Monday, 18 October 2021
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book review

Scotland and the Spanish Civil War
Daniel Gray Luath Press, Edinburgh 12.99
Reviewed by Alan Lloyd, Research associate, U K Defence Forum

This is the latest addition to a line of excellent books, which have been published in the last couple of years, detailing the efforts of British men and women who went to assist their Spanish and International comrades to halt the tide of fascism in 1936-39.

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By the Autumn of 2002, the Government's efforts to improve the value for money in defence procurement was seemingly running out of steam. The implementation of the much-vaunted Smart Procurement Initiative (now renamed as Smart Acquisition) had been proceeding for four years and, although important progress had been made, some important elements of the initiative were still stalled at the starting gate while new problems were emerging.

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The Places In Between by Rory Stewart

Revisited by Elayne Jude, Great North News Services

In January 2002, Rory Stewart walked from Herat to Kabul, traversing, via a snowy massif a little above the country's waistline, almost the breadth of Afghanistan. The route followed that of Babur, the sixteenth century first Mogul Emperor of India. Stewart's duplication is mostly accidental, and a handy explanation for suspicious officials and wondering villagers. History, bureaucracy and international relations have interrupted his original walk across Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal; with the fall of the Taliban, Stewart is able to resume his trek every step without using any vehicle. On one occasion, when he is forced to ford a swollen river near nightfall by jeep, he returns the following morning to the spot where his feet left the ground, and retraces the distance to the dropoff.

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Mark Urban's book Task Force Black.
Published by Little, Brown (ISBN: 978 1 4087 0264 2)

Reviewed by Roger Green, Principal Reviewer, U K Defence Forum

Mark Urban is an established Diplomatic and Defence Editor for BBC Newsnight who has a well-deserved reputation as an author of military history as well as contemporary books about Special Forces and British intelligence. He is probably unique in that he has managed to cultivate a range of credible contacts within the Special Forces (SF) without which this authoritative book would probably not have been possible.

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By Stephen D King

Published by Yale (ISBN: 978 0 300 15432 0)

Reviewed by Roger Green, Principal Reviewer, UK Defence Forum

Stephen King is the global chief economist for HSBC and is a member of the European Central Bank Shadow Council.  This is his first book and it is unusual of its genre in that it looks at the Western developed markets from the perspective of the emerging markets, particularly that of China.  It is written in a forthright almost textbook style that is detailed and tightly argued with the benefit of 'trivial' examples.  The reader does not have to be an economist to understand the central message but it would help with some of the more complex ideas that King advances.

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Reviewed by Roger Green

Yemen is an obscure and impoverished country that has for a long time been an enigma to Western countries. Victoria Clark was born in Aden, the daughter of the BBC's South Arabia correspondent, and this accident of birth gave her the motivation to write this eponymous book.  Over the years she has made several visits to the country and has met most of the influential leaders as well as many ordinary people.  She paints a graphic pen picture of the cultural and social heritage of the country.

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By Barbara Demick.

Published by Granta (ISBN 978-1-84708-141-4)

Reviewed by Adam Dempsey, Research Associate, UK Defence Forum

Barbara Demick's coverage of the war in Sarajevo won the Robert F. Kennedy award and was also shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2001 she became correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, covering both North and South Korea. As in common with many journalists, it proved difficult for Demick to visit the North. When she eventually gained access reporting was severely limited by the regime's employment of minder's to guide journalists on pre-planned tours. There was never any conversation with 'ordinary' North Korean citizens. Yet through contact with defectors to the South, Demick was able to paint a picture of life in North Korea. Just as the title of the book suggests, life in the last remaining bona fide Communist state is nothing much to envy.

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