maximum city suketu mehta

The title tage for Maximum City by Suketu Mehta is “Bombay Lost and Found.” This is an extremely well written ( Mehtu is a Pulitzer Prize finalist ) and interesting book written from the perspective of someone who used to live there, moved to the United States and then returned years later.

In the first part of the book Mehta describes returning to Bombay and the process of finding an apartment and fitting in. Read the rest of this entry

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judith toddThrough The Darkness by Judith Todd is a book about Zimbabwe, with a difference. The author is the daughter of  the late Sir Garfield Todd who was Prime Minister of  Rhodesia ( Zimbabwe ) in 1953.

Todd and his daughter were both arrested and detained by the Smith regime in 1972 because of their support for the political aspirations of the African majority in the country.

Judith Todd and her father was eventually released from detention and she was expelled from the country. She was unable to return until 1980 when Robert Mugabe and his political party Zanu (PF) took over the government of the newly independent Zimbabwe.

Judith Todd has devoted a huge portion of her life to the people of Zimbabwe. For many years she ran the Zimbabwe Project which helped many dispossessed people to establish businesses and improve their lives after independence.

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douglas rogersDouglas Rogers book The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe won the 2010 Best travel Book by the British Guild of Travel Writers. If you are looking for a good  book to read, this one has received accolades from numerous reviewers including those at The Times, Mail on Sunday, Time Magazine and many many more.

The last resort is a part-memoir written by New York journalist Douglas Rogers. It covers the events of post colonial Africa focusing on Zimbabwe under the leadership of seasoned dictator, Robert Mugabe.

Rogers's parents, Lyn and Rosalind  had lived and built their life in Zimbabwe. The Last Resort was written after Rogers returned to Zimbabwe where he found that once beautiful land wrecked by the long ruling ZANU-PF.

Douglas Rogers was born and raised in Zimbabwe and later  became a journalist based in New York. In the book he reflects on the harsh post-colonial life under Robert Mugabe one of the world's longest serving dictators. Read the rest of this entry

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dennis brainDennis Brain: A Life in Music. Through another website I came into contact with Stephen Gamble one of the authors of this fascinating book about Dennis Brain, the famous British horn player. I asked Stephen Gamble if he would be interested in writing a piece about his book for this website and he kindly agreed to do so. The following is written by him:

Dennis Brain: A Life In Music
By Stephen Gamble and William Lynch
University of North Texas Press, April 2011
ISBN 978-1-57441-307-6

The authors embarked on this book as enthusiasts of the recordings, including film media, of British horn player, Dennis Brain (1921-1957), whose meteoric career, unrivalled as a horn virtuoso soloist in the sphere of classical music in his day, was cut short by a high-speed car crash on the Barnet bypass at Hatfield, in the early hours of 1 September 1957, driving back home in heavy rain and poor visibility from the Edinburgh Festival in his green Triumph TR2 sports car. Read the rest of this entry

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sarah helm

A life In Secrets by Sarah Helm. This book is subtitled Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of World War II. It is the fascinating story of Vera Atkins of the Special Operations Executive or SOE and the secret agents she trained and sent to France.

The SOE was formed in 1940 in order to conduct sabotage and espionage in German occupied Europe as well as to assist local resistance groups. 

The SOE was a secret organization sometimes called "Churchill's Secret Army" or "The Baker Street Irregulars", named after the street on which its main London office stood.

Vera Atkins who was in large part responsible for the SOE section devoted to recruiting, training, mentoring and running secret agents in France.

The agents were both men and women, several of whom were trained as wireless transmitter operators. For the most part they were not trained military personnel but civilians. At the time it was unheard of for women to be recruited for such a perilous wartime job.

A Story of Betrayal and Incompetence

The agents were told that they had a fifty percent chance of surviving and each was given a cyanide capsule in case of capture.

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the worst journey in the world

The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard is the inspiring, hair raising and wonderfully written account of  Scott's second expedition to the Antarctic. Apsley Cherry-Garrard was one of the youngest members of the team which set out in 1910.

The working title for the book was "Never Again, Scott, Some Penguins and the Pole" the author also toyed with the title "To Hell With Scott".  "Worst Journey," "Never Again" and "To Hell" are all words which sum up this unbelievable Antarctic adventure.

In addition to being a scientific venture, Scott and four companions also hoped to become the first men to reach the South Pole. As we know they were beaten to their goal by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, only perished in a blizzard on their return journey only 11 miles from a food depot. Read the rest of this entry

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Jerome K. Jerome – Three Men In A Boat

three men in a boat

No personal library should be without a copy of "Three men In A Boat." Although it was written in 1889 it is timeless. It is a book I find myself reading every other year or so. It is in the top three or four of my all time favourite good books to read.

This is also probably the funniest book you will ever come across. Although he wrote this more than a hundred years ago, Jerome K. Jerome's humour is something that we can all identify with, proving that a good sense of humour is ageless.

The book is based on events which actually happened, and as Jerome wrote in his preface to the first edition: "all that has been done is to colour them; and, for this, no extra charge has been made".

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Tim Moore – Travels With My Donkey

travels with my donkey

The tag line for this book is "One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago", the book is also available under the title Spanish Steps. Tim Moore is a British writer and humorist who in addition to several very amusing travel books has also written for a number of  newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times and Esquire.  

In this book the author does something that I would love to do some day. He walks the ancient pilgrimage route or Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

The route he takes is a five hundred mile hike from St. Jean Pied de Port  on the French side of the Pyrenees to the Cathedral at Santiago, the resting place of St. James.

Many people do this pilgrimage each year, but Tim Moore, always on the look out for ways to make his adventures more interesting and unusual, decides to enlist the help of a donkey named Shinto.

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Travels With A Tangerine by Tim Mackintosh-Smith

ibn battutah

The Tangerine in question is not an orange in someone's pocket or backpack but Ibn Battutah, born in Tangier, Morocco in 1304. At the age of twenty one he set out on a journey that would eventually cover some 75,000 miles at a time when travelling was not a simple, safe or comfortable affair.

Ibn Battutah was Islam's greatest traveler and his wanderings took him to such places as Iraq, Persia, the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, the coast of East Africa, the Byzantine Empire, central Asia, India and China.

Tim Mackintosh-Smith is an Arabist who studied classical Arabic at Oxford University and is also fluent in colloquial Arabic. Like IB he set out at twenty one for Arabia, eventually settling in Yemen.

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Sniper One by Sgt. Dan Mills

 

war in iraq

Thumbs up for Sgt. Dan Mills of The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, he has written a cracking book about his experiences as a sniper in Iraq in 2004.

Sniper One is Mills's first book and a must read if you are interested in what it was really like to be in Iraq following the invasion to oust Saddam Hussein. If you where there I am sure that this you will find this book equally gripping.

At the time of writing Mills, at age 36, had been a soldier for eighteen years and a sniper for ten. Despite six tours of duty in Northern Ireland, one in Bosnia and one in Kosovo he had never had to fire his rifle in anger. All of that was to change for him and the fifteen man sniper platoon he headed soon after arriving in Iraq in April 2004.

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