Sunday, July 15, 2012


It is remarkable to think the events described in this memoir are almost a century old.And to think British soldiers are serving in a futile political motivated war as we speak.

The Book describes the futility of the ordinary people who were put in the line of fire by an upper class impervious to the consequences of the horrors that took place.Graves himself came from the lower echelons from that upper class , though his Family , like the Royal Family , came from German Stock.Posing an irony to Graves service in a potentially tricky environment.

The upper class background of Graves is pointed out when he was based on the Southern Coast of England during leave partaking of Champagne lunches in exclusive clubs.A disconcerting phrase employed before major engagements is "the big show".

The video below gives an excellent review of the Book:

The Book also covers Graves relationships with other poets during the war.Giving an account of the daring courageous bravery of Siegfried Sassoon in capturing , then holding a German position single-handedly.And also telling anecdotes of Wilfred Owen.Sassoon was to fall out and sever relations with Graves over telling matters he regarded as private without permission for what was regarded as commercial considerations over the trust of Friendship.

Another aspect of the Book is Graves visit to Thomas Hardy just prior to Hardys passing in which he confesses he would rather be remembered as a Poet than a Novelist.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Gillian Slovo has had a very interesting , or rather tense and harrowing, childhood which served her well in Adulthood by making her the kind of role model we can all be proud of.Her parents were activists against the apartheid regime , her Mother being assassinated by the South African secret service.Her Father came up with a solution that showed the South African Communist Party can mature from the European ones by adopting a regional priority over and above centralised dogma in the pathetic guise of internationalism.The solution was to fight the apartheid regime first and foremost , and only then agitate to get a socialist economic agenda in place in a United post apartheid modern South Africa.Hence the Communist Party of South Africa enjoys an Universal respect from all sectors of the South African Society that has never been achieved in Europe as the Communist there have had a policy of fomenting revolution rather than being a bit player in a universal mass-movement to get rid of the power elites.From Spain to France to Italy this has resulted in the Socialist agenda being at best dissembled from within the Leftist ranks or at worst being militarily annihilated for a generation or more leaving the way clear for rightists and neo-liberals.

Anyway , Gillian has written this Book about 1950s emigrants from the Colonies to the UK.A lot of it is inspired from her own exile because of the dangers of living in South Africa when her parents were targets of State repression.

The video below shows her discussing the background of the Book with David Frost.

This Guardian review gives a fairly accurate  though not entirely generous description of the Book which does lack the substance one would expect from such a politically aware Author.


A Song is ultimately what it means to you.Like Poetry they have be enigmatic , mysterious and transcendent.Though, like Joseph Franks masterpiece of Dostoyevsky , a little detail of the age,cultural forms and prevailing philosophical currents goes a long way to rightfully appreciating the work of a craftsman and deep thinker like Neil Young has always employed in his work.A lot of Youngs Music is to be seen as Genuine Artistry like currents in painting.This book is a treasure trove for fans wondering about the circumstances and thought processes going into the background of songs.

The Good thing about the Book is the author does not like all the songs and is not shy to tell us so in uncertain and harsh terms.This makes his lauding of songs ever more sincere rather than overtly fawning.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Not to be confused with the war historian  Michael Jones who has written about the war in the eastern front this author has given a brilliant account of this epic world changing battle from the point of view of the Soviet 62nd Army.The author has a massive advantage over the likes of Anthony Beevor in that he has had unprecedented access to survivors ( primary sources) and previously unavailable documents including the 62nd Army war diary.He has also talked with the surviving children and relatives of the protagonists , eliciting private reminiscences they heard from their parents which give a truer account of the situation that official soviet censors allowed.

The true story of the spirit of the defenders of Stalingrad makes for an even more heroic account than previously credited.One of the reasons is that even the protagonists could not account for the fortitude and spirit on purely technical grounds , the word Devine is the only explanation that makes sense to those that were there.A code of Friendship;Loyalty;Honour and Selflish Devotion to Others is what shines through the whole account. 


It should come as no surprise that expert opinion of economists ; bankers;investment analyst is somewhat questionable , highly questionable.

In this concise , dare i say it , ecomonical book the author explains how the world has got into this mess , and how it may get out.More of the same dogma from neo-liberal schools of thought is certainly not a solution he has much truck with.

In the video below the author explains the reasons how we could hear in the same easy yo understand manner of the Book.

This excellent review from the Guardian captures the sentiments posed in this vital source for understanding the current economic circumstances we have been led to by so called experts.Though from the comments section you can gauge that there are many who are programmed to the current system to an extent they cannot think of any way out of it.A very worrying trend that has to be challenged.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Brilliant historian Michael Jones supreme quality is to bring an intimate profound Human quality to harrowing events from some of the most startlingly unsettling periods during the last century.Not only is he a master of the strategic macro-events and the dry statistical academic research that goes with it , he weaves individual experiences of some of those there allowing them to tell their story and speak to future generations.
The Book details the arrogance of one side believing they are superior to the other , therefore creating a culture in which treating the other as sub-humans was an accepted given.

The same attitude led to defeat as the opponents of the German advance were not considered as being able to last out to winter.Subsequently it was the Winter that killed most of the Germans who became a begraddled pathetic feeble tottering mass resembling Napoleons Army many years before.

Alas , Stalin was also to suffer from Hitlers disease as he pulled away vital units of the counter-offensive Army thinking the Germans were a spent force.This catastrophic decision maybe added at least two more destructive years onto the war in the east as the Soviets were unable to press the advantage handed to them by German High Command mistakes.


I first saw John Suchet in Conversation Pieces , lunchtime lectures at the Royal Concert Hall.A very successful , sold out series.John had just written a Book about Beethoven , his entertaining illuminating talk was just like his Book , an excellent appraisal of the life of the Composer written for non-specialist admirers wanting to know the life and times of the great man and the settings of his inpirational musical pieces.

At the time i did not realise  , but he mentioned Bonnie with great affection , his companion and devoted researcher for the Book.

Many years later his wife fell victim to Dementia , this warm , touching , heart-rending Book is a tribute to his wife.

The emotional and evocative video below shows John Talking about this cruel disease and how it effects not only the victim but also the carers.

As the population gets older and more and more People find relationships  and companionship in later years this issue is going to become more common , it will be a real test of the resolve and character that a good devoted couple must share in the autumn and winter years.