Tag Archives: War

Return to the Sea – Etnairis Rivera

seasideDay and post three of poetry week takes us all the way across the waters to Puerto Rico, unless you happen to be reading this from there, that is.

There’s no blurb for this one but whilst attempting to hunt one out on, I noticed that the one used paperback copy was going for $35 dollars.  Not bad considering I got mine for $4 whilst using Letizia’s fun method of poetry buying – which can be found here  – and seeing where the journey takes you.

Return to the Sea sets both Spanish and its English translation side by side on the page, which I find fascinating and although this is nothing unique in the world of poetry books my eyes were drawn over to the Spanish side frequently through curiosity many more time than my Rilke books ever have, perhaps because the language is easier on the eye and more familiar.

It is clear from the start that Rivera is fiercely strong in her patriotism and her writings are shot through with calls for independence and self determinism of the country she so clearly evokes with passion through the text.  The love shines through in many way from reminiscences to the impassioned defence of her people.

There is fury at the legacy left by the US military, after testing chemical and nuclear weapons on the island of Vieques (nicknamed La Isla Nena, usually translated as Little Girl Island, which somehow makes it worse) left thousands with serious health issues including Cancer.  Not only does Rivera demand justice but also exhibits a diligent need to cleanse the people and their land. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 10/11/2016 in Poetry, Politics


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Grave Encounters

I had forgotten about this little jaunt until I read this post of Sherri’s for those of you who are yet to discover this gem of a blog, then I urge you to go there and get immersed in her wonderful style of memoir…

A while back, I went pottering through a graveyard, it was an unhurried type journey as such things always should be.  I found myself reflecting on many a thing in the peaceful confines of its borders, aimlessly plodding around the circuitous path which I liked to think was some subtle nod to rebirth but perhaps I overanalyse things too much.Notts! 118It was around half past five in the PM when I discovered this peaceful place which has been around since the 1830’s and this being England and Autumn, there was a fine drizzle in the air.  I think part of me was drawn to this place by the ending of my day out and also that melancholy feel that affects the single traveller with time on his hands.

It is strange to feel moved by the resting places of so many unknown people, the idea of lives lived, dramas finished, heartache and happiness played out to a natural conclusion is something that the living need to assimilate and enjoy what we have in the now.  I always take delight in the juxtaposition of places and the graveyard is near Nottingham Trent University, where vitality and exuberance flows past the gates every day, something cheers me about that. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 04/11/2014 in Life, Travel


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The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence – Martin Meredith

SaAAfrica is forever on our TV screens, but the bad-news stories (famine, genocide, corruption) massively outweigh the good (South Africa). Ever since the process of de-colonialisation began in the mid-1950s, and arguably before, the continent has appeared to be stuck in a process of irreversible decline. Constant war, improper use of natural resources and misappropriation of revenues and aid monies contribute to an impression of a continent beyond hope. How did we get here? What, if anything, is to be done? Fully revised and updated and weaving together the key stories and characters of the last sixty years into a stunningly compelling and coherent narrative, Martin Meredith has produced the definitive history of how European ideas of how to organise 10,000 different ethnic groups has led to what Tony Blair described as the ‘scar on the conscience of the world’. 

As far as complex narratives go, African history is up there with the most complicated of them all.  This 688 page book seeks to unravel the tumultuous past and explain the politics of Africa as a whole as combined and separate states.

This ambitious and critical exploration is unblinkingly honest and brutal.  Yet it is also easily readable and not in the least confusing, despite many acronyms and the jumps around a number of countries.

The vast scale is of the book with a summation of the establishment of colonial rule and up to the beginnings of Independence, before going on to form an extremely concise and readable series of case studies.  The chronological nature of the book separated – roughly into decades – allows for the understanding of contemporary problems and movements to be understood within the context of the region.

We have been giving away mountains and lakes and rivers to each other, only hindered by the small impediment that we never knew exactly where they were.

Charting a path through the wholesale destruction of a continent’s equilibrium, carving geometric lines through long-established tribal lands and swapping of said territory between Western empires, is always going to be indicative of problems and from this inauspicious beginning, the book doesn’t let up on the blood and tears that have not just blighted a continent but has become a reflection on the rest of the world. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 08/08/2014 in History, Journalism


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The Second World War – Antony Beevor



‘In several places they had hung out their washing on lines between trees as if it were normal to have a washing day in this desecrated no-man’s land’

 So why should you choose this WWII book over the many hundreds of other books devoted to the subject?

The short answer, is the exhaustive depth of scale that is covered here. As well as the European conflict which is understandably the main focus of British history books, this tome also devotes itself to the Far Eastern theatre of conflict and the lesser known stories of Greece, Holland, Norway etc.

In truth, I’ve battled through this book for almost three weeks before finishing it today, and even if you minus the hours that have gone on an unusually buoyant social life of late, it’s still taken a lot of time to get through (for me at least).

Anyone who has ever read an Antony Beevor book before will know the style of writing, relentless facts lightly sprinkled with anecdotes from survivors, eye witnesses, journalists,soldiers and other sources, all melded together in an easy to read narrative. However due to its nature and wide ranging scope, this doesn’t feel as fluid as his earlier works, most notably Stalingrad and Berlin.  there are plenty of maps though to help you follow the action and a list of abbreviations in the back, although there aren’t that many so it’s not too daunting.

This, though, is not a criticism. I shall be giving away a few other WWII books, as I believe this is the definitive book that I will be referring too from now on. The beauty of its structure is the overlapping chapters detailing campaigns, operations, etc,these don’t suffer from a staggered account but manage to flow without becoming a structural mess and a readers worst nightmare. Really it’s a book designed to be easy to reference as well as read straight through. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 08/08/2012 in History


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