I am reviewing the autobiography Battleworn by Chantelle Taylor which is a very good book that I bought from  kindle. This is the story of a combat field medic in Afghanistan in Kandahar province who was a sergaent. She had joined the army at 22 and is 26 at the time of most of this story. When the insurgent war started in Afghanistan which had been going on when the Russians invaded but they had long left the British initially sent 4,000. A realistic amount to do the job would have been 30,000. Even 2 years later the British only had 8,000 and it was left for the Americans to prop them up. A lot of the problem was that Britain had a left wing government that was preoccupied with making cuts to the armed forces. By contrast they had sent 40,000 troops to Iraq to invade that country. The book is loaded with lots of fascinating facts as with a lot of these wartime memoirs like someone is caught in a IUD explosion on average they have injuries and not all of them may be visible. At least the injuries you can see you can try and treat. More often than not when someone dies it is as a result of these invisible wounds. Chantelle was based in an area where the Taliban controlled a small town and they were trying to wrestle it back with a nearby base where they were stationed. It was a very dangerous area where they always had to make sure no military hardware ever fell into enemy hands. If something like a vehicle broke down and they couldn’t repair it, it had to be blown up with explosives or failing that they had call in an airstrike. Chantelle went on to become an instructor and also served in Baghdad looking after a dignitary. I very much enjoyed reading this book which is around 200 pages and I do recommend it.

 

The book I read to research this post was Troublesome Young Men by Lynne Olson which is a very good book that I bought from a car boot sale. This book is about how Neville Chamberlain lost the Prime Minister’s post following the invasion of Norway and the resulting debacle which resulted in Winston Churchill becoming the leader. When Hitler invaded the Rhineland and Sudetenland Chamberlain thought he had made a deal with the Germans limiting there expansion policies. Of course Germany went on to invade Czechoslavakia, a democracy and the only one in East Europe. Chamberlain made a deal with Poland which seemed to be surrounded by this empire on 3 sides that if threatened Britain would come to their aid. Russia was assumed to be a Polish ally but Hitler bought them by offering them territory. Although britain went to war against Germany she was poorly equiped. Germany had a bigger army and air force and was spending more and more equiping these. The Royal Navy had more ships though. The subject of Churchill who had successfully been Minister For Munitions in World War 1 was broached about him becoming Prime Minister but he felt obliged not to openly try and get rid of Chamberlain. If he was removed he would take the job though. Chamberlain was Tory and they had a large majority and Churchill was Liberal but would change to Tory. In the Norwegian Invasion’s response which had been grossly mismanaged the troops barely had anything to defend themselves. He deposing was considered by him to be playing into the German’s hands and traitorous. Gradually the rogue MP’s got more and more support and on the day of the no confidence vote in Chamberlain got servicemen to speak to the Parliament and tell them how hopeless things were. Chamberlain saw war as a bluff which he could twist Hitler’s arm. Churchill thought there might be a chance he could get a job in the cabinet under Chamberlain so was carefull not to upset him too much. Churchill would go on to become an institution. There were various resignations that triggered the no confidence vote most notably that of Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden who eventually would go on to become Prime Minister himself. He was extremely popular particularly with the public. I did thoroughly enjoy this book and it is a compelling story. I highly recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was In The Shadow Of Saddam by Mikhael Ramadan which is an excellent book that I bought from a car boot sale. Mikhael following Saddam becoming ruler of Iraq became his double. He had to have some plastic surgery to do the job and out of his several doubles was the first to be appointed and regarded as the most alike. He had several attempts made on his life and currently lives in political asylum in America. Udai, Saddam;s psychopathic was jealous of him and had his family murdered. He also tried to have him posted on the front line visiting troops which Saddam considered too dangerous. This book which was published in 1999 lifts the lid on life in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War and the Kuwait invasion. Frequently people disappeared and everyone knew they had been interogated, tortured and murdered. Anyone who investigated it risked the same fate. Often the people who faced this although accused of being traitors had in fact been victims of jealously by senior members of the B’ath Party. Even members of the B’ath Party weren’t safe especially when there were purges. Mikhael was kidnapped by Kurdish rebels who demanded a $1 million ransom which was never paid. He subsequently escaped during an allied air strike. He ended up in an allied hospital that was subsequently overrun by the Iraqi Army and his girlfriend at that time was raped and tortured. He himself was sent to Baghad to be interogated and tortured. Apparently Saddam cared very much about how he was portrayed in Western media. He had staff who trauled the newspapers and magazines for mentions of him. He would often go into a rage especially when portrayed innacurrately. This book is around 320 pages. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was There And Back Again by Sean Astin et al which is a very good book that I bought from a car boot sale. This is an autobiographical work about the 18 months Sean spent working on the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Lots of it is like interesting gossip. Most of it was filmed in New Zealand and apparently Tolkein describes the landscape in a lot of detail. The budget for the 3 films was $270 million. Many film makers thought these books despite being classics were unfilmable. The 3rd installment The Return Of The King won 11 Oscars equalling the record set by Titanic and Ben Hur. Apparently it’s the most successful trilogy ever and each of the films are in the all time top 10. Sean had to gain a lot of weight for the part and played Frodo’s companion. He had previously been in films like the Goonies and Rudy so they knew he could act. Apparently Elijah Wood one of his co stars loves music and would play it incessantly in the dressing rooms much to Sir Ian McKellans annoyance. He moved to another dressing room to get away from it. They all knew whilst filming that they were making something special especially with a great director like Peter Jackson. Despite the huge budget every department in the making of this film struggled to complete it with there allocated amount from the budget. All 3 films were filmed in one go and agony for Sean having to wait a considerable amount of time to see the final result. Nowadays production time on films can take 18 months upwards.I did enjoy this book and do recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was East Timor by Bruce Vaughn et al which is a very good book that I bought from kindle. I think this is a report that was commissioned that was subsequently published. It is only around 30 pages but is very interesting. East Timor was a Portugese Colony then became independent before Indonesia invaded in 1975 before achieving independence in 2002. The UN ordered a referendum in 1999 and overwhelming the people voted for independence. There then followed a guerilla campaign for the results to be honored. East Timor only has a population of around 1 million and has a capital at Dilli. It has got extensive petrochemical resources in the nearby sea that is gradually being developed. Considering its problems it does well to function as a democracy. They also allow independent tv and radio. There have been a lot of massacres by insurgents although that has mostly been sorted. The UN has a peacekeeping force here and there is also an Indonesia unit especially set up for this purpose to try and keep peace. Australia has the biggest contingent in the UN force. China has sold them 2 patrol boats and 2 secondhand petrochemical power stations. They came under criticism for the latter because many thought they didn’t need the power stations and they were a particularly bad design for the environment. The Chinese have also done some high profile building projects like buiding governments and much of Dilli the capital. The current government is a coalition. Many think the pertrators of the various atrocities will never be tried. I did really enjoy reading this book and would recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was The Huddled Masses by Katy Long which is a very good book that I bought from kindle. This book is part of Kindle Singles where people write relatively short works often on niche subjects at a low price. It is around 120 pages so is a fair length. The book is about immigration which 25 % of people in Britain think will be the biggest issue at the next election which I think is quite soon. In Britain there has always issues of one kind or another regarding immigration. It is worth remembering a substantial number of British citizens live abroad permanently. The biggest problem in Britain and quite a few other EU countries has been the uncontrolled migrations between member states. In Britain there are thought to be around 150,000 migrants which isn’t that big considering it has a population of 60 million. In the 90’s the number of immigrants per year was in the tens of thousands which the government is eager to get it back to those kinds of levels. Certainly in Britain our newspapers tend to sensationalize this issue to sell more papers. One thing the government has done to try and limit migration with in the EU is to make it more difficult to claim benefits. They have to have earned at least £150 per week for 3 months prior to claiming any benefits. In Germany they deport migrants if they don’t find work with in 3 months. For migrants coming in from outside the EU to Britain they have to be filling a skilled job that can’t be done by a native person. Only 4 % of immigrants in Britain are political refugees. Countries like Chad and Malawi which are quite poor accept far larger amounts of refugees. In Britain though there is a huge problem with human trafficking and migrants working illegally. Another problem especially in the inner cities is housing which is in short supply anyway. I did very much enjoy this book. It’s well researched and I would recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was On Vulnerable Ground by Human Rights Watch which is an excellent book that I bought from kindle. The book is around 100 pages so is a fair length. This book is quite topical covering the area in Northern Iraq called Nineveh which of enmeshed currently in the invasion by ISIS. In the wake of the invasion of Iraq by America and coalition forces elections were held. The Kurds had helped in the invasion and were eager to vote. The Sunni’s on the other hand mostly boycotted it. This resulted in the Kurds having an electoral majority even though they were a minority. Many of these Arabs who weren’t represented properly left the area and became refugees. The area became a semi-autonomous region with in Iraq. There are also minorities of Yazidis and Christians in this region but they are quite small. This area has very rich oil reserves and is the purest crude in Iraq.Iraq is eager to keep it as there country. There have been massacres that haven’t been properly investigated by the authorities. In fact these militias are supplied with weapons and funded by the authorities. Supposedly they are meant to keep law and order but have their own agenda. The christians and Yazidis only had one seat each on the government. I did very much enjoy reading this book and would definitely recommend it.