Yes, I went a bit crazy with the credit card ...

Hugh Addison. The Battle of London. London: Herbert Jenkins, n.d. [1923]. The Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy attempts to start a revolution in London, aided by a surprise air raid from Germany. But they didn't count on the RAF's massive retaliatory response on Berlin ...

G. Cornwallis-West. The Woman Who Stopped War. London: Hutchinson & Co., n.d [1935]. A 'Vivid, provoking and brilliantly written' tale of passion, love, deceit, betrayal, feminism, pacifism and The Women's Save the Race League - or so I gather from the blurb!

John Hammerton, ed. War in the Air: Aerial Wonders of our Time. London: Amalgamated Press, n.d. [ca. 1935]. This is a real prize - it's the entire run of a part-work magazine published over the period 1935-6 (I would guess), a profusely illustrated, popular guide to contemporary aviation. Although civil aviation and the pioneers of flight are by no means ignored, as the name suggests the emphasis is on military aviation. There's a lot on the Great War, including 11 articles on 'Air raiders of the great cities', summaries of the world's 'aerial armadas', and half a dozen articles on future air war, all of them on the horrors of city bombing: 'Death from the skies', 'The doom of cities', 'When war does come: terrifying effects of gas attacks', and so on. I could hardly resist, could I?

Martin Hussingtree [Oliver Baldwin]. Konyetz. Hodder & Staughton, n.d. [1924]. Oliver Baldwin was the son of Conservative PM Stanley Baldwin - he had been captured by the Bolsheviks while an advisor to the Armenian army after WWI. He became a convert to socialism afterwards, and wrote this strange novel forecasting the end of Western civilisation ("konyetz" is Russian for "the end") as the Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy steamrollers its way across Europe and into a Labour-governed Britain, bombing and gassing as it goes.

Neville Jones. The Beginnings of Strategic Air Power: A History of the British Bomber Force 1923-39. London: Frank Cass, 1987. Another standard reference, which I always confuse with his other book, The Origins of Strategic Bombing. Looks to have some useful stuff I haven't come across before, for instance the phosgene scare of May 1928.

Noel Pemberton-Billing. Air War: How to Wage It. Aldershot and Portsmouth: Gale & Polden, 1916. 'With some suggestions for the defence of great cities.' This probably helped P-B to be elected as the 'member for air'; the cover is dominated by a rather dashing photo of him, monocle firmly in place. 'Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen!'

A.O. Pollard. Black Out. Hutchinson & Co., n.d. [1938]. Captain Pollard was a successful writer of crime novels as well as a holder of the Victoria Cross. Although not an airman, he wrote several aviation-themed novels, including this one about an anti-ARP group which is a front for a criminal gang. The Times Literary Supplement says that it 'Will prove very much to the taste of air-minded readers', and that's good enough for me.

E.F. Spanner. The Broken Trident. London: E.F. Spanner, 1929. A comparatively rare example of a critic of the fear of city bombing - Spanner didn't believe that any nation would be immoral enough to do it (again, that is). The novel is about the danger posed by a resurgent German air force for the Royal Navy (there's a great piece of cover art showing German biplane torpedo bombers peeling off to attack a column of battleships) - apparently his argument was that airpower was too important to be left to the RAF, and should be the RN's responsibility!

H.G. Wells. The Shape of Things to Come: The Ultimate Revolution. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1933. This needs no introduction ... although I didn't realise it was subtitled 'The Ultimate Revolution'. It's quite fitting, though.

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2 thoughts on “Acquisitions

  1. Chris Williams

    And another - 'Last and First Men' by Olaf Stapledon. The 1940s feature for about the first ten pages of this one, IIRC. Then he gets a bit exponential with his coverage, ending it a couple of billion years later having wiped out humanity and post-humanity at least twice.

  2. Brett Holman

    Post author

    Ah yes, it's a great book (far better than The Shape of Things to Come). Stapledon has an Anglo-French war which obliterates both London and Paris in the space of a weekend: 'In a couple of hours a third of London was in ruins, and half her population lay poisoned in the streets.' Also of interest to me is the significance that flying has in the culture of the First World State - very airminded they were!

    I was blown away by the sheer imagination on display on Last and First Men. And then I read Star Maker ... ! Two utterly remarkable books.

    But anyway, these posts are just stuff I've picked up recently. I acquired Last and First Men long ago :) Although not in a contemporary edition ... uh oh.

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