Momentum: The Struggle for Peace, Politics and the People

By Mo Mowlam

Rating: 4 stars

These are the political memoirs of Mo Mowlam, detailing her time in Northern Ireland (including the time before government when she was Shadow NI minister) and afterwards in the Cabinet Office. She’s a very good writer, with a personal style that still gets across everything that she wants to clearly. She pulls few punches and makes it clear that she was forced out of the Northern Ireland office while she still felt that she had a lot to contribute to the process. I was reading this just at the time that Sinn Fein announced that they were considering support for the PSNI and I thought how much she’s still missed. I hadn’t realised that people had wanted her to stand against Blair for leader of the party in 2001. That would have been very interesting. I wonder what Britain under its first woman PM would have been like?

Book details

ISBN: 9780340793954
Year of publication: 2002

Homage to Catalonia

By George Orwell

Rating: 3 stars

I enjoyed this memoir of Orwell’s time serving in the fight against fascism during the Spanish Civil War. This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while but it wasn’t until it turned up on the reading list for a course on the Spanish Civil War that I’m doing in December which gave me the kick to read it.

One problem that I, having no prior knowledge whatsoever of the War, found is that Orwell throws you right into it, with very little background. I found myself googling various acronyms that he splattered through without explanation. The book is a very good memoir of the war as he saw it, and the problems that he encountered, both military and political, but I wouldn’t recommend it for an overview of the Spanish Civil War.

Book details

ISBN: 9780156421171
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc.(Harvest Book)
Year of publication: 1938


By Peter D. Smith

Rating: 4 stars

This was a short biography of Albert Einstein, of whom I’m somewhat of an admirer. I found the bits about Einstein the man particularly interesting: he found it difficult to relate to women, and he had several affairs while he was married. He also had an illegitimate daughter with the woman who would become his first wife, but all correspondence relating to this was suppressed until recently (after his son, Hans Albert, died). Although some of this has been released, much of it still remains hidden, so very little about this daughter, Lisearl, is known.

Book details

ISBN: 9781904341154
Publisher: Haus Publishing
Year of publication: 2003

Pig Ignorant

By Nicholas Fisk

Rating: 3 stars

This is a short memoir of Fisk’s early life between leaving school in the late ’30s and his being called up for the war in ’44 or ’45 (not actually made clear). I quite like Fisk’s work and I enjoyed this broad-brush picture of life before and during the war.

Book details

ISBN: 9780744523515
Publisher: Walker
Year of publication: 1992

‘Rommel?’ ‘Gunner Who?’: A Confrontation in the Desert

By Spike Milligan

Rating: 2 stars

This is the second part of Millagan’s war memoirs, this time in Africa, and I’m really not sure what to make of it. It’s written in Milligan’s trademark surreal style, with annotated pictures and occasional “Hitlergrams” (little imagined conversations, between Hitler others, often commenting on something earlier in the chapter) but it also has quite stunning description of the landscape and the odd touching moment when you feel the horror of war. But the problem that I had is that the book doesn’t really seem to be hugely coherent, nor does it give you much of an overview of what’s happening, although I guess this is what it’s like for a lowly gunner in the army.

I’d say one for Milligan fans only.

Book details

ISBN: 9780140041071
Publisher: Penguin
Year of publication: 1974

« Newer Posts

Powered by WordPress