What are you reading at the moment?

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by Gage, Mar 12, 2006.

  1. pierce09

    pierce09 Member

    I've got Mayne's book on the shelf to read. I'm hoping between these two, they'll provide plenty of detail to 39 Sqn ops as the history docs for the Sqn are pretty thin during this period.
    Orwell1984 likes this.
  2. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

    Sadly the casualty levels at the period those two were flying were truly shocking, so I’m not sure there were many eyewitnesses left.
  3. Waddell

    Waddell Well-Known Member

    Bomber Command.JPG

    I found a First edition of Max Hastings Bomber Command a while back and recently read it to gain more of an understanding of Bomber Command’s role during the war. I haven’t read any of Hastings books before but am aware of his reputation in the UK and I have to say that this is a very well written book that I learnt quite a lot from.

    In common with other newspaper journalists Hastings does a good job weaving individual squadrons and their actions into the overall story, but he also explains the politics behind the scenes which so involved Bomber commands role throughout the war. My edition has an image of Churchill on the cover watching a Stirling take off, which is appropriate as the book well covers the relationship between Churchill and Harris. My observations are that Churchill used Harris effectively when he needed him (early in the war when bombing German cities was the main way Britain could effectively hit directly at the enemy and take some pressure off the Russians) and pretty much walked away from him at the end of the war after the invasion had taken place and the area bombing campaigns weren’t required to the extent they were before D-Day.

    Hastings is very sympathetic to Harris’s cause and to the men in bomber command who flew the missions and this shows through clearly in the book. But Hastings explains clearly Harris’s faults, in particular his stubbornness, which led to his isolation at the end of the war. Much like Churchill himself, Harris was the right man for the time but not for the future.

    The book was first published in 1979 and there well may be more contemporary books on the subject, but as a first read on a large subject I would recommend this book.

    Harry Ree, stolpi and Charley Fortnum like this.
  4. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I read it a couple of years ago--my first 'history' book on Bomber Command after starting out on a few memoirs:

    Jack Currie's Lancaster Target (brilliant)
    Don Charlwood's No Moon Tonight, (haunting)
    Guy Gibson's Enemy Coast Ahead (flawed but interesting).

    I felt much like you that Hastings' book was undeniably well written and sympathetic to the men of Bomber Command, who had a bloody awful job to do and a good chance of not making it home, but at the same time he didn't shy from showing what happened once the bombs struck their targets. The descriptions of the firestorms, the families buried alive and how the victims perished with the oxygen sucked from their shelters was the equal of the gruesome ends some of the air crews met. The section on Darmstadt was truly awful but compulsively readable.

    This is the stuff of nightmares (Click to read):

    Screenshot 2019-08-20 at 23.52.06.png
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  5. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    In the Trade of War, by James R. Allan.

    Great little book about the 2nd Green Towards in the Arakan region of Burma.
  6. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

    Finished reading the attached by the only Icelandic pilot to serve in the RAF. A real gem that doesn’t hide from realities such as acknowledging his poor marksmanship, visiting brothels and the inevitable signs that he was starting to suffer from combat stress. No bravado but still plenty of combat info and obvious pride when he was awarded a medal. A nice balance.

    Attached Files:

  7. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    So far it's been superb.

    Orwell1984 and Chris C like this.
  8. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian layabout

    Finished A Cold-Blooded Business by Haarer about bomb disposal for the RAF during the war. A really interesting read, I thought. The author was very much helped by a piece of advice by his engineer father (about supporting digging with proper telescoping sets of boards). Eventually he got promoted to an administrative position, whereupon the job and the book are somewhat less interesting. I was a little perplexed by the last part which was about the bomb disposal people overseas, fair enough, but it got down to talking about standard ration packs which didn't really seem on topic.
    Orwell1984 likes this.
  9. Reid

    Reid Historian & Architectural Photographer

    Studying at uni and this trimester sees me undertaking a unit on Nazi Germany & the Holocaust. I landed this oldie from one of our universities here in Adelaide - has made for interesting (yet horrifying) reading so far with a plethora of info for my final essay.

    Reading this makes me so thankful once again, that the Allies were victorious - to all who served and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice: Thank You :poppy: :salut:

  10. Waddell

    Waddell Well-Known Member

    If you can't take a joke.JPG

    ‘If you can’t take a joke’ by Ron Read.

    This is an interesting book I came by during some research I have been working on. Group Captain D.E.L Wilson (RAAF) has a local connection and this book is listed among the references that someone has put together for a Wikipedia article about Wilson’s life. In fact the reference is to the Martin Bowman book ‘Flying into the flames of Hell’ which has an edited section of this book within its content. My interest was sparked by Read’s story of how Wilson had recently arrived at their station and had proved unpopular and unsympathetic towards them. They had suggested that Wilson should go on an operation with one of the crews to experience firsthand the difficulties they were encountering and maybe he would get the ‘chop’. They didn’t think he would go for the idea and surprisingly Wilson accepted and his Halifax was shot down during its return trip with Wilson going into captivity (only weeks after his arrival in the UK).

    So back to the book. This book was self-published book by the author in 1995, although in the acknowledgements he mentions that he was looking for a publisher. Unfortunately although it states that the book was edited and proof read there are an annoying number of spelling mistakes, typos and layout problems which tend to distract while reading. It also would benefit from a good edit as there are some sections that drift too long and I’m not sure I needed to know details of every girl the author met up with during the war.

    If you persevere through those distractions this is actually a very good account of bomber operations as experienced by a Halifax pilot who later flew Lancasters as a flight trainer. Also of note is the fact that Read never seemed to doubt his abilities or lose his confidence and understood what was required to be a good leader and later flight trainer.

    Read goes through his life from childhood and explains his desire to fly as a youngster and the problems he had enlisting as he was working in a reserved occupation early in the war. He succeeded in enlisting in the RAF and was selected as pilot material undergoing training in Canada. Although he put bombers last on his wish list he ended up being posted to 78 Squadron flying Halifaxes after he returned to England in 1942. He explains the problems with Halifaxes and how he grew to like them out of necessity and acceptance of the situation (‘If you can’t take a joke you shouldn’t have joined the RAF’ is a recurring theme as the books title suggest).

    The book then follows his tour through the Battle of the Ruhr and other operations. He lost close friends but kept himself aloof of the tragedies to survive the tour and be posted to a Heavy Conversion Unit for most of the latter years of the war. I suspect that he must have kept personal diaries and his flight logbooks to write in so much detail fifty years after the event.

    Read reflects on Harris’s influence on bomber operations and the loss of German civilian lives later in the book but places them in the context of what was happening around him at the time.

    A good read overall if you are interested in bomber command and probably worthy of wider circulation.

    stolpi and Chris C like this.
  11. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian layabout

    Poor editing is definitely a potential problem with self-published titles. :( but on the other hand as you say there can be very valuable material in them!
  12. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I'm reading a self-published fictional account of WW2 which puts forward different outcomes and pathways from the actual history. Talk about poor editing and spelling mistakes, nobody proof read this little number that's for sure.
  13. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thought I ought to read this one:

    Lions in the Jungle copy.jpeg
    Waddell likes this.
  14. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

    Just finished Woe to the Unwary by Roy Conyers Nesbit. He was a navigator on Beauforts during 1941 completing 49 operations. Very well written as you’d expect from such a prolific author and also very honest.
    Chris C likes this.
  15. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian layabout

    Just finished Armoured Horseman by Peter Willett who was in The Queen's Bays after starting training in a horsed training unit in 1940! His memoir is not overly long but well written with some good personal stories. It was interesting to read his perspective on Alam Halfa (his unit was part of the southern screening force) and description of the fatal attack of the Bays on 20 September 1944 which fortunately for him he was not a part of.

    However I do not share his love of horse racing or other sports and found the asides related to them somewhat tedious, and skipped most of the last chapter about his post-war life. If I was rating the book I'd give it 3.5 stars out of 5 - but it's worth a 4 if you like horses.
    stolpi likes this.
  16. James21

    James21 Member

    One day at a time.
    Kinkaseki by Arthur Titherington.
  17. Vishkar

    Vishkar Member

    Demian by Herman Hesse


    I use to read this since my late teenage years. I didn’t get it at first but my boss at my internship said that I will understand it if I will read it as I age because the book is all about human growth and development, sin and temptation (that is normal to the youth). I recommend that you guys should read Siddhartha, which is also written by Hesse. And… The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas… can’t remember the author who wrote it.
  18. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian layabout

    Omelas is a story by Ursula K LeGuin :)
  19. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Call Up, the History of National Service, by Tom Hickman.

  20. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian layabout

    I am not sure, if I'd taken a look, would I have bought this or not? Then again it was only $3 (2 pounds).


    Not that it's bad but it does seem encyclopedic in its detail. It seems to record the outcome of every flight carried out by Swordfish altogether! I might succumb to the level of detail. But nevertheless it is interesting... I hadn't pictured Swordfish weaving through the hills and fjords of Norway before.
    Orwell1984 and Waddell like this.

Share This Page