Before I read the war books I was blissfully unaware of so much of his history, all I had to worry about were the peaceful preoccupations of life, love and following a career of my own which in my case veered away from Biology to the precarious prospects of theatre design.
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I am still shocked to think what he endured at such a young age. Throughout my teenage years my peers and I regarded the poppy as a militaristic symbol that you only wore if you were a paid up member of the Conservative Party. We were protesting against the Falklands, following the activities of the women of Greenham Common and supporting CND. So years later it was with some trepidation, when initially approached by the Tower, that I decided to get involved with the Poppies project. Would it be possible for me to create an authentic work without having experienced war?
But in many ways this is the curse of the theatre practitioner. We were bearing witness to the lost energy and spirit of all those individuals who died, we were grateful for their sacrifice and trying to give dignity to their memory. The more theatrical metaphor of the poppies cascading like blood from the window and flowing to break in a wave over the entrance way helped enhance the true horror of the vast numbers involved, a sea of blood created out of , lives.
It caused us collectively to pause and think: why do we go to war, was it worth it and should we not do all in our power to avert it? I can only hope, as we seem to drift towards a small minded nationalist populism, that the sacrifices and warnings have not been in vain and that my children and their generation should not have to undergo a trial by battle. Originally published in Trial by Battle by David Piper is an outstanding rediscover by The Imperial War Museum as part of their Wartime Classics Series now available as part of the commemorations for the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two.
The story is set in the sweltering heat of jungle warfare and based on the authors own experiences in South East Asia during the war.
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The they are posted to the Malayan jungle to fight the Japanese. Some of the most vicious campaigns in WWII was the in the unforgiving steaming jungle. This story is so real and visceral that when you have read Trial by Battle it will linger with you for some time afterwards. I highly recommend Trial by Battle this will give you a real first-hand account of war in South East Asia. Trial by Battle by David Piper was published by Imperial War Museum and was published on 5 th September and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Posted in Uncategorized. Sep 5. Spring , the south coast of England. The Fifth Battalion, Wessex Regiment, wait patiently and nervously for the order to embark. There is boredom and fear, comedy and pathos as the men all drawn from different walks of life await the order to move. This new edition of the classic includes a contextual introduction from IWM which sheds new light on the dramatic true events that so inspired its author.
The Imperial War Museum has just released four wartime classics as part of the 80 th anniversary of the outbreak of Second Wold War and I delighted to be reviewing all four of these classic wartime stories. First released in and went on to sell over a million copies. War stories tell of bravery but also the shock and horror of war. And here Alexander Baron tells the story of the Fifth Battalion, Wessex Regiment as they prepared in the run-up to D-Day and the storming of the beaches. Like any wartime story or film we come to know the leading characters and you know instantly some are not going to make it.
This is the horror of war. A generation of young men ready to take on the Nazi war machine on the coast of Normandy. This is a powerful story told in under pages.
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You come to know each of the men and how they interact with each other. These are ordinary men who were leading a normal working class life now they have left their families and their homes to fight. Some of the storyline is meant to shock, but tells the story as it should be told. It is no surprise that Baron went on to be a successful writer and screenwriter.
The men become a band of brothers as they stand side by side and storm the beaches and the horrors that wait as the beach comes closer. Make no mistake this is no ordinary war story but one that is told as it was.
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A country at a time when it was still rebuilding and lives rebuilding now they could read a novel based on what it was really like. What must it have been like as they started to board the landing craft seeing the beaches ahead and shells exploding on the beaches. It is here in the story. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity of reviewing all four of these wartime classics that the Imperial War Museum have now released to a new generation of readers in a year when we have commemorated the 75 th anniversary of D-Day back in June.
From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron was published by Imperial War Museum and was published on 5 th September and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop. Sep 1. Meet Ellie.
Or is she? Meet Dan. He thinks all he needs is the time and space to make harps in his isolated barn on Exmoor. He enjoys being on his own, far away from other people and — crucially — far away from any risk of surprises. And yes there is a Pheasant that does appear in the storyline. I have always held a fascination for the Harp and have come to appreciate the music. Ellie is happily married to Clive and is almost content with the life they live, until one day when she is out waking she comes across a barn in the middle of nowhere and when she enters Ellie is immediately captivated.
Here she meets Dan and the handmade harps he crafts from wood.
The thing about Dan is that he is not making a business out of what he does as this is purely for love from the woods around the workshop. It becomes apparent almost immediately that there is something special between Ellie and Dan. Their love of the countryside, poetry, nature and music. Ellie is just delightful. Often wandering the country lanes reciting poetry she has written. She comes across as someone who is a bit of a loner and so when she meets Dan and is beguiled by his craftsmanship. It is then that Ellie tells Dan that she wants to play the harp. Hazel Prior has crafted such a warm and charming story that you just wanted to spend time with both Ellie and Dan who is just a little different from most people and sees the world through different eyes.
Wonderful characters and the setting of Exmoor is very descriptive. And yes Phineas the Pheasant does a play and integral part in the story of Ellie and Dan but I am not going to spoil the story for you. A novel to make you smile and lift your heart. Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior was published by Bantam Press and was published on 2 nd May and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Aug Leonard and Hungry Paul are two quiet friends who see the world differently. They use humour, board games and silence to steer their way through the maelstrom that is the 21st Century. The figure is actually closing his ears to block out a scream. A painting can be so misunderstood and still become so famous. It is about those uncelebrated people who have the ability to change their world, not by effort or force, but through their appreciation of all that is special and overlooked in life. Every now and then a book comes along and just completely blows away.
You might well ask why? There is no crime being committed or even a fast paced storyline.
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This is a story of two friends Leonard and Hungry Paul, just two ordinary lives. Leonard is now alone following the death of his mother and trying to cope with the grief and that is so much worse when you are alone. Hungry Paul is still living with his parents and only works on occasions, leaving him dependent on his retired parents much to the chagrin of his sister Grace who is much more independent and successful and also about to be married. Both in their own way are different whereas Leonard is desperate to find a relationship and that he quite fancies the girl in the office but does not have the social confidence to ask and that Hungry Paul is happy with his own life living at home and the daily order of things.