Six Months in 1945

The end of the Second World War is the subject of Six Months in 1945. Instead of focusing on the military defeats of Germany and Japan, the focus is on the changing relationship between the Big Three as they move from allies to enemies. The book starts with the Yalta conference and how the interpretation of the agreements reached affects events and the relationships through to the Potsdam conference and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan.

As well as events and the agreements, Dodds also looks at the change in personnel amongst the Big Three leaders and the impact that this has as 1945 progresses. The main change is in the American presidency, with Churchill’s replacement coming at the end of the period focused on.

An interesting read that looks to chart how the wartime alliance led to the Cold War.

Rating (out of 5): ****

The Pirates! In an adventure with Moby Dick

The Pirate Captain decides that their ship has seen better days (with the mast constantly collapsing, he’s probably right). The Pirates buy a new ship from Cutlass Liz. She’s famed for dealing with non-payers brutally. Which could be a major problem as the Pirates don’t have the 6000 doubloons the new ship costs. The Pirate Captain has a number of ideas to raise the necessary money, but they don’t work out and keep on bumping into a character called Ahab, who lost his leg to a whale and wants revenge. The reward to anyone who catches the whale? 6000 doubloons. The Pirates look to find the whale, claim the reward and pay for their ship.

An easy read and fun story. The pirates are named according to distinguishing features that they possess and the Pirate Captain is a lovable character, but often seems out of his depth. I recommend this to everyone.

Rating (out of 5): *****

Book review: White Gold

White Gold sees a scientist murdered after a tour of Europe in which he has been giving lectures about White Gold, a potential new source of power. Dan Taylor, an old friend, soon contacts the ex-wife of the scientist and they investigate the murder, believing there to be more behind it.

The pace is quick throughout, with events taking place across the globe. It is described as a suspense story on Amazon, but I would disagree with that; I didn’t feel that much suspense was built up due to the rapid pace of events throughout. Also, Taylor is often very lucky, which prevents suspense being built up (but does keep the pace moving). The book felt quite formulaic (murder, investigation, travel around the world in a race against time, action ending), although there was a nice link back to earlier in the story at the action ending. There was nothing that was wrong with the book, but I didn’t feel that there was anything to make it stand out from the crowd.

Rating (out of 5): ***

Book review: Eyeshot

Eyeshot sees a couple suffer an apparent breakdown in the desert, miles from anywhere. However, closer inspection reveals bullet holes in the bonnet and the couple realise that they are trapped with a sniper taking shots at them. With no way of contacting the outside world, the race is on to reach nightfall. Or for help to arrive.

Eyeshot is described as, ‘the most gripping suspense thriller you will ever read’. I found it to be a gripping suspense thriller and read most of it in one go. Thrillers often see multiple changes of location, sharp bursts of action and passages of time; in Eyeshot, the location is the desert and the book takes place within a timescale measured in hours as opposed to days or weeks. The suspense builds gradually as the couple try their best to ensure their survival against a sniper they cannot see (but know roughly where and how far away he is) and increases further still as time progresses and the sniper and his assistant try to get the couple into the open. The suspense is built over a long period of the book and then the action is unleashed at quite a pace. There is also an excellent twist to the end of the book as the action stage is reached. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it strongly to anyone who enjoys suspense being built up over a long period of time.

Rating (out of 5): *****

Book review: A Man Walks Onto A Pitch

A Man Walks Onto A Pitch sees Harry Redknapp pick the greatest starting 11, in his opinion, from each decade in English football from the 1950s onwards. As well as picking the team, Redknapp also shares stories concerning those he picks and some general thoughts about football.

Redknapp justifies all picks that he makes and lots of them are quite clear choices. I only have memories of those from the Premiership era playing and would agree with the vast majority of choices, although not including Eric Cantona was perhaps the biggest surprise considering the impact he made and how he became such an important part of Manchester United.

The stories Redknapp shares are entertaining, although I had heard a fair few before, sometimes attributed to other people. The book was an interesting look through the decades and who Redknapp considered the best players. I recommend the book to all fans of football.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: London 2012 Olympic Games

London 2012 Olympic Games looks at each day of the Olympic Games held in London in 2012. Each day is covered by about six pages and starts with the medals available each day. The big medal story of the day is then covered at the start, with a round-up of other medals won following. Each day is then brought to a close with a selection of photographs, a list or World and Olympic records set on the day, the Olympic moment of the day and the Team GB moment of the day.

Despite taking a brief overview of the day, I found that there was more than enough information in there to remind me about the Olympics of 2012. The photographs cover a wide range of sports and athletes and show the joy of victory and the despair of defeat. The opening and closing ceremonies were also included, with quotes from those who made speeches; the quotes from the closing ceremony provide a reminder of just how successful an Olympic Games London held.

The book finishes with a list of the all the medal winners for every event at London 2012. I enjoyed reading about an Olympic Games I enjoyed and that had the country gripped, whilst the range of photographs really added something to the book. A brief section of the work that had gone into preparing the Games (including the bid) would have been nice, instead of just focusing on the (superb) final product; the sport and competition is justifiably the focus.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: Defender

Defender is the first book in the Alex Morgan series; Morgan is an agent of Intrepid, a specially trained and secretive group at Interpol. In Defender, a coup is about to take place in the African country of Malfajiri. Two British agents have been lost (one confirmed killed, one suspected of having gone rogue). Morgan goes to Mafajiri as the coup starts and chases the rogue British agent (Victor Lundt) in the aftermath, leading to a tense final battle in Sydney and discovering who was backing the agent.

Morgan is described as part Jason Bourne and part James Bond, which is quite an accurate description; his battle in Sydney with Lundt is something that would not be out of place in a James Bond film. The action is described in plenty of detail and focuses on different characters involved, moving quickly from one to another to keep the pace rattling along. There is also plenty of lead up to the action, putting it into a context and showing why Morgan takes the action he does. A good thriller and I would be happy to read the second book in the series (Hunter) and continue to follow Morgan’s exploits.

Rating (Out of 5): ****