Monday 19 May 2014

Contributors welcome .....

No longer required in order to contribute an article
In the four years this blog has been running as the companion volume to the main Deighton Dossier website, it's become the main - only (?) - regularly updated presence for readers and fans of Len Deighton's work. Viewership is growing and I've noticed in recent months and increase in commentary on some of the blog posts.

In comparison to some of the main Ian Fleming/James Bond sites, of course, things are a little slower and smaller scale - but, nonetheless, important, given Len's contribution to the spy fiction genre and the continued enjoyment many thousands of blog readers get from them.

This post has a simple message: I'm happy to feature on this blog ideas and views about Len's work beyond just my own. If there are reviews, commentaries, questions which you as a blog reader want to contribute on here, and further the global discussion about all of Len's works, do please get in touch - I'd welcome new perspectives.

So, feel free to get in touch if you've got ideas about themes like:
  • The casting for the planned TV mini-series of Game, Set and Match
  • Which of Len's books you've meant to read, but never have
  • Tales from the bookstore .... stories of collecting
  • How would you make the missing Harry Palmer movie, Horse Under Water?
  • Was Len right to withdraw broadcast/DVD rights to the 1988 Granada adaptation of Game, Set and Match?
  • What would be in a prequel to Berlin Game?
  • Which writers would readers of Len Deighton's work also enjoy?
  • Do you agree with Len's take on the conduct of the Battle of Britain, in Fighter?
... and many other possible ideas.

This is, then, an open invitation to readers to share your views. Please get in touch if you've got something you'd like to put up (subject to editorial review to conform to the terms and conditions of the site, etc).

Saturday 17 May 2014

Review - New edition - "Blitzkrieg" by Len Deighton

Technology & humanity
Blitzkrieg: from the rise of Hitler to the fall of Dunkirk is the third of the recent reissues by Harper Collins' non-fiction arm, William Collins, and a great looking edition it is too. It is one of the books that added to Len's reputation not just as a great storyteller but a top-rate historian, who drew on his fascination with detail and technology to look at the impact of armaments and new weaponry on the conduct of war.

This book, originally published in 1979, is clearly a labour of love by Len who, as a figure of some note in the post-war period, was able to use his status as a writer to get access to top research material and speak with some of the individuals who were involved in the conduct of the German Blitzkrieg technique. So, for instance, the book still retains the foreword by General Nehring, Guderian's Chief of Staff and someone who was closely involved in the development of 'lightning war'. It's fascinating to read in this foreword how the German's sought to develop the "art of surprise" in warfare, and Guderian comes across as a driven man who was keen to exploit the speed of the Blitzkrieg technique but was often frustrated by the decision of senior staff, not least Hitler.

General Nehring in 1979 seemed convinced in his foreword that Hitler, "the amateur", made a great mistake in calling a halt to the Blitzkrieg attacks in northern France that allowed the British to evacuate from Dunkirk and retain sufficient forces which could be used again in 1944. The Germans, he thinks, were "robbed of an easy victory.

What I've always enjoyed about this book, which looks at the attacks on the west in 1940 in great detail, is the illustrations that accompany the text. These were not done by Len himself - though I think his training would have permitted him to do so - but rather by another illustrator, Denis Bishop, who is referenced at the end of the book in the acknowledgements. The best illustration in the book is right at the start: a two-page illustration of a "typical Panzer division". The reader can see on the page each type of tank, the number in each regiment, how the regiments lined up as a division, and also all the accompanying forces which made any tank division run effectively: the engineers, the motorcycle divisions, the reconnaissance teams, and the signallers. All there on one page: the collective might of a Panzer division, which led by military geniuses like Guderian, were such an effective fighting force in the first half of the Second World War.