Yes, the famine was terrible for the population of Ireland and led to many deaths and much emigration. In fact the population of Ireland went from 8 million to 5 million.
Instead of potato priests we had Potato Pete during World War II:
The "potato priests" were some priests back in the 18th century I think who showed more interest in spreading the gospel of the newfangled potato than in the other gospel.
Yes, I just Googled them. They seem to have been a peculiarly Norwegian phenomenon. I'd never heard of them until now but then I don't know much of the history of Norway apart from the World War II era.
Dangerous Davies - The Last Detective (1976) by Leslie Thomas
I love the books by Leslie Thomas, he is one of the few authors who can make me laugh out loud. Dangerous Davies is a detective constable of low standing in a north London borough. He’s nicknamed “Dangerous” because of the jobs he is assigned to, those of little meaning or very risky that no one else wants, hence the nickname - the last detective.
In this first novel of a series of four, Dangerous is assigned to find a local villain who has returned from overseas. Along the way he solves a 25 year old cold case. He gets into many fights and gets many beatings but he is dogged in his approach and gets his man in the end. The book is full of colourful characters, Mod, the Welsh workshy friend, Mrs. Fulljames, his landlady, and Celia Norris the sister of the missing girl from 25 years earlier, amongst many more.
It was great to reread this after 45 years and I look forward to the other three in due course.
Apparently 2 separate tv series have been made of this, I haven’t seen them but both Bernard Cribbins and Peter Davison don’t seem suitable for the role in my mind. I will have to try and catch up with them to see.
The Ysabel Kid (1962) by JT Edson
Inspired by 007downunder posting about owning the complete collection of 137 books by JT Edson I thought I would revisit his most most famous series, The Floating Outfit. This is the first of 66 novels in that series. It’s set just after the conclusion of the American Civil War and Dusty Fog is entrusted to go below the border on a mission, along the way he teams up with The Ysabel Kid and Mark Counter who both become part of The Floating Outfit.
In the past I have read many of the books but never this first one and I enjoyed it immensely. Dusty Fog is in the Alan Ladd mould, short in stature but a giant as a gunfighter and leader of men. The hardware is explained in great detail and never boring, it’s a good history lesson, and the wild country is evocatively brought to life in Edson’s prose.
I bought this on kindle and will certainly get the next in the series.
George MacDonald Fraser, 1983
by the author of the Flashman series and some movie about an Octopus (which was also 1983)
Extremely silly spoof of pirate movie cliches, like a Harvey Kurtzman or Mel Brooks plot that goes on for 400 pages. Full of anachronisms and cliches and characters who know they're in a certain type of story and are described as the sort of character who would be played by Flynn or Rathbone or Gable. The women characters always have a wardrobe of skin tight costumes nearby and check their makeup in the mirror before making their entrance. One wears stilettoes for a jungle trek.
All very funny but with the deliberate reinforcement of disbelief impossible to care about characters or plot, especially over 400pgs, so it took me a while.
One of the villains to plunges to his death into a pool full of giant man-eating octopi (sorry, octopodes, as the singular is greek not latin) of the type only found in these sorts of movies. Whereas in the actual movie Fraser scripted the same year the only octopus was tiny and didn't eat anybody! How do you have a movie called Octopussy and not include a giant sized man-eating octopus? especially as there was one leftover from another James Bond movie. Fraser must have got his octopodes mixed up when trying to write two stories at the same time.
I'm going to include the cover of the edition I read, just because its sexy. This pirate's name is Sheba. she's the one who wears stilettoes in the rainforest, and that outfit she's modelling is supplied by Gucci.
TRUST ME by T M Logan
Another psychological thriller from the ever popular T M Logan. This time it centres around a childless woman who looks after a baby on a train while the presumed mother goes and makes a phone call. The train stops and she then sees the mother walking away at a station. Opening the baby bag she sees a note saying trust no one, especially the police.
What follows is at first pretty good but it soon transcends intro a series of unlikely events.. The problem with Logan now is that you are expecting the twist ending as in all his novels and this no exception and I had worked it out long before the ending. He needs to do something different in his next one.
I’m obviously obsessive not enough to have the whole set I’ve now been buying the original Corgi editions. Just about got them all so now have many in both Corgi and US editions.
I’m reading A Horse called Mogollon now then onto new Jack Reacher.
Recently I bought Mr American by George McDonald Fraser a great story about a mysterious American going to England in 1910 I’d read it decades ago and a really good read.
Antony Beevor: Crete - the battle and the resistance
Beevor is probably the best known historian writing about WWII today because of his mastery in mixing accurate research, understanding of strategy and colourful anectotes. This book follows the briefly the battle against the German invation in mainland Greece where Peter Fleming (Ian's brother) contributed by blowing up a great number of bridges, the German airborne invasion of Crete, the Cretes resistance backed by the British and the finally allied victory. The invasion from the air in 1941 by the fallshirmjäger and gebirgsjäger could've been thrown back if the British commanders had shown more agression and weren't wrongly convinced most of the invading forces would come from the sea. The Cretes showed plenty of agression and bravery from the start, attacking recently landed German paratroopers using knives and shotguns, then taking captured weapons to fight on.
Then the British forces had to evacuate and the covert resistance started. Again the Cretes were uncredibly brave and patriotic, and unlike on the mainland the resistance wasn't seriously devided by political lines. They were supporter by the British, mostly by the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The regional SOE headquarters in Cairo was incompetent, but the Crete part of the operation functioned well. Many of the SOE agents working in Crete were archelogists because they knew the island, language and people from working on the many historical sites there before the war. Many were colourful and most were effective. Perhaps Indiana Jones working for the American OSS (comparable to the SOE) as mentioned in "Chrystal Skull" wasn't unrealistic at all? British military special forces like SBS, LRDG and SAS were also active on the island.
If you're interested in WWII in general you can't go wrong with Antony Beevor. If you're interested in resistance, espionage and special operations too, this is the book for you!
John le Carré: The pigeon tunnel - stories from my life (2017)
This book isn't an autobiography of the great spy novel author. Every chapter is one or more story about a person or a topic such as movie adaptions of his works that didn't happen, people and experiences that inspired his novels and glimpses into his stints in MI5 and MI6. He saw the noen disclosure agreement he signed when working for the intelligence services as being for life. So his espionage stories are interesting, but not very revealing. The longest and the last real chapter is about his father Reggie. He was a charlatan and trickster, a charmer you shouldn't trust. A very honest and revealing chapter. This book is a must for anyone who's interested in the late author and his works.
Shortly before 'The Pigeon Tunnel' was published, Adam Sisman's extensive biography of le Carre was published. I read that although the biography was authorised, le Carre didn't particularly care for the finished product. Not wishing to write an extensive autobiography, he instead put together this memoir that detailed bits of his life. There is definitely overlap between the two and both are well worth reading. le Carre's life was extraordinary and because many literati don't take the theme of espionage seriously, le Carre never received the literary acclaim that he deserved. le Carre was not a spy author, he was an author whose work often took place in the world of spies, something that his literary detractors never quite grasped.
I've been saying for years that genere and popular authors should be given the Nobel prize from time to time, and my examples Are often Astrid Lindgren and John le Carré.
You are correct N24. The same applies to Graham Greene who was not at all an espionage author, but because of a few titles - and his service during the war - is often regarded as such and therefore looked down upon by some.
Cormack McCarthy is another example.