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Martin Bell's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Martin Bell recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Martin Bell's favorite book recommendations of all time.


The Poems of Wilfred Owen

Of all the work bequeathed by to us by that generation of young men who fought in the trenches, Owen's is the most remarkable for its breadth of sympathy and its understanding of human suffering and tenderness, at home and on the battlefield.

This new, authoritative edition, indispensable to student and general reader alike, contains the texts of 103 poems and twelve fragments, among them thirty-three poems not previously published or otherwise available in paperback edition. Many of the most famous have important new readings; illuminating notes and a detailed...
Recommended by Martin Bell, Andrew Cayley, and 2 others.

Martin BellI had a battered edition I used to carry around with me. Owen speaks to me about the reality of warfare more than any other book about war (Source)

Andrew CayleyI think Owen found war terrifying and emotionally draining. And in many respects he wrote poetry to try and explain some of the things that he was seeing. What he does address in all of his poems about the First World War is the utter pity of the situation. (Source)

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Trusted Mole

Fuelled by outrage at his arrest in December 1997 by MoD police, Milos Stankovic, a major in the Parachute Regiment of the British Army and the son of a Royalist Serb, decided to write his extraordinary story: a dramatic tale of life on the edge in war-ravaged Bosnia.  His life was constantly at risk; nevertheless, he ran a 'Schindler's List' operation, smuggling families (Serb, Croat or Muslim) out of besieged Sarajevo. His arrest came as a thunderbolt. What lay behind it will be revealed in the book and will ignite an international controversy. less
Recommended by Martin Bell, and 1 others.

Martin BellHe has a very interesting personal story. Shortly after the British arrived in Bosnia, which was at the end of 1992 or maybe early 1993, I met a British officer identified as Captain Mike Stanley of the Parachute Regiment. Now he spoke very good Serbian and it was very obvious that he wasn’t really called Mike Stanley. His real name was Milos Stankovic, but they gave him this nom de guerre to... (Source)

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In "Scoop, " surreptitiously dubbed "a newspaper adventure, " Waugh flays Fleet Street and the social pastimes of its war correspondants as he tells how William Boot became the star of British super-journalism an how, leaving part of his shirt in the claws of the lovely Katchen, he returned from Ishmaelia to London as the "Daily's Beast's" more accoladed overseas reporter. less

William BoydEverybody remembers Fleet Street and journalism and Lord Copper and The Daily Beast but the novel is about a classic, almost Shakespearean, case of mistaken identity. (Source)

Robert CottrellJournalists would pride themselves on their amateurism, and Scoop shoves that back at them in spades. (Source)

William BoydEverybody remembers Fleet Street and journalism and Lord Copper and The Daily Beast but the novel is about a classic, almost Shakespearean, case of mistaken identity. (Source)

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Heart of Darkness

& Other Stories

Designed to appeal to the book lover, the Macmillan Collector's Library is a series of beautifully bound pocket-sized gift editions of much loved classic titles. Bound in real cloth, printed on high quality paper, and featuring ribbon markers and gilt edges, Macmillan Collector's Library are books to love and treasure.

One night on the Thames, Charles Marlowe tells his fellow sailors the vivid and brutal tale of his time as a riverboat captain in the Belgian Congo. From the mists of London we are whisked to the darkness of Africa's colonial heart - and into the thrall of the...

Barack ObamaIn November 2014, Obama took a trip to D.C. independent bookstore Politics and Prose to honor small businesses and add to his personal library. Accompanied by daughters Malia and Sasha, POTUS picked up novels from the Redwall fantasy series by Brian Jacques, as well as some from the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park. He also added these titles to his heavy bags: Brown Girl Dreaming,... (Source)

Michelle Jana ChanEnglish was not Conrad’s first language but he wrote better in English than almost any of us can. I sense that the way he’s written this is very much in sympathy of an artificial colonial administrative structure that is foisted on another culture and then what horrors unfold as a consequence. (Source)

Martin BellIt’s a marvellous novella. I’ve worked in the Congo and I’m now an ambassador for UNICEF and went on a trip there four or five years ago which was pure Conrad. The main highway in the Congo is the river. This is a book about the river, about the ivory trade, about the rapacity of the white man, it’s about the things that happen to the white man. Its enduring strength is that it’s very ambivalent... (Source)

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The Best and the Brightest

The Best and the Brightest is David Halberstam's masterpiece, the defining history of the making of the Vietnam tragedy. Using portraits of America's flawed policy makers and accounts of the forces that drove them, The Best and the Brightest reckons magnificently with the most important abiding question of our country's recent history: Why did America become mired in Vietnam and why did it lose? As the definitive single-volume answer to that question, this enthralling book has never been superseded. It's an American classic. less

Barack ObamaAccording to the president’s Facebook page and a 2008 interview with the New York Times, these titles are among his most influential forever favorites: Moby Dick, Herman Melville Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson Song Of Solomon, Toni Morrison Parting The Waters, Taylor Branch Gilead, Marylinne Robinson Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton Souls of Black... (Source)

Chad DickersonJust finished Best and the Brightest (long and detailed book on the Vietnam War) & if I learned one thing it’s that many assume people in charge of a war have a clear plan that should be supported out of patriotic duty & it’s highly possible they don’t. Skepticism is patriotic. (Source)

Martin BellI started off doing tribal massacres in Nigeria. Then in early 1967 I went to Vietnam and was back there in 1972. David Halberstam was the main New York Times correspondent in Vietnam during that time. Lyndon Johnson lent very heavily on the newspaper’s editor to get him withdrawn because he didn’t like his reports. Halberstam was very truthful about what he found. (Source)

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