Reviews

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War Requiem

Dan Keane reviews Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, a key highlight of the London Coliseum’s 2018/2019 season. It is difficult for any artist to find an appropriate medium to convey the immensity of pain generated by war. Such is the task of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, first performed in 1962 to mark the consecration of the […]

Masters of Mayhem

Masters of Mayhem: Lawrence of Arabia and the British military mission to the Hejaz

The perhaps somewhat sensationalised title should not put one off. With great accuracy, detail, enthusiasm, and insight, Masters of Mayhem recounts the evolution of Allied combined operations against the Ottoman (Turkish) forces in the Hejaz, particularly during the latter stages of WWI. For those new to this theatre of WWI, the background and context of […]

WWII at Sea - cover

World War II at Sea: a global history

When first approached to review Craig L Symonds’ World War II at Sea, I was somewhat ambivalent about how much value another narrative history of this subject might add to the huge volume of extant literature. I really could not have been more wrong. Symonds’ work is gripping and well written, for sure, but it […]

Royal Navy's Air Service cover

The Royal Navy’s Air Service in the Great War

David Hobbs’ carefully chosen title gives some indication of the political complexities surrounding his latest subject, as a book about the actual Royal Naval Air Service would technically have to end on 1 April 1918 with the RNAS’s absorption into the newly created Royal Air Force, a service which, the author robustly argues, ‘cared little […]

Last Battle - cover

The Last Battle: endgame on the Western Front, 1918

The General commanding the Bollockyboos Has strictly revised all his previous views… He keeps his battalion, untiring, approving, All moving and firing and firing and moving; They know about guns, they know about tanks, They’ll take any risk you like with their flanks… They are all at one that training is fun And there’s nought […]

Norfolk Admirals

The Other Norfolk Admirals: Myngs, Narbrough, and Shovell

Close to Charing Cross station in London is the oddly named Ship and Shovell pub. Initially, this seems a strange combination, until you realise that the Shovell in question is not a misspelt digging implement but honours Sir Cloudesley Shovell (c.1650-1707), one of the most renowned admirals of the 17th century. Shovell is but one […]

Stormtroopers

Stormtroopers: a new history of Hitler’s brownshirts

Daniel Siemens’s excellent new history of the Sturmabteilungen — the SA; better known as the Nazi Party’s Stormtroopers or Brownshirts — includes a lot of violence. It begins with the horrific murder of an innocent Polish down-and-out in German Upper Silesia in August 1932. Accused of being a Communist, he was savagely beaten to death […]

hue

BOOK REVIEW: Hue 1968: a turning point of the American war in Vietnam

Some of us still remember the time quite vividly. By the end of 1967, the United States had been involved in the conflict in South-east Asia for nearly two decades. While its advisors had helped the Vietnamese in their struggle against Japanese invaders during the Second World War, in the post -war years the United […]

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They Shall Not Grow Old

Taylor Downing reports on Peter Jackson’s new WWI centenary film. New Zealander Peter Jackson is known to cinema-goers for the lavish spectacles in which he specialises in breathtaking digital effects, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003) and The Hobbit trilogy (2012-14), both adapted from the novels of J R R Tolkien. He has now just released a remarkable […]

optSquare Rounds, Finborough Theatre - courtesy of S R Taylor Photography (7)

Square Rounds: Review

Teddy Cutler reflects on the magic and madness of the First World War in a review of Square Rounds, now showing at Finborough Theatre, London. Throughout the second act of Square Rounds, Tony Harrison’s play that was first staged at the National Theatre in October 1992, the characters speak, and sometimes sing, a curious refrain. […]

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