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A captivating and convincing revisionist history.

A lively study of the “amateur British intelligence agents who…hoped to avert a second war in Europe by building rapport with the Third Reich politically, economically and socially.”

Throughout the 1930s, a clique of British aristocrats, scholars, and businessmen maintained friendly social contacts with prominent Nazis, including Hitler. Dismissed for decades as Nazi sympathizers, they have finally found a defender. That this book began as Spicer’s doctoral thesis should not discourage readers; the result of intense research, it’s a page-turner. Known mostly to history buffs, Spicer’s Germanophiles included Thomas Conwell-Evans, a Welsh political secretary and historian; Philip Kerr, a liberal politician, writer, and aristocrat; and Ernest Tennant, a wealthy businessman. Few in their circle sympathized with British Nazism; most denounced antisemitic outrages; all were horrified by the carnage of World War I and felt guilty about the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles. In their eyes, however, Hitler was a fervent nationalist whose goal of returning his suffering nation to prosperity and global status deserved a measure of sympathy. Nowadays, scholars display a more nuanced view of Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement, but popular histories continue to deplore the word, and politicians employ it to justify wars from Suez to Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan. Spicer emphasizes that his subjects did not aim to appease the Nazis but to civilize them. This was no secret. Many senior British officials dismissed these amateur agents, but the foreign service, starved for intelligence on Germany, took them seriously and often encouraged them. The author engagingly recounts a steady stream of social events, banquets, conferences, cultural exchanges, and semi-official visits among well-known British political figures and top-level Nazis. Although not fellow travelers, Spicer’s subjects bent over backward to see reason in Nazi policies and take advantage of Germany’s long-standing admiration of British culture, but they ultimately grew exasperated, concluded that Hitler was irrational, and supported war when it broke out.

A captivating and convincing revisionist history.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63936-226-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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Gibbins combines historical knowledge with a sense of adventure, making this book a highly enjoyable package.

A popular novelist turns his hand to historical writing, focusing on what shipwrecks can tell us.

There’s something inherently romantic about shipwrecks: the mystery, the drama of disaster, the prospect of lost treasure. Gibbins, who’s found acclaim as an author of historical fiction, has long been fascinated with them, and his expertise in both archaeology and diving provides a tone of solid authority to his latest book. The author has personally dived on more than half the wrecks discussed in the book; for the other cases, he draws on historical records and accounts. “Wrecks offer special access to history at all…levels,” he writes. “Unlike many archaeological sites, a wreck represents a single event in which most of the objects were in use at that time and can often be closely dated. What might seem hazy in other evidence can be sharply defined, pointing the way to fresh insights.” Gibbins covers a wide variety of cases, including wrecks dating from classical times; a ship torpedoed during World War II; a Viking longship; a ship of Arab origin that foundered in Indonesian waters in the ninth century; the Mary Rose, the flagship of the navy of Henry VIII; and an Arctic exploring vessel, the Terror (for more on that ship, read Paul Watson’s Ice Ghost). Underwater excavation often produces valuable artifacts, but Gibbins is equally interested in the material that reveals the society of the time. He does an excellent job of placing each wreck within a broader context, as well as examining the human elements of the story. The result is a book that will appeal to readers with an interest in maritime history and who would enjoy a different, and enlightening, perspective.

Gibbins combines historical knowledge with a sense of adventure, making this book a highly enjoyable package.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781250325372

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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Chronology, photographs and personal knowledge combine to make a memorable commemorative presentation.

Jackie Kennedy's secret service agent Hill and co-author McCubbin team up for a follow-up to Mrs. Kennedy and Me (2012) in this well-illustrated narrative of those five days 50 years ago when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Since Hill was part of the secret service detail assigned to protect the president and his wife, his firsthand account of those days is unique. The chronological approach, beginning before the presidential party even left the nation's capital on Nov. 21, shows Kennedy promoting his “New Frontier” policy and how he was received by Texans in San Antonio, Houston and Fort Worth before his arrival in Dallas. A crowd of more than 8,000 greeted him in Houston, and thousands more waited until 11 p.m. to greet the president at his stop in Fort Worth. Photographs highlight the enthusiasm of those who came to the airports and the routes the motorcades followed on that first day. At the Houston Coliseum, Kennedy addressed the leaders who were building NASA for the planned moon landing he had initiated. Hostile ads and flyers circulated in Dallas, but the president and his wife stopped their motorcade to respond to schoolchildren who held up a banner asking the president to stop and shake their hands. Hill recounts how, after Lee Harvey Oswald fired his fatal shots, he jumped onto the back of the presidential limousine. He was present at Parkland Hospital, where the president was declared dead, and on the plane when Lyndon Johnson was sworn in. Hill also reports the funeral procession and the ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery. “[Kennedy] would have not wanted his legacy, fifty years later, to be a debate about the details of his death,” writes the author. “Rather, he would want people to focus on the values and ideals in which he so passionately believed.”

Chronology, photographs and personal knowledge combine to make a memorable commemorative presentation.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3149-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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