The Eve of Destruction

THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION is a novel about America edging toward nuclear war with the Soviet Union. It would be a war that might kill hundreds of millions of people and poison the atmosphere for fifty years. In October 1962, American spy planes photographed missiles loaded with nuclear warheads in Cuba. The Soviet Union was installing the missiles, and they could reach targets in the USA within minutes. President Kennedy was trying to find a way out of the Cuban Missile Crisis without recourse to war. The US armed forces were confident about attacking the Soviet Union in one all-out nuclear war, certain they would win. President John Kennedy was doubtful about their advice and motives, cautious after they told him similar gung-ho things about the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. The Eve of Destruction is the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  EXTRACT  Luke could hear the roar of the huge printing presses in the background. He was sitting opposite Walt who smiled delightedly, unable to understand what this was about. Luke listened to the sound and smell of the printing, he imagined the newspapers whizzing down to the collection point to be bundled; he could smell the… Continue reading

Against their will

Book cover, Against their will

AGAINST THEIR WILL  is the story of Conscientious Objectors during World War 1 in England. This is a fictional account based on actual events. Conscientious objectors were opposed to the war, seeing it as a war for no purpose, a war based on propaganda, a war about chauvinism and prejudice, a war let loose by the failure of international diplomats. It was not a war to end war, but a war to create animosity and new hatred. Some conscientious objectors opposed it on religious grounds, but they were also treated as though they were aiding the enemy. Those who refused to be conscripted where vilified, cursed as cowards, imprisoned, bashed, tortured, treated as traitors, and sometimes killed in one way or another. There was no sympathy for those who refused to aid the war effort. And yet the C.O.s continued in their opposition to the war, despite the pressure, despite the hatred directed at them. This story has another aspect, that of occultism, Kevin Darwin while in prison, has various psychic experiences. He meets the mysterious Gita Lume, who appears to have uncanny powers and knowledge about his deepest secrets. The army, concerned about the number of conscientious objectors, trialed… Continue reading

Regeneration by Pat Barker

This book is set during WW1 in England. It makes use of the factual poets Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Robert Graves. Fact and fiction are mixed together in this story about the psychological damage done to soldiers during the First World War. The issue of opposing the war is also discussed, since Siegfried Sassoon, one of the most famous of WW1 poets, opposed the war publicly. Those injured soldiers who opposed the merciless killing were equated with cowards and shirkers. The only apparent option for them was to return to the front in France to demonstrate they were not afraid. When Siegfried Sassoon was wounded in France he returned to England. Wilfred Owen felt he should replace Sassoon at the front so he could report independently on what conditions were like. He returned to France and was killed a week before the end of the war. His mother received the dreaded telegram the same day the church bells were ringing out proclaiming the end of the war. In the novel Regeneration, Rivers is a psychiatrist who treats men who were damaged psychologically by their experiences in the war. The men were often injured mentally as well as physically, yet… Continue reading

Do not read these famous books

book cover

I know this is going to open a can of worms, or perhaps a barrel of rattle-snakes, but it needs to be said: do not read these famous books. One thing all these books have in common is that they are too long. If they were excellent, fascinating, educational, absorbing on every page they would not have a problem. But most readers find they are not any of those things. I have read all but one of these books, and while they are talked about in literary circles, and are on lists of Must Read Books, few people ever finish reading them. Some people would hint that you are “artistically impoverished” if you have not read these books. Do not believe them. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy This is one of the longest novels ever written. The version I read contained 1500 pages of tiny print. The story: Napoleon Invades Russia, Napoleon retreats in disarray. It is not a difficult book to read, and it is mildly interesting. But it is going to take months of reading, and probably you will feel it was not worth the journey. If it was a shorter book, it might be worth the time… Continue reading