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Search tags: best-nicholas
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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 2018-07-20 12:15
Reading progress update: I've read 103 out of 528 pages.
Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister - Nicholas Shakespeare

This book is proving to be a disappointment. Its ostensible focus is on the events surrounding Churchill's elevation to the premiership, but Nicholas Shakespeare has spent the first quarter of it on a chummy history of the battle of Norway. It's not terrible and his gifts as a writer make it interesting reading, but it's more narrative than analysis and it all feels like padding.

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text 2018-07-07 16:33
The Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale $1.99
The Prince of Midnight - Laura Kinsale,Nicholas Boulton

Lady Leigh Strachan’s father governed the town of Felchester—until a religious zealot murdered her family and turned the village into hell on Earth. Now, there is room in her heart for only one thing: revenge.
 
Leigh plans to kill her father’s murderer once she learns to aim a pistol, slash a sword, and ride a horse. She seeks out the Prince of Midnight, a legendary highwayman exiled to France, as her choice of tutors. But the man she finds in a crumbling French castle is no hero. Half deaf and suffering from vertigo, S. T. Maitland can scarcely walk, much less wield a sword atop a dancing stallion. Yet for reasons she can’t explain, she remains with him, steeling her heart against the sight of his gold-streaked hair, green eyes, and brows adorned with a devilish curl at the arch . . .
 
Women mean nothing but trouble to the highwayman, so he wishes Leigh were less alluring. Alas, she is beautiful, with a piercing gaze and a determined spirit. Despite his broken balance, the loss of his horse, and the price on his head, he vows to return to England with her. He cannot resist the challenge—or the chance to sacrifice everything for love . . .
 

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review 2018-07-07 02:49
The Smoke Jumper
The Smoke Jumper - Nicholas Evans

I usually only read mysteries so I was not sure if I would like this book. I was worried it would be too much of a romance. It romance parts are small though. The book kept my interest throughout. It is a pretty good story.

 

Connor and Ed met while training to be smoke jumpers. Even though they were very different they became close friends. When Ed met Julia he was love struck and told Connor all about how she was "the one." Later, when Connor was picking them up at the airport and he saw Julia he couldn't stop staring at her. As they spent time together he found it harder and harder to keep his mind off of her. He knew he couldn't fall in love with his best friend's girlfriend but he was. What he didn't realize was she was feeling the same way, although, she did still love Ed and tried to contain her feelings. Later, when a fire sprang up where Julia was camping with a group of troubled kids in the WAY program, they were called to jump. A girl had wandered away in the night and Julia and another one of the counselors was trying to follow her tracks. The fire was out of control though and they found themselves in the middle of a deadly situation. Ed, Connor, and another jumper leave to try to find them while the other jumpers stay to help fight the fire and prevent it from spreading.

 

_________________________

There is a LOT more to this story and it isn't as flaky as it sounds in what I wrote.  I was having a hard time figuring out what to write without giving away too much.  

 

I also had the audio book, which was narrated by Luke Perry, and I was going to listen to that until I realize it was abridged.  It doesn't say anywhere on the package that it is abridged so I was angry.  I really didn't like Luke Perry's voice anyway,  He sounded like a 16 year old kid.  He talked in such low voice I couldn't hear with the volume full.  I ended up reading the book instead.

 

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review 2018-06-17 02:37
Great Contemporary Romance
Getting Out of Hand: Sapphire Falls book one - Erin Nicholas

Getting Out Of Hand by Erin Nicholas is a fantastic read.  Ms. Nicholas has delivered a well-written book and packed it full of amazing, lovable characters.  Adrianne moved to Sapphire Falls after having a heart attack from her high-stress life.  Mason returns to Sapphire Falls when his best friend insists.  Adrianne and Mason's story is full of drama, humor and sizzle.  I enjoyed reading Getting Out Of Hand, it was a fun read and I look forward to my next book by Erin Nicholas.  Getting Out Of Hand is book 1 of the Sapphire Falls Series but can be read as a standalone.  This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger.

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