Author Archive

The book I read to research this post was The Discography Of The Bismarck by Robert D Ballard which is a very good book that I bought from a car boot sale. This book is a companion piece to one on the Titanic discovered by the same team. It’s around 250 pages so a decent length. This ship was the pride of the German navy and sunk in a massive operation for the sinking of HMS Hood the Royal Navy flagship. A huge assortment of vessels were used at one stage it looked like the King Georde V was likely to run out of fuel but told to continue despite a chance it might need towing and be vulnerable to U-boat attack. Blitzkrieg was named after the german chancellor often called the Iron Duke and sunk in over 4,700 metres of water in the Atlantic. Finding it was a huge job involving searching over 100 square miles. It was a huge chase and fearsome battle to sink. The potential damage the Bismarck could do to a convoy was huge. Churchill ordered it siunk at all costs. This is an interesting book I do recommend. The Titanic was recovered in similar circumstances deep in the Atlantic. One shell went straight threw the Bismarck with waves coming through it although it was above the waterline. Another shell hit the torpedo stores and started a fire.

The book I read to research this post was The Coming War by Todd Crowell which is a very good book that I bought from kindle. This book is part of kindle singles which is a kind of budget mini-e-books. It is around 100 pages so is a reasonable length. This book is about the dispute between China and Japan over a group of islands that could lead to war that could involve the USA coming into it on the side of Japan. There was a treaty signed by Japan and China at the end of World War 2 that didn’t cover these islands due them being uninhabitated. There are rare earth deposits and valuable minerals that could be exploited however. There is also the issue that Japan committed atrocities here during World War 2 and there is animosity between the 2 nations and the issue that Japan hasn’t apologised sufficiently or depict the true horrors in history lessons for students. There has also been various disputes with both sides sending in various military craft into the region and the other side’s response to this. This is a topical, interesting book that I do recommend. Of course there is also the issue that the USA is expected to defend Japan regardless what the conflict is. It could easily escalate into a nuclear war with both sides having a nuclear capability and Taiwan nearby might also have various claims.

The book I read to research this post was Boss Of Bosses by Andris Kurins et al which is a very good book that I bought from a car boot sale. This book was published in 1991 and is around 350 pages so is a decent length. It is about the Godfather Paul Castellano who was sensationally bugged by the FBI and was taken to court having disparaged many of his fellow gangsters. He did die in prison but no one in the criminal underworld wanted to know him as a result. It does say in the more modern world it was getting more and more difficult for criminals to make money from the same rackets and law enforcement was getting more and more capable of catching them. Also in the old days many cosa nostra members had certain ethics like not peddling drugs and less ethical criminals were making more and more money and gaining power from these rackets. This is an interesting book that I recommend. It tells ameticulously researched sensational story. Before around 1957 cosa nostra didn’t really exist in name and many people saw organised crime as a large number of gangs not affiliated to each other in any way with often one gang wanting to take over the earners of another gang. The film The Godfather probably did a lot in informing people about the underworld although admitedly there have been many books and films on the topic in more recent years.

The book I read to research this post was The Stasi Files by Anthony Rees which is an excellent book that I bought from a car boot sale. The stasi is a secret service in what used to be East Germany although it is now defunct. It was 1 1/2 times bigger than the army and had huge influence of the lives of people routinely torturing and killing for the slightest infraction. They saw the western world as a threat and there was a good chance there style of government would be overthrown in favor of democracy. They aren’t like a western world secret service and are more like the gestapo. They were very good at running around Mi5 and only 2 agents were ever caught in Britain and that after a tip off from West German intel. They had an enbassy in London from 1973 when recognised as an official country until reunification in 1989. In the meantime a hotbed of espionage from there in that period. The embassy were mostly secret agents. It was like the spy who came in from the cold by john le carre although he had no idea how close he was. They regularly groomed potential agents in the west to help them. They saw groups like amnesty international as a threat. This is book is about 440 pages so a decent length. I enjoyed it and do recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was Rasputin The Last Word by Edvard Radzinsky which is a very good book that I bought from a car boot sale. It is around 670 pages so is a decent length. It also draws on a lot of sources with the collapse of communism in much of Eastern Europe unavailable to earlier books. It was published in 1988. Rasputin was a sort of cheif to the czarina of Russia and his bad advice is credited with helping to cause their overthrow. He did accurately predict a previous attempted revolution that was quelled. He used his position to offer various ladies favors in exchange for sex. He also saved the life of one of the czarinas children with what presumably a miracle. She should have seen thrrough him. Even the police and various members of the extended family had files on him and his activities. He was assassinated as part of overthrowing the royal family and despite being poisoned, shot several times and put in the frozen river seemed he would never die. The people thought this was a miracle and collected water from the river like holy water. Initailly when he came to court he was treated as a novelty peasant. They rarely saw those. He was crafty though and tried to make himself indispensible. This is an interesting book that I do recommend.

The book I read to research this post was The Nazis: A Warning From History by Laurence Rees which is a very good book that I bought from a car boot sale. I think Laurence has written a number of books on various aspects of World War 2. This is around 250 pages so is a decent length. It mostly examines how the Nazis came to power. It’s worth noting in 1919 they only got 2.6 % of the vote in the elections but in the following years the people became bitter following much hardship and their country have to pay war reparations. Hitler was also a great orator. When they first came to power people mostly couldn’t decide if they just a good thing with a few bad problems or simply a bad thing. Much of their atrocities were hidden from public view. Hitler though was more than aware of it. Many people think Auschwitz was bad but that was technically a work camp with a death camp added on. Other camps like Treblinka were far worse and practically everyone who was sent there was put to death immediately. Treblinka was dismantled before the end of the war to hide the horror of what they had done. When Hitler first came to power the Jews were made do degrading tasks like scrubbing the streets clean and people were free to beat them and abuse them in anyway they wanted to. Hitler didn’t know much about economics and handed control of that over to someone called Schacht. Hitler only worked a couple of hours a day. He wouldn’t turn up for work until around midday and much of the afternoon and evening watching films. I did enjoy this book and do recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was The Speckled People by Hugo Hamilton which is a very good book that I bought from a car boot sale. This is an autographhical book about a German growing up in 50’s Dublin. A lot of the Irish boys called him a kraut and accused him of genocide. Interestingly some of his relatives fought on opposing sides during the war. Growing up in Dublin was nice because it was like the seaside and a cosmopolitan city combined. His family very much embraced the Irish way of life although his dad sometimes thought some of the things popular in Germany should be popular in Ireland and tried to make and sell one item unsuccessfully. This book is around 290 pages so is a decent length. My mum who grew up in Ireland in the 40’s told me a lot of German orphans were sent to Ireland for safety on account of it being a neutral country. I also know if Hitler had defeated Britain he intended invading the rest of Europe including the neutral countries. I did enjoy this book and do recommend it. Apparently Hugo has written a sequel to this book and does have a nice distinctive style of writing.