Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Book Review: “Hitler’s Secret Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Nazi Plan for Final Victory”

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Book ReviewsWWII – “Hitler’s Secret Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Nazi Plan for Final Victory” eBook was published in 2018 and was written by Michael Fitzgerald.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this book as ‘G’. This book talks about the various projects undertaken by the German Third Reich to create weapons that would turn the tide of World War II.

The first part of the book addressed aircraft, rockets, and armored vehicles that were either developed or which had been designed. Then some of the more far-fetched research efforts were addressed including “flying saucers”, unusual aircraft, and working atomic weapons.

I thought that the 6 hours I spent reading this 240-page non-fiction book were interesting. While many of the projects discussed were ones I had heard of elsewhere, there were several that, to me, left the non-fiction and crept into the realm of conspiracy theory and pure fiction. The selected cover art is well chosen. I give this novel a 2.5 (rounded up to a 3) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

Book Review: “A Divided Life”

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Book Reviews – “A Divided Life” eBook was published in 2018 (the original paper edition was published in 1988) and was written by Robert Cecil. Mr. Cecil has published several non-fiction books.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The story focuses on the years from before World War II (1935) until 1951. It is a biography of the life of British Diplomat and Russian Spy Donald Maclean.

The book covers his life and tells of his efforts and his betrayals. The book is very dry and somewhat difficult to read. It does get better after the first chapter or so. You can easily tell that it was written in the 80s.

I thought that the 8+ hours I spent reading this 347-page biography were interesting. I like the cover art. I give this book a 3.4 (rounded down to a 3) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “The Last Saturday of October”

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Book Reviews – “The Last Saturday of October” eBook was published in 2018 and was written by Douglas Gilbert. This is Mr. Gilbert’s first publication.

I received a copy of this novel from the author in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The story is dramatized non-fiction.

This is an inside look at how close the US and Russia came to nuclear war during the Cuban Missle Crisis. In 1962 the US had discovered Soviet nuclear missile sites in Cuba. The US set a fleet to stop shipping headed into Cuba that might be carrying nuclear weapons.

Captain Vasili Arkhipov is given the mission to take his submarine brigade to Cuba. They are carrying nuclear-tipped torpedoes. He had already survived a nuclear disaster at sea on another submarine and was suffering from what we now know as PTSD. His vessel and crew were being chased by a large antisubmarine force of the US. He was being pushed ever closer to having to use his nuclear weapons.

I enjoyed the 6 hours I spent reading this 238-page non-fiction book that reads like a thriller. I think that Gilbert did a good job of taking history and making it readable and exciting. I like the chosen cover art. I give this book a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “Burma: The Forgotten War”

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Book Reviews – “Burma: The Forgotten War” eBook was published in 2018 (original paper edition published in 2004) and was written by Jon Latimer. Mr. Latimer published several non-fiction books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence. The book covers the years of World War II detailing actions taken in what was then Burma (now known a Myanmar).

Most of what I have read regarding World War II has been either centered on the European Theater or the Pacific Theater and focused on the forces of the US. Most of the Burma campaigns were centered around British or Commonwealth ground forces, though the US played a major role in the air engagements.

I thought that the 16.5+ hours I spent reading this 961-page history were interesting. The page count seems high, but the last third of the book was citations of reference. Certainly, there was a lot of information presented that I had not known about before. Some history books are presented in a very readable fashion. I have reviewed a few of those in the past. This was not one of those books.

This was very dry. It is filled with names, dates, and locations. The fact that the locations are for places I had never heard of did not help. Also, I found that the numerical military unit references used for both British and Japanese units was very confusing. I also felt that the book was very choppy, jumping back and forth in time.

If you are researching military efforts in Burma during WWII, you will find this a very useful book. It does a good job of conveying the misery that troops of both sides had to endure for most of the Burma war efforts.  The perspective presented on the war and especially the Commonwealth troops engaged in it very British. The chosen cover art is OK. I give this novel a 3 out of 5 based on general readability.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

Book Review: “Ian Fleming and Operation Golden Eye”

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Book Reviews – “Ian Fleming and Operation Golden Eye” eBook was published in 2018 and was written by Mark Simmons. Mr. Simmons has published a dozen books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. This is the true story of novelist Ian Fleming and the work he did during World War II for British Intelligence to keep Spain from entering the war as an ally to Germany.

While the focus is on how Spain was convinced to stay out of the war, many of the exploits of Fleming and other intelligence agents are shown to be the basis for his later fictional intelligence agent, James Bond. I was a fan of Fleming’s Bond novels and found this background information a bonus to the World War II era history. This non-fiction book goes into great detail as to the efforts of the British to keep Spain neutral.

I enjoyed the 7.5 hours I spent reading this 256-page non-fiction account of World War II intrigue. I thought it was a little chaotic at the beginning and jumped around a bit. As with many non-fiction historical books, there were many names, places, and dates mentioned. Despite this, I still feel that it was a very readable book. This is one aspect of World War II that I had not previously known much about. I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

Book Review: “Weird War 2”

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Book ReviewsWWII – “Wierd War 2” eBook was published in 2018 and was written by Richard Denham. Mr. Denham has published seven books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains some scenes of Violence. The book is a collection of short (one to two page) non-fiction stories about World War II.

I spent an interesting 5 hours reading this 176-page book of strange non-fiction tales. I was hoping for more of the unusual. Unfortunately, I had heard most of the stories collected in this book before. This might be a good book for someone just getting interested in that period, particularly for a young adult because of the short story structure. The cover art is a good choice for this book. I give this book a 3.4 (rounded down to a 3) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

Book Review: “Ike and Monty”

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Book ReviewsWWII – “Ike and Monty” eBook was published in 2018 and was written by Norman Gelb. Mr. Gelb has published nearly a dozen non-fiction books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The book covers the entire period of World War II, focusing on the European Theater of Operations in general and on Generals Dwight David Eisenhower and Bernard Law Montgomery in particular.

This book examines both of these major figures from the war in depth. A fair assessment is given to both their strengths and weaknesses. Both made significant contributions to the Allied war effort, but each had their faults. This book is an interesting look at what was happening behind the headlines and how these allies were often at odds with one another.

I enjoyed the 13 hours I spent reading this 413-page history of World War II. This was an easy to read history. Certainly, I learned a lot about the politics and the conflicts between the Allies during the War. I think the cover art is a good choice. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

Book Review – “Big Week: The Biggest Air Battle of World War II”

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Book Reviews – “Big Week: The Biggest Air Battle of World War II” eBook was published in 2018 (November) and was written by James Holland. Mr. Holland is author or co-author of 13 non-fiction books and nine novels.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The book covers the air war in Europe from mid-1943 until mid-1944.

While the focus is on the overall strategy of both the Allies and Germans during this period of time, there are also several side stories of individuals from both sides of the conflict. It addresses how the large egos interfered with good decisions with both sides.

Some time is spent looking at Hitler and his indecisiveness which prevented the German engineering establishment from developing new weapons in a timely manner. Germany entered the war with the ME-109 in 1939. It was still flying it in 1945. The Allies had developed and deployed a series of ever better fighters over that same period. During that same period, the German pilots were coming out of flight school with fewer and fewer hours compared to the American pilots.

This all led up to the “Big Week” when Allied air forces bombed Germany day and night for a solid week. The biggest air battle of World War II that gave the Allies air superiority for D-Day.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 12 hours I spent reading this 400-page non-fiction book. I found this book to be very readable, not just dry facts and figures. I certainly learned a few things about the air forces of both sides. I think that the cover art is well chosen. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.

Singapore, Singapore – Fort Canning and the Battlebox

WWII – Near where I am living in Singapore (Where is Singapore?) is Fort Canning Hill. It is not a very tall hill, less than 160′ in height. A fort was completed on top of the hill in 1861 to defend the harbor. In the early 1900s, the fort was torn down and a 30-room bunker system dug into the hill. The bunker complex was completed in 1938. The bunker served as the headquarters for the British during the defense of Singapore. After the British surrendered to the Japanese, they used the bunker system as well.

Today, Fort Canning Hill has become Fort Canning Park and the bunker system opened in  1992 as the tourist attraction, “The Battlebox”. About the only things left from the old fort are the entrance and one of the old cannons.

As it turns out, the park is a short walk from our apartment in Singapore. I walked over there a short time ago and purchased tickets for the Battlebox tour and spent a little time wandering around the park. The park is 180,000 square meters (a little less than 0.07 square miles).

There are several walking trails through the park and as with everything in Singapore, it is very green.

While walking through the park makes you feel like you are outside the city, you are in the center of southern Singapore.

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My original reason for going to Fort Canning Park was to check out The Battlebox. The Battlebox is located at 2 Cox Terrace, Singapore 179622 inside of Fort Canning Park. The tours last about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Tickets are $18 and $9 for children 7-12 (those rates are in Singapore dollars). The Battlebox is considered to be one of the top museum destinations in Singapore.

I have to say that I enjoyed the tour. Unfortunately, they do not allow photos inside the bunker itself. Above are two of the entrances to the Battlebox complex. As you might expect, the bunker was much cooler than the outside air. Temperatures in Singapore during the day typically range 80-90F. The humidity though is usually around 60% or higher. It was a pleasant relief to enter the bunker.

While I could not take photos, I did find that were photos of the Battlebox without restrictions for use via Google search. I am including some of those above to show what the bunker currently looks like. Several manikins are in place in uniforms of 1942. Several are made up to closely represent the officers that were present just before Singapore was surrendered to the Japanese.

The surrender of Singapore to the Japanese so early in World War II (February 15, 1942) was a great blow to the British. With the surrender, 120,000 men – the largest capitulation in British military history – became prisoners of war.

If you are ever in Singapore and have a couple of hours to spare, I recommend taking the Battlebox tour.


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these two pages of mine of interest. 

The  World War II Sources” page is a collection of more than 310 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.

The “World War II Timeline” page shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.


See my other Food & Locations articles


 

Review of “Tidal Wave”

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Book ReviewsWWII – “Tidal Wave” eBook was published in 2018 and was written Thomas McKelvey Cleaver. Mr. Cleaver has published eight books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The book covers action in the Pacific Theatre during the period in World War II from the fall of 1944 until the end of the war.

This is a detailed account of action, primarily naval air warfare carried out by both sides. There are many individuals, aircraft and ships named, along with their activities. This is not a book that is easy to read due to all the facts laid out. I do think this would be a good read for the serious student of World War II history. I did find the 10 hours I spent reading this 320 page non-fiction history interesting. The cover art is a good selection. I give this novel a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

Those interested in this book may also find my “World War II Timeline” and “World War II Sources” pages of interest.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).