February 2014 literature news

PUBLISHED: 14:37 28 February 2014 | UPDATED: 14:37 28 February 2014


Curl up with a good book. Sometimes it’s all the company you need, and local authors would be delighted to share some hours with you

Shattered lives and a sense of service

The debate over the ‘Blackadder Effect’ on our perception of officers’ conduct in the First World War is brilliantly dissected in Public Schools And The Great War, a new book co-authored by Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College.

Seldon linked up with David Walsh, who has led many school and private visits to the battlefields of both World Wars, for Public Schools And The Great War. Drawing on fresh evidence, they challenge conventional wisdom that it was the public school ethos that caused needless suffering on the Western Front and elsewhere. They

distinguish between the younger front-line officers with recent school experience and the older ‘top brass’ whose mental outlook was shaped more by military background than by memories of school.

The authors argue that, in general, the young officers’ public school education imbued them with idealism, stoicism and a sense of service. While this helped them care selflessly for the men under their command in conditions of extreme danger, it resulted in their death rate being nearly twice the national average.

This poignant and thought-provoking work covers not just those who made the final sacrifice, but also those who returned, and whose lives were shattered as a result of their physical and psychological wounds.

Seldon and Walsh conclude that, 100 years on, public school values and character training, far from being concepts to be mocked, remain relevant and that the present generation would benefit from studying them and the example of their predecessors.

Seldon has written or edited over 30 books, including standard works on Prime Ministers John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He is also the authorised historian of 10 Downing Street.

£25, hardback, ISBN: 9781781593080, www.pen-and-sword.co.uk


Those little gems

Fans of The Shire Library series – which often celebrates the offbeat and the quirky – include Alan Titchmarsh and Joanna Lumley. No doubt they, like us, will be interested in its re-launch this year in new jackets designed by Pater Ashley.

Shire Library was founded in Princes Risborough, Bucks, back in 1962 by John Rotheroe and has included such gems as Classic MGs and The History of Duelling. 2014 sees 100 books in the new jackets and they will include Garden Cities by Bucks author Sarah Rutherford. Other goodies include Witches and Witchcraft, Spas and Spa Visiting and Garden Gnomes!



Why do they do it?

High Wycombe writer, journalist and broadcaster Andy Hughes guides us through centuries of political abuse and sheer stupidity in his highly entertaining A History of Political Scandals. Politicians have mixed scandal with all kinds of unexpected things; eggs, adult movies, shoes, beefburgers, turkeys, ice cream, you name it, politicians have been somehow embroiled in it. A History of Political Scandals is a highly entertaining read that brings together the most outrageous tales from the history books of politics.

£12.99 ISBN: 9781844680894



From the horse’s mouth

Sarah Brown of Bourne End in South Bucks has won competitions for her artwork and had a picture displayed in the National Gallery, but her first published work appears in a work by her daughter, Sue Palmer MCSP.

Sarah has illustrated ‘Sue’s Helpful Horse Hints’. Horses have been a part of her life since she was a young child when she helped her father on his milk round with his pony and trap, and it is through Sarah that Sue developed her passion for the equestrian world.

‘Sue’s Helpful Horse Hints’ is an amusing and inspiring collection of proven practical horsey tips from Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist and Equine Behaviourist Sue Palmer. Guaranteed to make you smile, this book encourages the reader to look at life from the horse’s point of view, with practical tips. Sue says: “I’m very excited that this book has reached publication, it’s been a real family effort. When I approached my mum, who has always loved drawing and painting, with the suggestion that she come up with cartoons to go with the hints and we put them together in a book, she was as excited as I was. And with my husband Simon publishing the finished article, I’m exceptionally pleased with the end result!”

Published by Simon Palmer, Into The Lens Ltd, www.holistichorsehelp.com.


Down on the farm

Cheery Reading-based artist, writer and illustrator Simon Pink has seen his second children’s book published by Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie Ltd, Kassandra Koala visits the Farm. It’s about a koala who loves taking photographs of everything she finds, is fun and interactive and aimed at young children.



Keep the lights on!

Iver author Dr Jonathan Oates has continued his look at ‘Foul Deeds’ with a new biography of serial killer John Christie, whose crimes can still send shivers down the spine after 60 years. As Ealing Borough Archivist and Local History Librarian, Jonathan is in the perfect spot to poke into grisly crimes and murders.

This reassessment uses police and Home Office files within a compelling insight into Christie’s life and crimes.

£12,99, ISBN: 9781781592885



Natural beauty captured

Don’t forget our walks expert Steve Davison has a new book: The North Wessex Downs. It captures the beauty and history of the majestic rolling chalk downlands of See www.steve-davison.co.uk.

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