The first Cadfael and a great mystery: As with many books or stories that we get involve with, the characters and their relationships to others in theThe first Cadfael and a great mystery: As with many books or stories that we get involve with, the characters and their relationships to others in the environment is an important as the mystery. Ellis Peters strikes a balance between the characters, history and the mystery. Sprinkled throughout is faith, and a chance that thy (the monks) may be correct in the explanation of saints and how the world works. The external environment is the ongoing struggle between Empress Maude and King Stephen. We also have references to the different societies as they travel to Wales. These become more relevant as the series progresses. The inward struggle between faith and power is depicted as an individual monk is persuaded or wants to be persuaded to go on a mission to retrieve a neglected saint. If you saw the movie you will immediately see the differences between it and he book. The best difference is reviled with the detection and solution to the mystery....more
One of the better Campaign Series: The vice of the Campaign Series can be to cover so large a subject in one small volume and give so much introductorOne of the better Campaign Series: The vice of the Campaign Series can be to cover so large a subject in one small volume and give so much introductory material that the subject of the book is covered in less depth than in an Encyclopedia. In the end you get little more than an introduction, a few nice pictures, if you're lucky some nice maps, and photographs so small you can never see the detail mentioned in the captions. In Vimy Ridge the author has avoided these perils. He limits himself to the battle, not a history of the whole West Front, and assumes you knew something about World War One before you purchased the book. The result is a gem. A concise description of a battle very different from what you thought it would be, well-written, well-illustrated other than the too small photos. The only criticism is that you are left wanting more, but to get that you need a much larger and more expensive book than Osprey promised you....more
Great social history of the Red Army: This is a very well-written book about the people who fought in the Red Army and not a military history of thatGreat social history of the Red Army: This is a very well-written book about the people who fought in the Red Army and not a military history of that Army and its campaigns. As anyone who has ever spoken to fathers and uncles about WW2 knows, it is very difficult to get these men to open up. The author makes clear that the problem is even greater for members of the Red Army. Nevertheless, she did get real stories from the frontoviki and she weaves their stories beautifully into this terrific history.
Although this is a social and cultural history of the war, her descriptions of the battles, like Kursk and Stalingrad, are as good as longer books dealing with just the military aspects.
It is a pity and a shame that so few Americans (that I know) have ever even hear of Kursk. If you are one of them, read this book....more
Sets a new standard in Mao biographies: Whatever side of the political fence you sit on (left or right), you will find this book engrossing. This bookSets a new standard in Mao biographies: Whatever side of the political fence you sit on (left or right), you will find this book engrossing. This book (years in the making) sets a new standard about the life of the twentieth century's most powerful man.
The research is staggering, and is painstakingly detailed in large sections at the book of the book which lists recent interviews and printed documents (past and present). Despite his accomplishments, there's no denying that Mao caused the deaths of millions of his countrymen, and held back the economic, political and cultural progress of the world's largest nation.
In particular, the Cultural Revolution of the 60s remains the most shameful and horrifying chapter in recent Chinese history. Survivors of that era have recounted their horror stories many times, and this book corroborates their accounts.
One thing remains common in every era of Maoist China: his appetite for power. Mao deserves credit for ousting the "foreign barbarians" uniting China under one flag, but in the end Mao was another Chinese emperor, a despot who clung to power too long for the country's good and wound up destroying whatever legacy he had built in his early life.
This sentiment will offend Maoists -- and there remain many among the Chinese, just like JFK is a sacred cow to the Americans, Trudeau for Canadians, and Churchill to the Brits. But Mao's legacy is covered in blood, not glory, and this monumental book tells why. Recommended.
Well deserved Pulitzer prize winner: This is a splendidly detailed and expertly researched biography, while still being eminently readable. It bringsWell deserved Pulitzer prize winner: This is a splendidly detailed and expertly researched biography, while still being eminently readable. It brings out the enormous strengths and exuberant humanity of its subject, as well as his fatal weaknesses, hypocrisies and explosive tendency to alienate those who politically could have been his allies, e.g. the intelligentsia. I am always sorry for him when I read accounts of his ouster, though (one minor flaw) the material on that is all at the beginning of the book, not in its chronological place in the narrative, so that when I went back to skim through it again after the penultimate chapter ended 10 days before the ouster, I felt a little less sorry for him, being able to understand how impossible he must have been to work with. The final chapter details the sorry and shabby treatment he and his family received following his ouster, including being immediately expunged from the media. I have read editions of Pravda from the day of his ouster onwards and he really does literally vanish from the Soviet political world in print, no personal mentions at all, even negative ones. There is no entry for him in editions of the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia published afterwards. Perhaps the most apposite epitaph is Roy Medvedev's, though some qualification must be added: Khrushchev rehabilitated 20 million people sent to the Gulag under Stalin and this outweighs all his faults and mistakes, albeit that Khrushchev was himself complicit in many of these repressions....more
Hilarious!: I had never heard of the "Horrible Histories" series until I picked this book up in a souvenir shop while on holiday in Scotland. Always hHilarious!: I had never heard of the "Horrible Histories" series until I picked this book up in a souvenir shop while on holiday in Scotland. Always having an interest in Celtic history, I was eager to read it. Within the first few lines, I was hooked and wanted to read to the end. I found it really witty but also very factual. A great, very enjoyable way to learn history. I have read it several times now and it still cracks me up! I was delighted to discover that it was part of a series and I am currently awaiting a delivery of more "Horrible Histories"....more
THE ORIGINS OF MODERN DISSILLUSIONMENT: Can anyone really understand this most classic of WWI battles, with its numbing calculus of bodies? The totalTHE ORIGINS OF MODERN DISSILLUSIONMENT: Can anyone really understand this most classic of WWI battles, with its numbing calculus of bodies? The total inanity of it? The massive amounts of technology involved and the sheer amount of human wastage... 20,000 dead and 40,000 wounded withing 5 hours of fighting...?
Martin Middlebrook has done a great job at bringing the evocative spirit of the Army to light and its sacrifice on the Somme. It is a small tragedy that people all over the British Commonwealth and the US would completely forget what modern man was capable of doing almost 100 yrs ago. It was a largest pile of human killing ever witnessed in a single day and it should be more properly remembered. Although other battles have lasted longer and consumed a few more lives... only at the Somme in 1916 do you see the full horror of mechanised death unbound.
Middlebrook descibes this army how and why it was comprised, the Pals Regiments (a novel idea that tragically would never be used by any army to recruit people), the regular Older British Army from 1914, the "Old Contemptables," the strategic situationa and the tactics employed in the greatest concentration of artillery firepower ever witnessed. So much so that it was described as a 24 hour frieght train passing overhead for 2 full weeks of pre-bombardment.
The heroics are here as well, the medical facilities that could not save many without modern antibiotics, the relentless marching with "guns at slope" into the German Machine Guns. Whole regiments destroyed. Whole battalions of 700 men with less than 100 effectives by noon on the first day was hardly novel.
The Somme represented a lot and in some ways signifiies the beginning of the modern era of doubt and the downfall of absolute authority and tradition. Authority and tradition that allowed such a catastrophe to happen. Beyond the battle if one is looking for the origins of post-modernism, as Wittgenstein learned, WWI taught the forgotten generation a lot. From the biting impact of bullets upon 10s of thousands of sacrificed servicemen, people eventually came to see that the world was more than empty slogans of glory and death for "King and Country".
Factual examination of the question 'How Real is Star Trek?': Factual examination of the question 'How Real is Star Trek?' The answer is both 'quite'Factual examination of the question 'How Real is Star Trek?': Factual examination of the question 'How Real is Star Trek?' The answer is both 'quite' and 'not at all'. Science Professor Krauss looks into the scientific reality of such concepts as Warp Drive (quite real) and how transporters work (unreal). Amusing and well written the science at times is dense but enjoyable. Krauss calculates that digitising the human body at the rate of 1Gb of information per centimetre would result in a data stream 10,000 light years long. Also lists his top ten scientific fallacies in Star Trek, including the 'in space no one can hear you scream' one along with why you could not see a phaser fire. Great fun....more
every parent should have a copy: WOW! I am a single mum with two boys aged 6 and 8, the latter child is v challenging and this book has worked A DREAMevery parent should have a copy: WOW! I am a single mum with two boys aged 6 and 8, the latter child is v challenging and this book has worked A DREAM. The best parenting book ever. Very simple. So far it has changed my life. You must buy it....more