Spike was an important part of my early teens. There was something in the insight, eccentricity, humanity, risk taking and yet at times childlike innocence in his writing and humour that resonated with those early adolescent years. ‘Adolf Hitler: My part in his downfall’, and ‘Rommel – Gunner who?’ were much loved books.

At Christmas I received a big set of his books, of which those were the first in the series. I never realised there were so many. I started from the beginning of ‘Adolf:…’ and loved it as much as before – though I don’t remember there being so much nipping into cupboards and dark corners with the ladies those years back when I first read it.

However as the series goes on it seems to run out of steam. ‘Mussolini:…’ is the fourth. Reading the preamble, it appears that at the time his early works were being criticised for being unreliable, and this hit him hard. So in this volume he works hard to establish details, and then at times overhard to be funny. The ending it poignant – as the realities of war hit home, he sees things no-one wants to see and he himself is hit. Physically. And mentally. A book that’s funny and sad in many ways.