Inspired by May More’s meme #Bookmatters to write about my top 9 non-fiction books, I thought why not! There would have been 10 books, however, I had 5 more for that slot which would have been overkill! I used to be a big reader of military books, however, that phase of my life has past, but the books remain. I will try to a get a balance if I can, but I promise nothing!
VROOM WITH A VIEW – Peter Moore
Missy bought this first book for me in a series by Australian travel writer Peter Moore. Having made the decision that his life was pointing towards a long term relationship and children in the next few years, there were a few things he just had to do. Moore’s first in a trilogy of books about travelling across Italy on a 1960’s bright red Vespa scooter is wonderful. Food, people and stunning countryside are all detailed in Moore’s dry Australian humour. Aside from the additional two books that followed on, he has written hilarious books on discovering his homeland. ‘No Shitting In The Toilet’ is not one to be missed!
SATURDAY AT M.I.9 – Airey Neeve
For those of you who have never heard of the author, a quick internet search with tell you he was once an MP, he was murdered by the IRA in a car bomb and had a distinguished military career in WWII. He also served during the Nuremberg Trails of Nazi war criminals, however, he was much more. Neeve was shot down over France as part of a bomber formation. He was captured and escaped numerous times before finally being sent to Colditz, a camp for persistent escapees. The details of his final escape have to be read to be appreciated to do them justice. Safe to say he finally ended up back in London only to be put behind a desk and not return to the air. His new job was the coordination of the network of resistance fighters in France to aid the escape of valuable pilots. This books plots the entire story and reads like a piece of elaborate fiction. I love this book!
WAR DIARIES – Field Marshal Lord Alan Brooke
I read this book when hospitalised for spinal surgery some 12 years ago. Yes, it is a collection of diary entries and letters to Brooke’s wife, however, it also reveals the strain he was under during the war years and his continual clashes with Winston Churchill. The letters to his wife, censored of course, are full of a longing not to let the country down and return to an England that would be normal again. This book gave me a real appreciation for people in charge during times of global crisis and the mental strain they are under. It is a big book, however, within his words you build a relationship where you do root for him, even if knowing with hindsight that his dream will one day be realised, whereas he did not!
PHILLIPS PRACTICAL ATLAS
I included this as I have had this copy since I was small child and being lucky enough to travel from an very early age, an atlas was like my very own diary. What strikes me about an old atlas is the change in the global political map. USSR is stamped across a large piece of real estate and at the time of going to print the UK still had a Commonwealth. As I learned in school, topographical information is only as accurate as the second is gathered!
SELOUS SCOUTS, TOP SECRET WAR – Lt.Col Ron Reid Daly
Having visited Zimbabwe many times I was familiar with it’s history and the transition from the former Rhodesia. Whilst the decisions were being made in the comfort of the UK Foreign Office as to how and when the Zimbabwe could become independent, a war was being fought on the ground. This particular book is not popular in Zimbabwe as it outlines the not only how the ZANUPF and ZAPU freedom fighters attempted to take back their country, it covers in astonishing detail how a small group of highly trained soldiers (by UK and Australian SAS) caused such havoc behind enemy lines. The Selous Scout were highly trained, committed and attained an almost fearsome dark magic persona in the eyes of the freedom fighters. Swimming in crocodile infested lakes to smuggle arms, underground bunkers and secretly creeping into enemy camps and eating food with them to gather intelligence makes this book my all time favourite.
SEE YOU IN NOVEMBER – Peter Stiff
If the Selous Scouts book wasn’t hair raising enough, this excellent account of counter intelligence, assassination teams and surveillance will have your bum on the edge of your seat at times. Following a young Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo on their international travels applying pressure on the UK to release Zimbabwe from colonial rule was a craft in it self. Sometime these individuals were seconds from deaths, and yet totally oblivious. This book is sad in many ways as the individuals who fought equally as hard to retain their beloved Rhodesia as those looking to lose it, ends with a foregone conclusion. Emotional wrecked and angry at the UK’s change policy you see first hand what generations lost at the swipe of a pen.
THE WONDER BOOK OF AIRCRAFT
This book was given to me in 1987 by my retired team leader. He was a small, wrinkled and kind-hearted former sailor who thought I would like the book as we worked in the aviation industry. It was printed in 1904 and looks at the future of aviation. The predictions at the time were so far fetched, and yet in today’s terms fall short of anything the illustrators could have come up with! I love this book, especially the final page that depicts a machine that looks like a helicopter travelling between roof tops of sky scraper building. ‘This could be reality by the turning of the 21st Century’ the comment shows. Odd to think we had people on the moon only 60 years after the book was published!
STORM COMMAND – General Sir Peter De La Billiere
This was one of the first modern military books I owned. Focusing on the relationship between two highly effective leaders with opposing styles, I found the daily verbal combat between De La Billiere and Schwarzkopf an education. I learnt a lot about people reading this book and also about the balance you have to strike when in command. I was training to become a Commissioned Officer at the time and could not have found a better literary role model. I will read it again and see after 25 years if I have the same opinion!
THE BIG BOOK OF LEGS- Dian Hanson
Missy bought this marvelous book for me years ago. Aside from the fantastic front cover that acts as removable underwear, the contents track the course of history and how legs have shaped our world. The book is in sections by eras starting from legs being used to advertise clothing in the 1920s through to modern times and promotion girls for high end sports cars. The pictures are amazing as they plot female fashions, and oh boy, the legs!!