Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Book catch up...

It was all I could do to get to the sun bed every day....  so I read a few... 

This is a behemoth of a book, but Clavell is first and foremost a story teller, the subject is interesting, and you fairly rip through it while learning a lot about feudal Japan in the 1600 period (for Japan the start of the gunpowder era and a defining moment in their military development). The book is (chronologically) the first in a lose series of books he wrote about European influence in Asia.. this book is about the rise to power of the rise of the daimyo (basically Lord/Duke) called Toranaga (who is based on the actual Tokugawa Ieyasu). Toranaga's rise to the Shogunate (overall leader of Japan) is seen  through the eyes of an English sailor John Blackthorne (who in turn is  loosely based on the actual British sailor William Adams). Lots and lots of readable detail about life in Japan, Bushido and the samurai approach to life, and abut the huge difference in life style between Japan and Europe at the time..  itis also about Japan on the cusp of the odern world, how they react to gunpowder, guns, cannon, and the possibilities that a "modern" European fighting ship could give them if they had their own, and a navy...  this book was the start of my Japanese Ancients army (WRG 6th Edition), which now exists solely as a DBA force..  must get then out soon...   and I must also read some of the others (it's followed by Tai-Pan, Gaijin, King Rat, Noble House and Whirlwind) soon.
Cheapy from Kindle store but I've read a few of his books and know him to be a safe pair of hands were a story is concerned..  this book is part of a trilogy featuring the father and son of an RAF family..  this one is the last in the series (and again I must go back and read the other two). This one is about the son, who joins the RAF at the beginning of the war and is assigned to a Kent based squadron (ie. front line) in time for the Battle of Britain. Starting off in Hurricanes his squadron is then re-equipped with Spitfires, and his role changes - fighter squadrons at the time were tasked depending on the fighter..  Hurricane's took on the bombers, Spitfires provided fighter cover...  lots and lots of incidental detail about the planes on both sides (this isn't military porn in the style of Clancy ), also the organisation of the Luftwaffe and RAF, the importance of armament (machine gun versus cannon), changing tactics, and about what life would have been like for a fighter pilot at the time..  very good.. 
Another Kindle cheapy, but again a series I have read before - the hero's are two Royal Navy men, and the period is just before the First World War, an era of Dreadnoughts and Imperial growth..  for this book the two heroes are "lent" by the boss Jackie Fisher to his opposite number in the US Navy (Dewar) tasked with helping to find out if there is a common factor to a number of mysterious deaths surrounding the US Dreadnought program. Before you know it they are caught up with a bunch of fanatics looking to resurrect the Confederacy, and align the new USA with Imperial Germany..  far fetched, but a bit of fun...
I first read this donkey's years ago, and had a recollection that it was better than it actually turned out to be second time round..  Wilbur Smith is another born story teller though so the pages kept turning...  The story is set in 1935, and is about Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia. Two adventurers (a mechanic/engineer, and a gun runner/rogue) end up collaborating after one of them (the mechanic) buys four ancient Rolls Royce armoured cars with the intention of stripping and using the engines, and the other comes up with a plan to sell them to the Ethiopians who are outnumbered, and out gunned, and prohibited from buying weapons as a result of blockade. A shed load of cash is offered, but only on delivery..  throw in a glamorous American journalist who is filing stories on the plight of the Ethiopians (and who both of the blokes fall for) and there's a recipe for a good story except for the fact that Wilbur goes for the racial stereotype jokey style..  so all the Italians are oily and cowardly etc etc. OK for a sun bed, but not for the start of a new wargaming project...7

..the Les Lunt was very good, as was Shogun.. the rest were "OK"

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