Ian Fleming had few pretensions about the literary merit of his James Bond novels, writes Phil Shannon.
Phil Shannon reviews Oxford University historian Marc Mulholland's book about the 19th century French Republican and communist revolutionary Emmanuel Barthélemy.
When conversing with commoners, members of the British Royal Family are instructed to always ask the question "And what do you do?" For, after all, this gives the working class something to talk about – their job.
But Phil Shannon says it is high time the question was returned in kind by asking of the royals: "And what do you do?"
Considering the terrors that Mikhail Sholokhov lived through and nearly perished from in Stalinist Russia, it is a wonder that the Soviet novelist retained any sense of humour. Yet he did.
Denis Diderot is now remembered, if at all, only as the name of a Metro railway station in an unfashionable neighbourhood of Paris.
In his day, however, the 18th century Enlightenment philosopher was quite the subversive intellectual who parted the ideological fog of religious, moral and political backwardness for a view of the sunnier uplands of today’s society, writes Phil Shannon.
Dr Richard Sorge, a German communist who penetrated the innermost political and military circles of the Japanese and German governments for a decade from the mid-1930s, only ever had one good thing to say about the Nazis.
Nuclear weapons need never have been built. Our world could have been free from the “frozen tableau of terror” of 9500 nuclear warheads capable of destroying the world 100 times over, as Peter Watson comprehensively shows in Fallout: Conspiracy, Cover-Up and the Deceitful Case for the Atom Bomb.
Australia’s capitalists were quick to see the tremendous marketing potential of Anzac Day by aligning their consumer brand with the officially revered military brand of Anzac. As early as 1916, the “commercial appeal” of the word “Anzac” was being used to flog various foodstuffs, beverages, soaps, toys, all sorts of apparel, Rexona healing ointment (tested in the trenches!), watches, matches, jewellery, cafés and restaurants.
Mutiny on The Western Front: 1918
Big Sky Publishing, 2018
For those who may have been living in a cave without electricity for a while, it may need pointing out that the Australian establishment likes to conduct extravagant khaki-and-slouch-hat festivals to annually celebrate the gore-filled Australian invasion of Gallipoli on April 25 in 1915.
The Club: How the Premier League Became the Richest, Most Disruptive Business in Sport|
Joshua Robinson & Jonathan Clegg
John Murray Publishing, 2019
If football is a simple game (get the ball, pass the ball), then the football business is even simpler (buy the best players, bank the profits).
American Heiress: The Kidnapping, Crimes & Trial of Patty Hearst
Profile Books, 2017, 371 pages
“Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people.” With this hyperbolic declaration by “General Field Marshall” Cinque M’tume (the nom-de-plume of a Black prison escapee), the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) introduced itself to the American people in the early 1970s.
Operation Chaos: The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers & Each Other
Picador, 2018, 351 pages
When Footballers Were Skint: A Journey in Search of the Soul of Football
Biteback Publishing, 2018
Bill Leivers, who played for Manchester City from 1953-1964, wryly recalls to the British journalist Jon Henderson in When Footballers Were Skint about how the football club owner once rewarded the players on the train home from a successful away game, not with a fistful of sterling for a few drinks all round, but with a packet of Polo Mints.
If the assassination-plotters and coup-conspirators in the German military had succeeded in their many attempts from 1938 to 1944 to remove Hitler and overthrow the Nazi regime, then entirely different options to years of mass military deaths, civilian slaughter and horrendous concentration camps would have come into play.
One Last Spin: The Power & Peril of the Pokies
Scribe, 2018, 325 pages
Ever wondered if it possible to win against the pokies? Why not ask someone who should know, like a poker machine technician.
“I make these machines in order to grab your money,” one such techie said when asked by freelance Sydney journalist, Drew Rooke. “I would not be so stupid to play myself.”
Triumph: Jesse Owens & Hitler’s Olympics
Head of Zeus, 2014
He may have been the world’s greatest athlete at the time, writes Jeremy Schaap in Triumph, but Jesse Owens was also a Black American. Therefore Owens, the winner of four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, was refused a room at hotel after hotel on his arrival back in New York, until a agreed on condition that he use the service entrance.