Monday, 11 July 2022

Book Review: The History Of Alloa Athletic by Stuart Latham and John Glencross

Book Review:  The History Of Alloa Athletic by Stuart Latham and John Glencross (ISBN: 978-1838460990)

I have never watched any football in Scotland, although I have seen a few Scottish teams play in the past -  namely Hibernian in a pre-season friendly at Blackpool and also Arbroath and Inverness Caledonian  Thistle at Fleetwood.

The nearest I have actually got to Scottish football IN Scotland is parking in the car park at Berwick Rangers ground during a summer holiday in Berwick Upon Tweed a few years ago (although that is, technically, not in Scotland)  and driving past St Johnstone’s ground in Perth one day when I was on the way to a meeting with the famous travel writer Katie Wood.

Interestingly enough, although unbeknown to me at the time, I passed very close to Alloa on that journey as it is not very far from Stirling, which my route took me through.

Now unless you are actually Scottish – or, at least, travel there a lot, Alloa is one of those places that you will probably only have heard of from listening to the football results on a Saturday tea time - along with other such places as Forfar, East Fife, Stenhousemuir, Cowdenbeath, Brechin and Hamilton Academicals.  And I hold my hand up here and freely admit that, like most average English people, I haven’t got a clue where any of these places are.

But Stuart Latham certainly knows where Alloa is – because he used to live there – and it is due to his long term attachment to the local football club, Alloa Athletic, that this book has come about.  

Now this book is massive, as in big.  Huge, in fact, and rather heavy. I regularly - and often somewhat blithely - bandy about the term “weighty tome”, but this really is one.  It is 665 pages long and covers the whole history of the club from its original founding in 1878 to its joining the Scottish League for the 1921/22 season – and the 100 years of competition since then.  

There are league tables, player stats and list of results for each season and, where possible, team line-ups for each game as well.

There are also all sorts of other interesting things - such as the history of the team’s colours and various kit designs over the years, different club badges, who produced the match programmes – plus interesting pen pictures about the key players from various eras. 

The book is packed throughout with great photos and there are also reminiscences from  people who have been involved with the club over the years.

And the really good thing about it is that all profits from sales of this book are going straight to the Alloa club so there’s another reason to buy yourself a copy!

For more information, or to order your copy, drop Stuart a line at

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Book Review: Tracing your Irish Ancestors through Land Records: A Guide for Family Historians” by Chris Paton (Pen & Sword Famly History, Yorkshire, 2021)

Genealogist and writer Chris Paton, originally from County Antrim, Northern Ireland, who now  lives in Scotland and runs the Scotland’s Greatest Story research service, has put together a fantastic book.   With a look at the turbulent history of the Emerald Isle, as well as details of the availability of records, plus where and how to find them, this book is an absolute must for anyone who has, or thinks they may have, Irish ancestors.  There are photographs, a detailed bibliography and an index.  

Some years ago, my husband and I met an elderly gentleman who had lost a leg at the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy in the Second World War.   He told us that when war was declared in 1939, he had wanted to join the Royal Tank Corps. I don’t remember the exact details, but apparently the recruiting officer asked him to run round the block and dig up a Welsh relative. That would definitely be possible these days, due to a wonderful selection of books published by Pen and Sword – “Tracing your Welsh Ancestors”.  Facing the title page inside “Tracing your Irish Ancestors through Land Records: A Guide for Family Historians” is the awesome full list of those books, which is what made me think of that story.

Initially known as the Tank Corps, then the Royal Tank Corps, The Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) is the oldest tank unit in the world. It was formed by the British Army in 1916 during the First World War. Today, it is the armoured regiment of the British Army's 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade and is part of the Royal Armoured Corps.   Incidentally, there is also a “Tracing your Tank Ancestors” on that list of Pen & Sword Family History books...

But I digress!  For further information about this and any of the Family History books from Pen & Sword, please visit their website 

Lucy London, May 2022

Friday, 17 December 2021

Book Review: The Hitler Conspirator by Eberhard Schmidt

Book Review: The Hitler Conspirator - The Story of Kurt Freiherr von Plettenberg and Stauffenberg’s Valkyrie Plot To Kill The Fuhrer, by Eberhard Schmidt

Published in 2016 by Frontline Books, Barnsley

ISBN: 9871473856912

I have read quite widely on all things Second World War, particularly the German side, and the most fascinating thing about this book is that I have never heard of Kurt Freiherr von Plettenberg - ever.

Despite his relative anonymity, if you read the whole book, you will discover that he was a really important figure – both in the circles of the German nobility and in the eventual plan to get rid of Adolf Hitler.

I don’t want to give too much away as you really need to read the book to fully understand the man himself and his motives for how he acted.  Suffice it to say that he was a highly valued civil servant, a respected officer and soldier in the First World War and a friend of the former German royal family.

The book is very interesting all the way through and tells of all sorts of other things that I didn’t know about  – such as an earlier plot  to oust Hitler that almost came about in 1938 but was abandoned once the Munich Agreement had apparently brought the infamous “Peace in our time…”.

It has been written with the help and support of von Plettenberg’s son and daughter so there are references to family diaries and also lots  of great photos -  so it is a really charming book, even if the final subject matter is a little unfortunate.

One thing needs saying, however.  This English version has been translated from Eberhard Schmidt’s original German version and some of the tenses in the English text are a bit, erm, shall we say -  “inexact”.

I don’t want to get too technical here but, as I have studied degree level German, I can fully understand why the narrative tenses meander in certain places and it doesn’t actually bother me - but a pure English speaker might find it a bit off putting.

Pretty much in a similar way to when you watch a historical documentary on TV and the expert analyst uses phrases such as “He is…” or “They are…” when they are clearly describing something that happened over 100 years ago, it’s a bit niggly, but you can still understand it. 

That said, the book is still a fascinating and enjoyable read and it serves to shine a spotlight on a hitherto unacknowledged - yet highly important - player in the Germany of the early 20th century.

If you are interested in World War 2 and inter-war German history, this book is definitely one for you!

To order this and lots more great military titles, check out

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Book Review: An Alternative View Of The World Of Cricket by Stuart Latham

Having just finished binge-reading all of Lynda La Plante’s Anna Travis detective novels in the correct order (and been a bit annoyed at some unnecessary continuity inconsistencies in the last one when it referred back to an earlier case…)  I thought I’d have a change of subject and read about the slightly less corpse-ridden world of cricket for a while.

And the right thing came along at exactly the right time as Stuart Latham has just published the most delightful book about that fascinating sport called:

“An Alternative View Of The World Of Cricket”

Now, I ought to flag up here that I may be a little biased as I am friends with Stuart and we share a lot of sporting interest and we have collaborated on a few projects together in the past - but this book has really grabbed my attention and I am very much enjoying reading it.

It is written from a personal point of view – by which I don’t mean it’s all “me, me, me...!”  all the way through – but the subject matter IS based around Stuart’s own involvement in cricket at various levels and he writes about the clubs that he has been associated with, some of the famous players he has met and others who he has admired over the years - including Jack Russell, Bob Willis, Farokh Engineer, Chris Broad and Hansie Cronje, among others.

A good example of this is the somewhat humorous “Ian Botham sanitary bin” story which, in fact, reminded me that I once saw Botham playing league football for Scunthorpe United – which is a story which will have to wait until I produce my own, admittedly shorter, cricketing memoir at some time in the future...

Stuart also has some interesting family connections within cricket and is directly related - via a migrating ancestor - to the former New Zealand test and ODI player Rod Latham and his son Tom, who is the current international wicket keeper for the “Black Caps”.

There is also an interesting section on the Hearne family from Chalfont, Buckinghamshire, from whom Stuart is descended and who produced a number of fine County and “All England” players in the Victorian era and beyond.

Stuart has written numerous books on many different and fascinating subjects, including ice hockey, rugby, motor racing and military history and you can find a complete list with order links on his sales website at: 

Friday, 6 November 2020

New Book Available To Order: Nadja - The Complete Poems

2020 marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of the Marchesa Nadja Malacrida – or Louisa Green as she was born – and, while she probably wouldn’t still have been around today, her life would certainly have continued to be fascinating and enjoyable for many more years had she not been killed in a tragic car accident in 1934.

What better time, therefore, to gather all her published poems together in one single volume for the first time ever? These four original collections were all written over a century ago and have been practically unobtainable for many years without laying out a small fortune to a rare book dealer.

We have put them together here with a brief biography of the author, and a few photos and other bits and pieces, that we hope you will find of interest – and that Nadja herself would also approve of.

Annotated and illustrated with new a introduction & preface, author biography, appendices and 12 new photographs.


Mail order sales link:

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Book Review "An Unladylike Profession: American Women War Correspondents in World War 1" by Chris Dubbs (Potomac Books, Nebraska, 2020)

Book Review "An Unladylike Profession: American Women War Correspondents in World War 1" by Chris Dubbs (Potomac Books, Nebraska, 2020)

If, like me – in spite of having commemorated the First World War for years – you thought that the role of women during that conflict was to stay at home, knit and “keep the home fires burning”, then - oh boy - is this book definitely for you!   Many of the exploits of the American women (and 1 British) journalists who braved the dangerous, U-boat infested waters of the Atlantic to travel to Europe during WW1 are, to say the least, hair-raising.  

I found so much of interest in Chris’s magnificent book that I could write a very long review – but that isn’t the point as reviews need to be fairly brief.  The front cover – a photograph of photojournalist Helen Johns Kirtland inspecting an exploded naval mine on the Belgian coast - sets the scene, heralding Chris’s research into the remarkable exploits of 39 women writers.  Due to my research during the centenary years for a series of commemorative exhibitions about the role of women in WW1, I already knew about Nelly Bly, Inez Milholland Boissevain and Louise Bryant but I had never heard of the others.

In order to get round the restrictions involving travel in the war zones and the reluctance to allow women anywhere near the front lines, many of those journalists volunteered with the many American agencies, such as the YMCA, who sent personnel, equipment and money to the countries fighting for their freedom.  Some of them nursed too.  And they did not just cover the Western Front but, as you will discover, they travelled to many of the other countries involved in the conflict. Once there, they reported on conditions for civilians and troops alike while at the same time recording their own experiences and feelings.  I found the exploits of Peggy Hull, who was the first woman to be officially accredited by the U.S. Army (p. 243), and Eleanor Franklin Egan in Russia 1918 - 1919 of particular interest because my Grandfather was there with the British Army at that time.  Egan survived a tragic incident involving a Greek passenger ship and an Austrian U-boat near the Island of Crete (p. 189)

As well as quoting from the reports sent back to the various newspapers and magazines in America, Chris also tells us a good deal about the women themselves and includes photographs of the journalists, some of whom were not young women when they set out on their incredible journeys.

With superb illustrations, maps and biographies of the women journalists, plus a very detailed bibliography, this is a book you will return to again and again.

I could not put this book down, and I read it from cover to cover with great enjoyment. You must read it. With thanks to Chris Dubbs for a truly remarkable book and for mentioning me in the acknowledgements for Chris contacted me during the preparation of the book about some of the events included.

Lucy London, October 2020


Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Book Review: “The Adventures of Bluebell Bunny” by Becky Bishop

Becky’s latest book is a real treat as it tells the story of a delightful, fictitious rabbit in verse.  Inspired by a mischievous real life rabbit, Bluebell goes on a variety of adventures, finishing up with a flight in a plane.   Written in the wonderful verse that Becky writes and superbly illustrated throughout, this is a book that children of all ages and adults alike – especially those of us who love fairy tales and cuddly toys – will enjoy. 

I am also very pleased to report that one or two of Becky’s own illustrations are included and I am hoping this is just the start and that Becky will treat us to more of her own beautiful artwork.  I am looking forward very much to reading more of Becky’s books.


To find out more about “The Adventures of Bluebell Bunny” and to purchase a copy, please visit Becky’s website


For an interview with Becky, please see


Lucy London, September 2020