Book Review Peter Caddick-Adams: 'Sand and Steel', a partial review.

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by Old Git, May 4, 2021.

  1. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    There seems to be some disagreement over whether to add a comma between a subject's name and his post-nominal letters.

    Should it be Flying Officer James Hudson, DFC or Flying Officer James Hudson DFC?

    I genuinely don't know, and there's a complete mix of practice online. Does anybody here know for certain?

    The commas both before and after 'DFC' are undesirable--they make the award seem like an aside.

    As you say, the semicolons (or semi-colons, for that matter) are simply wrong.

    There are legitimate situations in which to employ two in a single sentence, but this is not one of them.
  2. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    You can use semi-colons to list things in a sentence (like the names of a crew) and it can be argued that the semi-colon is better suited to this than the colon. It can also be used, as here, to separate out a clause that is related to the main point but not necessarily part of it. In some cases you can use more than one instance of a semi-colon in a sentence but you really need to know how and when, and generally speaking it is frowned upon because it has the tendency, as here, to make the sentence over-long, tedious, unclear and confused.

    As for the problematic comma before and after the DFC, if he'd written the sentence properly this shouldn't even be an issue. Just taking the sentence as a standalone piece it really ought to have been written something like this:

    "Lancaster Navigator, Flying Officer James Hudson DFC, flew his thirtieth, and last, combat mission on D-Day. Earlier in the war he had been shot down, whilst over-flying Tunisia, and interned by the Vichy French. Following repatriation he joined No. 100 Squadron at Waltham in Lincolnshire."

    I'm presuming he was shot-down, he could also have simply run out of fuel or had engine difficulties and been forced to make an emergency landing. Of course we don't know because the sentence is just so opaque! It's not difficult to make that whole thing clear and uncomplicated, it just requires a slight bit of thinking beforehand.

    I cannot think of another book that I have read that has annoyed me as much as this one, and on so very many levels. Of course the more issues I find with it the more hyper-critical I am likely to be, ... c'est la vie!
    Last edited: May 24, 2021
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Isn't it just.
    I can glance over the shelves & see so many that fit that criteria,
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  4. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Sand, Steel. S, S.

    Steel, Storm. S, S.

    Some coincidence, shurely.

    All the best

    Wapen likes this.
  5. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

  6. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    All the best to Peter C-A and I hope his book sells well once released.

    I notice on the cover that James Holland believes C-A’s book will ‘stand as a defining work on these darkest days of the conflict’. Sorry to be grumpy but I do get bored of Hastings, Beevor, Holland et al providing each other with fawning statements of hyped praise for each other’s book covers. Surely it should be his peers and readers to decide whether or not this will be a ‘defining work’. And why were they the darkest days of the conflict? I would have thought that there are plenty of darker candidates.
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  7. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    Never seen any of these guys in any archives I have ever visited.

    I have seen Saul David at the National Archives though, and struck up a conversation with him thinking he was Rob Bell. Obviously this was terribly embarrassing for both of us.
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  8. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    A few years ago I heard Saul David give an excellent talk on his book One Hundred Days to Victory. There is more than a passing resemblance between him and Rob Bell so I have considerable sympathy for you!
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  9. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Have seen Hastings at the National Archives on regular occasions over the years. Holland, once or twice that I recall. But no doubt many higher profile historians use independent researchers and have a back catalogue of documentation available.
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  10. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Holland doesn't understand the meaning of 'primary' when it comes to archives. He thinks a postwar report assembled by people who weren't there on an event during the war is a primary document, just because he found it in an archive.

    I've once seen Overy in the National Archives, but that's hardly surprising I guess.

    All the best

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  11. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Oh, hope he recovers fully.

    All the best

  12. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    I review books for various outlets. I've been used as "blurb" on a couple of paperback editions - in one case amusingly, as it was like you see on theatre posters, where a qualifying phrase is cut off and changes a negative review to a positive.

    That said, I utterly ignore guff on dustjackets.
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  13. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    I encountered a wet-gaberdined grand historian at the IWM white plasticorium because he plonked his wet briefcase on my chair whilst I was at lunch and he gracelessly let me squeeze by to my seat. I did say "Excuse me" but he appeared to be a bit mutt and was just staring in to space. After wiping my seat with my handkerchief with some flourishes I sat down and observed his clerk fetch a small file. This was disposed of in less than a minute and out the grand sponge went. I'm sure I've seen him on the telly but he thought he was on a mission and I can't remember him at the moment.

    In a very early visit to Kew pre-digital camera ownership ( 2005?) { I once went to the Chancery Lane establishment before Kew: a proper old archive } I sat opposite David Irving who was looking at a file of radio messages intercepted in the UK in wartime which I think were sent by German police. No notes being taken. He stared into space a lot. I was looking at submarine reports in ADM199. If only I had sat opposite the late member known as ADM199 !

    On another visit I arrived at the baggage check in at Kew to be confronted by Paddy Ashdown trying to exit without swiping his ticket and the very good bluecoat indicated I had got there first and indicated more than his glow was needed to exit. He stared a bit, but not at me. Miles away.

    I asked Richard Holmes to sign a copy of his book "Sahib" after a lecture at Kew in 2005. All I remember of his speech introducing the publication of the book was that he liked eating a Mars bar for his lunch at his desk in the MoD. Also missed: his war walks' telly progs were good.

    I observed the hundred year's war expert Jonathan Sumption looking at an ancient court roll upstairs at Kew and I wondered why he did not have a digital camera. No clerk seen. He had a laptop, and he did stare into space a bit. I also went to a lecture by him when the Friends of TNA invited him and I waited outside their AGM which went on for fifty minutes after the lecture time ( I had bought a ticket.) The Friends did apologise but not very gracefully. Very impressive, disposed of a question raised in a flash of brilliance. Very well prepared.

    I have wasted Andy Drew's time after he was up at four to drive from Leeds, and Lee's time, who had driven from Sussex.

    So, if you want to be a grand historian, get a gaberdine, get your clerk to shoot a water pistol at you, and remember to stare into space a lot.
    Last edited: May 13, 2022
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  14. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    And don't bring a digital camera.

    All the best

    papiermache likes this.
  15. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    I was in the National Archives canteen when Paddy Ashdown came in with his (I presume) wife,.and he just kept walking around from seat to seat very loudly being Paddy Ashdown in order to draw attention to the fact that he was Paddy Ashdown. I gave him a Paddington-style hard stare, which his (I presume) wife noticed, but he was of course oblivious to all around him.

    This was not long before he died, so fair enough to him really - he obviously really enjoyed being himself. Also he was an extremely fit and powerful looking man, not at all like he appeared on the telly.
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  16. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    I did see Michael Wood in the coffee shop at Kew a good ten years ago talking to what at the time I assumed was a student. He had a long flowing coat on, to match his long flowing hair, but was very discreet and did seem to be offering advice and guidance. I like his books enough to forgive the occasionally excessively enthusiastic TV presentational style and am always astounded when he reads Saxon straight from a manuscript.


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  17. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    A lot of the atmosphere seems to have gone from Kew since Covid, I think. There were a couple of ruddy faced fat blokes who used to share a seat and chat all day, interspersing this with a bit of aimless wandering. They've disappeared. There was also a very hairy American Jewish guy who I think was researching Burgess, Philby, Maclean etc., and who used to go into the corridor and report his latest discoveries via mobile phone to some anonymous bigwig. Like he was a private detective or something. Also the pairs of neatly dressed Chinese students who used to comb through the FO Hong Kong files have disappeared.

    Not the same place, really.
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  18. Tomkil

    Tomkil Junior Member

    One of the best threads at the mo I think. Thanks gents.
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  19. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    All of the trustees of the The National Archives Trust appear to be authors.

    The National Archives Trust - Our People

    A replica cabinet table replaced microfilm machines: not the same place indeed.

    Attached Files:

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  20. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    A lot of the regular independent researchers haven't returned since Covid and a big downturn in the number of overseas visitors. I guess it might pick up in the summer.
    Chris C likes this.

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