Saturday, 12 September 2015

Books and a Movie

After decades of non-fiction I felt I needed something light and took up the Harry Sidebottom 'Warrior of Rome"series on the recommendation of a friend, I enjoyed them albeit the first two books were the best, I am now collecting the second series which I believe is a prequel to the first series. Having ventured back to historical fiction I picked up seven books by the Italian author Massimo Manfredi which had been laying about in our book swap (a service we started when the library was taken away). I started with the Alexander trilogy and enjoyed the first and started the second, whenever I say his name I think of "Johnson and Manfredi" if you are a fan of a certain bunch of Penguins you will understand, but I digress. Even though Manfredi is writing historical fiction he gives Alexander an interesting character, I have always wondered at how 'Great' Alexander really was rather than simply 'Lucky'. A scorched earth policy could have had him heading home, he is several times surrounded and wounded rather than killed, he fights few pitched battles and much of his progress is virtually a victory march, he begins to cheese off his own supporters until they will go no further and he murders a man who may have had more to do with Macedonian success than anyone else. The huge 'empire' which he conquered fell apart after his death but I wonder just how successful he would have been in running it, I have my doubts.

 I bought a book which was recommended with high praise, 'Operation Thunderbolt' the raid on Entebbe by Saul David, this will be the last Saul David book I buy and I have bought several, the only one of which was notable for me was his book on the Indian Mutiny. Despite being told that the book builds up tension and ends with a bang I found it a damp squib, much of the book is written among the hostages at Entebbe and apart from Amin's double dealing it fails to capture the tension. He does point out that the whole operation could have been a disaster as the Israeli commander opened fire before he got to the target and was lucky the Terrorists did not simply open up on the crowded hostages, a point he does not labour as the commander is now a national and international hero. Entebbe was a fantastic operation and I remember cheering it on at the time but wait until the paperback comes out.

 I did receive a treat yesterday, Max Hastings' new book 'The Secret War' landed on my doorstep, I had preordered it and was informed I was getting a fiver back, result. I immediately dropped the second Alexander volume and leapt in, I knew simply by reading the foreword I am in for a good read, I am already intrigued by some of his comments and can't wait to read a more detailed description later.

We were at a loose end last night and I stuck on 'Tale of Tales' a movie highly rated and praised to the high heavens, but it was pretentious twaddle. It was a series of three fairy tales filmed in an over the top renaissance style which to me merely looked out of place when mixed with real surroundings. You know you are in for rubbish when the director merely shows you how clever he is by hardly using any dialogue and leaving you to wonder what the dickens is going on. This is his first english speaking film and the last I will give ten minutes to. It comes from the same stable which tells you if you do not see the artistry in a pile of elephant faeces or household bricks then you are merely an uneducated pleb. Give me the Penguins any day.

Summer has gone and it is pouring it down outside, I am in the PO this morning and hope to get another map project completed and at least a couple of hours painting in this afternoon. I am still spending on the Romans and bought some casualty figures which I have an idea of putting in the front line of one or two cohorts as well as possibly using them as 50% casualty markers or adding one to my Rally Point which is a Roman medic tending to a legionary on the battlefield.

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