Pen & Sword Books

Monday, August 29, 2022

Castles of Wales

Castles of Wales written by John Paul Davis and published by Pen & Sword

Books - £25 - Hardback - Pages 264

In 1277, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Gwynedd, met with Edward I of England in

Aberconwy to finalise a treaty that would change the fate of both nations. His hand

forced by Edward’s invasion earlier that year, Llywelyn’s acceptance of the terms

confirmed not only short-term peace but also that the rule of Wales would pass to

Edward on his death. To augment his rising dominance, the English king embarked

on a building project that saw the rise of some of the most recognisable fortresses

in Europe. Quite literally, an ‘Iron Ring’ of castles.

Even before the construction of Edward’s infamous ‘Iron Ring’, castles were by no means rare in Wales.Both before and simultaneous to William the Conqueror’s establishment of timber and stone fortresses in the south and borderlands, a process continued by many of his descendants, native structures also existed. Though often more palatial than protective, such constructions proved decisive to the ongoing wars and were often chosen as sites for future castles. Just as had been the case in England, the story of the castle crosses many centuries. Many began as Roman forts, whereas others date from more modern times. While many are now romantic ruins, others remain cherished family homes, if not hotels or museums.

By adopting an identical approach to that seen in Castles of England, the purpose of this book is to throw light on the stories behind them. For as long as there have been castles in Wales, there have been mysteries within their walls. Murders that remain unsolved, treasures unfound, prisoners left to rot in the darkest pits and valiant warriors whose heroic deeds have become a cherished part of the Welsh identity.

From blood-soaked heroes to long-lost legends, despotic pirates to wailing hags, Castles of Wales offers a fresh investigation into many of its fascinating fortresses. No country has more castles per square mile than Wales. Even today, there are more than 200 to be enjoyed. Inspired by such a rich tapestry of tales, this book provides an essential introduction to the nation many regard as ‘The Land of Castles’

I love books on castles for some reason, and I especially enjoyed the Castles of England, so I was really looking forward to this book Castles of Wales. As a good book on castles, it is full of vivid descriptions, histories and great long tales. Some of the tales I would be a little dubious of, but that’s what we love about old buildings and castles. But considering Wales has over 500 castles, it obviously couldn’t fit in everyone but certainly, it has all the popular and well-known ones. Living in my part of Wales, it certainly has all the popular castles but I must say I used to live near one castle and my boys used to spend all their time as kids playing in the castle but we’d never heard of the story attributed to that one. A really good book and an informative read.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

English Rebels and Revolutionaries

English Rebels and Revolutionaries written by Stephen Basdeo and

published by Pen & Sword Books - £25 - Hardback - Pages 288

Throughout history brave Englishmen and women have never been afraid to rise up

against their unjust rulers and demand their rights. Barely a century has gone by

without England being witness to a major uprising against the government of the day,

often resulting in a fundamental change to the constitution. This book is a collection

of biographies, written by experts in their field, of the lives and deeds of famous

English freedom fighters, rebels, and democrats who have had a major impact on

history. Featured chapters include the history of Wat Tyler’s Rebellion, when an army

of 50,000 people marched to London in 1381 to demand an end to serfdom and the

hated poll tax. Alongside Wat Tyler in this pantheon of English revolutionaries is Jack

Cade who in 1450 led an angry mob to London to protest against government

corruption. There are three chapters on various aspects of the English Civil War,

during which the English executed their king. Other rebel heroes featured include

Thomas Paine, the great intellectual of the American and French Revolutions;

Mary Wollstonecraft, author of The Rights of Woman; Henry Hunt, who, as well as

the Chartists after him, campaigned for universal suffrage; William Morris, the

visionary designer and socialist thinker; and finally the Suffragettes and Suffragists

who fought for women’s voting rights.

English Rebels and Revolutionaries throughout English history, the book is a collection separated into chapters written by individual experts and historians. The book is split into three sections, the Medieval Era, the English Revolution and the 18th Century, highlighting a number of individuals and events that happened in those times. I must admit I preferred the 18th Century section most as I had studied that at university, but the other two sections were just as good. It’s a very informative book and also very comprehensive in detail and facts. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and really enjoy these types of book. Highly recommended.

Captured at Singapore

Captured at Singapore written by Jill Robertson & Jan Slimming and

published by Pen & Sword Books - £25 - Hardback - Pages 296

What would it be like to leave your loved ones behind knowing you may never see

them again? Then depart on a ship in the dead of night heading for an unknown

destination and find yourself in the heat of a battle which concludes in enemy

conditions so terrible that your survival in captivity is still under threat?

Cultivated from a small, faded, address book secretly written by a young soldier in the Royal Army Service Corps, Captured at Singapore, is a POW story of adventure, courage resilience and luck.

In 1940, Londoner Stanley Moore became Driver T/170638 and trained for desert warfare along with many others in the British Army’s 18th Division. Their mission, they thought, was to fight against Hitler and fascism in the Middle East. But in a change of plan and destination, he and his fellow servicemen became sacrificial lambs on a continent much further from home.

Using extensive research and personal documents, the authors’ account - via their father’s small, faded, diary and his 1990 tape recording - tells of Stan’s journey and arrival in Keppel Harbour under shellfire; the horrific 17 day battle to defend the island, the Japanese Admonition and the harrowing forced labour conditions after capitulation.

Only a small percentage of the 85,000 British troops returned after the war. Captivity and years of trauma ultimately stole years of the young soldiers’ lives, which they were later ordered to forget by the British Government. The aim of this work is to provide information for future generations to understand how ordinary men died under horrific conditions of war, and how the lucky survived.

From the basic of sources of information evidence, the authors Robertson and Slimming have discovered the small diary and an interview from their late father Stanley Moore. Stanley, a driver in the 18th Division served out in the Far East fighting the Japanese, although it should be said the 18th were rather under-prepared in many aspects. 

Robertson and Slimming present a book and a story of their father showing the worry, hardship and harsh conditions their father was forced to endure under an oppressive regime. All this from the rarest of information, their father's diary and an interview. But they have presented an excellent story which really does show the suffering of the fellow soldiers and others around them. A really well-written book and works very well to make an excellent account of having to be a Japanese prisoner of war.

Friday, August 26, 2022

The Pirate Captain Ned Low His Life & Mysterious Fate

The Pirate Captain Ned Low His Life & Mysterious Fate written by

Dr Nicky Nielson and published by Pen & Sword Books - £20 - Hardback - Pages 224

Edward ‘Ned’ Low’s career in piracy began with a single gunshot. While working on

a logging ship in the Bay of Honduras the quick-tempered Ned was provoked by the

ship’s captain. He responded by grabbing a musket and inciting a mutiny. Then the

London-born sailor and a dozen of his crewmates held a council, stitched a black

flag and voted to make war against the whole world preying on ships from any nation,

flying any flag. Low’s name became synonymous with brutality and torture during the

1720s as he cut a swathe of destruction from the shores of Nova Scotia to the Azores,

the coast of Africa and throughout the Caribbean. Ned Low’s life was one of failed

redemption: a thief from childhood who briefly rose in the world after moving to America,

only to fall again lower and harder than before. He was feared even by his own crew,

and during his life on the wrong side of the law he became infamous for his extreme

violence, fatalistic behaviour, and became perhaps one of the best examples of why

pirates were classed in Admiralty Law as hostis humani generis: the common enemies

of all mankind.

This book follows the life of Captain Ned Low, a man from very humble beginnings, I must admit I had not heard of Captain Ned Low but thanks to Pen & Sword Books my knowledge of piracy has started to increase thanks to three books I’ve read recently on different pirates. This book is very interesting in that the author Dr Nicky Neilson has done a great job in mixing educated opinions and sources of information. We have a great story mixed in with great information and sources, of a man who seemed to attain the ability to be quite a prolific pirate. This has been a great book that I’ve fully enjoyed, here’s hoping for books about other pirates.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Yearbook of Astronomy 2023

Yearbook of Astronomy 2023 written by Brian Jones and published by

White Owl Books - £18.99 - Softcover - Pages 336

Maintaining its appealing style and presentation, the Yearbook of Astronomy 2023

contains comprehensive jargon-free monthly sky notes and an authoritative set of

sky charts to enable backyard astronomers and sky gazers everywhere to plan

their viewing of the year’s eclipses, comets, meteor showers and minor planets as

well as detailing the phases of the Moon and visibility and locations of the planets

throughout the year. To supplement all this is a variety of entertaining and informative

articles, a feature for which the Yearbook of Astronomy is known. Presenting the

reader with information on a wide range of topics, the articles for the 2023 edition

include, among others, The Incomparable Sir Patrick Moore; Shining a Light on

Jupiter’s Atmosphere; A Brief History of the End of the Universe; The Closing of

Historic Observatories; The Ability to Believe: Bizarre Worlds of Astronomical

Antireality; Optical SETI at Harvard; The Future of Spaceflight; and Male Family

Mentors for Women in Astronomy: Caroline and William Herschel.

This iconic publication made its first appearance way back in 1962, shortly after the dawning of the Space Age. Now into its seventh decade of production, the Yearbook continues to be essential reading for anyone lured and fascinated by the magic of astronomy and who has a desire to extend their knowledge of the Universe and the wonders it plays host to. The Yearbook of Astronomy is indeed an inspiration to amateur and professional astronomers alike, and warrants a place on the bookshelf of all stargazers and watchers of the Universe.

I must say from the beginning of this review, that I am not an expert on Astronomy so this is purely from an amateur viewpoint but someone who appreciates the awe and beauty of space. So I should start from the end of that comment, this book contains a number of beautiful pictures of various parts of space, informative maps, charts and diagrams. There is also a huge number of articles and information presented by quite a few astronomical experts and leaders, which also seem very interesting and intriguing. There is also a monthly guide for the amateur astronomy expert for both the northern and southern hemispheres. This is where the best thing about this book happens, it appeals to both the beginner and regular astronomer, it is so informative but not too technical. A really fantastic book for all those interested in Astronomy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Hitler’s Spy Against Churchill

Hitler’s Spy Against Churchill written by Jan-Willem van den Braak

and published by Pen & Sword Books - £25 - Hardback - Pages 312

From the summer of 1940 until May 1941, nearly twenty German Abwehr agents were

dropped by boat or parachute into England during what was known as Operation Lena,

all in preparation for Hitler's planned invasion of England. The invasion itself would never

happen and in fact, after the war, one of the Abwehr commanders declared that the

operation was doomed to failure.

There is no doubt that the operation did indeed become a fiasco, with almost all of the officers being arrested within a very brief period of time. Some of the men were executed, while others became double agents and spied for Britain against Germany. Only one man managed to stay at large for five months before eventually committing suicide: Jan Willem Ter Braak. Amazingly, his background and objectives had always remained unclear, and none of the other Lena spies had ever even heard of him. Even after the opening of the secret service files in England and the Netherlands over 50 years later, Jan Willem Ter Braak remained a 'mystery man', as the military historian Ladislas Farago famously described him.

In this book, the author – his near-namesake – examines the short and tragic life of Jan Willem Ter Braak for the first time. Using in-depth research, he investigates the possibility that Ter Braak was sent to kill the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and discovers why his fate has remained largely unknown for so long.

This is quite an intriguing little book that has all the elements of an espionage thriller,

with a bit of light fiasco thrown into the mix. This book follows the story mainly of one

man, Jan Willem Ter Braak, although he was part of a group of people trained to act

as agents or spies in order to start an invasion of Britain during the war. Ter Braak

was a rather evasive or reclusive character who nobody really got to know well. So

here lies the mystery around a man who nobody really knew or what he got up to.

This book I found was quite gripping and was a really quick but enjoyable read, and

I had never heard of this story before either. A book I really enjoyed and would most

certainly recommend it.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Dickens and Travel

Dickens and Travel written by Lucinda Hawksley and published by

Pen & Sword Books - £22 - Hardback - Pages 280

From childhood, Charles Dickens was fascinated by tales from other countries and other cultures, and he longed to see the world. In Dickens and Travel, Lucinda Hawksley looks at the journeys made by the author – who is also her great great great grandfather.

Although Dickens is usually perceived as a London author, in the 1840s he whisked his family away to live in Italy for year, and spent several months in Switzerland. Some years later he took up residence in Paris and Boulogne (where he lived in secret with his lover). In addition to travelling widely in Europe, he also toured America twice, performed onstage in Canada and, before his untimely death, was planning a tour of Australia.

Dickens and Travel enters into the world of the Victorian traveller and looks at how Charles Dickens’s journeys influenced his writing and enriched his life.

I found this to be a cracking little book, and that is from someone who doesn’t really like reading fiction but I found this one a little different. Maybe because it was about the writer and his travels rather than fiction. Although I may have only read one Dickens book I have always fancied reading more of his work. Written by I think a distant relative, Hawksley brings the book together well and makes an interesting read. We read all about Dickens's travels all around the world from Britain to Europe to America, he must have come across some brilliant characters and traditions. These probably influenced quite a bit of his writing without us even knowing. Although Dickens predominantly wrote about London life, reading about his travels for me has added an extra dimension to him and maybe I should start reading the odd Dickens novel. Great book, great writing.

Celtic Places & Placenames

Celtic Places & Placenames written by John Moss and published by

Pen & Sword Books - £25 - Hardback - Pages 304

‘Celtic Places’ are typified by some several hundred townships and villages whose

names still bear the imprint of their earliest Celtic roots, but the scope of the book is

not restricted to human settlements; it is also true of the many mountains and rivers

that they named, and to several thousand sites of standing stone monuments, Celtic

high crosses, henges, hill figures, funeral barrows and hillforts, which are all included

in the book.

What they all have in common is that they reflect the rich cultural heritage that was implicit in the names of places in the British Isles and Ireland as it existed before the Romans arrived.

This for me was always going to be a fascinating book, as someone who finds local history interesting this is an excellent book. I’m always one of those obsessive types who wherever he goes likes to learn about places, their origins and just what makes places be what they are. A lot of research and knowledge has gone into this book, just like the author’s previous book A History of English Placenames & Where they Came From. This book not only covers villages, towns and cities, it also seems to cover hills, areas and rivers to make it more than just about populated areas. I would say that if your into local history you would get a lot out of this book as I would highly recommend it.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Running The Gauntlet: Cargo LIners Under Fire 1939-1945

Running the Gauntlet: Cargo Liners Under Fire 1939-1945 written by

Bernard Edwards and published by Pen & Sword Books - £20 - Hardback - Pages 224

The British Merchant Navy dominated the world trade routes in the years leading up

to the Second World War. The star players of the fleet were the cargo liners, faster

and larger than the tramps and offering limited passenger accommodation. At the

outbreak of war, these cargo liners became crucial to the nation’s survival using

their speed and expertise to evade Nazi warships, raiders and U-boats.

Initially operating alone, but increasingly relying on Royal Navy-protected convoys, these key elements of the Merchant Navy plied the oceans and seas despite mounting losses, throughout the war years.

This superbly researched book describes numerous dramatic incidents. Some ended in disaster such as the New Zealand Shipping Company’s Turakina which was sunk after a running battle with the German raider Orion. Others were triumphs for example Operation Substance when six fast cargo liners succeeded against all the odds in reaching besieged Malta with vital supplies.

The common denominations in all these historic voyages were the courage and skilled seamanship of the Merchant Navy crews. As Running The Gauntlet vividly illustrates, their contribution to victory, too long overlooked, cannot be overstated.

You could say that the merchant navy who transported cargo around the seas and oceans are the unsung heroes of the war. This book is all about the various triumphs and disasters faced by the merchant navy who were responsible for feeding and supplying a nation such as the UK but also transporting cargo to smaller destinations. Without Royal Naval protection these ships were sitting targets for the enemy, whether it be from u-boats to aircraft, as these cargo ships had little or no defence. Even with the Royal Navy protection wasn’t an assurance for safe passage to the destination. The merchant navy was a lifeline for Britain bringing in food supplies to keep the nation going, and the bravery of these men was very high and gutsy.

The research in this book is great and the book was an easy compelling read, most one to recommend. In a way, these guys were just as brave as those fighting on the battlefields of WWII.

On the Eastern Front at Seventeen

On the Eastern Front at Seventeen written by Sergey Drobyazko and published

by Greenhill Books - £20 - Hardback - Pages 240

This is the true story of a young Red Army soldier during the Second World War,

told in his own words. Recruited into the army aged just seventeen, Sergei

Drobyazko’s introduction to battle is a violent one: forced to retreat from his home

city of Krasnodar after it is set ablaze by German forces. Later, Drobyazko is

captured by the Germans and placed in a concentration camp, where prisoners

are reduced to eating scavenged rubbish and bathing battle wounds in urine.

After a daring escape from the camp, he enters service once more, rising to the rank of sergeant in an infantry regiment. During this time, he witnesses the execution of deserters and the routine ill-treatment of German prisoners of war by vengeful Soviet troops. After surviving an attack that decimates his detachment, Drobyazko is almost court-martialled. Seriously wounded in 1944, he retrains as a radio operator, but he never returns to the war front.

In this gripping memoir, Drobyazko sets down his experience of the war as it unfolded around him. He claims to have consulted no historical sources and to have simply relied on his own memory, making this a deeply personal account. Translated into English for the first time, this unique account will be enjoyed by readers with an interest in military history.

These diaries/personal accounts from former Russian soldiers come up every so often and some are translated very well and still capture the imagination, and this is one of them. There does seem to be common threads that run through all of these books and that is how harsh the treatment and daily life is being a Russian soldier at most levels of command. It’s no wonder that so many of them try to desert or end up being captured because the training is almost negligent or non-existent. The equipment and conditions are usually very basic and there is certainly no respect or pride in the everyday soldiers, they’re almost treated like cannon fodder right from the start. Sergey was actually captured by the Germans, I’m not sure which situation would have been better really. I really enjoyed this book, one of the better personal accounts of Russian soldiers, well worth a read, and quite interesting.

POW on the Sumatra Railway

POW on the Sumatra Railway written by John Geoffrey Lee and published

by Pen & Sword Books - £20 - Hardback - Pages 224

John Geoffrey Lee (always known as Geoff) joined the RAF on his 20th birthday in

June 1941. He left Liverpool on a troop ship in December 1941, with no idea where

he was going. He eventually arrived in Java, where he was captured by the Japanese,

along with many others. During his time in captivity, he survived several camps in

Java, Ambon and Singapore and three hell ship journeys. After being washed ashore

in Sumatra, (as a ferry he was being transported on blew up), he was then recaptured

and suffered sheer hell as a slave on the Sumatra Railway. Enduring bouts of malaria,

beri beri, tropical ulcers and a starvation diet was bad enough, but this was exacerbated

by the searing heat and extreme cruelty meted out to the prisoners by the Japanese

and Korean guards. Geoff miraculously survived, weighing just 6 stone when he arrived

back in Liverpool in December 1945.

After his release he found he had difficulty in convincing people where he had been as no one had heard of the “Sumatra Railway”, only the other one, thousands of miles away in Burma. Letters to newspapers were returned as ‘Just another Burma Railway story’.

The Ministry of Defence, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and The Imperial War Museum had no records of POWs building a railway in Sumatra.

So began Geoff’s journey, his aim… to prove to the establishment what he already knew to be true. This is Geoff's story of his captivity, release, and subsequent efforts in achieving his aim.

POW on the Sumatra Railway follows the story of John Geoffrey Lee who as a young man joined the RAF, he was moved out to the Far East where unfortunately he was captured by the Japanese. Having been caught he was forced to experience a number of POW camps and the sad treatment and punishments that went on in these camps at the hands of the guards. John manages to survive his time being captured but I think he was released weighing just 7 stone. The story then follows his mission to prove he was where he was as it seems nobody seemed to know or have heard about the Sumatra Railway at the time, and then follows his journey to provide that information.

A really good read, very informative but I should say a very sad read too. The book was a quick read but I took a lot away from it and it really does give you an idea into what the men were suffering out in the Far East. I would definitely recommend this book to others.

Friday, August 19, 2022

A History of British Royal Jubilees

A History of British Royal Jubilees written by June Woolerton and

published by Pen & Sword Books - £15.99 - Softcover - Pages 224

As Queen Elizabeth II became the only British Monarch to rule for seventy years,

she marked the historic moment with a simple message, promising to continue

her life of service. But while her Jubilee day was quiet, it was merely the start of

a year-long celebration that would see millions around the world join the royal party.

Jubilees have become regular events in The Queen’s long reign but they are a relatively modern idea that only really took hold in the reign of King George III. Initially rejected by many as a frivolity, the first royal Jubilee became a huge success. It was a beguiling mix of pageantry, religious devotion and popular celebrations including street parties that have been copied in the Jubilees that followed.

Queen Victoria enjoyed two successful celebrations, including Britain's first Diamond Jubilee, which helped re-establish her popularity and consolidate the Monarchy. King George V turned to the joy of a Jubilee to re-invigorate his country as it recovered from the war and economic woes. In the reign of his granddaughter, Elizabeth II, Jubilees have been transformed into modern media events celebrated globally.

In A History of British Royal Jubilees, we trace the ever-evolving story of these popular celebrations, bringing each of them to life and looking at how they changed the image of royalty and the country itself. This is the story of how Jubilee celebrations have become vital to the success of Britain’s Royal Family and to its place at the heart of a nation.

I suppose with Elizabeth II being ever present in our lives we go from one jubilee celebration to the next, it’s not until you sit back and think, that you realise how long we have had Elizabeth II on the throne. I must admit I hadn’t thought about jubilee celebrations as being a modern event, I just assumed it had been going on for a while celebrating monarch’s milestones. This is an excellent book and talks about the celebration and its origins this year and previous ones dating back to the previous monarch and even Queen Victoria. My one little disappointment was that all the photos were black and white, I just expected them to be bright and colourful. But other than that, an interesting book and certainly one for the monarchists.

The Brunels Father & Son

The Brunels: Father & Son written by Anthony Burton and published by

Pen & Sword Books - £25 - Hardback - Pages 232

Isambard Kingdom Brunel has always been regarded as one of Britain’s great heroes

and an engineering genius. His father Marc Brunel has not received the same degree

of adulation, but this book will show just how important a part Marc played in his son’s

works and will also look at his own great achievements. Marc Brunel arrived in Britain

as a refugee from revolutionary France, after a short time working in America. He was

a pioneer of mass production technology when he invented machines for making blocks

for sailing ships. He had other inventions to his name, but his greatest achievement was

in constructing the very first tunnel under the Thames. Isambard spent his early years

working for and with his father, who not only encouraged him but throughout his career,

he was also able to offer practical help. The famous viaduct that carried the Great

Western Railway over the Thames at Maidenhead, for example, was based on an earlier

design of Marc’s. Isambard’s greatest achievements were in revolutionising the shipping

industry, where he was able to draw on his father’s experience when he served n the

navy. The book not only looks at the successes of two great engineers but also their

failures. Primarily, however, it is a celebration of two extraordinary men and their amazing


I remember reading last year in a book about the work and accomplishments of Isambard’s father Marc and thinking this fella seems interesting, I should read more about him. Then with life, I ended up forgetting and never got around to it until I got the chance to review this book of man and boy. Both were clearly intelligent men with minds needing to let that intelligence and skill out into the open. These two men are known for some of the world's important constructions or inventions from building the first tunnel under the Thames, a number of bridges, and technological advances in construction and were heavily influential in the development in the railways. This of course was during a period of the industrial revolution when Britain was concentrating on advancement in industry and society.

This was a fascinating read in which we learned how a family worked its way up from adversity to become people of influence and industrial leaders, and how Isambard was a real chip off the old block. The book was an interesting read and I would fully recommend it to others if you’re interested in the industrial world and how it came about in Britain.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Diary of a Wartime Naval Constructor

Diary of a Wartime Naval Constructor written by Sir Stanley Goodall published

by Seaforth Publishing - £25 - Hardback - Pages 272

One of the most significant warship designers of the twentieth century, Sir Stanley

Goodall rose through the ranks of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors to

become its head in 1936. The Corps was responsible for every aspect of the design

and construction of British warships, and its head, the Director of Naval Construction,

was the principal technical advisor to the Board of Admiralty. Although Goodall was

succeeded in this post in January 1944, he remained the Assistant Controller Warship

Production until October 1945 so was probably the single most influential figure in

British naval technical matters during the war years.

His private diary was never intended for publication – indeed it seems to have been a vehicle for venting some of his professional frustrations – so his opinions are candid and unrestrained. His criticisms of many in the Admiralty and the shipyards are enlightening, and taken as a whole the diary provides new and unique insights into a wartime construction programme that built nearly a thousand major warships and a myriad of landing craft and coastal forces.

Dr Ian Buxton, a well-known authority on British shipbuilding, has edited the entries covering Goodall’s war years, identifying the various personalities and ships referred to (sometimes cryptically), while setting out the context in a number of introductory essays. As an insider’s view of a complex process, this book offers every warship enthusiast much new material and a novel perspective on an apparently familiar subject.

This I have to say was a very interesting read about an aspect of working during the war we hear very little about. Written in a diary format which I think wasn’t written to be published has allowed the writer the chance, to be honest, and say it as he saw things. What we want from a diary is for the person to be honest as this gives the truth about how that person feels and some of the real pressure being felt in certain circumstances. It seems that there are a lot of frustrations trying to run, organise and make everything technical that needs doing, gets done exactly. A number of people, organisations and businesses come in for criticism, which in most cases is quite justified, the pressure of having to achieve certain things and targets seemed enormous. Now I really like diaries so I found this a cracking read, some might find this a little dry but if you want an all-round picture of how parts of a war are run, you’ll enjoy this book. I would happily recommend this book.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Style From the Nile Egyptomania in Fashion

Style From the Nile Egyptomania in Fashion written by Isabella Campagnol

and published by Pen & Sword Books - £25.00 - Hardback - Pages 248

In November 1922, the combined efforts of Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon

revealed to the world the 'wonderful things' buried in Tutankhamen’s tomb, Egypt

had already been a source for new trends in fashion for quite some time: in the

early 19th century, for example, Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign contributed to

the popularization of Kashmir shawls, while the inauguration of the Suez Canal

in 1869 stimulated 'Egyptianizing' trends in gowns, jewellery and textiles.

Post-1922, a veritable Egyptomania craze invested all artistic fields, quickly becoming a dominant Art Deco motif: “flapper-style” dresses were elaborately embroidered with beaded “Egyptian” patterns, evening bags were decorated with hieroglyphics, brooches nonchalantly sported ancient scarabs, and the sleek black bobs favoured by the admired icons of the time, Louise Brooks and Clara Bow, looked up to the fabled Egyptian beauty of Nefertiti and Cleopatra.

Egyptomania often resurfaces in 21st-century fashion as well: the awe-inspiring John Galliano’s designs for Dior Spring-Summer 2004 brought back pharaonic crowns in lieu of headdresses in a triumph of gold-encrusted creations, the ancient practice of mummification was referenced by Iris van Herpen’s Fall 2009 collection and Egyptian vibes resonated in Chanel's M├ętiers d’Art 2018/2019 collection.

Through the combination of rigorous fashion history research, intriguing images and well-informed, but approachable, writing, Style from the Nile offers a comprehensive overview of a fascinating phenomenon that, to this day, continues to have a mesmerizing appeal.

I must apologise because I don’t remember offering to review this book, I must have pressed the wrong button or something. But despite that, I thought it was something different for me so I read it, and what a surprising and very good read it was. The book basically shows how the Egyptian world, culture and fashion has influenced lots of this through time but especially fashion. I’ve always seen Egyptian fashion as very classical and when you look back through fashion you can see the various elements that come through or that are still influencing fashion today, primarily with the influence of Cleopatra. But it’s been very clever to read how it has come up through all these centuries, and in my opinion, it really showed out well in the 1920s to 30s.

I actually found his book very fascinating and I’ve learnt a lot from it. The research and effort that has gone into the writing and knowledge is impressive and really comes out in the text. The author Campagnol has done a great job. The book is also supported by some great photography and pictures. An excellent book, ideal for anyone interested in this part of the fashion world whether you are a beginner or an expert in the fashion world.

The Battle of Reichswald - Rhineland - February 1945

The Battle of the Reichswald Rhineland - February 1945 written by Tim Saunders and published by Pen & Sword Books - £22 - Hardback - Pag...