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I have used your book on western movies many times to help update my western movie collection on VHS and DVD. I would hope at sometime you could update the information about the movies listed. I have probably watched ninety per-cent of them. I have noticed that a lot of westerns use film from other westerns in their action scenes, even "Western Union." I also noticed that "Buffalo Bill" used a scene from "Drums Along The Mohawk." It's interesting how scenes are added that most people would not notice.
Anyway thanks for a great book.
Dear Mr Garfield,
I finished yesterday, reading and enjoying The Meinertzhagen Mystery. The things that fascinated me the most about the book were :
– RM's relationship to Hatter Bailey/Malleson;
– the connivance/attitude of high-ranking people in the cover up the man's known faults e.g. his thefts from the British Museum;
– the attitude of modern historians to the exploits of some of Britain's best-known secret agents of the First World War like: Paul Dukes; Sidney Reilly; and George Hill.
I don't know whether you would be interested in some of my thoughts, which your book generated, if you are then:
As an amateur historian of British involvement in Central Asia and Transcaucasia in 1918 I have been researching Bailey's and others involved in Britain's amazingly convoluted strategy in: the breakup of both the Russian and Ottoman empires: the need to stop Germany and Turkey getting their hands on oil and cotton. I've been hacking at a novel about this period for years in order to understand what was going on and why. Slowly the mist beginning to clear – unlike in Wales this year were flaming June is the stuff of fairytales.
In Arthur Swinson's biography of Bailey – "Beyond the Frontiers" - Meinertzhagen gets one mention which surprises me after reading your book where Bailey is mentioned several times. In RM's Army Diary he castigates Malleson (a protege of Kitchener's) savagely and maybe accurately as neither Bailey, nor Teague Jones (The Spy Who Disappeared) who met the man in Meshed, Persia neither liked him nor rated him as an intelligence officer. I would be interested to know whether you had any more information on Malleson that you did not include in your book e.g. RM says Malleson was sent home from East Africa by Smuts in disgrace but I've not found owt to confirm this.
There seems to be a general attitude of covering up for one's fellows by e.g. class, job, religion, education, church and wealth. This comes out clearly in your book. A possible example I came across was when I attended a symposium on the SOE held at the Imperial War Museum and asked an eminent historian about the man I was interested in – AJ Evans. Evans served in MI9 in WW2 as he had been an escape and evader in the First World War (his book – The Escaping Club - was famous in its time). Prior to Evans serving in the RFC he was an intelligence officer on the Western front. He interrogated German prisoners captured after the latter launched the first gas attack at Ypres. Evans claimed he interrogated German prisoners about how the gas was launched etc. His interrogation of a single prisoner took place in front of his comrades. The first prisoner was asked about the gas and when he refused to say anything, Evans sent him outside the room and a shot was heard. A second prisoner was asked the same question and the same thing happened. The third prisoner interrogated told Evans what he wanted to know. I asked the historian, a fellow Wykehamist of Evans, though a generation younger, whether he thought the shooting was actually carried out and he replied, " no he was too much of a gentleman for that." I often wonder.
Intelligence Agents stories and Fantasyland
I used to believe all I read about Spies and intelligence agents but after reading various accounts on Sidney Reilly - some accept him as a great agent and others see a fantasist - cured me of that. I read in a biography of either Cumming or Blinker Hall that they used to regale the US assistant secretary of the Navy, FDR, with fictional stories of disguises and darring-do - whether he believed them is questionable. So the difference between fact and fiction in the intelligence world is so difficult as the discussions, over the last 90 years, of the authenticity of the Zinoviev letter shows. I know people have said that George Hill and Dukes exaggerated their espionage roles whereas I don't think for example Bailey and Teague-Jones did.
I wonder if people spinning fantasies get away with it because their audience doesn't know any better or doesn't have the knowledge to know any different. For example in the late1960s and early 1970s I played rugby for London Welsh usually in the third team but occasionally in the dizzy heights of the 2nd XV - never in the 1st. The club then was probably one of the most successful and famous in the UK. I must have met six to eight people at work, parties etc who told me they knew someone who played for the firsts and i was then told the name of who this person was. I would say "no he does not I have never heard of him and he doesn't play for the 1/2/3/4/5/6 XVs possibly the 7/8 xvs as they were intermittent teams.
The only thing that might make some of the agents tales less fantastic is the times they lived in and the attitude to death and people of a different class. 435 miners were killed in the Senghenydd pit explosion in 1913 for which the owners paid £25 in fines and compensation - so maybe RMs fantasies about killing various people was possible and acceptable, if only in the telling.
As as to your doubts about RM's intelligence role in the Thirties and Forties this morning I checked the official histories of MI5 and MI6 and neither mentions him -though I think both were written after your book.
anyway I enjoyed your book,
Hi, I was justing reading a list of the 10 Best Revenge Movies and Death Wish was on it. I never saw the movie but read your book many years ago. I thought I remembered, in the book, that the wife actually committed suicide after the rape? after a certain experience during the rape? (I'm trying to be subtle? tactful?) Do I have the memory correct? I mean, I can understand how they couldn't have done that bit in the movie as it was written. thanks
I have been learning about the life of Richard Meinertzhagen and reading the Meinertzhaen Mystery. It is quite a story. I would like to know where Meinertzhagen is buried. The book refers to a service held at St. Sepulchre the end of June, 1967 but no mention of a burial. Was he cremated?
Dear Mr. Garfield,
I finally finished The Thousand Mile War where my father served in the Navy. I am not a military history reader at all but found your book absorbing (even in short stretches). I also found it remarkable in its research and candor about sometimes humorous and sometimes horribly tragic mistakes, blunders and infighting in the military. I am a bit surprised you had access to that information AND that the Navy apparently uses this book as some sort of textbook.
I can see why you were a Pulitzer Prize nominee.
Thank you for shedding some light on my Father's rarely talked-about experiences.
St. Louis, Mo (home of the Pulitzers by the way)
repeat message email added
the email address given here does not work could you please advise.
Ami de Creighton
mail address; email@example.com
the email address given here does not work could you please advise.
Ami de Creighton
Dear Mr. Garfield,
Sorry, I missed putting my e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the question I posted below. By the way, your e-mail address email@example.com does not work.
Dear Mr. Garfield,
Don't you think it's time you gave the western "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" a second chance? At the Internet Movie Database, the average user rating for the movie is 9 out of a possible ten points. Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Roger Ebert has put it in his list of "Great Movies". And the movie has been popular enough to be issued several times on video.
Dear Brian, I just found your "Meinertzhagen Mystery" and have been greatly enjoying both the story and your research
However, at the beginning of chapter 5 you put forth that Arthur (Edward) Aitken and Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) are brothers
I can not find any evidence of this unless Arthur Edward Aitken was an illegitimate brother or a half brother
Max Aitken had three legitimate brothers in the military and one brother was an Arthur: Arthur Noble Aitken who served as a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps (I suspect the similarity of names lead people to the mistaken belief there was a tie between Beaverbrook and Arthur Edward)
Max Aitken's father would have been in Scotland around the time of Arthur Edward's birth (1861), but I'm lead to believe he was a seminarian at the time and preparing for ordination.
I can find no link between Arthur Edward Aitken, and Max Aitken
It maybe worth double checking this bit of research (thepeerage.com maybe helpful, especially http://www.thepeerage.com/p6602.htm#i66015, also Arthur Edward Aitken's Wikipedia entry)
I suspect I haven't been the first to make this point, so forgive if I've been one in a line of nit pickers :D I can't imagine how tiring it must be to have your work endlessly scrutinized, you have my sympathy
Great book and all the best
Dear Mr Garfield
I was very interested to read your excellent "The Meinertzhagen Mystery". For many years I had told my family that, when I retired, I would write a book of which the main thesis would be that Meinertzhagen was a Bad Man. Thanks to you, that, now, will not be necesary and you have done it much better than I would have.
The reason for my interest in RM is that the Capt. Cuffe who accused RM of treachery and assassination of the Nandi Laibon at Kaidparak and who was told to withdraw his allegations or return to his regiment in England, and who stuck to his guns and did not withdraw, was my grandfather. As far as I can tell, my grandfather never discussed those events with his family. I only discoverd about them when, by chance, I was browsing in my local library and recognised that the photographs in "Kenya Diary" were very similar (weapons, shields, terrain, subjects etc.) to those taken by my grandfather when he was on secondment in Nandi in 1905.
I am glad that you have freed up a chunk of post-retirement quality time for me!
In your book you comment on the fact that some of the records of the Kaidparak Incident are, surprisingly, contained in Royal Navy files. Perhaps this is because my grandfather was in the Royal Marine Light Infantry (being part of the RN) and, like RM, was only seconded to the King`s African Rifles.
John S. Silver, London.
The Paladin is the most gripping adventure, thriller and military story I've ever read (the Cruel Sea and Flock of Ships are 2nd and 3rd for me). The plot is astonishing, yet logical, and weaves around so many factual events that the assertion it is a true story is so plausible. It's a book I've read many times over the years that I'm looking forward to the day it's a film. I feel so passionately for the story it makes me wish I was a film producer to help it get there!
I would like to thank you for doing the signing for us and to let you know how much we both appreciate your doing this for us.
Gene Mc Neill...Lubbock, Texas.
I have a copy of THE PALADIN which I would like very much for you to autograph for me. It is a book that has traveled many miles and been read by many friends. The former president of LUBOCK CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY has "consumed it" as he stated and thought it as many of us feel is one of the most interesting books it has been our privilege to have read. Is it a true story or based on a true happening? Any comment from you will be greatly appreciated. Gene Mc Neill 5518 17th Place Lubbock,Texas 79416 e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org
[Always happy to sign 'em; signed Gene McNeill's; but as one of my writer friends cautioned people, "With me it's the unsigned ones that are more valuable." -bg]
...[Evidently my replies to questions and comments posted here tend to evaporate into the ether. Please either leave an email address for my response, or write to me at email@example.com . Thank you !
-- Brian G.]
I'm also curious about the name, was it just random that you went from Paul Benjamin to Paul Kersey and then after to Nick Hume? Thank you... for creating a whole new genre for the century.
-- Gene, from California
[Wrote to Gene from Calif. The name was changed to Kersey mainly to avoid confusion with the good character actor in films named Paul Benjamin. The name in "Death Sentence" was changed because the movie is not, in any recognizable way, a sequel to the movie "Death Wish". Again, the purpose was mainly to avoid confusion. -bg]
[There were several questions in this one, so I broke it up with attempted answers. -bg:]
Dear Mr. Garfield As a fan to Death Wish (both movies and the book) and Death Sentence (both movie and book). I was wondering what was the whole story about the sequels to Death Wish being made, like were there any considerations at all for Death Sentence to being made after it was published in 1975?
[The producers of the sequel movies didn't care to film "Death Sentence" because it's about a man who learns the errors of his mistakes. They didn't think Charles Bronson was making any of those. We differed.... The sequel movies were not based on anything I wrote, other than the characters, and frankly I think they're pretty bad movies. -bg]
Of which movie out of the two novels were you more clearly satisfied with the most, Death Wish or Death Sentence?
[As a film "Death Wish" had enormous impact. In that sense, it was highly effective, although rather sloppy in its making. The script, by Wendell Mayes, was wonderful. The movie only parted from it a few times, but those were crucial.... I liked "Death Sentence" because Kevin Bacon's performance showed us the character much more faithfully than did Charles Bronson's, but by the time the Kevin Bacon movie was filmed -- 2007 -- urban vigilante films were old-hat, and it didn't have the same audience effect as the early one. I did feel the "Death Sentence" movie had far too much blood and gore in it, but it told its story well. The foot-chase scene, in the multi-story garage, is likely to become a classic in filmmaking classes -- I imagine even Hitchcock would have approved of it. -bg]
How come Death Sentence didn't really stick on to follow the novel's storyline?
[Different times, different mores. Partly my own fault -- I wrote the first two screenplay drafts of
"Death Sentence" and I proposed from the outset that it had to be a different set-up from that in the novel, which was distinctly set in the 1970s. -bg]
And with the remake of Death Wish going into production, would you probably would want or consider optioning Death Sentence again (even though it would be less than a couple of years since it was already made), to be remade from the novel directly as the sequel to do justice for both stories and the main character? I mean the theme of rise and fall fits to the categories of how both novels do work.
[Never thought of anybody's doing a remake of "Death Sentence", for that or any other reason. Sequels and remakes usually are of dubious value, although that's a generalization that isn't always true; sometimes they're wonderful -- for example the third film version of "The Maltese Falcon" is the Bogart one, the one we all remember.... I don't know if the Sylvester Stallone remake of "Death Wish" is still on the board at MGM. I rather hope it is, mainly out of curiosity. Whether a remake or some other version of the "Death Sentence" theme would fit as a second half of the story would depend on how Mr. Stallone conceived the first half. Last I heard, he was writing the screenplay himself, and it may or may not reflect the earlier movie. That's up to him and the producers. -bg]
Do you have a "personal stake" in the Paul Benjamin character? In other words, do you closely identify with his actions or do you find him morally repugnant? I apologize if you have already discussed this online elsewhere..thank you, in advance!
[I had a personal stake when I was writing each of the two novels -- got so much inside Paul, during the first one, that I was too paranoid to walk across the street to buy groceries. But that's what writers do, sometimes. I don't identify with Paul's actions beyond the brief span of time when I was so furious with a crook that I said, "I'll kill him," and probably meant it until an hour later -- cooler second thought -- I figured he'd be more likely to maim or kill me than the other way 'round. So I wrote a book about it instead of hunting for him/her. As a writer I have limitations, but as an action hero I have far more of them. I'm not a cop, or a stunt man.
[Do I find Paul morally repugnant? No. Not at all. He's all of us; he's Everyman. I find him perhaps too understandable. His moral behavior may be open to question but his motives are obvious. There's something dreadfully reprehensible in the dispatch with which he dispatches characters whom he sees as bad guys. But most of us tend to agree with him, don't we? Until we start to think about it, that is. Getting people to think about it was my purpose in writing both novels. By the end of the original novel, Paul is gunning down people because he doesn't like their looks. THAT's the danger in vigilantism. It's an attractive fantasy but, in practice, it's not a solution -- it's an additional problem. -bg]
I like it very much!
-- Susie from Idaho
[Thanks for the third degree, Susie ! ]