(Richard J here). Sundry capsule reviews of recent reading...
David Edgerton - Britain's War Machine - Chris W has alluded to his work here and there recently, and this book appears to form a handy precis of his arguments, which truly change how I thought about WW2 - epitomising perhaps a tad too much, it's not that Britain underestimated technology and the quality of its war machines, but that it made (perhaps forgiveable in context) errors in what areas it chose to focus on before the proving began. Also, Corelli Barnett can go fuck himself. Perhaps slightly too much of an otherwise puzzling axe to grind against leftist historians (given the leanings of his implicit targets) but definitely worth reading.
Jill Lepore - The Whites of their Eyes - The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History - disappointingly unreflective. Short, and expanded from a New Yorker article, which summarises the errors and fallacies in the Tea Partier-view of the American Revolution, but is disappointingly light on any real analysis as to why such errors find resonance with such a wide section of the American population. (Top fact: 'Founding Fathers' wasn't coined until 1916.)
Nigel Hamilton - American Caesars- light, gossipy, noticeably inaccurate in several obvious places, fun. Pretty much like the Suetonius model, in actual fact.
Timothy Snyder - Bloodlands - If you only want to read one book this year about the agonising deaths of millions through callous and deliberate starvation, make it this one.
Anna Reid -Leningrad: Tragedy of a City under Siege. Alternatively, make it this one. I wish I could be anything other than remorselessly trivial and bad-taste jokey about these books, because both of them are superb, if grim, reading, with an obvious passion and empathy for the human beings unfortunate enough to be living in that particular place at that particular time.
China Mieville - Kraken - I always want to like Mieville more than I actually do, and this, sadly, is no exception.
Ben Aaronovitch - Rivers of London - similar theme to the above (the intersection between the police and the supernatural in London), and, TBH, much less well executed than Mieville's take on the theme, but if I had to read one again, well...