BookPick: Autumn Selection
With the warmer months well behind us now it’s always a pleasure to curl up with a good book indoors. I have to say that much of my reading time is taken up with specific research for the current Kydd manuscript I’m working on but during breaks from that I find myself delving into an eclectic variety of titles over a broad range of historical periods. This BookPick highlights four very different tomes I’ve enjoyed recently.
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Great Escapes of the First World War Edited by Rachel Burton
These first-hand accounts of daring war-time escapes were written when the experiences were still fresh in the soldiers’ minds. On reading these remarkable stories you cannot help but wonder just how far you yourself would go to escape. Bury yourself under a floor? Board a boar with a rotten bottom? Would you tunnel underground? Included in the book are various rarely seen images, maps and plans, along with biographical information on each soldier. A moving tribute to extraordinary courage and tenacity rarely seen today.
1545 : Who Sank the Mary Rose? by Peter Marsden
This book by one of the country’s leading experts on Mary Rose contains a full account of the battle in which Henry VIII’s warship was sunk. It examines the design and construction of the ship and in detail how she was used. Marsden also shows conclusively that the French fleet arrived unexpectedly to seize the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth a day later than was once believed, that the many bodies found in the wreck reflect her at action stations, and that the ship had had an extra deck added and was therefore more unstable than was previously thought. The author’s recontruction of what happened onboard, deck by deck, in her last moments afloat made compelling reading for me. A fascinating account of the career and demise of this most famous of ships.
Madame Tussaud: Her Life and Legacy by Geri Walton
It’s one of London’s top tourist attractions, and boasts over 20 other popular wax museums worldwide. Indeed it was one of the first places Kathy and I visited when we arrived in Britain in the 1980s. This book chronicles how the traumatic and cataclysmic experiences of Madame Tussaud’s early life influenced her legacy. Her original wax models were often of the famous and infamous people she personally knew during and after the French Revolution &nash; Voltaire, Robespierre and Napoleon to name just a few. A remarkable biography of a feisty woman and the turbulent times she lived in.
Passage Planning Companion by Alastair Buchan
The regulations of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea make it mandatory that “Prior to proceeding to sea, the master shall ensure that the intended voyage has been planned using the appropriate nautical charts & nautical publications for the area concerned”, a stricture applying to any sea-going craft, including yachts of all description. Common prudence would add to this statutory requirement all of the multitude of preparations ranging from familiarising the crew with man overboard drill to verifying battery charge. Better to discover discrepancies while still alongside than helplessly in the remote wastes of the ocean. And I’ve not come across a better aid to the entire process than this neat spiral-bound, splash proof planning companion. Very reasonably priced it provides what amounts to a comprehensive check-list against which a first class passage plan can be generated. Much recommended.