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I was born in Staffordshire, near Etruria, the place made famous by Josiah Wedgwood, but was brought up in Sydney, Australia and later in Lancashire, England. I studied astrophysics at Newcastle University, where I started the student science fiction society. Writing novels has always played a part in my life, and I've tried to see the world enough to be able to write fiction with the help of personal experience.
After university, the US oil industry was booming so I went to Dallas, Texas, later on I worked on rigs in various parts of the Middle East and the war-torn heart of Africa. I was aboard the Ron Tappmeyer, a rig that blew out in the Persian Gulf, killing 19 men. It was dangerous work, but well-paid, and it took me to places that outsiders rarely see, like the Rub-al-Khali of Arabia and hard-to-reach parts of equatorial Africa.
When I left the oilfields, I spent time on travel, first to East Berlin and Warsaw, then to Moscow and Leningrad. From there I took the Trans-Siberian railway to Japan. In Hong Kong, I worked on a road survey, took tea with the heir of the last king of Upper Burma near Mandalay, and on the path to Everest base camp just happened to run into Sir Edmund Hillary. After traveling around most of India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, I returned home and took up a job with the BBC. Four years later, I left BBC TV to write. I finally settled in London, but I still like to head off to interesting parts when time allows.
on May 02, 2014 :
It's 1914, and the wealthy and influential Barrington family of Britain, with its 5 sons and two daughters, must set aside its frivolous ways because war has been declared. Germany is about to take over poor little Belgium in an effort to get at France and take over France as well.
The first section, an introduction to the various members of Barrington family, is told through the eyes of Stanley Walker, a former classmate of the youngest Barrington, Jimmy. Stanley comes from a working class family, and managed to scrape by to attend university, has a knack with motors, and stays connected with Jimmy as he works on Jimmy's motorcars.
When the war effort begins, Jimmy coerces Stanley to join the nascent air corps as pilots the fact that neither had ever even been in an airplane, let alone flown one, notwithstanding. With Jimmy's connections, he is able to get them a certificate, which gets them into classes.
The remainder of the book is the story of how the piloting effort goes, and the different directions and interconnections in the European war zone the lives of the two main characters take, Stanley as an ace pilot, and Jimmy in 'Intelligence'.
I believe this is the first of a planned series about the Barringtons, although this one is primarily about the war in 1914, and is completely a stand-alone book.
This book is obviously extremely well researched, and the historical period is integral to the story, not just window dressing for it. I am really looking forward to the continuing story,
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)