Saturday, March 05, 2016

Books read in March 2016

1. The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson 

I have read most of Bryson's books.I think he is the best humorous travel writer .... but not here. Firstly he surprised me by his negativity about small town America. Either he never plans to go back to these places he insults or he thinks they are not literate enough to read his book. Either way this is not the America I have experienced which is most friendly, polite and welcoming. Bryson also manages to be very negative about NHS hospitals en route. I am left wondering if he was commissioned to take this trip to write the book and it was a job he did not enjoy.

2.  The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones 

An excellent, readable account of the 15th century wars between the houses of Lancaster and York. Usually called the Wars of the Roses we learn here that this should be called the age of the first English civil wars

3. No More Champagne: Churchill and his Money by David Lough

This is not a book that enhances the reputation of Churchill. He starts life in a typical aristocratic family where bills are not paid on time. A typical army officer he lives beyond his means and takes to journalism to remain solvent. In fact it is his literary accomplishments which are the source of his finance through the years. He gambled on the stock market, usually it seems with borrowed money. This speculation seems to me to not be qualitatively different from his love of the casinos when he holidayed in France. He was a consummate tax avoider even when chancellor of the exchequer.  Eventually, thanks to gifts from friends and his lucrative literary output he became a wealthy man. The author has done an amazing work  of research to reveal a less than admirable side of the great man.