Monday, March 09, 2009

Recent Reads & DVDs

Black Diamonds, The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty by Catherine Bailey.

Wentworth is in Yorkshire and was surrounded by 70 collieries employing tens of thousands of men. It is the finest and largest Georgian house in Britain and belonged to the Fitzwilliam family. It is England's forgotten palace which belonged to Britain's richest aristocrats. "Black Diamonds" tells the story of its demise: family feuds, forbidden love, class war, and a tragic and violent death played their part. But coal, one of the most emotive issues in twentieth century British politics, lies at its heart. This is the extraordinary story of how the fabric of English society shifted beyond recognition in fifty turbulent years in the twentieth century.

Roses Of No Man's Land by Lyn MacDonald.
'On the face of it,' writes Lyn MacDonald, 'no one could have been less equipped for the job than these gently nurtured girls who walked straight out of Edwardian drawing rooms into the manifest horrors of the First World War...' Yet the volunteer nurses rose magnificently to the occasion; in this book they get a chance to tell their own stories. In leaking tents and draughty huts they fought another war, a war against agony and death, as men lay suffering from the pain of unimaginable wounds or diseases we can now cure almost instantly.It was here that young doctors frantically forged new medical techniques - of blood transfusion, dentistry, psychiatry and plastic surgery - in the attempt to save soldiers shattered in body or spirit. And it was here that women achieved a quiet but permanent revolution, by proving beyond question they could do anything. All this is superbly captured in "The Roses of No Man's Land", a panorama of hardship, disillusion and despair, yet also of endurance and supreme courage.
Both fascinating books.
Yesterday I went on a DVD shopping spree. here's what I bought:
The First World War, box set, based on the book by Professor Hew Strachan.
Tenko, 3rd series, to join series 1 & 2 I have.
The Harp In The South based on the books by Ruth Park. (Australian)
A Fortunate Life, based on the bio book by A. B Facey. (Australian)
Victorian Farm, BBC.
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