Book That I've Been Reading

I just started reading “War & Peace, FDR’s Final Odyssey D-Day To Yalta.” by Nigel Hamilton.
It’s the third book in his trilogy of FDR’s literally assuming the role of Commander - In-Chief.
It’s the best account I’ve ever read about FDR’s dealings with Churchill, and the prosecution of the war leading up to D-Day, and beyond.
Mr. Hamilton’s 10 year, three book opus reads like a novel. It’s a real page turner, and the depth of his research is amazing. A must read for any WWII buff.


I’m going to add the book I’ve started reading , hope you dont mind

Finally got round to reading Wilfred Thesiger “Arabian sands” and I’m loving it so far

Also went to a book shop where I read a couple of chapters of Thesiger’s autobiography “The Life of My Choice” and wow, what an incredible life this man lived!

I actually felt a little envious of his experiences of fighting in Abyssinia in WW2. It must have been quite something and dare I say it , wonderful , to treck across mountains and creep through the scrubland of the Ethiopian highlands with indigenous guerillas to hunt and ambush occupying Italian fascist soldiers.

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I recently read Caitlin Doughty’s From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death. In it she takes an American cremationist’s eye to ancient and revolutionary funerial practices currently taking place all over the world, and challenges her own education in “normal.” It’s fairly light reading–in treatment, if not in the occasionally… descriptive! subject matter, and I’d consider it pretty Atlas-y. Also, hello from my cat.


I love the cover art of that book , its awesome , like some kind of art nouveau cyber punk skull

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thanks for the comment- i am reading a great book as well on Stalin in Power that i would recommend by Robert Tucker

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WW II buff here & love FDR & Eleanor. So, thanks!

Reading D-Day Girls: The spies who armed the Resistance, sabotaged the Nazis, and helped win WW II, by Sarah Rose. Worth your time. Not mentioned in article [AO: S.O.E. Movement S.O.E Monument ] or comments Andrée Borrel, Lise de Baissac [awarded Croix de Guerre and The Legion of Honor], Odette Sansom [received The George Cross], Yvonne Rudellat, and Mary Herbert. Fascinating and proof of the power & courage of women.


Thank you for the reccomendation atiba19971. It was hard to mention all the details of the SOE movement in the post , so I focused primarily on the story of Violette Szabo because she is the one portrayed on the monument and had a fascinating and tragic life.

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Should you get around to reading this book do not skip the Epilogue-I might even read it first-because it carries through on the women in death or after the war. Pay close attention to Andrée Borrel, p. 282, a true French woman!

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I will definitely read this book at some point in the future , resistance movements towards the Nazi’s and other fascist systems greatly interest me.

Have you seen the old movie “The war of the shadows” by any chance ?

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Haven’t actually. Will keep it in mind. Thanks.

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Just completed Read and Riot: A Pussy Riot Guide To Activism by Pussy Riot member, Nadya Tolokonnikova. Expected mostly rocker fluff…NOT! She is very well-read and well-versed on the history of dissent in addition to being an excellent writer! Not your mother’s rock band.


i read War & Peace, i cannot wait to read the other two books
great recommendation


@ sharonstepman
The other two books are great as well.
As you’re reading them, you almost feel as if you are part of FDR’s inner circle.
He truly was a great Commander-In-Chief. Most presidents leave the war operations to their generals, and admirals, but FDR was right in there leading the fray.
You won’t be disappointed.

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In the past month I finished reading two more of Wilfred Thesiger’s books.

I read the “Marsh Arabs” about the decade, after having served with the SAS during WW2, that he spent living with the Arabic “Maʻdān” tribes in the Tigris-Euphrates marshlands of Iraq.

It was really interesting reading it for a number of reasons :

  1. These marshes no longer exist , they were drained and the Maʻdān tribes displaced and destroyed by Saddam Hussein in a genocide.

  2. The culture and lifestyle that these tribes had practiced for thousands of years was completely sustainable , their houses , fuel , boats , the food for their water buffalo livestock etc. were made entirely from the reeds. When Saddam and the modern world destroyed the marshes and their cultures he destroyed a totally sustainable way of life.

  3. Weird things that I never knew , like the fact that wild boars were the most dangerous animals of these marshlands and attacked , killed and ate people and especially children, or that there was a transgender subculture among these tribes, that they used datura for fishing or about the blood feuds and vendettas that went on for generations.

  4. It was written by one of the world’s most fascinating travel writers and explorers and I love the work of Thesiger.

  5. Spoke with a great uncle of mine in Edinburgh over the phone who spent many years in Lebanon and travelled a lot for business in the Middle East. Turns out he had visited these marshes in Iraq once. It was incredible hearing him describe some of the same things as were mentioned in the book , very interesting indeed.

Then I read the entire autobiography “The Life of my choice” which was absolutely amazing. Particularly about his colourful childhood in Ethiopia/ Abyssinia , difficulties when being sent back to England dealing with the vicious bullying of boarding school and the reverse culture shock of being in the UK , his time in the Sudan living with tribal peoples and exploring and hunting lion with them with spears , in the SAS fighting in Abyssinia against the Italians and then in the Western Sahara against the Germans.

Basically , I highly reccomend both of these books , if you like adventure , exploration and history and enjoy reading about great lives lived to the full then you will fall in love with these books.

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I pretty much exclusively stick to narrative literature, anything that isn’t written as a story is very difficult for me to get into. With that in mind, I’m currently reading one of my favorite authors at creating page-turners out of historical periods and cultural observations: James Clavell.

Out of his Asian Saga I’ve read Shogun, Tai-Pan, Gai-jin and am currently about 2/3rds through Whirlwind. It’s not as captivating as the previous ones as I feel he worked better with older historical periods than the then-contemporary 1970s of this novel. I also feel like his insight into East Asian cultures was more observant than what he does with the Middle East here.

He strikes me as the kind of author that would nowadays be polemic out of “cultural appropriation, colonial mentality”, etc. but my biggest takeaway from his books is that he’s a universal cynic regarding the human condition.

At the end of the day almost all his characters, regardless of culture, nationality, sexuality and so on, are capable of being terrible to each other for all sorts of “justifiable” reasons. Reminds me a bit of George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire in that sense and how natural (or supernatural) forces sometimes show up to remind humans of our place.

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Never heard of this author before but I notice that he wrote the screenplay for “The Great Escape” , a film I love , so I might check him out at some point.

I think there are a lot of authors that are sort of labeled as being apologists for colonialism or misogynist and things like that and sometimes rightfully so .
The example that comes to mind is Hemmingway is often disliked for things like being an example of toxic masculinity and his big game hunting. But I think there is a lot of nuance to things and I think simple narratives often end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater simply because they may not exactly align to contemporary ethical codes .

Also its important to remember the historical and social context of the times that these authors wrote in, things were different , values were different , if Hemmingway was alive today I can see him being very sympathetic to conservation albeit in a “penitent butcher” kind of way.

Also , often these writers were back then figures who would be considered vanguards of the left and progressive for example in the case of Hemmingway he was a firm and committed supporter of the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil war.

Anyway, thanks for sharing !

No problem, I’ll be looking into Wilfred Thesiger too. What would you describe his writing style as? Is he a bit dry and academic or more “adventure”-y?

From the Jon Krakauer and Aron Ralston I’ve read, I do find “biographies with journalism” entertaining, it’s just a matter of brisk pacing.

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Well his writing style I guess I would describe as being sparse , minimalistic and economical with words but only in a few places dry ( Largely when he talks about Eton etc.). Not at all academic in fact I think he sort of truly disliked that world , he didn’t do particularly well at university and he preferred the primacy of raw experience rather than second hand book learning through the filter and mediation of a pompous professor (something else I feel I deeply empathise with him about).

There is a weird bipolarity to him where he seems to feel a strong need to be attached to upper class institutions like Eton and the Royal family but an even stronger need to routinely and almost ritually shed all of those airs and graces and high society pretentions and live humbly with traditional peoples under difficult conditions often at frequent risk of death.

It’s hard to describe really but after reading him I think he mastered a writing style that encapsulated both the desert , marsh , mountain environments that he traveled in and the way he traveled which was in the most bare essentials and stoic way. Alternatively maybe he was just writing in the reserved stiff upper lip/ unemotive manner of his class or in a style that conciously emmulated the explorer writers of the Victorian age , maybe a homage of sorts ?

This documentary from the 60s gives a brilliant taste of his writing and lifestyle , he narrates large parts of it.