This Gun for Hire by Graham Greene

 

Read by Patrick Tull

Description: Raven is a man dedicated to ugly deeds. When Raven is paid for killing the Minister of War with stolen notes, he becomes a man on the run. Tracking down the agent who double-crossed him, and eluding the police simultaneously, he becomes both the hunter and the hunted.

The novel ties into Greene’s later, more famous work, Brighton Rock. Pinkie Brown’s assassination of Kite, the Colleoni’s rival mob boss, sets the events of Brighton Rock in motion in much the same way that Raven’s assassination of the Minister of War sows the seeds for global conflict in A Gun For Sale.

Thoroughly enjoyed this ride. Three and a half smoking hand guns

Raven: the cold-hearted assassin for hire with hidden decency and a personal sense of justice. Extremely sensitive about his harelip.

Mather: stalwart police detective trailing Raven, with many of the same characteristics. Joined police for stability of the routine.

Anne: a chorus girl who is engaged to Mather, is used by Raven as a shield. The two develop a fragile friendship that may or may not be real.

Cholmondeley a.k.a. Davis: a grossly sensual man who acts as the agent of a masonic corrupt steel tycoon, Sir Marcus, and betrays Raven. Anne tries to help Raven get revenge upon him.

Saunders: a decent police detective with a heavy stammer. He is Mather’s loyal protégé who plays a vital role in the novel’s climax.

3* The Quiet American
4* The End of the Affair
3* Our Man in Havana
4* Brighton Rock
4* Travels With My Aunt
3* The Third Man
4* The Human Factor
4* A Burnt Out Case
4* Monsignor Quixote
3* The Captain and the Enemy
3.5* This Gun for Hire

The Master of Ballantrae

 

bookshelves: adventure, classic, historical-fiction, revenge, britain-scotland, victorian, seven-seas, war, published-1889, hardback

Read in June, 2009, read count: 2

 

Description: Set in Scotland during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, in the exotic French Indies, and in the North American wilderness, the story has as its hero one of the most compelling yet horrifying studies of evil in nineteenth-century fiction—James Durie, Master of Ballantrae. The Master is about his infective influence—on his younger, less attractive brother Henry; on Henry’s wife Alison; and on those narrators whom Stevenson so skilfully employs to present their experiences of this charming, ruthless, and evil man.

A very fragile copy of my mothers – faded red cloth, inscribed Gillian R Tanner(1956) and the price? 4/-, that’s four shillings to us who remember the ol’ conundrums. I think this is my favourite RLS; it is so dark.

At that time [1745:] there dwelt a family of four persons in the house of Durrisdeer, near St Brides, on the Solway shore; a chief hold of their race since the Reformation.

The Rising(from Wiki)

The novel is presented as the memoir of one Ephraim Mackellar, steward of the Durrisdeer estate in Scotland. The novel opens in 1745, the year of the Jacobite Rising. When Bonnie Prince Charlie raises the banner of the Stewarts the Durie family–the Laird of Durrisdeer, his older son James Durie (the Master of Ballantrae) and his younger son Henry Durie–decide on a common strategy: one son will join the uprising while the other will join the loyalists. That way, whichever side wins the family’s noble status and estate will be preserved. Logically, the younger son should join the rebels, but the Master insists on being the rebel (a more exciting choice) and contemptuously accuses Henry of trying to usurp his place, comparing him to Jacob. The two sons agree to toss a coin to determine who goes. The Master wins and departs to join the Rising, while Henry remains in support of King George II.

Ailean Breic Stuibhairt was an 18th-century soldier and Scottish Jacobite resistance figure. He was the centre of a murder case that inspired novels by Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Notorious as the Appin Murderer.

The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen

The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen
bookshelves: finland, paper-read, hardback, war, slavic, spring-2012, one-penny-wonder, wwii, published-2005, historical-fiction

Read from March 20 to 21, 2012


Withdrawn from London Borough of Enfield Public Libraries. Translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw.

Dedication: To my children – Maria and Daniel

Opening: Suomussalmi was set ablaze on 7 December, after all four thousand inhabitants had been evacuated, except for me, I was born here, had lived here all my life and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else – so when I became aware of a figure in a white uniform standing in front of me, reading from a piece of paper and telling me I had to get out, I dug my heels into the snow and refused to budge.

That is some sentence!

Wanted to read something more from this author as I enjoyed his short story Ice in the anthology: The Norwegian Feeling for Real.

From wiki – The Soviet–Finnish Non-Aggression Pact signed in Helsinki on 21 January 1932. On the left is the Finnish foreign minister Aarno Yrjö-Koskinen, and on the right the ambassador of the Soviet Union, Ivan Maisky

Karelia.

Some history from the Familj Malm archives that I was told today. When f-i-l was a very young boy he lived in Halmstad where there was a Finnish Hostel and one of these young evacuees liked f-i-l so much that he lived with the family for a year or so.

 

P148: “…and from what I heard in Suomussalmi, Sweden and Norway’s betrayal of Finland didn’t necessarily mean they would take kindly to Russian deserters; quite the opposite – these countries feared the Soviet Union.”
 
P158:
 
 
 

Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris

 

** spoiler alert **

RELEVANT QUOTE – “I am constantly amazed by man’s inhumanity to man.”
― Primo Levi

From wiki – On 11 March 1944, neighbors of a house owned by Marcel André Henri Félix Petiot at 21 rue Le Sueur in Paris, complained to police of a foul stench in the area and of large amounts of smoke billowing from a chimney of the house. Fearing a chimney fire, the police summoned firemen, who entered the house and found a roaring fire in a coal stove in the basement. In the fire, and scattered in the basement, were human remains.

General Information
===============
Narrator…………………..Paul Michael
Abr/Unabr………………..Unabridged
Genre………………………True story of a brutal serial killer
Total Runtime……………13 Hours 54 Mins

BLURBS: Death in the City of Light is the gripping, true story of a brutal serial killer who unleashed his own reign of terror in Nazi-Occupied Paris. As decapitated heads and dismembered body parts surfaced in the Seine, Commissaire Georges-Victor Massu, head of the Brigade Criminelle, was tasked with tracking down the elusive murderer in a twilight world of Gestapo, gangsters, resistance fighters, pimps, prostitutes, spies, and other shadowy figures of the Parisian underworld.

The main suspect was Dr. Marcel Petiot, a handsome, charming physician with remarkable charisma. He was the “People’s Doctor,” known for his many acts of kindness and generosity, not least in providing free medical care for the poor. Petiot, however, would soon be charged with twenty-seven murders, though authorities suspected the total was considerably higher, perhaps even as many as 150.

Who was being slaughtered, and why? Was Petiot a sexual sadist, as the press suggested, killing for thrills? Was he allied with the Gestapo, or, on the contrary, the French Resistance? Or did he work for no one other than himself? Trying to solve the many mysteries of the case, Massu would unravel a plot of unspeakable deviousness.
When Petiot was finally arrested, the French police hoped for answers.

But the trial soon became a circus. Attempting to try all twenty-seven cases at once, the prosecution stumbled in its marathon cross-examinations, and Petiot, enjoying the spotlight, responded with astonishing ease. His attorney, René Floriot, a rising star in the world of criminal defense, also effectively, if aggressively, countered the charges. Soon, despite a team of prosecuting attorneys, dozens of witnesses, and over one ton of evidence, Petiot’s brilliance and wit threatened to win the day.

Drawing extensively on many new sources, including the massive, classified French police file on Dr. Petiot, Death in the City of Light is a brilliant evocation of Nazi-Occupied Paris and a harrowing exploration of murder, betrayal, and evil of staggering proportions.

This book should have come face to face with an active editor to whittle it down to ten hours max. Georges Simenon, Sartre, Camus, Fleming, Picasso and de Beauvoir’s lives overlap with this grisly tale.

Life in the Tomb by Stratis Myrivilis, Peter A. Bien

bookshelves: summer-2014, balkan, greece, wwi, epistolatory-diary-blog, under-500-ratings, published-1924, translation, war, radio-3

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 04 to 11, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b048bh41

Description: Life in the Tomb: A masterwork of Greek fiction, Life in the Tomb provides a different perspective on the anniversary of the Great War. This new dramatisation from leading playwright April De Angelis in her first radio dramatisation features an original score by award winning composer Errollyn Wallen.

Originally published as extracts in a national Greek newspaper, the book takes the form of a series of letters from a young soldier back to his girlfriend in Lesvos, as his platoon moves deeper into trench warfare. Myrivilis based the book on his own experience of fighting on the Macedonian front. The book is so honest about how appalling conditions were and how badly the army was managed that it was banned on publication.

Stratis Myrivilis’ book brilliantly captures a complex Southern European view of World War I. Our narrator meets a wide range of nationalities on his journey to the trenches. The incidents he describes are rich and often unexpected – the Macedonian family who care for him when wounded, the enemy soldier with the voice of an angel and the Chinese cart driver who helps him when lost. The narrator is moving, unwittingly, towards his own death, a tragic accident in the last days of the conflict.

Stratis Myrivilis was a prolific author, nominated by the Greek society of authors for the Nobel Prize in 1960.
April De Angelis is a leading playwright. She has been produced by the Royal Court, the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and Hampstead Theatre. Recent productions include Playhouse Creatures at Chichester and Jumpy at The Duke of Yorks.
Errollyn Wallen is an award-winning composer and singer, whose work has been commissioned by the BBC, Brodksy Quartet and Royal Opera House amongst many others.
Overflow and notes:
Cast and crew:
Bouzouki and guitar player, Grant McFarlane Dowse
Violinist, Chris Elcombe
With thanks to Miranda Hinkley
Sound design, Eloise Whitmore
BA, Lucy Duffield
Executive producer, Joby Waldman
A Somethin’ Else production for BBC Radio 3.

A big thanks to Brazilliant for pointing me in this direction, I would have missed it.

For anyone following WWI centennial timeline, this is an important and gruelling inclusion.

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Munro Clark

bookshelves: summer-2014, published-2014, radio-4, war, wwi, politics, nonfiction, fradio, balkan-root

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 20 to 27, 2014

 

BOTW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03th7pn

Description: Professor Christopher Clark unpicks the complex sequence of events during the July Crisis, leading to outbreak of the First World War, from the perspective of the key centres of decision-making – in Berlin, Paris, St Petersburg and London.

He analyses how these countries reacted to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914 and casts fresh light on the causes of the First World War, offering a new interpretation of the catastrophe.

This short-run crisis was the most complex event in modern history – yet Professor Clark argues that, far from being a slow sequence of events in which bungling leaders walked blindly to war, it was a fast-paced crisis that contains lessons and parallels for our own world. There was no ‘slithering over the brink’ as Lloyd George later claimed, but rather a sequence of clear-eyed steps. The July Crisis of 1914 was a ‘Month of Madness’, not because the men who made it were themselves mad, but because its outcome was completely catastrophic and completely unnecessary.

Producer: Melissa FitzGerald
A Blakeway production for BBC Radio 4

Episode 1: SARAJEVO: Professor Clark travels to Sarajevo to tell the story of extraordinary chances that led to the assassinations of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie Chotek on 28th June 1914, conveying a sharp sense of the dramatic sequence of events that day and how they were shaped by the geography of the city.

The repercussions of the assassinations – comparable to the effect of 9/11 – exemplify the transformative power of a terrorist event. But the murders were not a pretext for a war decided in advance – nor did they make conflict inevitable.

Episode 2: VIENNA: Professor Christopher Clark explores the mind-set inside the Austrian administration during the tense days of July 1914, where he says, a ‘militant group think’ seized hold of the decision-makers, bent on settling their old scores with Serbia.

Episode 3: BERLIN: Professor Christopher Clark reconsiders why the German administration made this bold offer. He shows how the administration was divided. Kaiser Wilhelm II, the German monarch, urged restraint in the New Palace at Potsdam, but to no avail as his power was limited. His generals pushed for war. Yet, Clark argues, they envisaged a fast and quick local war and did not believe the situation would escalate.

Episode 4: THE FRENCH IN ST PETERSBURG: Professor Clark travels to Paris. He discusses why Raymond Poincare, the French President, and the Russians under Tsar Nicholas II, extended the remit of their alliance, to cover the eventuality of a ‘war of choice’ in which Russia would attack Austria-Hungary on behalf of a Balkan client state.

St Petersburg and Paris thus created a geopolitical tripwire that made a general war highly likely if a quarrel were to break out between Austria and its turbulent neighbour – an extremely dangerous thing to do in Europe in 1914.

Episode 5: LONDON: At the centre of the events in London was the Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey. Of all the politicians who walked the European political stage in 1914, he was the most baffling. Professor Clark shows how the last-minute British decision to enter the war on the side of France and Russia, and to declare war on Germany, was a decision of world-historical import that transformed a local conflict into a global struggle.

No good me sitting here in my belovéd stuga in the forest slowly shaking my head at the stupidity of decisions that lead to WWI. No matter how many times I have read this brew-up it never fails to leave me feeling anything but desolate. I think Prof Clark has giving the ultimate documentation: the version that is the Platonic Ideal, if you will. It is accessible and erudite.

5* The Guns of August
5* Three Emperors
3* July Crisis
5* The Sleepwalkers

EXTRA EXTRA: Film clips from the Month of Madness

July Crisis: The World’s Descent into War, Summer 1914 by Thomas Otte

bookshelves: e-book, ipad, nonfiction, published-2014, net-galley, wwi, war, skim-through

Read from April 03 to June 22, 2014

 

Description: An unprecedented panorama of Europe on the brink

July 1914 is a definitive account of the crisis that led to the First World War. Offering a multi-national perspective on the events of that fateful summer, it focuses on the often haphazard and chaotic nature of decision-making in the capitals of Europe, showing how Europe descended into a largely inadvertent war. It is a riveting story of misperceptions and deliberate deceptions; of “doves” and “hawks” who struggled to comprehend a complex international situation; and of the collective failure of Europe’s ruling elites.

Going behind the scenes—from Berlin to London to St. Petersburg and beyond—July 1914 offers a powerful antidote to assumptions of the war’s inevitability.

P47: The assination of Franz Ferdinand had also removed the one man who on previous occasions had restrained the ‘war party’.

One hundred years ago the war that was to end all wars was brewing up. Otte has put together an erudite brick of a book chocablock with footnotes, references and sources. This is everything one would expect from university press however I was more beguiled by Tuchman’s approach: ‘I never did understand how France, on the defensive, managed to capture Alsace’ which sent her off to research and won the Pulitzer with her book The Guns of August.

Another easier read that had everything nailed wasGeorge, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I

Wiki bare facts:

On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot dead in Sarajevo, by Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of six assassins (five Serbs and one Bosnian Muslim), coordinated by Danilo Ilić. The political objective of the assassination was to break off Austria-Hungary’s south-Slav provinces so they could be combined into a Greater Serbia or a Yugoslavia. The assassins’ motives were consistent with the movement that later became known as Young Bosnia. Serbian military officers stood behind the attack. The assassination led directly to the First World War when Austria-Hungary subsequently issued an ultimatum against Serbia, which was partially rejected. Austria-Hungary then declared war, marking the outbreak of the war.

The Latin Bridge in Sarajevo, close to the site of the assassination.

T. G. Otte is a professor of history at the University of East Anglia.

Commemorating the First World War: Titles from Cambridge
The Centennial of the First World War

The Legs of Izolda Morgan by Bruno Jasieński

bookshelves: shortstory-shortstories-novellas, essays, poland, politics, art-forms, philosophy, war, satire, translation

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: biblioklept
Read from May 16 to June 05, 2014

 

Description: Considered the enfant terrible of the Polish avant-garde, lauded by critics and scorned by the public, Bruno Jasieński suddenly declared the end of Futurism in Poland soon after his short “novel” The Legs of Izolda Morgan, appeared in 1923. An extraordinary example of Futurist prose, this fantastic tale explores how the machine has supplanted the human while the human body is disaggregated into fetishized constituent parts. As one of the central texts in Jasieński’s oeuvre, it is situated between two seminal manifestoes and the important essay “Polish Futurism,” which signaled the movement’s end in the context of its confused reception in Poland, the towering influence of Mayakovsky, and what set it apart from the futurisms in Italy and Russia. The condensed story “Keys” shows Jasieński’s turn toward satire to lambaste the pervasive hypocrisies of powerful institutions, and this is further developed in the two longer grotesques from his time in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Translated into English from the Russian for the first time, these two late stories expose the nefarious absurdity of racial persecution and warmongering and the lengths social and political structures will go to underpin them.

1: To the Polish Nation: A Manifesto on the Immediate Futurization of Life Krakow April 20th 1921

Stanisław Brzozowski, 1878-1911. A Polish philosopher, writer, publicist, literary and theatre critic. He is considered to be one of the most important Polish philosophers of all time and is known for his concept of the ‘philosophy of labour’.

Wawel Hill

Stanisław Przybyszewski,1868–1927. A Polish novelist, dramatist, and poet of the decadent naturalistic school. In 1896 he was arrested in Berlin for the murder of his common-law wife Martha, but released after it was determined that she had died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

2: Nife in the Gutt: 2nd Phuturist Pamflet Essay Krakow 1921.

3: Exposé Essay

4: The Legs of Izolda Morgan
Well, this is quite a grotesque Luddite story. The villain of the piece is machinery and the opposition is the human body, which can be deconsructed to suit the fetish of another.

5: Polish Furturism: An Accounting Essay

6: Keys Opens out with a 600 year old weather-beaten crucifix hanging in a niche near a vestible entrance.

7: The Nose: Satire on Nazi Eugenics.

8: The Chief Culprit First World War story. There is a moment in this where the concept of those returning from hospital to the front were more often killed straight away. Are there stats to back this up? What is that saying about things? Could it be that the return to normality takes the stuffing out of the bravura needed to maintain edge at the frontline.

Thanks to Don for sharing this book with me via a kindle library loan, the second of such kind actions. I was pleased to have a stab at this, however a mixed bag garners mixed reception. I had little time for the essays however the short stories were interesting, especially the re-vamping of Gogol’s ‘The Nose’ into a frame of Nazi Eugenics against the Jews.

** Interesting link sent through from Miss M: Polish Cultural Institute

Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius, Jamie Bulloch (Translator)

bookshelves: paper-read, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, translation, women, war, wwii, under-500-ratings, spring-2014, next, bettie-s-law-of-excitement-lost, published-2006, yawn

Read from April 29 to May 18, 2014


grrrrramazon description (which seems to be a personal review):

So the good news first: It’s got the usual suspects – Rome, the war, the Germans. Now to the slightly trickier aspect: there is just one, 105-page-long sentence with a single full stop after the final word. I have been advised “Don’t mention the sentence”. But this is no twisted, unreadable Germanic syntax a la Thomas Mann. Far from it: Instead it’s a mesmerizing psychological portrait of the human need to safeguard innocence and integrity at any cost – even at the risk of excluding reality.

Usually the plot line of a single sentence is quickly told. And this is no exception. It describes a walk through Rome one January afternoon in 1943. A pregnant young German woman is on her way to listen to a Bach concert at the Lutheran church. Innocent and naïve, the war is for her little more than a day-dream, until she realizes that her husband might never return.

Will she change her attitude? Her refusal to understand the obvious turns this slim book into a page-turning thriller. No really. The author’s stroke of genius is to present the young woman as credibly normal. She commits no crime, she just walks along having thoughts and some doubts too. We understand her. We engage. And we follow her because we all want to know if she finally admits reality of her situation. Or at least Peirene did.

However, it’s not for the page turning that I chose this book. After all there are many spell-binders out there. But it is plain and simply for “the sentence”. Its rhythm mirrors so beautifully the steps of a walk – you can almost feel the paving stones beneath your feet. At the same time the text is astonishingly clearly structured. It drives towards an end just as the young woman heads for her concert. Neither lose their direction. The book enchants like a Bach cantata and so enthralls us with the rhythm of the words and the beauty of Rome that we too are tempted to forget the reality of war.

Translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch.

Dedication: For U.B.

Opening: Walk, young lady, walk if you want to walk, the child will like it if you walk, Doctor Roberto had said in his funny German with a strong Italian accent

Came to this story for no other reason that it is part of the delicious Peirene Press series ‘books to red in two hours or less’. However this entry did not strike me as at all palatable.

3.5* Next World Novella
4* The Brothers
WL Sea of Ink
1* Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman
4* The Murder of Halland

The Locket by Kate Chopin

bookshelves: spring-2014, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, e-book, north-americas, war

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: biblioklept
Read on May 14, 2014

 

Read online.

Opening: One night in autumn a few men were gathered about a fire on the slope of a hill. They belonged to a small detachment of Confederate forces and were awaiting orders to march. Their gray uniforms were worn beyond the point of shabbiness. One of the men was heating something in a tin cup over the embers. Two were lying at full length a little distance away, while a fourth was trying to decipher a letter and had drawn close to the light. He had unfastened his collar and a good bit of his flannel shirt front.