The Riddle of the Sands

The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers (subtitled, A Record of Secret Service) was published in 1903 and is considered to be the first modern spy thriller.Childers had an interesting background; he was raised in Ireland, educated at Cambridge, and was a clerk in the House of Commons for fifteen years. During the First … Continue reading The Riddle of the Sands

The Unconquerable (While Still We Live) by Helen MacInnes (1944)

Twenty-three year old Sheila Matthews had been living with her Uncle Matthews in London after her parents died when she was very young. As this story begins, she is visiting the Aleksander family in Poland. Andrew Aleksander had met her when he had visited her Uncle in London and had gone home and talked about … Continue reading The Unconquerable (While Still We Live) by Helen MacInnes (1944)

Waverley by Sir Walter Scott

In 1805, Walter Scott sat down to write the opening chapters of Waverley, a book that was to usher in an entirely new type of literary genre, the historical novel.In the same year Scott had published his narrative poem, The Lay of the Minstrel, which was received enthusiastically, but when he submitted the first few … Continue reading Waverley by Sir Walter Scott

The Citadel by A.J. Cronin

The Citadel by A.J. Cronin tells the story of Andrew Manson, a young Scottish medical doctor, who began his career in a Welsh mining town in 1924. Manson was ardent and idealistic and was appalled to discover the general condition of health care in the small community.He hadn’t been there long when an outbreak of … Continue reading The Citadel by A.J. Cronin

A Prince and a Spy by Rory Clements

A Prince and a Spy was published this year (2021) by Pegasus Books. It is set during World War II and the basis of the story is an actual historical event. In 1942, Prince George, Duke of Kent and Queen Elizabeth II’s uncle, died when his military plane crashed in Scotland on its way to … Continue reading A Prince and a Spy by Rory Clements

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

The Enchanted April, published in 1922, was written by the Australian-born British novelist, Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941). She left Sydney as a young child, moved to London and then to Europe, and never returned to Australia. The delicate and delicious fragrance of the freesias came in through the door and floated round Mrs. Wilkins's enraptured … Continue reading The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

The Power of Geography by Tim Marshall

The Power of Geography: Ten Maps That Reveal the Future of Our World was published this year (2021) and is a sequel to Prisoners of Geography which I wrote about here.In that book Tim Marshall focused on the fact that geography has played a major role in history. In this new book he explores ten … Continue reading The Power of Geography by Tim Marshall

A Woman in Berlin (1954)

A Woman in Berlin is a firsthand account of the Red Army’s entry into Berlin during the last days of World War II. The anonymous author was a thirty-four year old female journalist who was living in the city at the time. Berlin had been bombed extensively and ninety percent of its buildings were destroyed. There … Continue reading A Woman in Berlin (1954)