The Chatham Rats by David Mariner (1969) was an interesting, plunging, hair-raising espionage tale.
It starts out kind of slow--only it's not really slow. It's more the fact that you know no more than the characters, or less actually, and so it's a bit confusing for the first couple of chapters. The story itself, told in third person, but with one main character and about three other sub-main-characters who most of the action is focused around, is intriguing, baffling, and highly terrifying if you were actually there.
Set in the Mediterranean in June of 1941, the entire story covers less than a week in the life of the crew of the ship H.M.S. Wildcat. (Perhaps I ought to add here that the author is British.) Following is the blurb from the inner cover:
They deliberately betrayed the British Mediterranean Fleet, fought a tragic action with unwitting British destroyers, defied the might of the Luftwaffe, the Italian High Command, the Prussian Gestapo, even a crack Wehrmacht paratroop regiment, and all to buy two years of time. They were called the Chatham rats. They wore Italian uniforms, carried cyanide capsules, fought secretly with a fast Italian destroyer they had captured during the Battle of Matapan, and they had one aim - to find and exterminate the men who designed the first guided missile in history - the radio-controlled marine glider bomb.
I had one main issue with the book: language. While definitely not as dicey as it could have been, there was just enough of it for me to really notice. I was able frequently enough to see it coming and kind of skip it, but I still would put a warning out there.
I would also like to allude to certain sexual references that really were not necessary, though, I don't suppose, are entirely unrealistic for a group of fighting men. Also, I would not say that the worldview was overly Christian though there was no denial of God as of such--but then again, even full-blown modern British television still has an element of cultural acknowledgement of God.
Overall then, I enjoyed the story, but would not say, "Y'all! You just have to read this here book!" Particularly since it is a fictional tale...
Doctors in Gray: The Confederate Medical Service by H.H. Cunningham
I had no idea when I pulled this book off my "War Between the States" bookshelf what kind of a read it was going to be. I was therefore delighted to find that it was not dull and boring. The author has an engaging writing style and covers what could be an extremely dull topic in an interesting fashion. One aspect that I particularly liked was his use of first person accounts to add a little more context to things.
Granted, there were times I said to myself, "I think I need a medical dictionary!" or "What on earth is that? I need to look that up..."
He covered the formation of the Confederate Medical Service, including hospitals and how and by whom they were run. In addition, topics like prevalent diseases and their common treatments, surgery, and the means of supply procurement are covered.
Each chapter is written almost like a separate essay and there are a handful of illustrations.
All in all, I thought it a good book and would recommend it to any reenactor desirous of getting into the medical scene at Civil War reenactments (Surgeons, stewards, nurses, etc.) as it gives an easy-to-read background to the entire field. I found that it prompted ideas for further research and I think I shall keep it fairly handy for quick reference. (It also has an extensive bibliography which certainly may serve to be of use for further study.)
I picked up my slightly cigarette-smoke odored copy at a yard-sale several years back (along with a stack of other WBtS's related tomes), but a quick search of the internet reveals a variety of places at which to purchase it.
It took me forever to read this fairly slim volume, but due to my Lyme/Mold induced concentration issues not the dullness of the book.
Rev. J.L. Underwood's The Women of the Confederacy is a most interesting book. I would actually classify it as a compilation for the majority of the short articles and stories were actually originally written for various publications and many by persons other than Rev. Underwood.
The purpose of the book was to extoll the virtues of the Southern women, as well as give some historical background and some insight into the cause to which they sacrificed so much. I think that the purpose was executed quite well.
I would certainly recommend this book for those interested in War Between the States history. I got my copy from Sprinkle Publications a few years back at conference prices, but I have also discovered it here on Project Gutenburg.
A Reformed Presbyterian girl who enjoys a good movie or a good book any ol'
Note: All images picked up online. No copyright infringment intended.