Somewhat disappointed that the author refers to historical people by ranks that they were awarded only after the campaign was over. At that price andSomewhat disappointed that the author refers to historical people by ranks that they were awarded only after the campaign was over. At that price and from that publisher, I expect better fact-checking....more
Quite engaging story of a guy who joins the army at 30 - and gets a special permit as he is four years too old. What comes through is his relative matQuite engaging story of a guy who joins the army at 30 - and gets a special permit as he is four years too old. What comes through is his relative maturity compared to the guys in their early twenties, and he writes thoughtfully about a tour in Iraq (second gulf war) and a tour in Northern Ireland. Above all, he did not believe in either cause and there is a strong sense of disillusionment with the political side of it. An interesting look into "ordinary" squaddie-ness. The publisher, however, let the author down - way, way too many proofing mistakes. ...more
ETA 2: It started as a 1.5 star read and ended up being a 2 star. The writing is weak, but does get better after about the 50% mark. That first half iETA 2: It started as a 1.5 star read and ended up being a 2 star. The writing is weak, but does get better after about the 50% mark. That first half is a study in in awful and badly-used metaphors, however. I get the sense the book was put together from old writing and the author became a much better, less hackneyed writer somewhere in the middle.
Ideally, biographies should enlighten character, but I don't think there were any insights into Haye you wouldn't have got from simply watching him fight or interact with the media. He's a slick operator and a talented boxer, but I don't think he can be counted among the "greats" by any stretch. I got a lot more out of reading the Tyson biography that left me with a strange liking for Tyson - based mostly on "getting" him and his "Iron Mike" persona.
If anything, after reading this I know a lot more about the author than about Haye, and large stretches felt like waffling to me. It didn't help that the book contained a lot of bad writing, pointless navel-gazing, hero worship, jealousy, and hyperbole. I wasn't engaged at any time. Actually, I walked away rooting for Haye's opponents, starting with Thompson, over Valuev (who seems like a genuinely nice human being) and the Klitschkos (same). There's a huge gap between Tyson's ferocious self-belief (and accomplishments) and Haye's "I'm pretending I'm a world champ without actually having earned it yet" and his short career.
It also contains quite a bit of sexism (ironically, Tyson's "bitches and coke" narrative seemed more balanced - he certainly had a more diverse female cast, with female friends and allies).
Sum total: It's very laddish, mostly boring, and I got the sense the biographer uses his subject as a projection - living vicariously through Haye. I've learned a lot more about boxing after reading "Dark Trade", and I think I'll re-read that.
I'm kind of shocked that Quercus didn't do a better job with the editing, though....more
I'm shocked to learn that Ambroses taught history. The military history/analysis is pretty poor to appalling. He's good when he talks about Easy CompaI'm shocked to learn that Ambroses taught history. The military history/analysis is pretty poor to appalling. He's good when he talks about Easy Company and relates stories. (Though he states that the book is "very much a group effort" with the men from E Company, so how much of that credit goes to them is anybody's guess, and some events were anonymised and possibly left out to protect people.)
Whenever he attempts military analysis of the actual way/battles, his thoughtless "MURRIKA!" propaganda grates like hell. His core thesis appears to be that "democratic soldiers" (what he terms "citizen soldiers") necessarily outfight those under fascist/totalitarian systems - which obviously flies in the face of the fact that it was the Red Army that broke Nazi Germany's back - not exactly a democratic system to be found anywhere. Not a hint of irony or awareness in his thesis. I guess it would wrinkle his propaganda too much.
What I found interesting was the amount of looting and casual violence in Germany, which gels with other sources I've read. What I found even more interesting is how Ambrose condemns Germany's mistreatment of people, but totally excuses similar behaviour from his subjects (looting for fun and profit, shooting of unarmed, surrendered POWs). Not a hint of applying the same critical measurement to all sides.
Ambrose nicely feathers his wooden, lacklustre account with liberal quotes from a number of decent to good military historians who are far more insightful than he is (such as Keegan).
Overall, the show does a great job putting all this on the screen, so you can skip the book. What the show left out it usually left out for good reasons. I read this book for any gems that were left by the wayside, but it's not worth it, in my opinion.
The has another big flaw that rankles me especially. All the German is wrong/misspelled. If you can't be bothered to get it right, just leave it out. Parading around badly-spelled, agrammatical German is doing nobody any favours.
I bought this guide as research material for a book I'm currently writing, so the fact that it's outdated (and fawning over the dictator Assad, who isI bought this guide as research material for a book I'm currently writing, so the fact that it's outdated (and fawning over the dictator Assad, who is currently [June 2013] in the process of murdering his own people) didn't dissuade me.
I'm not disputing that Darke knows her way around Syria. I am disputing that she has the foggiest idea about the medieval part of that country's history or the Crusades. What made me laugh with disbelief was Darke's assertion on page 200:
"[The Templar's] ... leanings towards obscure oriental practices and heresies have been revealed now though through Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, and at the time lent them enormous recruiting appeal."
Really, Mrs Darke?
This is such laughably bad history that I would recommend ignoring whatever she says about the Crusades or the knightly orders (a heretic order wouldn't have been protected/endorsed by the Pope, and calling upon Dan Brown as any type of authority just makes me cringe). Dan Brown has very little "to reveal". Anyway, I'm not getting too far carried away. The book did the job I needed it for. As a door-opener to Syria's vast and rich history, it's dubious at best. Bradt can do much better....more
The literary equivalent of a brassknuckled punch in the gut. Some books are inarticulate screams. The ones that are articulate, though, are even worseThe literary equivalent of a brassknuckled punch in the gut. Some books are inarticulate screams. The ones that are articulate, though, are even worse. ...more
After doing a little more research, it appears that this book suffers from two problems:
1) The translation is really awkward in places ("after ripe cAfter doing a little more research, it appears that this book suffers from two problems:
1) The translation is really awkward in places ("after ripe consideration" is a schoolboy's translation of "nach reiflicher Ueberlegung").
2) This book has been edited and abridged to a point where it's very nearly worthless. I'm not quite sure how many volumes Skorzeny has written - German Amazon seems to indicate anywhere between 2 and 4. I'm assuming, therefore, that this very slim volume has been cut and amputated to a point where all the internal consistencies are basically due to somebody editing a (badly translated) German text down to a few "highlights". Nowhere on the blurb does it say how abridged this is, so what you're getting is what some more-or-less incompetent "editor" thought worthwhile.
From what I'm reading about the original memoirs, they are much more layered, deeper and insightful. Avoid this rip-off.
ETA: You, Frontline Books, go die in a fire. ...more