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THE ABOLITION OF BRITAIN (BOOK) by Peter Hitchens

This is a cri de coeu r from an honest, intelligent and patriotic Englishman desperately worried about the corruption of this country and the likely effects of its lurch into the clutches of Europe. This book offers a powerful polemic on the decline of modern day Britain. The author argues that British culture is in ruins, and institutions held in contempt. Hitchens identifies everything that he feels has gone wrong with Britain since the Second World War and makes the case for the 'many millions who feel that they have become foreigners in their own land and wish with each succeeding day that they could turn the clock back'. He describes and criticises the growing strength of such forces as multiculturalism. He argues that English schools had largely ceased to teach the history of the country, criticising the preference for methodology, or the literature of Britain's past. One chapter analyses the use of TV and radio soap operas to spread liberal cultural and moral propaganda, and refers to several instances where this intention has been openly expressed by the editors and authors of such programmes. Writing with brilliance and flair, Hitchens targets the pernicious effects of TV culture, the corruption and decay of English language, the loss of deference and the syrupy confessional mood brought on by the death of Princess Diana. This new paperback edition includes a brand new introduction taking the story up to the present day. 


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THE GATHERING STORM (DVD)

The Gathering Storm is a BBC-HBO co-produced television biographical film about Winston Churchill in the years just prior to World War II. The title of the film is the same as the title of the first volume of Churchill's largely autobiographical six-volume history of the war, which covered the period from 1919 to 10 May 1940, the day he became prime minister. The film stars Albert Finney as Churchill and Vanessa Redgrave as his wife Clementine Churchill ("Clemmie"); Finney gained many accolades for his performance, winning both a BAFTA Award for Best Actor and an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor. The film also features a supporting cast of British actors such as Derek Jacobi, Ronnie Barker, Jim Broadbent, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie, Linus Roache and Hugh Bonneville. Simon Williams and Edward Hardwicke both make brief appearances amongst the supporting cast. The film was directed by Richard Loncraine and written by Hugh Whitemore. Among the film's executive producers were Ridley Scott and Tony Scott. 


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KING ARTHUR (DVD)

As the Romans leave Britain, the Native Britons (led by King Arthur) stand up to a new threat of a hoard of invading Saxons (led by Stellan Skarsgard in hairy villain mode). It's got a round table, knights, good music, action, adventure, battles, and a noble warrior who rises to become King Arthur, but everything else about this revisionist legend is pure Hollywood. That's not such a bad thing if you enjoyed Rob Roy, Braveheart, Gladiator and Troy, and there's some intriguing potential in presenting the "real" Arthur (played by Clive Owen) as a 5th-century soldier of Rome, assigned to defend Roman-imperial England. Guinevere (Keira Knightley) is a warrior babe in face-paint and Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd) is a nonentity who eventually fades into the woodwork. Never mind. Best to enjoy the atmosphere of beautiful Irish locations, the handsome ruggedness of Owen and his hearty supporting cast, and the entertainment of a Jerry Bruckheimer production that strips battle-ready Guinevere down to leather-strap S&M gear while all the men sport full-body armor. Hail to the queen, indeed ! A good historical and entertaining film that does stir those patriotic emotions !


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LIPSTICK ON YOUR COLLAR (DVD)

Handsome charmer Ewan McGregor stars in this hilarious, musical skewering of 1950s England. Austerity be gone! The war is over. It's time for frothy coffee in Soho cafes, teenage kicks and rock n roll music... almost. Not for Private Hopper in his last months of national service. Hopper has been assigned to the War Office where he is responsible for translating anything that comes from the Russians, and brewing regular cups of the barely bloody drinkable. When he gets bored, he can always dream himself into a musical landscape where anything is possible. In the real world Hopper finds himself caught up with a real cast of characters. Private Francis Francis, new to the big city and completely out of his depth; the Corporals, Colonels and Majors who make life not worth living on a daily basis; cinema organist Harold Atterbow, a man with a dark and sweaty secret, and the beautiful temptress Sylvia - bountiful blonde usherette at the local Odeon - who will bring them all crashing onto the rocks of desire.


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WELLINGTON - THE IRON DUKE (BOOK) by Richard Holmes

An astute historical analysis and a hugely readable informative narrative about Wellington's life from a shy, slightly awkward loner from the Anglo-Irish nobility, to commander in chief of the allied forces that defeated Napoleon. The Iron Duke is shown to be idealistic in politics, cynical in love, a wit and a man of enormous courage often sickened by war. We associate Wellington so much with the battle of Waterloo that it's easy to forget that, before the battle, he had had a long military career already and that, after it, he had an even longer career as politician, prime minister and pillar of the establishment. Richard Holmes's admirably clear and succinct biography of the Duke has a chapter on his youth and a concluding chapter which races swiftly through the 37 years of his post-Waterloo life. However the bulk of the book, unsurprisingly, is given over to a description and analysis of his military exploits.


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TOMMY (BOOK) by Richard Holmes

TOMMY  is Richard Holmes' tribute to the ghosts of the millions of ordinary soldiers who fought in the First World War. To discover new voices and new perspectives on the war he has trawled through the rich archives of letters, diaries and memoirs that still exist, most of them written while the fighting still continued. From these he has constructed an extraordinarily vivid and moving picture of what it felt like to be one of the millions of men who served in the British army during the four years between August 1914 and the armistice on November 11, 1918. From Private Albert Bullock rejoicing in the discovery of 200 Woodbines in the pack of a fellow soldier who had fled the front line, to Private Eric Hiscock describing the horrors of finding himself entangled in barbed wire. The Tommies, whom Richard Holmes rescues from obscurity, prove powerful witnesses to the diverse realities of the war. Beneath the stereotyped images of the First World War that we all carry in our heads, the real lives of the men who fought it are still there to be discovered and Holmes’s book brings them forcefully to our attention.

 

WAR HORSE (DVD)

WAR HORSE is a thrilling and spectacular production based on the celebrated novel by Michael Morpurgo. WAR HORSE director Steven Spielberg's epic adventure, is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War. The film is a tale of bravery, loyalty, and the extraordinary bond between a young recruit and his horse. Actors, working with astonishing life-sized puppets by the internationally renowned Handspring Puppet Company, take audiences on an unforgettable journey through history.



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