Eric Idle OnlineMy Life

December Reading.

By , December 30, 2017 6:06 pm

A few friends are on my Christmas gift list, where I send them ten of the books I have most enjoyed reading in the year, wrapped in brown paper, string and ceiling wax, from Mr. B’s Bookshop in Bath.    This year these were my ten gift books.

A Legacy of Spies                   John Le Carré

The Golden House                  Salman Rushdie

Dead is Good                          Jo Perry

An Officer and a Spy              Robert Harris

The Comedians                       Graham Greene

Prussian Blue                          Philip Kerr

How To Build a Universe       Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince

The Hand                                Georges Simenon.

The Bomb Maker by Thomas Perry would have made it but of course it’s only just now in the shops.

Happy New Year and have a great year of reading.


The Second World War                                           Antony Beevor

I spent most of the month reading this great narrative of World War Two.      Then I found….

Blitzed                                                                        Norman Ohler

A most wonderful read and a really informative book especially right after reading Anthony Beevor’s World War Two where I was constantly asking myself how could anybody do this.   Here is the answer.   They become a junkie.  Crystal meth, amphetamine, coke, morphine, half the Supreme Command was on something, and Hitler was on everything.   At the end his doctor/dealer could hardly find a vein.  The German army, navy and pilots were fed amphetamine to stay awake.  Blitzkrieg?   How did the army move so fast and without stopping?   Easy: Pervitin, a form of speed manufactured in enormous quantities by Merck to keep the armies rolling and the factories churning.  Why did the army stop and not continue their charge to obliterate the English at Dunkirk?  Hitler gave a stoner command!   How did he condemn an entire Army to die at Stalingrad?   Crystal meth.   Locked away in his bunkers he felt invincible.   Possessed of super powers.  This is an important book to read and solves some of the many puzzles about the war.   You can even begin to feel slightly sorry for the Germans, especially at the end when kids were given speed to help them face the Red Army. Ironically, much of the stuff was grown at Dachau.   Oh the unspeakable ironies of History.  This is also downright fucking hilarious.   The picture of the Fuhrer at the end in his bunker, strung out, suffering from withdrawal symptoms, drooling, shaking with reality finally breaking in is just wonderful.  We should check the Doctors of our leaders.

Just saying…

Maigret’s Revolver                                                    Georges Simenon

Another very fine tale from the Master of Maigret.   He is a constant bright spot in the months reading.

Regards                                                                      John Gregory Dunne

I very much enjoyed these excellent essays. He is particularly good on the film industry and the horrors of being a screenwriter.  In fact I enjoyed him so much I turned to:

Monster                                                                    John Gregory Dunne

which I enjoyed all of.   I also bought three of his novels at Iliad but then realized I had already read:

Red White and Blue.                                                John Gregory Dunne

And I wasn’t knocked out by the other two.    Too Irish too Catholic too much dialogue.

Nothing Lost                                                             John Gregory Dunne

True Confession.                                                       John Gregory Dunne

The thriller element is potentially very good but nothing much happens while they talk and talk.  And Apostolic intrigue is not interesting, not even when Trollope did it.

Tell Tale                                                                     Jeffery Archer

Each year the surprisingly nice Jeffery sends me his latest book, and last year he said sadly that I never read them.   It’s not true.   This year I had seen and bought this book of short stories before I even opened my mail.   I enjoyed them very much.  He is a real writer, not just an enormous world-wide best-selling author!    That’ll teach me to be a book snob.

The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve                       Stephen Greenblatt

My old friend Stephen warned me that I wouldn’t like this book, but I read and enjoyed a lot more than he would expect.

How to Build a Universe                                          Professor Brian Cox & Robin Ince

Despite a very churlish intro from me this is a wonderful book.  They have made it as simple as possible to understand as much as possible about the Universe and I really recommend it to everyone.

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