Review: Cruel Crossing – Edward Stourton

Back in late 2011 I heard a BBC Radio 4 programme in which Edward Stourton joined an annual walk, Le Chemin de la Liberté, across the Pyrennees which celebrates the Second World War route used by Allied soldiers, Jews, French resistance fighters, spies and many other groups of people who were trying to escape Nazi […]

Review: Diary of a Man in Despair – Friedrich Reck

It would be easy to let the title of this book put you off it: Diary of a Man in Despair, does not sound as though it’s going to be an entertaining read, but I share the view of Guy Savage of His Futile Preoccupations that this is an “extraordinary document”, a “unique testament” to […]

The ridiculous and the sublime

I’ve always enjoyed Peter James series of police procedural novels set in Brighton. Peter has a close relationship with the Sussex Police, even to the extent of sponsoring a police car. He has been able to go out with them on their investigations and his books have an air of authenticity about them. His latest […]

Review: Olivia Laing – To the River

To the River is an unusual book, combining local and literary history, a walking journal, meditations on the topic of rivers and water, and a hefty amount of biographical material about Virginia Woolf. The author, Olivia Laing, walked the Ouse Path during a time of great personal sadness, soon after she had broken up with […]

Review: Forgotten Land – Max Egremont

In Forgotten Land, Max Egremont describes his travels among the old lands of East Prussia, bringing to the task a deep knowledge of modern history and the proficiency of an experienced writer. The book is a mixture of history, travel-writing and personal interviews, a fascinating mix which builds up a compelling picture of these lands […]

Review: History of Britain and Ireland – Dorling Kindersley

Something different from me today. I tend to stick to fiction but this book, History of Britain and Ireland, was offered to me for review and I couldn’t resist it – mainly because although I know some history in depth, my general knowledge of British history is poor – I left the Tudors and Stuarts […]

Review: Story of a Secret State – Jan Karski

Note – since publishing this review, I have been sent some interesting personal reminiscences of Jan Karski which I have published in two parts here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

I have recently been engrossed in a first person account of the Polish resistance movement in World War II Story of a Secret […]

Review: The Valley of Heaven and Hell – Susie Kelly

The Amazon Kindle has provided a versatile publishing platform for people who want an alternative to getting their books published through the usual route of finding a “paper” publisher and persuading them to invest in their life’s work. Some of these Kindle-only books have done incredibly well. perhaps not least because they provide very economical […]

Review: The Russian Court at Sea – Frances Welch

It is well known that the Romanov dynasty in Imperial Russia came to a sad end. After the February revolution of 1917, Tsar Nicholas II and his family were placed under house arrest and in July 1918, the Bolshevik authorities shot Nicholas and his immediate family and servants in the cellar of the house they […]

Review: The Hare with Amber Eyes – Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal is a renowned ceramic artist who’s work has been exhibited in Tate Britain and the Victoria and Albert Museum. He can trace his ancestry back to a wealthy Ukrainian family who made their fortune from grain exporting and later banking, and who had spacious and luxurious homes in Vienna, Tokyo and Paris. […]