For your reading pleasure

John Crosbie
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Last in a two-part series
Continuing last week’s theme, where I offered reading recommendations numbered from one to five, these next five wind up my selection of 10:


6. “One Hell of a Ride: How Craig Dobbin Built the World’s Largest Helicopter Company,” is a biography written by John Lawrence Reynolds and published in Vancouver in 2008.

It is a well-written exploration of Dobbin’s career in private enterprise, during which he proved himself to be an outstanding entrepreneur with awesome talents for taking risks.

In fact, his business career was probably the most successful business career in Newfoundland and Labrador during the years since the Second World War.

I knew Craig well and worked with him from time to time, so I can safely say this book is an accurate description of how he built his outstanding venture, now the largest helicopter corporation in the world.

One of the interesting things about our recent history is the growth of private enterprise in Newfoundland, not only by giant corporations involved in the oil and gas developments off our shores, but by many others in mining, aviation and other ventures.


7. “Churchill and the King: The Wartime Alliance of Winston Churchill and King George VI,” by Kenneth Weisbrode, is a fascinating look at the relationship between these two important figures during the Second World War, when they met nearly every week privately over lunch to discuss the many problems facing their nation and the British empire.

As the book points out, both had difficult childhoods at the hands of remote parents; both, as young men, found their mettle in military combat; both made strong marriages to devoted wives; both overcame speech impediments to address their followers on radio and in person.

The book sets out how the king’s shy nature was offset by Churchill’s willingness to cast himself as the nation’s saviour. At the same time, the author notes, Churchill’s complicated political past was given credibility through his counsel with the king.

Also of interest is Churchill’s relationships with his military commanders, particularly with the man who became his most important  commander, Brooke — an Anglo-Irish soldier whose family had served in the army for generations. The book describes him as Churchill’s unrecognized “complement,” a man who matched Churchill’s inspiration with the ability to perceive practicalities and impracticalities at all levels.

To Brooke, Churchill was the essential, if impossible, man. As Brooke said, “God knows where we would be without him, but God knows where we should go with him.”

This is an outstanding book for anyone interested in the U.K. during the ’30s and during the war, Churchill’s leadership and the leadership of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., and how they related to one other.

I consider this to be a gem of a book, and one of the most interesting I have ever read.


8. “Welcome to the Broadcast: A Memoir,” by Don Newman, is a book for anyone interested in Canadian politics, as written by a first-class newsman. Newman reported for CBC Radio and Television for 40 or 50 years, covering both Canadian and international politics.

This memoir, published in 2013, is an outstanding account of the last few decades in Canadian politics.

For someone like me, who participated in political activity in Newfoundland for 10 years in the days of Smallwood, and then spent 17 active years in national politics, travelling to Ottawa and across the country as a minister in the Mulroney government, this book is a wonderful compendium of all the political crises that occurred along the way.


9. & 10. I’ll end by mentioning two wonderful historical accounts — although based on fiction — by the magnificent English writer, Ken Follett.

Follett is writing a Century Trilogy and two of the books have been published so far — the first, “Fall of Giants,” and the second, “Winter of the World.” The third is expected in September.

These books are properly described as “an international sensation,” and they will consume your attention for days or weeks.

The New York Times described them as “grippingly told and readable to the end.”

The series deals with five interrelated families, American, German, Russian, English and Welsh, and what happened to them in a time of enormous social, political and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich and continuing through the long Cold War.

These books are certainly masterpieces of fiction and the greatest accounts of the events of leading up to and during the Second World War and the Cold War that I have ever come across.

Once you start to read these books, you will not be able to put them down. One can only congratulate Follett for his tremendous skills.

That’s one thing about being retired — it gives you plenty of time for reading!


John Crosbie welcomes your feedback


Organizations: Largest Helicopter Company, The Wartime Alliance of Winston Churchill and King George, CBC New York Times

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Vancouver, U.K. U.S. U.S.S.R. Ottawa

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