The square jaw and steely gaze are deceptive.
Ostensibly this small book is a jolly and true story (illustrated with some charming black-and-white snapshots) about the military experiences of Wojtek (pronounced Voycheck), the bear who, bought as a cub by Polish soldiers in Persia, earned name, rank and number as the mascot of the 22nd Company of the Artillery Supply Command, 2nd Polish Corps.
‘Was all this the realisation of our war aims?’, Malcolm Muggeridge asked as he surveyed the desolation of Berlin in May 1945.
Seventy years after the RAF repelled the Luftwaffe, the Battle of Britain continues to have a powerful resonance.
Norman Stone forsook the chair of modern history at Oxford university for Ankara after realising that the ‘conversation at high tables would generally have made the exchanges in the bus- stop in the rain outside seem exhilarating’.
Do we need another huge life of Arthur Koestler? He wrote a great deal about himself, including three autobiographical works: Spanish Testament (1937), describing his experience as a death-row prisoner of General Franco, Arrow in the Blue (1952) and The Invisible Writing (1954).
The years between the middle of the 18th century and the middle of the 19th century, argues Holger Hoock, ‘saw Britain evolve from a substantial international power yet relative artistic backwater into a global naval, commercial and imperial superpower as well as a leading cultural power in Europe.
William Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham was hailed by Victorian schoolboys as the man who made England great.
‘The Axis powers and France,’ declared Marshall Pétain and Hitler at Montoire in October 1940, ‘have a common interest in the defeat of England as soon as possible.’ Why this should have been so is one of the many interesting questions to which this book offers no satisfactory answer.
During the night of 9 February 1916, two men were sitting on opposing shores of Lake Tanganyika.
Most of us are brought up not badly, but wrongly.
At a time when the British Army is going through something of a crisis — plucked from the frying pan of Iraq only to be plunged into the fire of Afghanistan, with inadequate equipment, a lack of clear objectives, mounting casualties and dwindling public support — it might not appear to be the best moment to publish a history of the Second Service’s achievements since the days of Cromwell.
Whether the refusal to allow the Confederate states the right to self-determination, flying as it did in the face of the Declaration of Independence, was the first overt act of American imperialism is a question that goes largely undiscussed.
In reviewing Robert Harvey’s The War of Wars: The Epic Struggle Between Britain and France, 1793-1815 in these pages three years ago, I asked the question, ‘Who, in the end, defeated Napoleon Bonaparte?’; or rather, I repeated the question that Harvey himself posed at the end of his comprehensive account of the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.
D-Day: The Battle for Normandy, by Anthony Beevor
The Forgotten Voices of D-Day, by Roderick Bailey, in association with the Imperial War Museum
The English Civil Wars, 1640-1660, by Blair Worden
Memories of an SOE Historian, by M. R. D. Foot
‘Blinker’ Hall, Spymaster, by David Ramsay
Survivors of a Kind, by Brian Bond
The Third Reich at War, 1939-1945, by Richard L. Evans
From the Front Line: Family Letters & Diaries, 1900 to the Falklands & Afghanistan, by Hew Pike