Nick Rennison has quite the résumé as man of letters. Variously a writer, editor and bookseller, he has reviewed for the Sunday Times, The Daily Mail and BBC History Magazine, penned half a dozen anthologies of short stories, written two crime novels and three non-fiction titles and otherwise exercised his particular interest in the Victorian era. With his latest work he delves into more recent history and takes us on a month by month tour of the events that defined this tumultuous year, bookended by the notorious ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle scandal in January and ending with the lesser known, but no less scandalous, Thompson and Bywaters murder and adultery trail. There’s plenty in here of the notable headline happenings; US prohibition, the founding of the BBC, the publications of The Waste Land and Ulysses, Ghandis’ arrest, Tutankhamun’s discovery, the creation of the Soviet Union and much, much more to make this a rich and informative read. But what really sets this apart from being a mere almanack of facts is Rennison’s ability to create colour and tone within each scene so that the whole reads as a gripping account of a world in a state of vibrant flux . In this fascinating, illustrative - and at times cautionary - small volume he has created a wonderful jigsaw puzzle where each piece, each small scene, builds to become a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, and in so doing Rennison provides a timely reminder that our present is future’s history and we will be lauded, or judged, accordingly.
‘After the Wall Came Down’ is a well-researched account of how the British Army has changed, developed and adapted to the highly variable demands placed on it during the last 30 years. From regular deployment on the peace-keeping role in Northern Ireland to dealing with genocide in the Balkans, from rescue missions such as Sierra Leone through to wholesale war in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. Never before has so much been asked of these young men and women. When our civil support services struggle, such as during flood, Fire Brigade strikes or the Foot and Mouth outbreak, it is the military our political leaders turn to in times of crisis. This book explains why we, the public, sleep soundly at night in the knowledge there are people out there who keep us safe. Andrew Richards provides a thoroughly absorbing account made all the more interesting due to the wide ranging contributions of men and women who were there, did the jobs, experienced the changes and often have the scars to prove it. An excellent read.