Thursday 6 July 2023

Reading in June 2023

My deep-dive into The Hobbit continued.

John D Rateliff, The History of The Hobbit

JRR Tolkien; Douglas A Anderson, The Annotated Hobbit

Bryan Perrett, The Hunters and the Hunted: The Elimination of German Surface Warships Around the World, 1914-15

At about 150 pages with no notes or indication of sources, this is something of a whistle-stop tour and lacks context.  This means that some of the chapters raise more questions than they answer (which is fine - a prompt for further reading).  Nevertheless, it's a decent read for sitting out in the garden now the summer's here.

Neil Gaiman & Collen Doran, Troll Bridge

A graphic novel adaption of Gaiman's coming-of-age story that I picked up in a charity shop.

Elmore Leonard, Out of Sight

More summer reading, this from the master of the wise-cracking thriller.  I think I'm right in saying that they made a George Clooney film out of this one.

Even typing this, I'm temped to grab another Leonard off the shelf and go and read it!

Giles Foden, Mimi and Toutou Go Forth: The Bizarre Battle for Lake Tanganyika

Foden's account of the Naval African Expedition - the transportation overland of two motor boats in order to wrest control of Lake Tanganyiki from the Germans in World War I ("It is bother the duty and the tradition of the Royal Navy to engage the enemy wherever there is water to float a ship" as the First Sea Lord put it).  Improbably enought, it was a mostly successful endeavour.  

The book makes much of the antics of the eccentric commander of the expedition, Geoffrey Spicer-Simson.  When it came out, this was something of a sensation and best-seller.  It's a very good read.

V E Tarrant, Battlecruiser Invincible: The History of the First Battlecruiser, 1909-1916

Another short read (how could be be otherwise?), but this is much better than The Hunters and the Hunted.  It starts with a scathing examination of the design criteria that lead to Invincible's destruction contrasting Fisher's misconception that 'speed is the best protection' and 'hitting is the thing' (at a time when the Germans were building faster ships and when Invincible's turrets didn't work properly and she was supplied with dud shells) with von Tirpitz's view that a ship 'must, what ever else, be able to remain afloat and stay in action'.  There follows excellent accounts of the battles of the Falklands and Jutland as well as the rest of Invincible's short carrier, drawing heavily on diaries and eye-witness accounts.  Of particular note are the 14 pages of maps (out of a total of 1558pp), which must be the envy of longer, more 'authorative' works.


  1. Mimi and Toutou is a great read and pretty good history too. Long Face games does a campaign game. The Perrett book looks like a miss, but the Invincible book looks interesting.

    1. A reasonable summary! I think I've got a pdf of Steamer Wars somewhere. I didn't reaslise until after I'd read the Invincible book that the author also wrote 'Jutland: The German Perspective' on my next shelf. One the basis of the earlier book, I'll be reading it soon.

  2. I also enjoyed Mimi and Tutu. And by chance, as we say, I actually read it in Africa (Keyna, but close enough).