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review 2017-09-18 04:51
TRACING THE LIFE ARC OF AN HONEST, FORTHRIGHT MAN IN WAR & PEACE
Camel Combat Ace: The Great War Flying Career of Edwin Swale CBE OBE DFC* - Barry M Marsden

"CAMEL COMBAT ACE" is a fine, well-written book about a singularly remarkable man, Edwin Swale. Hailing from a middle-class background in Northern England, Swale joined the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) in October 1917. He completed his flight and gunnery training by early March 1918. Shortly thereafter, he was shipped to France and was assigned to No. 10 Squadron, RNAS, which soon became caught up in trying to stem the German offensive. 

Later that spring, with the creation of the Royal Air Force (RAF) from the amalgamation of the RNAS and the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), No. 10 Squadron RNAS - now redesignated No. 210 Squadron RAF - was very active along the front. Swale was involved in a lot of dangerous, low level attack missions against German troops in the field and other military installations behind the lines. The book provides considerable detail on Swale's combat service, which - aside from one spell of leave in Britain - lasted through October 1918, by which time he had shot down 17 German planes in aerial combat, survived a number of close calls, and had been promoted to Captain and placed in command of a flight of Sopwith Camels. 

After the war, Swale would marry, have a family, and assume responsibility for the family business. The book shows, with the insertion of some excerpts from Swale's autobiography, that he was a restless man with considerable energies and interests. With the outbreak of the Second World War, he rejoined the RAF and spent the war working in intelligence. 

This book was both interesting and easy to read. Plus it has lots of photos showing Swale (at various periods of his life) and his family.
 

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review 2017-08-30 10:28
Heroines that must honoured
Women in the Great War - Tanya Wynn,Stephen Wynn

Thanks to Pen & Sword for sending me a paperback copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I’m not sure why but as I read this book I realised I had read much more about World War II than about the Great War, and having a degree in American Studies, I had read a fair bit about American women’s war efforts (during WWII) but knew very little about what women had done during WWI, other than through some war novels where they would appear as nurses, but little else. That was one of the reasons why I was interested in this book from the Pen & Sword’s catalogue. At a time when women didn’t have the vote but were fighting for it, the war and the changes it brought had an enormous impact on the lives of British women (and women in general).

The book is divided into a number of chapters that after setting up the scene (Chapter 1. Women in General), discuss the different organisations and roles women took up during the war. We have chapters dedicated to women who became munition workers (yes, it was not only Rosie the Riveter who took up that task, and it’s amazing to think that women whose roles were so restricted at the time took to heavy factory work with such enthusiasm, despite the risks involved, although there was fun to be had too, like the women’s football teams organised at some of the factories), the Voluntary Air Detachments (Agatha Christie was employed by the VAD as a nurse and dispenser, and it seems her knowledge of medications and substances was to prove very handy in her writing career), The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (later the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, to reflect Queen Mary’s patronage), Women’s Legion and Other Women’s Organisations (including some like the Women’s Land Army, Women Police Volunteer, The Women’s Forage Corps [that required a great deal of physical strength]).

The chapter entitled Individual Women of the Great War includes fascinating stories, most of them worthy of a whole book, like those of Dorothy Lawrence, who dressed as a man and became a soldier although never actually fought, several spies, among them one of the best known and remembered Edith Louisa Cavell, a nurse, and perhaps my favourite, Flora Sanders, who was born in Yorkshire and actually fought in the war and became a Captain in the Serbian Army (and yes, in this case they knew she was a woman but did not seem to mind very much). Another favourite of mine has to be Violet Constance Jessop ‘the unsinkable’ who worked as a stewardess in a number of liners and survived the thinking of three big ships, including the Titanic’s. That never put her off and she worked at sea her whole career and died of old age.

There is a chapter dedicated to those who lost their lives during the war (and were not included in one of the previous chapters). The authors have checked a number of archives and list as many details as are available for these 241 women. For some, there’s only a name, date, and age (and where they were serving), for others there is more information. Reading through the list, that I am sure will be of great help to researchers looking for information on the subject, I was surprised by how many nurses died of what now would be considered pretty trivial illnesses (influenza, many of pneumonia, some of the nurses in far away locations died of dysentery, some of undiagnosed illnesses, or appendicitis) making evident not only how much medical science has advanced but also the precarious and exhausting conditions under which they worked, putting their duty before their own health. Quite a number went down with ships that had either been bombed or had hit mines, and some were unfortunate enough to be killed during raids when they were back home on a permit. In some cases, families lost several members to the war and one can only imagine the effects that must have had on their surviving relatives.

The last chapter mentions Queen Mary and Princess Mary’s war efforts, which had a great impact on monetary donations and on enlistment of both men and women. The conclusion reminds us that women had a great role to play during the Great War, both at home and indeed close to the action.

The book is well researched and combines specific data with personal stories, making it of interest to both researchers and readers who want to know more about that historical period, in particular about women’s history. Some chapters, like the one dedicated to individual women, are a good starting point to encourage further reading and engage the curiosity of those not so familiar with the topic.

A fitting homage to those women, who, as the authors write in the conclusion, should also be honoured on Remembrance Day.

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text 2017-05-19 19:30
RT Booklover's Convention 2017 - Day Two
Outfoxed by Love (Kodiak Point Book 2) - Eve Langlais
What a Lady Craves - Ashlyn Macnamara
Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War - Lauren Willig,Joshilyn Jackson;Hazel Gaynor;Mary McNear;Nadia Hashimi;Emmi Itäranta;CJ Hauser;Katherine Harbour;Rebecca Rotert;Holly Brown;M. P. Cooley;Carrie La Seur;Sarah Creech,Jennifer Robson,Marci Jefferson,Jessica Brockmole,Beatriz Williams,Evangeli
An Extraordinary Union - Alyssa Cole
Ten Days in August - Kate McMurray
Kissing the Captain - Kianna Alexander
Forbidden - Beverly Jenkins
The Lawyer's Luck: A Home to Milford College prequel novella - Piper Huguley,Piper Huguley
Tycoon - Joanna Shupe

Day One post

 

 

Wednesday (May 3rd) was the official start to the convention. I skipped the 7am work outs since I was still jet lagged, but I could only make myself get a few hours of sleep (a habit that lasted the entire convention). I hit up the coffee shop for a venti-sized tea and a piece of banana bread (I don't trust hotel catering to have enough food for all attendees) and met up with a fellow COYER group member and BL'er Lexxie (Unconventional Book Views)! After having breakfast with Lexxie, I went to the welcome breakfast; the guest speaker was Karen Robards. I thought she did an okay job opening the convention, but it seemed a lot of her speech was about previous, long ago RT cons and not much about this one. That was another theme - most attendees are long time RT convention goers and there is a feeling of cliques and talking about the old times. Then the staff at RT each had to take the mic to talk (boring)...which authors in attendance used that time to start pushing their books to the readers at their tables. Lots of aspiring and current authors writing "dark, gritty" romantic suspense is my take away.

 

First reader event I went to was Trope Bingo. The organizers did not plan to have so many people attend this event and ended up scrambling to set up more tables. Then more people showed up after another reader event closed due to running out of supplies. I had fun at the Bingo and met some readers that wanted to talk about what their favorite/least favorite tropes were.

 

Next I went to the Maple Syrup and Mounties reader event. This was one of the best reader events of the convention! Funny, smart ladies (authors Viola Grace, Lucy Farago, Eve Langlais, Ashlynn Macnamara, and Mandy Rosko) who organized and prepared for the crowd. The swag was pretty great too. FYI: Eve Langlais is pretty damn proud that she was able to put a moose shifter romance on the best seller list (Outfoxed by Love) and Ashlynn Macnamara is proud of her books' butt covers (Eton Boys Trilogy). These authors not only enjoyed interacting with the audience (it was a rowdy quiz type of event), but they seemed to really enjoy being around each other. One of my highlights of the convention.

 

Lunch time and then I stood in line for the one reader event I was most looking forward to - the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books Reader Recommendation Party! It definitely lived up to my expectations. I ended up winning a raffle, so I took home a short story collection centered around World War I called Fall of Poppies. I have been eyeing this book for some time now and when I saw it on the prize table I had to grab it. The Bitches were as lovely and funny as they are on the blog and on the podcast. Another big highlight for me, as it was truly about the readers talking about books with other readers.

 

Some books recommended:

The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne (historical set during the French Revolution)

The Iron Duke Series by Meljean Brooks (steampunk)

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper (paranormal)

Blood on the Earth (Soulwood #1) by Faith Hunter (spin-off of the Jane Yellowrock series)

Roller Girl (Lake Lovelace #3) by Vanessa North (f/f contemporary featuring a trans woman as one half of the couple)

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare (historical)

Bedchamber Games by Tracey Anne Warren (historical)

The Glassblower Series by Petra Durst Benning (historical)

Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy (fantasy)

The First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (sports contemporary romance)

Rites of Passage (Tulsa Thunderbirds #4) by Catherine Gayle (sports contemporary romance with HIV+ characters)

A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #1) by Amanda Bouchet (fantasy)

Anything by KJ Charles pretty much

 

 

The SBTB party was still going but I left after winning so I could make it to my first author panel, Welcome to Americana, featuring Alyssa Cole, Kianna Alexander, Kate McMurray, Beverly Jenkins, Piper Huguley, and Joanna Shupe. What a great discussion! Everything from the state of American historical romance (in terms of what is being published right now) to how they go about researching the history for their stories. Kate McMurray has a really great blog post on her website in regards to POC/LGBT+ people in historical romance not being present in mainstream historical romance and that readers really have to search to find the authors that are writing outside the mainstream. Most importantly, American historical romance is oversaturated with cowboys and mail order brides - and these authors are trying to expand American historical romance to include POC/LGBT+/urbanites. Everyone on the panel had some very thought-provoking things to say about racism, sexism, homophobia, and historical romance writing. Shout out to reference and research librarians for providing plot bunnies and historical research for the authors.

 

Took a much needed break from all the people, then headed to the Petticoats & Pistols party. Here the organizers actually had a big enough room that attendees could walk and mingle about without being crushed. I enjoyed the outfits the authors and cover models wore and the design of the party. Probably my favorite social event of the convention - it was low-key enough to take in at my leisure, but high-spirited enough to build excitement for the attendees. Here I got to meet Merry Farmer, a personal favorite of mine and talk with Joanna Shupe about her panel I attended. Shupe encouraged me to try my hand at writing historical romance. Maybe....someday.

 

After the party I was tired from being around so many people all day, so I got dinner and headed to my room. I didn't expect or intend to make this a very historical romance intensive day, but it is my favorite subgenre. So many new to me authors to try.

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text 2017-03-06 12:17
Reading progress update: I've read 96 out of 400 pages.
The Great War and the Middle East - Rob Johnson

I'm reading this right now to review it for a publication so I won't be able to post a review here, but so far it's proving quite good. I've long been disappointed by the lack of a really good history of the First World War in the Middle East. This book seems to finally fit that bill; though it's far from a definitive account, Johnson provides a good analytical overview of events, including aspects of the war (such as German efforts to stir up Islamic revolution in Iran and Afghanistan) that have only been mentioned in passing elsewhere.

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review 2016-12-09 04:26
ASSESSING A WORLD WAR'S IMPACT ON SOLDIERS & SOCIETIES
Meeting the Enemy: The Human Face of the Great War - Richard van Emden

"MEETING THE ENEMY: The Human Face of the Great War" provides the reader with different perspectives of how the war --- on a uniquely human level --- impacted upon civilians and combatants alike in Britain and Germany between 1914 and 1918.

 

When Germany mobilized for war on August 1, 1914 (having already declared war on Russia; she would declare war on France 2 days later), many British residents and tourists in Germany began to sense that Britain many soon enter the conflict against Germany. And so, many of these residents and tourists began to leave the country by whatever means were near to hand.

 

"One Englishman looking to leave Berlin as quickly as possible was a fifty-one-year-old language teacher ... Henry Hadley. A former army officer in the West India Regiment, he took his cue to go on the outbreak of hostilities between Russia and Germany. Deciding to catch a train to Paris, he quickly sorted out his affairs in the German capital and then, the next day, returned to his rented apartment and packed his bags, leaving early the following morning." Hadley and his housekeeper, Elizabeth Pratley, travelled by train from Berlin to Cologne without incident. It was when their train approached Gelsenkirchen that matters began to get out of control. Service was slow. Hadley became upset with a waiter and a heated exchange took place in close proximity to a group of dining German Army officers. Hadley made his way back to Mrs. Pratley and asked her to keep watch over the luggage. He said he wouldn't be long in returning. Hadley went into an adjoining corridor on the train. Mrs. Pratley "heard loud noises followed by sounds of a scuffle. She rushed outside to find [Hadley] lying on the floor. 'They have shot me, Mrs. Pratley. I am a done man,' he gasped. A German officer, later identified as Lieutenant Nicolay, had fired his revolver at point-blank range, hitting [Hadley] in the stomach. The Germans then turned their attention on Mrs. Pratley." While Mrs. Pratley was taken away for questioning, Hadley was taken to a hospital in Gelsenkirchen. He died there a few hours later in the early morning of August 5, 1914, shortly after Britain had declared war on Germany. The British government soon learned of Hadley's death and made some inquiries with Berlin, none of which proved satisfactory. (Lieutenant Nicolay was exonerated.) Mrs. Pratley was later released and allowed to return to Britain soon thereafter.

 

The book goes on to considerable lengths to show how both Britain and Germany dealt with "enemy aliens" in their midst, both during the earliest days of the war and in subsequent years of the conflict. A lot of the stories involving many of the enemy aliens and their families were often tragic and sad, amid the rise and spread of war hysteria. This was especially true in Britain, which had far more naturalized Germans and German and Austrian internees than Germany had British and Empire internees.

 

"MEETING THE ENEMY" also examines the varied relationships the rival combatants (soldiers and airmen) had with each other throughout the war, both on the front lines (e.g. the Christmas Truce of 1914 and the more limited one that took place the following Christmas - a practice British higher military authorities ruthlessly discouraged) and at POW camps in Germany and Britain. There was an instance in which the Germans, in February 1917, moved a group of British POWs to the Eastern Front, where they were forced daily to work on digging German support trenches and made to sleep in appalling conditions in ragged tents on non-salubrious terrain in the bitter winter weather. This was done for several months as a sort of tit-for-tat because Britain had some German POWs engaged in labor activities at some of the French ports and in areas less than 20 miles from the front. Both countries failed to come to an agreement to resolve this matter of POW employment at the front til later in the year. By that time (November 1917), of the 500 British POWs sent to the Eastern Front to perform hard labor, only 72 returned to prisoner of war camp in Germany. I was both angered and shocked to learn about this incident on the part of the Germans in World War I. (Something of that magnitude I had expected of the Germans in World War II in certain instances. For example, their treatment of Soviet POWs and their murder of 50 captured Allied airmen as a result of the "Great Escape" in March 1944. But not in the earlier conflict in which both sides tended to observe some sort of chivalric code, which was a throwback to earlier norms of warfare in Europe.)

 

This was the second book related to World War I that I've read from Richard van Emden. And I learned so much from it, because "MEETING THE ENEMY" made me see more keenly than ever how that war impacted on both combatants and societies concurrently.  All in all, this is a very readable, well-written and scrupulously researched book that comes highly recommended. 

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