After far too long, I’m finally able to read again. Whatever was blocking it before has obviously eased off. What am I reading? Well, I’m actually re-reading Phoenix Squadron by Rowland White. I’ve only read it once before, after which I loaned it out. I kind of lost track of it after that, but it reappeared a few days ago. I’d been wanting to read it again for a while.
Phoenix Squadron is an account from British military aviation history. It concerns the vital part played by HMS Ark Royal and her contingent of Buccaneer jets in the days leading up to independence for what was then British Honduras, now Belize. The former colony was small and without anything that could be truly regarded as defence forces. Neighbouring Guatemala, supported by El Salvador, was then (1972) determined to gain Belize, but they wanted to do so while Britain still held it. It was typical military-political thinking. Taking on a “great power” would be received by the world with more sympathy than invading a weak neighbour. The fact that Britain only had a small contingent of ground troops stationed in the colony didn’t signify weakness in the same sense as a total lack of armed forces. Rowland White doesn’t confine himself to a simple retelling of these events, he paints a full picture of everything leading up to them.
Rowland White is a writer I admire. He not only carries out a phenomenal amount of research, including interviewing those who were actually involved, he assembles it all into a truly thrilling story that conveys the events magnificently. Like Vulcan 607, which I’ve also read (and reviewed), this is a book that absolutely anyone can enjoy, if they take the trouble to read it! You don’t have to be an enthusiast first. All you need is a desire to be entertained and drawn along on an incredible ride. I’ve read fiction and non-fiction military works and, for me, none match the quality Rowland White achieves.
I’m so glad that this book has returned to my keeping.