Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The book I read to research this post was The Second Messiah by Christopher Knight et al which is a very good book which I bought from Amazon. This book is similar to the kinds of books Andrew Collins & Graham Philips write in that they have taken the information in the bible and looked at what the evidence suggests. The book mainly focuses on the Turin Shroud & Jesus. According to this book Jesus never claimed to be God and the idea of son of god is a mystical one applying to everyone else as well. Jesus founded a church called the Jerusalem and when he died his successor was James both one of the apostles and his brother. Peter was a bit of a heretic who taught Jesus was God and what he taught appealed to the Greeks & Romans. When Jesus died he wasn’t very popular but when James was put to death there was a massive uprising which ended in the Romans putting to death and expelling the Jews from Israel. The Turin Shroud according to the authors contains the image of a crusader put to death possibly by the Saracens. The shroud didn’t come into contact with the poor man but apparently it contains predominantly lactic acid which came into contact with oxygen and reacted to form the image. It goes into how it was created but it’s quite complex. I’m not sure if I agree with everything in the book but it is definitely an interesting read. I do enjoy reading these kind of books.

The book I read to research this post was Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre which is an excellent World War 2 history book which I bought from a local secondhand bookstore. This book was published in 2010 and the story although true is absolutely amazing. It’s about a secret mission undertaken by the British security services during World War 2 and one man who was involved in it kept information about and wrote the manuscript for a book which never got published but now many years later Ben was able to do a book. The story is prior to the invasion of Italy in 1942 the British obtained the body of a Welsh vagrant and dressed him in military clothes and put an attache case with him that washed up on the Spanish shore so it looked like he had drowned. His body had fake papers and in the case was fake documents alledging the allies would invade Greece & Sardinia prior to invading Italy when in fact they would land at Sicilly. This ruse saved many lives as although there was fierce fighting the allied casualties were relatively light. This Welsh vagrant had ingested rat poison in scraps of food that had been put out for rats and this made it difficult to find a cause of death. Somebody from the security services approached a coroner for a potential corpse and was told in many cases there is no corpse depending on the cause of death and also often the next of kin don’t question things too much if not close to the deceased person. The body was delivered to the site by submarine and allowed to wash up on the coast off the town of Huelva in Spain where a fisherman found it. The prepations were meticulous with even someone stopping in a hotel in Wales posing as his father and signing the guestbook in case they checked that. It was apparently no coincidence that many thriller writers like Ian Fleming & John le Carre worked for the security services during World War 2 as they had to come up with elaborate schemes to put one over on the Nazis that required imagination. I really enjoyed reading this book and it’s a fantastic story.

The book I read to research this post was Rail Centres Nottingham by Michael A Vanns which is an excellent book which I bought from Amazon. The Rail Centres series looks at traditional railway towns and their history but a couple of notable exceptions from the series are Glasgow & Birmingham which of course were huge railway towns. Anyway Nottingham is a worthy inclusion. One of the earliest examples of a horse drawn railway track with wooden sleepers was built in 1604 near Nottingham at a coal mine but strangely the idea didn’t catch on at least not in this area. The Erewash Canal was built for transporting coal & the River Trent was enlarged to take traffic also feeder canals were built including the Nottingham. When railways started to catch on in Nottingham they did in a big way with 3 different companies operating parallel lines to Mansfield. Nottingham of course occupied a crucial position between London, the North East & Edinburgh. Of course trams around the time of World War took much passenger from the railways & later road transport was better for transporting almost anything. There were big factories like Raleigh Cycles although much of their goods went by road. The railways had a reputation at that time for being costly, unreliable and goods tended to get damaged in transit. Of course nowadays things have improved greatly. There were 2 huge stations in Nottingham the Victoria & Midland and various freight yards like the one at Toton. More recently they reopened the line to Melton Mowbray as the railways began to get more popular again. I really enjoyed reading this book and I think it’s a shame this series isn’t available in ebook form.

The book I read to research this post was Locomotives Of The North Eastern Railway by OS Nock which is a very good book which I bought from a local secondhand bookstore. This book focuses on the steam trains used by the North Eastern Railway Company but has quite a lot of general information about the company. The company was formed by amalgamating the 4 big railway companies in North East England in 1865. The Carlisle to Newcastle line & the Stockton to Darlington line still enjoyed a lot of autonomy in this period. The latter in particular was very well run and had a huge number of locomotives at its disposal. George Hudson who was a huge railway magnate in the York area had had the foresight to merge many of the companies into one large company prior to this. One benefit was of course that it enabled passengers to make longer continous journeys although quite a few companies had agreement to let certain trains do this. There were 4 major construction depots in the North East and each did trains in a slightly different livery at this time. Of course in 1923 the railway companies were merged again and with this company it became the London North Eastern Railway Company. The NER company transported more minerals than any other company in Britain. Much coal had to be transported and there was a major steelworks at Consett which had to be kept supplied. I really enjoyed reading this book and I think that OS Nock really knew his stuff about the railways. This book is probably well out of print but is worth reading.

The book I read to research this post was Bringing Down The Krays by Bobby Teale which is an excellent book which I bought from a local secondhand bookstore. This is the story of how the author helped the police prosecute The Kray twins by informing and his subsequent exile in America which only ended when both twins had died. His life was in danger and those of his family if he stayed in Britain. The story is told from the perspective of his autobiography and how the Krays demanded protection money from businesses and then took them over. He was good friends with the Krays but they tried to frame him for a murder they had committed although admittedly he let them stop in his house until things cooled off. One of the Krays even tried to take his brother who was just a child in the bedroom for sex and he had to threaten to shoot him to stop him from doing so. Whilst he was in prison Charlie Kray who was their brother raped his wife and used to regularly do that to any prisoner’s wives. He used to take some money around for them to try and get them off their guard and in the hope they would invite him inside and then he would do it. This is a very disturbing book which depicts the Krays as being absolutely despicable. This is an interesting read but you need a strong stomach, Apparently if the police hadn’t got their breakthrough with Bobby turning informant it would have probably taken years before they got another opportunity to prosecute them. I think these people who praise the Krays and there are quite a few should be shot. I think the Krays were active in the East End of London in the 60′s.

The book I read to research this post was Stalingrad by Antony Beevor which is one of the best books I’ve ever read and which I bought from kindle. I read this book initially and re read it so I could do a post on it. This book has won loads of awards and when it was released some years ago was no.1 on the best sellers book chart for non fiction chart in Britain for ages. Antony has written quite a lot of books about various aspects of World War 2 and clearly is a historian who specializes in it. Stalingrad was one of the turning points of the war and was a massive defeat for the German Army who were trying to invade Russia. General Zhukov was the Russian General who masterminded it. The Russians suffered terrible losses yet at the time of this battle were producing far more armaments in their factories mostly in Siberia, than the Germans could possibly produce. They parked loads of tanks close to the German positions in the dead of night and camouflaged them so the Germans wouldn’t realize what was going on. The Germans were surrounded by these tanks and such was their belief that the Russian’s couldn’t match the might of their army when they radio’d for reinforcements many of the tanks inside Stalingrad city took little notice. If all the available tanks had gone in one direction it could have smashed a way through the Russian Army and the Germans would have probably won. This is a fantastic book which was helped by the records that became available from various sources in Russia and Germany. It depicts the horror of the war brilliantly. Of course it was a real treat reading it.

The book I read to research this post was Return From Dunkirk by Peter Tatlow which is a very good book which I bought from a local bookstore. This book is about the evacuation of troops at Dunkirk in World War 2 but looks at the massive operation of moving the men by train once they got to Britain in what was called Operation Dynamo. Not many if any books have looked at it from this perspective. Peter’s father was a 2nd lieutenant in the army and was one of the soldiers evacuated and this gave him an interest in thiis. Many of the soldiers were French hence French speakers were highly sought to help as translators. Hundreds of thousands of troops had to be transported mostly from Folkstone & Dover and many were put up in the many holiday chalets in places like Weymouth & Brighton. Two railway companies worked out of Dover hence there were 2 stations near the port. Much of their equipment had to be left behind at Dunkirk and it is amazing how quickly the war effort recovered from this. Many nations in a similiar situation would have probably lost the war. They did use a ticket system but rumors ran amock these were going to run out and many soldiers would be stranded hence the soldiers were eager to get a ticket. All the railway companies helped out by sending trains. This is a very moving book and is a good read and I really enjoyed it.

The book I read to research this post was Islamic History A Very Short Introduction by Adam J Silverstein which is a very good book which I bought from kindle. This book looks at the history of Islam from its origins to the present day and is part of a series where they get an expert to write about a subject in around 150 pages. I have read and reviewed quite a lot of these books and they’re pretty good. Islam originated in the 7th century when Mohammed had visions of God and the way Islam spread is little short of phenomenal. If the Muslims had won the Battle of Poitiers the whole of Europe would have been Muslim nowadays. There are many different sects in Islam. The 2 main ones are Sunni & Shi’ite. They split over Mohammed’s successor the one group followed one and the other group followed the other. Mohammed didn’t designate who his successor should be. Another sect is the sufism group who believe you have a spiritual relationship with God and are famous for their sufi dancing which is a form of dancing that helps them achieve enlightenment in much the same way Buddhists do through meditation. The sect is particularly popular in Sub Saharan Africa & South & East Asia. In times past European countries traded with many of these countries, at first it was Portugal & Holland & later Britain & France. I think this trading tended to be a little one sided like the trading with America. In Morocco nowadays they have the biggest mosque in the world with the tallest minaret at around 700 ft. In London they are building the biggest mosque in Europe near the site of the 2012 Olympic Games. They also reckon in the near future there that 1/3 of the world’s population will be Muslims.I really enjoyed reading this book and it’s very interesting.

The book I read to research this post The History Of The First Locomotives In America which is an excellent book which I bought from kindle. I really enjoyed reading this book and it was apparently originally published in 1874 and the author worked on the American Railroads from the 1830′s onwards. It covers the whole gamut of the history of steam not just in America but does concentrate mostly on that subject. The Ancient Greeks knew that steam power was a potential driving force for machinery although they had no material that would withstand the temperature without warping. The earliest iron rails were used at a colliery near Newcastle Upon Tyne in the 1670′s. Of course the Rocket on the Stockton to Darlington became the first steam locomotive and was also the first to haul passengers. America was the perfect place for railroads with its huge expanses although there was much competition from canals at least initially. The first railroad in America was a 3 mile long line in Massachusetts that linked up a colliery and perhaps unusually had granite sleepers. The American often used some form of stone sleepers and found in a lot of cases they tended to crumble easily due to vibration so they came up with the idea of having a layer of lead in between the iron rail and the sleepers. The first steam locomotive used in America was the Stourbridge Lion which was anything but a success. It was mostly left idle and the boiler was later used in a foundry where it worked quite well. The first steam locomotive built in America was built in a foundry in Anton, Pennsylvannia. Certainly on kindle there isn’t many books on this kind of subject and the book was quite cheap so I think it’s a bargain. It’s also around 200 pages so is a reasonable length.

The book I read to research this post was The Secret Life Of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay which is an excellent book which I bought from kindle. In the Second World War, Bletchley Park was responsible for breaking the German secret codes and monitoring enemy transmissions pretty much similiar to what G C H Q do near Cheltenham nowadays. A lot of their work was deciphering messages sent on enigma machines which they did a brilliant job at which undoubtedly shortened the war. As far back as 1932 a team of Polish cryptographers broke the coding on the earlier version of the enigma machine used at that time by the Germans. It’s worth noting until the continental countries were overun by German forces in World War 2 many did provide invaluable assistance in fighting the Nazi’s. Later on Bletchley Park was responsible for breaking the code on a more complicated and updated enigma machine. One weakness the German messages had was they had to tell the recipient want key the message was sent in and was also sent twice so making it easy to spot. Once they captured some enigma machines and worked the code that told what key the message was in it was simple enough to read the message. The German’s did update the enigma machine later in the war for soldiers on the Eastern Front & U-Boats and this took a while to break but was successfully done. Luckily the Germans had no idea that there enigma codes had been broken and this led to a dilemma of should the allies make it obvious they could translate German codes if it saved lives.Nowadays Bletchley Park is a museum dedicated to the people who worked here. Also recently they had lottery funding so a lot of improvements have been made.