Video blog – Michael Johnston previews ‘H-Bombs & Hula Girls’, his new book

Set for publication in April 2017, Michael previews this account – by himself and fellow shipmates – of the aircraft carrier HMS Warrior‘s participation in Operation Grapple, Britain’s first successful thermonuclear bomb tests in the Pacific in 1957, and the goodwill voyage in the Pacific and to South America which followed. (The text of this vlog is below.) Read more ...

‘The White Rabbit: The Secret Agent the Gestapo Could Not Crack’ by Bruce Marshall

The White Rabbit book coverNot for the first time, I have been reading The White Rabbit [London: Cassell & Co, 2000] by Bruce Marshall. Probably the first time was not long after it was first published in 1952 when memories of the recent war were still green.   Marshall recounts the wartime experiences of Wing-Commander Yeo-Thomas, a long-time resident in France, fluent French speaker and a director of the couturier Molyneux which itself has been set up by a former British army officer after WW1. His experiences were nothing short of horrific and it is a testament to his mental, never mind physical, powers of endurance, and his ingenuity, that he survived to tell his tale through Marshall’s trenchant biography. Read more ...

‘The Old King in his Exile’ by Arno Geiger

TheOld King in His Exile book coverArno Geiger’s new book, The Old King in his Exile [High Wycombe: & Other Stories, 2017] is an uplifting memoir of the years in which he came to terms with his father’s transition into Alzheimer’s. Given that this is a situation we are all more likely to experience than ever before, these first-hand accounts can ease us more gently into understanding and into the ability to adapt and cope with what can only be a frightening experience without such help. Read more ...

‘1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear’ by James Shapiro

1606: Year of Lear book coverMany a bardophile will hope to find James Shapiro’s 1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear [London: Faber & Faber, 2015] in their Christmas stocking. Not only is Shakespeare lauded as our greatest writer but many believe King Lear is his greatest play. Mine was a very early present and I have found it a fascinating study of the events in and around 1606 and how the Bard seems to have reacted to what were current events for him. Not least of these were the Gunpowder Plot and the efforts of the new king, James VI & I, to create the Union of his kingdoms. Read more ...