& Bullets

Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.


With reviews of books that cover these topics


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Brize 2010 Reds 3

By psmiddy, Jan 26 2019 01:13AM

I have a stack to post soon. In the meantime I have just finished a novel by Nevil Shute - Pastoral. This was recommended to me by an eminent writer, whom I happened to meet recently. She was right - I did enjoy it. The book is a romance set in WW2 between a bomber pilot and a WAAF oficer at his station. It has a great period feel, and tugs suitably at the heartstrings.

By psmiddy, Jan 2 2019 05:18PM

Escape Artist by Peter Monteath. We all need a bit of escapism, escpecially as this potentially grim year starts. In this book there is quite of bit of Boys' Own stuff, as well as being brought down to earth by Nazi horrors. Review is here.

By psmiddy, Dec 24 2018 03:25PM

Over & Above by Capt Gurdon, first saw the light in 1919, but republished this summer by Grub Street. Review is here.

By psmiddy, Dec 23 2018 05:51PM

I had one or two interactions with this man, who has left this earth far too early. About 10 years ago I invited him to talk at my club, about one of his recent books. This was, I think, his volume on the Cockleshell Heroes raid. This book launched a successful second career for Ashdown as a military historian. He was a very engaging speaker, which is more can be said for many of our current parliamentarians. He had, of course, a very interesting ‘hinterland’, having worked as a Marine, and then a spy before arriving at Westminster after a tough by-election at Yeovil. Unsurprisingly this made him more grounded, and gave him more authority, than many of the current batch who have eased into Westminster from a role as SPAD straight after university.

In his semi-retirement role as military historian, his background gave him an understanding of the challenges of command; he did not lack for intellectual curiosity, and he wrote with both wit and pace.

As he said in his autobiography, he was:

a soldier at the end of the golden age of imperial soldiering; a spy at the end of the golden age of spying; a politician when politics was still a calling; and an international peace builder backed by a western power, before Iraq and Afghanistan drained the West of both influence and mortality.”

I very much enjoyed his last volume – Nein! – about German resistors, which I read and reviewed here earlier this year. I would love to know what project he was working on before he was diagnosed with bladder cancer in October. His work in Bosnia demonstrated he was the right man for that (very difficult) job.

It is difficult to avoid being enveloped in sadness that we have lost a great author and rather unique politician.

By psmiddy, Dec 21 2018 03:23PM

Not a vintage year, but the long awaited Sky & Bullets Book of the Year Award goes to the late Rebecca Loncraine for Skybound (the original review is here). A lyrical story of learning to fly, and learning to love the sky, with a very moving back story. Pitching towards the style and skill of St Exupery and Ernie Gann – one can aim no higher in this genre.

The decision is entirely subjective, with a judging panel of one!

Honourable mentions go to Escape Artists (Neal Bascombe) and Nein by Paddy Ashdown.