Jack's Reading in 1944 and 1945

Jack continued reading a lot, often clearly reading several books rather than sequentially. He had less time for reading as action got more intense, but still always found the time and probably always carried a book with him.

Vincent Sheean A Personal History3/1/44   Vincent Sheehan’s book is very good, both the gossip at the beginning and the more serious stuff at the end. I think it’s hard, tho’ on the E. Windsor to be quoted at Maxine Elliot’s intimate table, or any other private where.



Eve Balfour The Living Soil10/1/44  I haven’t got very far with Eve Balfour’s book. I got a bit stuck in a chapter exclusively about “misorhizas” or something. Not knowing what they are I found it hard to read … It’s stupid to use botanical words without giving their meaning.



C S Forester The Ship14/1/44  I’m leading rather a good life now, working pretty hard, not fiercely but steadily, 8 – 1, 2.30 – 7 then bed and a book by 9 – 9.30 and I read for 1 ½ to 2 hours. I’m reading C.S.Forester’s The Ship, an account of the crucial Malta convoy. He’s probably the best story-teller around to-day.


ERnest Raymond Corporal of the Guard17/1/44  I’ve just finished a very sweet book by Ernest Raymond called “Corporal of the Guard”. It’s delightfully sentimental in a good way and very well written.




19/1/44  I’ve just read “Mussolini’s Trial”. It’s fearfully good and has filled me with misgiving.

(Cassius was Michael Foot)






Richard Hillary The Last Enemy23/1/44  I’m reading a most vivid book by Richard Hillary called “The Last Enemy”. A young man from Oxford who became a spit-fire pilot — alas subsequently shot down in flames. Very good indeed. I’m making very fair progress with Eve Balfour. If it’s true, of course, it’s fantastically important.

24/1/44  I sat up last night and finished The Last Enemy. It’s fearfully good, and for once fearfully is the right adjective.

R H Mottram The Spanish Farms4/2/44  I’m reading a pretty good book, The Spanish Farm, by Mottram.





Ignazio Stilone The seed beneath the snow6/2/44  I see from the New Statesman that Ignazio Silone has written a new book called “The Seed beneath the Snow”. Will you get it and read it and then send it out? He wrote that most excellent Penguin about Fascist Italy, called Fontamara, a most outstanding book.

Ignazio Stilone Fontamara






Arthur Koestler The Scum of the earth


8/2/44  I finished Scum of the Earth  (Arthur Koestler)last night. The end of the book really answers my queries. As soon as he got food inside him and in company of some men of spirit he did escape.


Alan Moorehead Desert War17/2/44  I’m enjoying Alan Moorhead very much. The thing which shook me up rather was Alan Moorehead’s description of battle






Marquand H M Pulham Esquire20/2/44  I’m in the middle of a very remarkable book, called H.M.Pulham Esq., by an American called Marquand, and was a Book Society choice.




Koestler Arrival and departure2/3/44  Koestler’s Arrivals and Departures has just arrived. Books seem to get thro’ quite well nowadays.




Compton Mackenzie Keep the Home Guard Turning21/3/44 I read a most amusing Compton Mackenzie yesterday called “Keep the Home Guard Turning”.




James Laver Whistler3/4/44  I’m reading Laver’s Life of Whistler, which is good, and have got Dusty Answer and Howard’s End put by to read (I’ve missed them both somehow) so I’m alright in the long run.



Rosamond Lehmann Dusty Answer

E M Forster Howard's End









Graham Greene Ministry of Fear27/4/44  I’m reading The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene.






C S Lewis The Screwtape Letters26/6/44  I’ve just finished the Screw-tape Letters. Very good, and lead to a lot of healthy introspection.

1/7/44  Please send Forest Reid’s book when you’ve read it. (I cannot find any trace of Forest Reid)





Feuchtwanger The Devil in France 16/10/44  I’ve just read two good books, one by Feuchtwanger, and the other by Louis Bromfield, one about Berlin, the other about Paris, both under the Nazis.  (2 books by Louis Bromfield – not necessarily the one referred to. I was interested to see his interest in farming)


Louis Bromfield The FarmLouis Bromfield Story of a Lady

Dashiel Hammett The Thin Man12/12/44  I’m reading The Thin Man which for some reason I’ve never read. I love Dashiel Hammett, and it speaks very well for the film that the characters are William Powell and Myrna Loy.Dashile hammett The thin Man as a film






Walter Duranty The Story of Soviet Russia18/2/45  I’ve finished Walter Duranty’s book  — quite excellent. I was interested that he now puts the “Man-made famine” down to a threat of Japanese war, a new one to me, and gets over the biggest difficulty there has ever been about Russia.



24/2/45  Having read three quarters of Anna Karenina very slowly, since D Day, I’m now reading the last quarter quite fast, and enjoying it much more in consequence. It’s a splendid book, and, what is amusing, is that Tolstoy does the very thing I was complaining about in Anthony Adverse — he describes the minutest details all the time, but he creates atmosphere. AA didn’t.

Jack was in Europe after this and also at times in England until he returned home finally at the end of July 1945. There was not such a need for letters as they could communicate by telephone and occasionally in person.

A Woman's War