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Table of Contents                                                                                       Publishing Wars...



Crime, Thrillers & Horror

Fantasy & Science Fiction

Popular Fiction

History & Historical Fiction

Comics & Graphic Novels

Non-fiction Books

Children's Literature


Feature Articles

New ALLISON & BUSBY titles

Scene of the Crime

Interview: Joanne Harris

Publishing Wars - WWII

The Edge Chronicles

Robin Hood

Vintage Classics Twins

Mary Poppins

Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer

Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree

Harcourt Children's Books - Special Supplement

Stan Dandyliver's Political


Elizabeth Chayne's Reading Room

A Gloucestershire Lad


Stories and Serials

Phyllis Owen: A Soft White Cloud Chapter Three

Paul Norman: Daylights

Paul Norman: Heraklion ~ Outcast

Star Wars: Dark Emperor


Owen Owen's Gallery

Dark Tower Comics Covers Gallery

Marvel comics previews

Top Cow comics previews





World War II is suddenly very popular again. For those of us born during or after the last great global conflict, it's never been away. I just finished reading David Stafford's ENDGAME, which focuses on the final few days of the war, with all its attendant horrors of discovery at the concentration camps, and it occurred to me while I was reading it that although we've gone through a process of sanitisation in terms of processing the information for digestion by the masses, there is always something new to learn. I was first alerted to the horrors of the concentration camps by a book in my father's collection, which he didn't want me to read, but, being the sort of person who devoured the printed word seemingly every minute of every day,particularly in the school holidays, it was inevitable that I'd find it.

In those days, memories of the war came at you from every angle. In my grandmother's house, in the uncles' bedrooms, there were cupboards full of uniforms, gas masks, weapons, ration books and so on. In the family photograph box, surprisingly full for a pre-photographically obsessed society, there were countless pictures of the uncles in uniform, in Egypt, France, Germany and elsewhere, with comrades, fallen or otherwise. They were always smiling in those photographs and, thankfully, they all came back from the war unharmed, with the exception of the youngest, Uncle Lesley, who suffered from malaria all the years I knew him. The school history lessons stopped short of the war, though they did mention Hitler's rise to power. However, our history teachers chose not to teach us that period.

Then there were the comics. The EAGLE had cutawaysof fighting machines from various conflicts, LION and TIGER each had WWI heroes, one of whom was BATTLER BRITON, and there were various other comics with titles like VICTOR, and COMMANDO. In the sixties we read Leslie Thomas's THE VIRGIN SOLDIERS and books about the CYPRUS conflict, and we went to the cinema to see films like THE DAM BUSTERS and REACH FOR THE SKY. We could identify a HURRICANE or a SPITFIRE, and a WELLINGTON bomber, flying machines that were still flying in those days. But then, in the late sixties, war suddenly became a dirty word, with the majority of us calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, ban the bomb marches and the summer of love. On TV, they largely ignored this trend, and continued to make documentary series about WWII – THE WORLD AT WAR – and Hollywood continued to churn out WWII films. But it had turned, overnight, into a niche market. Towards the end of the century, directors like Spielberg had the courage to make introspective but still revealing films like SCHINDLER'S LIST, and then along came SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and BANDOF BROTHERS.

Early in the new century, we were treated to a plethora of coldwar films, and a mysteriously inaccurate account of how the Enigma machine was secured by American marines. At the same time, a handful of people notoriously denied the holocaust, while war in all its grim reality became nightly viewing as the Americans invaded Iraq. Now, it seems, everyone wants to read about the second world war, and the UK publishers are gearing themselves up to fall over one another with reprints and comic strip volumes as it becomes publishing's latest hot potato. Mike Jones, senior editor at Bloomsbury, says "The appetite for Second World War books is enormous – part of the same wave of nostalgia, I think, that made THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS such a huge success." Indeed, Penguin have recently jumped aboard the nostalgia bandwagon with a series of "Men's" titles, including SHE, THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS, THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS, THE PRISONER OF ZENDA, and others. This month they publish THE GREAT BIG GLORIOUS BOOK FOR GIRLS, a female version of "DANGEROUS", and which is reviewed in this issue. Carlton's Jonathan Goodman believes that "Manliness is back…. It's a reaction to that period in the 1990s when we were all PC pansies, laying down our guns and beating our swords into ploughshares. Now we've all had enough of being oppressed by health and safety laws. We want to experience the rough and tumble of life. We're sharpening our bayonets…" Anyone who fought in WWII will now be at least in his eighties, meaning that there isn't much time left to hear theirfirst-hand accounts of what actually happened.

Which is why HEADLINE will shortly be republishing titles like BOLDNESS BE MY FRIEND by Richard Pape, and ODETTE, by Jerrard Tickell. Our bookshelves were littered with such titles, those included. Paul Brickhill's THE GREAT ESCAPE and others, CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE, all those magnificent Pan Majors could well soon make a comeback, and a new generation will be able to catch up with what WWII was all about – making this world, the one in which we live, a free world. There are countless horrors still to be read about – ENDGAME is a case in point. Last month I reviewed THE GERMAN ARMY AT PASSCHAENDALE, and that, too, was grim reading. Maybe the public appetite isn't quite large enough for these specific horrors, but CHARLEY's WAR from Titan is a great place to start, and the Carlton COMMANDO series is another, but only if you want the sanitised versions. We went to war, we beat the Germans (again) with the help of the Americans, the Russians, the ANZACs, and various European allies. That kind of sums it up, but the details can be quite stomach-churning – it depends on how deep you want to dig. If it's realism you want, go for the textbooks. Even those Headline reprints will be somewhat sanitised – factually correct, but "tailored" in a way. Whichever route you take into WWII – or any other conflict for that matter, just bear in mind that it's only by reading about such conflicts that we can ever hope to avoid experiencing the real thing again.

Gateway is published by Paul Edmund Norman on the first day of each month. Hosting is by Flying Porcupine at - and web design by Gateway. Submitting to Gateway: Basically, all you need do is e-mail it along and I'll consider it - it can be any length, if it's very long I'll serialise it, if it's medium-length I'll put it in as a novella, if it's a short story or a feature article it will go in as it comes. Payment is zero, I'm afraid, as I don't make any money from Gateway, I do it all for fun! For Advertising rates in Gateway please contact me at Should you be kind enough to want to send me books to review, please contact me by e-mail and I will gladly forward you my home address. Meanwhile, here's how to contact me:

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