It is a given (in a more literary moment I might say a truth universally acknowledged) that in these straitened times we booksellers are always up for a book launch. Intimate a free glass of wine and on the sniff of a canapé we shake out our best cardigans, climb on our bikes and cross half of London. Thus it was the other evening that a generous invitation saw me at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington for the launch of Light Car Patrols 1916-19. It was a total treat. I would even go as far as to say that I would have been happy to attend without refreshments.
Light Car Patrols is an intriguing book. One of those rare items which manages to combine personal experience and historical fact on a topic that sounds as though it was dreamt up by Monty Python. It covers the activities of the Light Car Patrols in Libya and the Western Desert during the First World War. Say the Western Desert and instantly you think of Panzer Tanks and Rommel but cast your mind further back. Imagine endless sands, early Model T’s bumping over the dunes, knobbly knees beneath khaki shorts …… the past is a different country (in this case literally).