I first wrote the text in the following Blog back in September 2019 and tweeted out that I had written it but that it would be ‘parked’ in my reserve of half completed Blogs until a time when I was under pressure of having too much on, and I could pick it up and release it.
Funny enough in light of a bit of a Twitter Storm I have caused today, this actually seems highly appropriate although it is very much at the risk of chucking more petrol on the inferno !!
Non-Finance Book Review: Built for Speed - Bikes, Beers and Balls of Steel by John McGuinness
If you are into Bikes then you must know John McGuinness (and if you don’t, then where on earth have you been hiding?) as he is a true Isle of Man TT legend and I think his number of wins across the different classes only lags that of the true top dog, Joey Dunlop.
This autobiography is very raw and near the knuckle (in other words it is extremely rude in parts and not for the faint hearted or for children !!) and if you read it then it is likely you come away with the view that John is very much from a working class background and his council house upbringing shines through. I guess this explains to a large extent why he comes across in interviews and things as so ‘down to earth’ and he himself admits in the Book that he has not always been the sharpest negotiator when agreeing to contracts to ride for a particular team and he laments that not having a Manager earlier in his career probably held him back a lot. On that subject, it is quite astonishing how little John got paid in the early days and I think he even says somewhere in the book that he would almost have ridden for nothing if it meant he got on a bike and had the chance to compete.
This is a really good historical book I recently finished reading. I get the impression that few people really know much about the demise of the Russian Tsar Nicholas 2 some time after the October Revolution and they probably are vaguely aware of the story through the ‘Ra ra Rasputin’ Boney M song and they may of heard of Princess Anastasia through all the conspiracy theories. Those with a deeper understanding of the time around the Russian Revolution have probably watched ‘Doctor Zhivago’………
This book is really about the events leading up to the removal of the Tsar from power and then the long period of captivity along with the rest of his immediate Romanov Family. If that was all the book was about it might not have been all that great but in fact it goes much much wider than this and without doubt that is what I liked about it.
I really liked this one, it covers perhaps one of the most significant major battles of World War 2 and has a particular focus on the incredible defence undertaken by a small Unit of around 18 US Troops who found themselves at a key location in the last major German offensive.
The story is mainly concerned with a Unit of US Soldiers who are supposed to be Intelligence & Reconnaissance specialists and who are intended to be undertaking patrols behind enemy lines with a view to obtaining vital intelligence on German positions and movements etc. It turns out that in late 1944 when a severe Winter is kicking in, there is a gap in the line for the Allied deployment in the Ardennes Forest and the Unit gets asked to, in effect, act as General Infantry and to man the gap to complete a defensive perimeter.
This is the second part of a Review on Mark’s Book ‘Excellent Investing’. If you have not read the first part yet, you can find it here:
In the first part I just went through the notes I had scribbled down whilst reading through the Book and I will carry on in that manner – so here goes:
This is a Book that is literally ‘hot off the presses’ and if you fancy a copy you can find it right at the top of ‘Wheelie’s Bookshop’ at the time of publishing this Review (don’t worry, if you are reading this some time later, then the Book will still be in the Bookshop but most likely further down the page).
I met up with Mark (you can find him on the Tweets as @DangerCapital) at a recent ‘Meet-up’ I organised at Gaydon Motor Museum and it was extremely valuable for me because I was hugely impressed by Mark’s knowledge and obvious experience and it is rare I find someone who wows me this much. I have been aware of Mark for many years via Twitter but not ‘spoken’ much with him directly although it had always been obvious from his Tweets that he was fairly on the ball. I understand that Mark used to run a Blog called ‘Danger Capital’ and I have certainly read items on this a few times over the years but had not made the connection that it was Mark who was writing it.
This was quite an ‘enjoyable’ read and I found it fairly easy going although there are a few bits which are not particularly pleasant. From what I can tell, Phyllis Whitsell wrote a previous Book related to this one which was called ‘Finding Tipperary Mary’ and both are about her ‘real’ Mother (i.e. the lady who gave birth to her) who had to give her up for adoption.
I have not read her first Book but it seems to be the story about how Phyllis tracked down her birth Mother only to discover that she was a renowned drunken bag-lady in Liverpool and then Birmingham I think and there was also the twist that Phyllis actually met her 9 years earlier when working as a Nurse in A&E and ‘Tipperary Mary’ came in after getting damaged in a drunken pub brawl. Sadly the Author never told her Mother that she was her daughter but she did care personally for her for many years before she died and seems to be content that she did that much for her. The reasoning was that she did not want to subject her own children to meeting their true Grandmother because it would have been quite a shock and have opened up lots of further complications. I can see her reasons but I definitely felt sad at the end of the book that she had not told her Mother who she was.
Here is yet another non-finance Book which I finished recently. This was one I picked up in my local Charity Shop and I originally intended to give it to my Brother because he is a huge Cricket Fan but I then discovered I had already bought him it for Xmas a few years ago !!
So I got stuck with the Book and decided that the best thing was perhaps to start reading it - because worse case I could just put it down and say “hmmmm, that’s way too Crickety for me…” - but the big surprise I found was that although it is obviously full of Cricket stuff, it is not too heavy on it and because I myself was clearly influenced a lot by my older Brother and I watched a lot of Cricket back in the late 1970s and the early 80s which was exactly the period when Ian Botham was first on the scene and then continued probably most of his career (and his notoriety !!).
I picked this up in Tesco and was intrigued because the tagline at the top said ‘The life of Britain’s most decorated Cold War Spy and Head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield’ and from reading the back it seemed that he was a pretty important player in UK Foreign Policy and he had been involved in things like the Cuban Missile Crisis and is believed to have helped keep Britain out of the Vietnam War. He was also influential with the Thatcher government and I was a bit surprised that I had not really heard of him although I suppose by the very nature of a Spy Chief he would not have had a hugely public profile but it appears that he was actually the first Head of MI6 to be ‘outed’ (in more ways that one as you will see if you read the book !!) and widely known to the Public with some unintended appearances in Daily Tabloids. I guess I was simply too young.
This is a book I finished reading many Weeks ago but I have not had a chance to write anything about it before now and shove it in the Bookshop. So finally I have got around to it and you should be able to find both the Book and the Film in the ‘Non-Finance Books’ page.
You may have seen (or at least heard of) the recent film based on this Book and it is about a US Navy Seal who was the Special Forces Sniper with the most Kills in US history - taking the record off some guy in the Vietnam War (as an aside, I am sure I saw something on TV recently which was saying that a Finnish Bloke actually has the outright record from when the Russians invaded Finland in World War 2 - he used to hide in the snow and stuff).
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