One of the advantages of being multi-lingual is that you have access to a substantial amount of history that is hard to access for those not being able to read a range of languages.
For the researcher of a war in which multiple nationalities fought this is in my opinion critical. In fact, one of the reasons I gave up on the endeavour to write on Eastern Front and my grandfather’s war there was that I know I will never be able to read sufficient Russian to do the topic justice. The choice of the desert war instead was a logical conclusion, given that I can speak/read the languages of four of the major protagonists.
So in the neverending category of ‘What do we need? More books! And when do we need them? Now!!’, here are two recent additions to the bookshelves. In fairness, Vital Ferry’s book is a re-addition. I bought it when it came out around 2005, when I lived in Paris, but then it got lost somehow (whoever has that copy, know that I’m not bitter). It’s an excellent piece on a little-known subject, treats it well and is very readable. As I’m not the only one who realised this, the book had practically become Unobtainium, and I kept looking for it ever since I lost it. Nothing on the used book sites, nothing at Amazon. Until about two weeks ago it popped up in my suggestions when I was buying something else. I pounced and couldn’t be happier that I have it back! Might even be my old copy for all I know. As avid readers of this blog will know, I have a soft spot for La Lorraine, aka 342 Squadron.
The second book is what appears to be a reprint of an older work dealing with one of the Italian torpedo squadrons operating in the Mediterranean during CRUSADER. This was the unit that attacked HMS Latona in the same attack that saw the mine-laying cruiser (see here for a book about these units) go down after being struck by German Stukas. (read more here).
So I look forward to (re-)reading both of these books, and will hopefully get around to doing a review in due course.