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review 2018-07-21 18:13
A chummy history of how Churchill became Prime Minister
Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister - Nicholas Shakespeare

The selection of Winston Churchill as Neville Chamberlain's successor in May 1940 is regarded today as one of the most pivotal moments of the 20th century. With his elevation to the premiership Britain was committed to a course of action in the Second World War that ended with victory over Nazi Germany. Given his role in the Allied triumph and subsequent anointing as the greatest Briton ever, such a choice can be perceived as inevitable. Yet was it?

One of the great merits of Nicholas Shakespeare's account of the events surrounding the decision is in his detailing the views of the key actors in the spring of 1940 and the choices available to them. In the process, not only does he demonstrate that Churchill's selection was far from ordained, but he also shows that it was more than a simple choice between Churchill and Lord Halifax traditionally described in most accounts of the event. As Shakespeare explains, ministers and Members of Parliament had several alternatives available to them. For many of them, Churchill was an unacceptable choice for the top post given his recklessness and adventurism, while others seemed much more appealing candidates. Even the very notion that Chamberlain needed to be replaced because of the military debacle in Norway the month before was not generally accepted, and only emerged over the course of the "Norway debate" and the subsequent division that exposed the weakness of Chamberlain's support.

To detail the events of May 1940 and uncover the thinking of the various people involved Shakespeare went beyond the traditional accounts in memoirs and biographies and undertook additional archival research and interviews. This he knits together in a narrative to which he brings all his skills as a novelist, making for an account that is highly engaging. By comparing the at times conflicting accounts and retrospective explanations, he has produced a very detailed description of how it came down in the end to Churchill. Yet it is also an incredibly chummy account, focusing almost exclusively upon the actions and decisions of a select group of elite men (and even a couple of women). While this is understandable given the small circle of people in politics and media at the time, the weaknesses in this approach are more evident in the account of the Norway disaster that precedes it. Given its importance to the events that followed Shakespeare spends a third of the book describing its failings, yet his account of events rarely strays beyond the experiences of key officers and government officials, creating the impression that it was merely their personal experiences which drove their objections to Chamberlain rather than the broader defeat that informed their criticisms of his handling of the war.

 

By narrowing his focus to a group of elite figures (one that includes his own uncle), Shakespeare trivializes the motivations of many of the men involved in the decision to turn out Chamberlain. It's a glaring flaw in what is in many respects an excellent book, one that details the chain of events that would define the course of world history. It is especially unfortunate, given that Shakespeare's extensive research and ability as a writer have produced what is the best account yet of how Churchill became prime minister in those fateful weeks in the spring of 1940. Its weaknesses, however, cause it to fall short of the definitive account it could have been with just a broadening of its scope.

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text 2018-05-17 16:44
The Eight by Katherine Neville $1.13 Wonderful!
The Eight - Katherine Neville

 A fabulous, bejeweled chess set that belonged to Charlemagne has been buried in a Pyrenees abbey for a thousand years. As the bloody French Revolution rages in Paris, the nuns dig it up and scatter its pieces across the globe because, when united, the set contains a secret power that could topple civilizations. To keep the set from falling into the wrong hands, two novices, Valentine and Mireille, embark on an adventure that begins in the streets of Paris and leads to Russia, Egypt, Corsica, and into the heart of the Algerian Sahara.
 
Two hundred years later, while on assignment in Algeria, computer expert Catherine Velis finds herself drawn unwillingly into the deadly “Game” still swirling around the legendary chess set—a game that will require her to risk her life and match wits with diabolical forces.
 

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review 2018-03-22 14:11
Fix, Freeze, Feast, 2nd Edition by Kati Neville
Fix, Freeze, Feast, 2nd Edition: The Delicious, Money-Saving Way to Feed Your Family; The Make-Ahead Plan: 1 Day of Cooking = 12 Days of Dinner; Fill Your Freezer with Dozens of Homemade Meals - Kati Neville,Lindsay Ahrens

This yummy book of 150 recipes that will make dinner time so much easier was awesome. I love how simple this book makes tasty meals so much easier for me. Yes the prep day is a kind of a pain but once it's done you can eat well in very little time. You gather all the ingredients, put them in freezer containers or bags toss them in the freezer and when you know you are looking at a busy day set one of the meals out over night in the refrigerator, toss in a pan when you arrive home and in under 30 minutes you have a home cooked meal ready to serve and eat. Some of the meals are ready crockpot ready as well, just dump the bag or bowl in and when you arrive home you house smells amazing and you can feed your family a yummy home cooked meal, without getting your hands dirty.

 

I travel a good bit and my poor hubby stays at home. I just returned from a trip and while I was gone I used some of the recipes in this book. I made up the bags and bowls before I left and he was able to have fresh cooked meals without any fuss while I was gone.

Some of the recipes make several meals with one prep. For us since it's just him and I home now, I got 10 to 12 meals instead of 6. On some I just cut the recipe down by halves or quarters, since I do not have a deep freeze anymore to store so many meals. I also cut some way back just to try and see if we liked them or not before I make the full recipe. Waste not want not.

 

The mango-cranberry chicken is to die for. It was delicious. Next time I will make the full recipe so I can have this on hand. It does have a tiny bite to it but is mild enough even for smaller children. The recipe make 4 meals of 4 servings, and takes 15 to 20 minutes to cook and serve.

 

I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

 

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review 2018-03-02 11:37
Actiescènes door de eeuwen heen
De Acht - Katherine Neville,Marjolein van Velzen

Volgens sommige reviews was dit boek met The DaVinci Code te vergelijken. Daarom verwachtte ik niet veel - een boek dat leest als een trein maar niet veel meer. Mooie verrassing. Het was een episch verhaal. De helft ervan vindt in het verleden plaats, met name in Parijs in de tijd van de Franse Revolutie. Een heel bloedige, gevaarlijke tijd, en het verhaal is vol met bekende mensen uit de geschiedenis zoals Napoleon en Robespierre.

 

De andere helft vindt voornamelijk plaats in Algeriije in de jaren zeventig. De hoofdpersonen in deze helft zijn twee Amerikaansen - een is een computerexpert en de andere een schaakster. Alle hoofdpersonen in de roman zijn vrouwen en dit is echt verfrissend. Ook in de actiescènes staan de vrouwelijke personages in het midden van de actie.

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review 2017-11-05 18:16
The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton
The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton - Miranda Neville

Got this weekend (11/4) at my local library sale. Having heard about Miranda Neville's death, when I saw this, I picked it up. I've never read her and I thought I would remedy that.
Here is her obituary.
Avon's remembrance.

 

I enjoyed the opening. Celia was being kidnapped and stripped of her clothes. When the kidnapped leaves, she takes initiative and escapes, stumbling over Tarquin. It turns out, the hit on his head gives him amnesia. In the past, he had made a comment about Celia that, in turn, ruined her marriage prospects. So, to get back at him, Celia makes up a story and an identity for him.
I did find it hard to believe that Tarquin, with no title, had the influence he did. Seriously, *one* comment, and everything is ruined?!
I enjoyed the first part of the book (act 1). The road trip (for lack of a better word) across the countryside, their banter and interactions, the who/why was Celia kidnapped, their survival in the wilderness. This was the best part of the book.
Then (act 2), Tarquin remembers who he is. They go to a friend's house. I lost some interest at this point.
I was surprised at how much I liked Tarquin. (Since he is/was an arrogant bastard). Since this isn't a book that would have jumped out at me, I'm glad I read this.

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