemployment. Many people who were working were asked to go part time and share their jobs with others. Most people didn’t mind this. Also a lot of organisations like religious organisations and town councils set up welfare programs for those in need. Many people also received help from their families but this was often limited because everyone seemed to be in a similar situation. There was also a portion of social welfare set aside for those too old or ill to work. Those in temporary jobs didn’t have to contribute towards the social security fund. Another thing that came out of this the government through the central bank lending money to other countries and governments. This helped stave off future recessions. I very much enjoyed this book which is around 200 pages so is fairly long and I do recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was Memoirs Of A Czech Girl by Jarmila Seccombe which is an excellent book that I downloaded for free from kindle. Jarmila was born in 1944 and this is an autobiography that also what happened in Czechoslovakia since then. Just before World War 2 Hitler invaded as in those days there was a sizable German speaking population. He devalued the Czech currency against the German one on purpose so germans could buy things cheap resulting in many shortages. When the Russians invaded at the end of World war 2 it is said the Americans could have liberated Prague 5 days earlier but chose not to. Her dad ran his own brick making company which was subsequently nationalized and he was deemed a bourgeous. They also assumed he had an affair with a lady he was seen with which was regarded as anti-communist in those days. Later when Jarmila applied to go to university it was touch and go whether she could because of her dad’s previous occupation. Many people in skilled jobs were forced to do manual work which was seen as educating them in communism. Luckily for Jarmila she did get to go to university and subsequently became a teacher. Eventually in 1968 in the aftermath of the soviet invasion having taken a job in Britain in a scheme by Butlins Holiday Camp, she decided to become a British citizen. Her family back home were persecuted by the authorities. This book is around 250 pages so is fairly long. I very much enjoyed this book and would recommend it. Jarmila did eventuially become a teacher in Britain.

The book I read to research this post was Organize Your Genealogy In Evernote In 10 Easy Steps by Lorine McGinnis Schulze which is a fairly good book that I bought from kindle. This book is around 15 pages so is very short and if it was free it would be alright but it is a bit of a cheek charging for it. Nonetheless it is an interesting subject and the topic probably only warrants a book of this length. The book is about storing your genealogy and family history information in Evernote which is a cloud site where the free option is adequate for most people. The first thing you must do is have a folder that will link to the other folders and you name this folder in speach marks so it is listed first. You can arrange the other folders in various ways. Often people co-ordinate it according to the surnames or different branches of the family. On the free option you can have up to 100 tags per item and 100,000 for the entire account. At least one of the tags should be a descriptive filetype like photo or jpeg etc. You want to use enough tags to search things easily. If you are labelling photos you will normally use surname, christian name then a description. I did quite enjoy reading this book but I’d suggest wait and see if they offer it as a free e-book rather than buying it.

The book I read to research this post was Citizen Sailors by Glyn Prysor which is a very good book that I bought from a car boot sale. This book uses eyewitness accounts to describe life in the Royal Navy during World war 2. Britain had a huge Navy and Merchant Navy largely on account of having the British Empire. The pride of the German was the Bismark which was bigger and faster than anything in the Royal Navy. It was a huge coup when she was sunk. The best ship in the Royal Navy at that time was HMS Hood. At one stage the British tried to hunt U-Boats with little sonar coverage and they would have an aircraft carrier with support from several battleships in doing this. This was extremely risky and a prominent ship HMS Royal Oak was sunk in one of these operations resulting in a rethink and they realised in particular they needed sonar coverage. They also realised aircraft carriers were unsuited to this task and sitting targets. When HMS Royal Oak was sunk rather embarassingly the U-Boat got away. Many U-Boats after attacking convoys would use the Denmark Straits between Iceland and Greenland to make their escape. Much of the battles with U-Boats happened in the North Sea. Changing the subject one sailor observed that workers in Britain but sailors would be shot if they did the same. Many sailors also felt their efforts didn’t seem to matter to the Americans who when the war seemed to be running the show. There was resentment that different countries armed forces got different rates of pay even though they were doing more or less the same job. Sailors who were wounded particularly by shrapnel got a pension but if someone got a psychiatric illness like shellshock it was limited to just 3 years. This is a very interesting book that I do recommend. The book is also around 530 pages so is a decent length.


The book I read to research this post was Haunted Birmingham by Arthur Smith et al which is an excellent book that I bought from a car boot sale. This book is about ghosts and apparitions in and around Birmingham in Britain along with some local history. I was impressed how well researched and written it was. It is only around 95 pages so is quite short. Apparently there were riots in the 18th century and the old council house which then was a prominently stately got broken into and looted. The rioters got into the basement and started drinking the booze that was stored there but failed to notice the rest of the house had been set on fire and perished. Some of them still haunt it. Apparently at New Street Railway Station there is what appears to be a man that boards the train to Crewe which goes from Platform 4 before disappearing mid-journey. They found out there was a case where someone commited suicide by poisoning himself and boarding the train to Crewe and died on the journey. When they built the ICC or International Convention Center they knew there was a graveyard on part of the site and 500 bodies had to be moved elsewhere but they discovered an additional approx 500 bodies in a pit thought to be victims of the plague around 1300. These were unrecorded but that was quite common because of the sheer number who died of the bubonic plague at that time. In the 19th Century there was a case where a man’s girlfriend left him and he was besotted with her. He stalked her for several years begging her to come back to him to no avail. In the end one night he got drunk and saw her and her friend in the White Hart Inn and shot both of them. His girlfriend survived but her friend died. He was executed and it is said he still walks along part of the Bull Ring Shopping Centre looking for his lost love. This is a fascinating book that I thoroughly enjoyed and do recommend. Apparently they do a guided tour of Haunted Birmingham that tourists can go on which sounds fascinating.


The book I read to research this post was Guide To WolframAlpha For Genealogy And Family History Research by Thomas MaCentree which is a very good book that I downloaded for free from kindle. This book is a nice niche subject namely the use of the WolframAlpha search engine in answering questions regarding your family. It likes questions in their natural form unlike many other search engines like Google which is quite helpful. The website address is and there is an iphone app for $4.99 available. It pulls information from many sources on the web not just its own database and there is a double arrow tool that displays the sources. You can ask general questions about your family history or find your relationship to someone and there is a = tool that displays it like a family tree. You can find someones age in years or even days and it works with different calendar systems. You can request the weather forecast for a certain day. This book is around 30 pages so is only short. Apparently Thomas had a job in the technology industry for 25 years prior to being made redundant and now works as an author. With all the books on things like Facebook Marketing it’s nice to see someone has used a bit of imagination and written a book on something different. I very much enjoyed this book and do recommend it.