Review: Volume 48 - Second World War

Review: Volume 48 - Second World War

Harry Gosling was born in 1861. He left school at thirteen and was soon apprenticed as a lighterman on the River Thames. The great dock strike of 1889 engendered a rash of new unionism, and much activity within the old unions. By 1893, Gosling had been elected General Secretary of his Union, a full-time post. He was also extremely active in local government, becoming a member of the London County Council in 1904. It was in July 1910 that Ben Tillett, the leader of the Dockers' Union, convened a meeting of waterside unions to discuss the formation of the National Transport Workers' Federation. Harry Gosling was elected President. Ernest Bevin was soon elected to the Executive, after which he and Gosling worked very closely together. Eventually, the Transport and General Workers' Union was formed out of the multiplicity of unions constituting the Federation, and Gosling was its founding President. After several attempts to win election to Parliament, Gosling was finally victorious in a by-election in 1923, at Whitechapel. The following year the first Labour Government was formed and MacDonald appointed Gosling as Minister of Transport. He died while still a Member of Parliament, in 1930. All these adventures and insights, recounted in his own words in his autobiography, which has long been out of print, will resonate with new generations.

Miles Dempsey, Commander of the British Second Army in the invasion of Europe 1944-45, is almost unknown to the general public. Yet his part in Britain’s contribution to that campaign was second only to Montgomery’s in importance. Dempsey survived two and a half years of bitter fighting as an infantry officer on the Western Front before accompanying his beloved Royal Berkshire Regiment in the little-known North West Persia campaign of 1920-21. In six years he rose from Major to command over half a million men in the largest combined operation in history, and led them to victory a year later. Based on sources which include some of Dempsey’s previously unpublished work and the views of those who knew him, the book traces his career as a soldier of rare distinction, a talented sportsman and a man of huge charm and shrewd intellect, dedicated to his beloved regiment and ever mindful of the lives of his soldiers. It examines his methods of command and his relationships with Montgomery, his Corps commanders, the Americans and the RAF. It highlights his crucial role in the Dunkirk evacuation, the training of the Canadian Army, and the invasion of Sicily, Italy, and North West Europe. It analyses why his army performed so brilliantly on D Day, and examines his contribution to the campaign in Europe.

The first edition of Zuma, published in late 2008, concluded with Jacob Zuma’s future balancing on a knife’s edge. National elections loomed, but so did corruption charges and endless court battles. Since then Zuma’s star has spectacularly risen – the corruption charges were dropped, he led the ANC to election victory and duly became President of South Africa, and his new cabinet and government appointments were generally well received. But he has also recently suffered a huge blow with revelations of another love-child, this time with the daughter of soccer supremo Irvine Khoza. Many of his supporters have distanced themselves from him, and Zuma is looking isolated. Pundits are once again wondering how long he’ll survive as President. In this revised and updated edition, Jeremy Gordin takes the reader right up to present. He covers in detail the highs and lows of Zuma’s past 18 months, including the final salvoes of his legal battles, as well as his first year as President.