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Posts published in “Allen & Unwin”

Book Review: Looking for Trouble, by Virginia Cowles

This book was written in 1941 and has recently been rediscovered. The foreword by Christina Lamb, herself a war correspondent, explains that Cowles was not well-known despite her incredible reporting on the Spanish Civil War and WWII.

Virginia Cowles, a 26-year-old socialite from Boston USA, was an unlikely foreign correspondent. With her fur coat, high heels and a portable typewriter, she was hardly equipped to report on a civil war when she arrived in Spain in March 1937. Cowles writes that her only qualification was curiosity. However, she was well-connected socially and seemed to know—or at least be able to get to know—those in power, and was able to visit places usually off limits to regular reporters. These abilities and her rare talent of being able to paint a compelling word picture, from the viewpoint of a young woman rather than a hard-bitten reporter, gives this narrative a freshness and immediacy not often found in war reporting.

I was surprised at the way the author was able to move around the battlefields in Spain, being taken to the front lines as though it was a pleasure trip. It was clear, her youth and femininity opened many doors for her but also led her into very dangerous situations. Cowles says she simply reported what was happening without interpretation and to that end she visited both the republican and nationalist side of the conflict. With clear and concise text, she discusses how the lack of passion she encountered in most Spanish people confused her; she speaks of expecting the martial call to arms, the beat of the drums of war to have inspired and energised both sides, but most Spaniards viewed it as a minor dispute between two political factions.

The build up to WWII was well underway when Cowles returned to England and became a roving reporter for The Sunday Times. During the period of appeasement, she visited both Czechoslovakia and Germany, meeting highly placed officers and officials. In her book, she quotes a House of Commons speech by Winston Churchill, following Hitler’s annexation of Austria in which he warns again of the dangers of appeasement and the need for Britain to be prepared for war. It is clear from the comments masterfully weaved through the book that Cowles was a supporter of Churchill rather than the then-Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. 

The personal narrative of a young woman who managed to travel across Europe, including to far-flung Finland and Soviet Russia, is absolutely fascinating. She was in Paris when the Germans broke through the supposedly impenetrable Maginot Line and she paints a clear picture of the doubts senior British officials had about the morale of the French army and their ability to resist the German onslaught. Cowles left Paris for Britain.

Staying with friends in the country, she wrote this unique and refreshing book during the war and concludes with a plea to her homeland to join the war effort. Cowles berates the Isolationists who think providing arms through the Lend Lease Scheme was enough: ‘We cannot buy victory with our chequebooks … United—and only united—will we stand.’   

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: January 2022
RRP: $34.99

Book Review: The Importance of Being Interested, by Robin Ince

Book Review: The Importance of Being Interested, by Robin Ince

Some of you may already know Robin Ince as a comedian and the partner of Professor Brian Cox on the BBC’s program The Infinite Monkey Cage, where scientists and others join them to discuss a range of topics—such as a program with Jane Goodall and Bill Bailey revealing what studying chimps has told us about our closest relatives and ourselves. The Importance of Being Interested ranges across some of the most crucial and controversial areas science addresses—from aliens and time travel to the very concept of reality and whether god is on holiday!

While the reader will definitely learn new and fascinating facts from this book, I don’t think that is Ince’s main motivation.

Author Interview: Melody Horrill talks inspiring memoir A Dolphin Called Jock

Author Interview: Melody Horrill talks inspiring memoir A Dolphin Called Jock

CW: mention of domestic violence

Melody Horrill kindly sat down with Rodney Hrvatin to discuss the creation of her memoir A Dolphin Called Jock and her passion for saving the dolphins of the Port River.

You’ve lived in Melbourne for a while now after leaving Adelaide.

Book Review: A Dolphin Called Jock, by Melody Horrill

Book Review: A Dolphin Called Jock, by Melody Horrill

CW: domestic violence

For many residents of Adelaide, the name Melody Horrill is most probably associated with the weather, having presented it for Channels 10 and 7 in the late ‘90s through to mid-2000s. Her bright and bubbly persona certainly enamoured her to many legions of fans who eagerly awaited her verdict on the following day’s forecast.