Book reviews: August 2020

The Deals on Wheels team reviews some of the latest titles to hit the bookshelves

Tough Country

Mike Bellamy

Harper Collins


Reviewed by Steve Atkinson


As pointed out on the cover, this book contains tall tales of bushmen, bulldozers, and backcountry blokes. Or put another way, short observations and interactions with the author’s father that he experienced when growing up through the 1970s and particularly the 1980s.

First off, it focuses on dad, a nomadic and somewhat unstable influence on his two young sons. Part way through the focus turns to the author, as it skews off into earthmoving and contracting life 1980’s style. Some company and personal names have been changed to protect the innocent, but those with half-decent memories of Auckland contracting in that era will easily pick them out.

I didn’t take at first, but a few pages in, it became quite enjoyable and a finished up being a good all-round read. A high-five to Harper Collins for polishing up something that I would have expected to see in the self-published category. It’s great to see historical stories like this kept alive.

Gearing up

Darl Kolb, David Irving, Deborah Shepherd, Christine Woods

Auckland University Press


Reviewed by Steve Atkinson


Most truckies and contractors are grass-root Kiwis and as such probably weren’t the star pupils at school, opting to get out into the working world sooner rather than later. The downside to having a minimal formal education is those who opt to go into business for themselves can be at a disadvantage as a company grows beyond the kitchen table.

It’s here that the authors introduce basic business sense for those who need to grow passionate about the numbers and people connected to their companies. This is a must-read, as it relates directly to helping grow successful New Zealand businesses.




Into the Unknown

Ian Trafford

Penguin Random House


Reviewed by Steve Atkinson


There are a huge amount of WWI books out there and it seems every single aspect has been covered by writers and historians over the last 100-plus years, but this latest offering puts what I reckon is the closest Kiwi touch to The Great War that I’ve seen.

The diaries were kept by the author’s grandfather and he details his experiences in the trenches, while convalescing from injury in the UK and pretty much everything else in between.

The first-person account is raw, at times funny, frequently sad, and occasionally horrific, especially when told of the places some would inject condensed milk to get off returning to action.

As readers, we’re lucky to get this clear New Zealand observation of WWI, as the original writer gave his son instructions to burn the diaries. Fortunately for us, this did not happen, and thanks to his grandson, we have an excellent historical account. This read must rate in my top five percent of all time and I highly recommend it.

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