Robert Powell reads The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat

An excellent 1978 recording of Monsarrat’s novel, which was based on his own experiences in the Royal Navy during WWII. The Cruel Sea recreates the theatre of war in the North Atlantic – convoys, U-Boats, etc. But the joy of it – brilliantly evoked by Powell – lies in the main characters: Lt Cdr Ericson, Sub Lts Lockhart and Ferraby – and the truly appalling 1st Lt Bennett.

The Impeachable Offense that No One is Talking About: Georgia

This is a very good point. Obviously, it’s understandable that the Capitol insurrection would eclipse Trump’s attempted skulduggery in Georgia. Nonetheless, Georgia should not be forgotten.

This is an excellent YouTube channel, by the way. Very amusing lawyer chap.

Trump and his “Movement”

“Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence,” said Trump yesterday. Disregarding the rest of the general bullshit preceding and surrounding this utterance, Trump’s use of the word “movement” is striking. It would of course have been more appropriate to say “this administration”, or “the United States”, or “our lawmakers and our people”. The word “movement” as uttered by Trump has a decidedly sinister ring to it. Comments below, please!

Jan Morris, 1926-2020

Here is dear JM (right) in Venice after the Allied Liberation, serving with the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers. From Conundrum: “I was temporarily detached from regimental duties to help organize the motor-boats of the place. All the best of these had been commandeered by the British Army, and our job was to see that they were properly used by the military, and that the generals and staff officers who arrived with suspicious frequency on official visits to the city were conveyed in proper style up the Grand Canal. The work was light. The spell of the place was intoxicating. Very soon I felt Venice to be mine, and I can remember still the proprietorial pleasure with which, ushering another batch of bigwigs into one of the posher boats, I took them off for their first glimpse of the Serenessima – even the sternest faces among them softening as wonder succeeded wonder, light dappled against light, and even the haughtiest deigning to respond to my glow of delight with a detectable if guarded smile.”

Trump and Hitler – the dying days

I have just read an absorbing piece by Joshua Chanin in The Armstrong Undergraduate Journal of History. It is entitled ‘Sinking into the Dark Abyss: Adolf Hitler’s Final Years, February 1943 – April 1945’. The similarities between Hitler’s decline and Trump’s are striking. You can read the full piece on the Armstrong site, but here is an excerpt from Chanin’s opening passage: “Along with the shrinking of his empire, Hitler would also be pulled down an uncontrollable hole himself. The overall health of a fit, loud, and impressive world leader, who at one time had conquered nearly all of Europe himself, would decline rapidly. His past grandeur would disappear before him, as his enemies would speed up the destruction of his Nazi destiny. His trustworthy generals would eventually lose faith in him, and his decisions would be looked upon from all corners with suspicion. His mood would alter, tantrums would flare up, and the great, strong-willed courageous German leader of the past would be overtaken by tiredness and desperation. With defeat looming on the horizon, a frail Hitler would soon sink into a gloomy dark abyss during the final two years and five months of his ‘great war,’ facing many periods of exhaustion, addictions to drugs, contracting illness, and many crushing blows, which would hurt his heart and faith, all due to the rapid decline of his empire; and as he lost his psychological mind, walked into the unknown, and gave random unexplained orders of attack, he unexpectedly pulled the innocent country he had grown to love and adore down with him.”

So much for Hitler. What now of Trump? Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 US Election will undoubtedly be America’s salvation. Perhaps January 20 should be named Liberation Day and celebrated with as much fervour as Victory in Europe Day, May 8 1945, that marked the end of the Second World War. Following the initial celebrations for Biden, there will be a great deal of cleaning up to do in the wake of his victory, just as there was in Europe from 1945 onwards. August 1945 saw the Potsdam Agreement, which solidified the allied program of Denazification, designed to rid Germany and Austria of Nazi ideology . It was a far-reaching attempt to heal and regenerate society, culture, the press, the economy, the judiciary, and the political machine itself. Similarly today, Biden will face the task of re-educating the many millions of Americans who bought into the corrosive Trump mythology and who continue to keep its flame burning. Detrumpification, like Denazification, will take many years – at the very least the two terms one can confidently expect Biden to serve. One wishes him the very best of luck.

The Curious Lives of the Russian Stray Dogs That Traveled to Space — Hyperallergic

Here is a fascinating review of Space Dogs, a documentary about dogs in the Soviet space program.

Poster for Space Dogs (2020), dir. Elsa Kremser & Levin Peter (all images courtesy Icarus Films)Dogs were among the first animals sent into outer space, and were a crucial part of the Soviet space program in the 1950s and ’60s. The first living being to orbit the Earth was a dog — the now-famous Laika,…

The Curious Lives of the Russian Stray Dogs That Traveled to Space — Hyperallergic