Sunday, August 10, 2014

Books read in August 2014

1. I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

What a debut thriller! It is long but kept me turning the pages. I am not qualified to comment on how true to reality this story might be, how credible, but of the facts I do know, there is only one minor error. There are no Christian missionaries in Afghanistan and expatriate NGO workers have to undertake not to prosiletise Afghans. That is a minor quibble in a great book right up in the Forsyth and Seymour premier league.

2. Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning. by Charles Moore

I have never read a political biography that is such a page turner as this. I cannot praise it too highly. I have read her autobiography and several biographies but this is in a class of its own. Moore has done a great deal of researcrh and has had access to previously unavailable source. It is interesting to see the preconditions for writing this authorised biography. The lady was not to see any of the text and it was not to be published while she was alive. Lady T comes across as a formidable person. She advanced in a political career when prejudice against women was formidable. She was the Iron Lady who cried. I lost count of the number of times she shed tears. Often portrayed as ruthlessly uncaring, here we see a leader who cared about people, especially the military who risked their lives. One remarkable fact that emerges several times is how little things have huge consequences. It seems she was only nominated to stand as candidate for Finchley as the constituency chairman switched a couple of votes in the ballot. A Irish republican MP wanted to keep Callaghan's government in power but was pressurised by his own people not to vote and so came the general election triumph of the Conservatives. But the really thrilling chapters are the last two on the Falklands conflict. The verdict is that no-one else would have had the determination to see it through against the odds and yes there was a good military reason to sink the Belgrano. Lady T is a Marmite character. You love her or hate her. Moore is no hagiographer but it is obvious that we both share in admiration for a great woman. I anticipate with pleasure the second volume.

3. WHERE WAS GOD ON SEPTEMBER 11 by JOHN BLANCHARD

I am tempted to let you know Blanchard's answer but that would be a spoiler. I will give you a clue. It is where He was at Golgotha. This booklet is far more than an answer to the title's question. It is a strong refutation of the atheist's argument that there cannot be a loving omnipotent God when such evil things abound in the world. Blanchard goes on the offensive to show that the atheist's idea that this dilemma disproves the existence of God is a flawed argument. Blanchard is forceful yet restrained for there is nothing by way of a criticism of Islam and jihad in the booklet. He is a gracious contender for his faith

4. Rough Justice by Jack Higgins

Not the best of thrillers but a fair enough read Not as sophisticated as some modern thrillers. A team of killers working for the prime minister but outside any establish secret service. They administer rough justice beyond the law. Thrilling but not one thinks realistic.


5. Thatcher's Reign: A Bad Case of the Blues by Melanie McFadyean and Margaret Renn

Thatcher is a Marmite character. You love her or hate her. The authors hate her. One wrote for the Socialist Worker. The reviewer loved her as his autographed copy of her autobiography attests. So there we are. Cards on the table, all bias exposed. I believe this book has one merit. It is a good source for Thatcher quotations. Published in 1984 it can only comment on half of the Thatcher premiership. Quotes are interspersed with the authors' comments. The authors' aim is to expose hypocrisy and inconsistency. It is a very one sided view of Thatcher.

6.Assassin's Creed: Black Flag by Oliver Bowden

It was the first and last time I read an Assassin's Creed book. I thought it was historical fiction but it turns out to be as much fantasy as historical. I am not a fantasy fan. This is a bloodthirsty tale of piracy. One lost count of the gruesome deaths.

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