Thursday 19 July 2012

A Bit on the Side....Part 3 and the end

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My choice of holiday reading consisted of three books and to my surprise I actually managed to complete all of them during the two weeks. For light relief (and with a project in mind) I chose to read Sharpe's Devil (ISBN 978-0-00-723517-9) by Bernard Cornwell and set five years after Waterloo. The novel sees Sharpe and Harper going to Chile (via St. Helena) where they meet and become embroiled (rather unsuspectingly to be fair) in the plot to rescue the fallen Emperor and to set him up in South America. During the course of the story (in which Sharpe is supposed to be finding out what happened to Don Blas Vivar) out two heroes become involved with the famous Lord Cochrane and so much buckling of swashes results.

The plot to rescue Napoleon came to naught but is a tantalising thought all the same.

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My next title was Cochrane - The Life and Exploits of a Fighting Captain by Robert Harvey (ISBN 1-84119-162-0). This is a fabulous book and I thoroughly enjoyed it from cover to cover. Aside from his fights with the French, the Spanish, the Admiralty, Parliament, the Stock Exchange fraud the book also covers his exploits in the Pacific (and the inevitable rows that followed) and the Mediterranean trying to help the Greeks during the war of independence from the Ottomans. He was very much a naval Don Quixote in my opinion but was probably one of the finest sea captains this country has ever produced.

One of the things that fascinated me about the man was how forward thinking many of his ideas were - which would naturally set him at odds with the establishment. he was great believer in the power of a deterrent in terms of national defence and although his ideas of gas and chemical warfare may be viewed with a degree of incredulity he was firmly convinced that the advantages to be gained by a quick and decisive win far outweighed the horrors and suffering involved in a long and drawn out state of war. He was also a great supporter of the use of steam power for ship propulsion. A fascinating and complex character.

The final book I read whilst away will probably not come as much of a surprise given the subject matter. Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres (ISBN 0-099-47898-6) s set against the backdrop of the collapsing Ottoman Empire, the Gallipoli campaign and the subsequent bitter struggle between the Greeks and the Turks. It is set in south west Anatolia and tells the story of the small combined Christian and Muslim community in a particular village and how they peacefully coexisted for centuries. The comment by the Independent newspaper best describes it as follows: 'A mesmerising patchwork of horror, humour and humanity'.

It is a magnificent read and had me captivated from the first page to the last.

A number of gaming ideas have sprung up from this selection of holiday reads and I will outline these as they take some more clearly defined shape as well as after having tackled some further research.

The pictures are all taken from Amazon but are of the versions I own - apologies then for the poor quality but I could not be bothered to take any better versions as I have a splitting headache and need some sleep!

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