The Stonecutter Camilla Lackberg

This is the third installation of the Patrik Hedstrom series, which could also validly be called the Erica or Fjallbacka series I suppose. That might be jumping the gun a bit I suppose, bear with me!

Camilla Lackberg is a Swedish author, whose novels are set in the rural seaside town of Fjallbacka. This novel, like the previous two, is a thriller in the guise of a detective whodunnit story. I wouldn’t call this a slow-burner as such, nor is it a fast-paced action thriller: I think its a medium-burner, if you’ll excuse my tongue-in-cheek expression.
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Treblinka Chil Rajchman

Treblinka: A Survivor’s Memory by Chil Rajchman is probably the most powerful, and I would argue one of the most important, pieces of literature that exists. This isn’t just a book – this is a recording and recollection of the cruel murder of 800,000 people.

This book literally hit me like a kick to the stomach – I felt utterly compelled to read it in one sitting, and having read it, I actually felt sick in my stomach the next day. I can honestly say the world seemed tangibly different to me having read this book.

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Tournament of Shadows – The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Asia – Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac

Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Central Asia, is a real labour of love by husband and wife team Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac, and is the result of many years travel and research on their behalf. So top marks for effort then, and the book is a physically impressive, weighty and voluminous tome. The actual content though, while certainly very entertaining and interesting in places, is unfortunately a bit lacking. I am always wary of books that are co-written, as they always have a higher than normal potential to be lacking in coherency and narrative structure. This is unfortunately the case here.

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Pirates of Barbary – Adrian Tinniswood

Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17-Century Mediterranean, by Adrian Tinniswood, sheds much needed light on who and what pirates actually were, and who and what they did. It debunks the stereotypical notion of Blackbeard with his talking parrot and his pieces of eight, as being a typical pirate. In the real world, piratry was a world of profiteering, slavery, butchery, brinkmanship and religion, with its players being a motley crew of Christians and Muslims from all walks of life. Adrian’s book brilliantly illuminates their world, and this world’s revelation will be a shock to you.

The period of history when pirates reigned was the 17th-century, and geographically they were to be feared from the Mediterranean, up the Western coast of Europe and spanning to Scandinavia and Northern America, and out across the expanse of the Barbary Coast (present-day Morocco, Algeria and Libya). Mostly though, and this is the focus of the book, they had their bases of operations all along the Barbary coast, especially the port city of Algiers, which was pirate-central.

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Constantinople The Last Great Siege – Roger Crowley

Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453 by Roger Crowley, is a history of the momentous struggle waged for the city of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) in 1453. This was a real game-changer in historical terms, as it finally and utterly rested power in the region from the faltering Byzantium empire to the Ottoman Turks, and shut Christian Europe out in the process. It is also the history of the titanic and fatal battle of two great leaders, Sultan Mehmet II and Emperor Constantine XI.

Constantinople, sitting as it did on the Bosphorous sea, was a massive and natural fortress. Indeed, it had proved impervious to previous mostly Muslim and other assaults, except for one crucial and brutal sacking of the city by Christian Crusaders in 1204. So it was possibly with no great alarm that the Emperor Constantine and Constantinople’s inhabitants viewed the approach of the young Sultan’s army – that however was soon to change, once they realised the extent of the army, and the iron will of the Sultan.
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