Monday, May 17, 2010


Reading first hand accounts of battles is a two edged sword. On the one hand the author has a unique insight into what went on, but on the other can get bogged down in the minutiae of what they did. Robert Leckie in Challenge For The Pacific. The Bloody Six-Month Battle of Guadalcanal never falls into the second of these problems.
As a marine of the First Marine Division Leckie was in the thick of the fighting on Guadalcanal, but he never lets that overpower his enthralling description of the campaign. Leckie gives equal time to Japanese and American Admirals as well as marines and Japanese infantrymen as he builds his detailed picture of what happened in this crucial campaign of the Pacific War.

Overall this book was an amazing read. Leckie has a deft hand and is able to let the facts speak for themselves but is also not afraid to let a dry humour come through as well. After finishing this book I felt that I had learnt a lot about the battle and now realise why it was such a big deal.

(On a separate note viewers of The Pacific may recognise the name Robert Leckie, or 'Lucky' as he was called by his squad mates, as being one of the main point of view characters in the series.)

Star Wars

I know what it's like to be a collector. Comics, games, toys, books the list goes on. Though I've always been limited by space and income, but I understand the urge and attraction to needing the latest thing in your collection. Sometimes though you are given access to a collection that just blows your mind. The collection in question is Stephen J Sansweet's Star Wars collection, which part of is shown in the book Star Wars. 1,000 Collectibles, Memorabilia and Stories From a Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Sansweet has the largest private collection of Star Wars collectibles in the world that he houses in a five thousand foot square converted hen house. At the start of 2009 his collection manager, Anne Neumann, had catalogued 55,352 individual items into the database they are creating, but no one knows what percentage of the collection this represents. (Sansweet thinks its less than half.) WOW! Now that's a collection. The book itself is a series of photos of items in Sansweet's collection with stories to do with how he collected them and sometimes stories about expensive items that got away.

On a personal note it's fun to see items like those I owned as a kid in his collection. Things that came in cereal boxes in Australia as well as action figures and the like. This is a fun book to flick through and just realise how much Star Wars merchandise there really is.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Ambassador's Mission

Please don’t be put off by the cover of this book. It’s actually a lot better than the generic fantasy painting of a man-in-a-hooded-cloak would suggest. This is the first book in a new trilogy from Trudi Canavan and takes place after the events of The Black Magicians Trilogy. The story itself is interesting, even if you are not totally familiar with the earlier series, and will keep you turning the pages as the tension mounts and the story unfolds. Expect conspiracies, daring-do, and magic. Canavan is good at pacing her stories and makes sure that the story unfolds while still leaving you wanting more. Also Canavan’s writing style means that the reader is never bombarded by words or events, and the reader is never left drowning beneath pointless descriptions and minute detail. All in all I enjoyed reading this and look forward to the rest of the series.
One for genre fans, I just wish Orbit had put a better cover on it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Jesus Hates Zombies!

Stephen Lindsay has written a great series that is a headlong rush of action and historical figures. Jesus Hates Zombies featuring Lincoln Hates Werewolves is over-the-top fun in a small package.
The basic premise of the story is this. Jesus is on Earth battling zombies unleashed by Zombie-Gabriel. Jesus is joined by axe wielding Abe Lincoln who has been sent forward in time. Along the way Jesus is joined by shotgun wielding Elvis, foul mouthed Mother Teresa, and the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazard amongst others.

This fun little series is not for the easily offended, otherwise strap yourself in and enjoy the ride. One to look out for.

The Battle of Arnhem

The battle of Arnhem in 1944 was a bold attempt to end World War Two by Christmas. A carpet of paratroopers would capture major bridges at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem while the tanks of XXX Corps linked up with them and drove into the Ruhr region of Germany. Unfortunately things did not go to plan and while the paratroopers did their part, XXX Corps could not get past Nijmegen and help the British paratroopers around Arnhem bridge.
The British paratroopers were led by General R E Urquhart who has written an amazing first hand account of the battle called Arnhem. Written with style, good humour and intelligence, Arnhem is a fascinating look at a battle from a major participants point of view. Urquhart describes what was going on around him with an easy to read prose, while also showing that he has thought about the battle by analyzing decisions he made, or incidents that could have gone differently. He is also quick to mention mistakes he made and highlight the bravery of the soldiers around him.

Arnhem is a great read and worth tracking down if you want to know more about this battle and what it was like fighting in it.