Why was the British army so ill-prepared to fight the second world war?

Conflict comes highly recommended. Two former chiefs of the defence staff, Generals David Richards and Nicholas Carter, praise it for identifying key lessons from the past appropriate to the future. A former MoD strategic adviser, Sir Hew Strachan, says it will ‘challenge the professional and enlighten the generalist’. The US marine corps general and former secretary of defense James Mattis, ‘the warrior monk’, says it is ‘a clear-sighted assessment of war’s future’. And the late Henry Kissinger called it ‘an exceptional book, written by two absolute masters of their profession’. Kissinger had been General David Petraeus’s champion since the latter’s fall from grace as head of the CIA following the

More stirring stories of little ships

‘I found this story by accident,’ begins Julia Jones’s Uncommon Courage, referring to documents belonging to her late father that she discovered in a far corner of her attic. True, but also false. This is not one story: it is a tsunami of stories. Sometimes it’s hard going, as you try to shelve the curiosity aroused by each tale. But the author writes with vim and vigour and with her own curiosity to the fore. It is all, appropriately, as far from dry as one could wish. The imagination finds it difficult to yoke yachting with war – the one solitary and pacific, the other dense with people and mayhem

Too much sound and fury in Christopher Nolan’s movies

In 2006 the director Christopher Nolan filmed an adaptation of one of my novels, written a decade and a half earlier. Other than providing the source book, I had no involvement with any part of the filming. Unlike some novelists who have a Hollywood film made, I was not at all disappointed with the result: it struck me as an intelligent, skilful and imaginative adaptation, both similar to but also subtly different from the novel. That it has since become something known as ‘Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige’ seems slightly odd from my point of view, but that’s the name of the game. Another decade and a half further along, The