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Amazing Tales for Making Men out of Boys Hardcover – 15 May 2008

27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph (15 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718153820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718153823
  • Product Dimensions: 18.1 x 3.7 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

'The Beauty of Scotland is overwhelming and I've often thought that Scotland's popular history is just like her landscape - impossibly romantic, obscured by mist and myth and always changing...'.

Neil Oliver is a Scottish archaeologist, historian, broadcaster and writer who has become widely known as the presenter of BBC television's flagship 10-part series A History of Scotland.

Before that his distinctive style was much in evidence as a charismatic presenter of the award-winning multi-part documentary series Coast and the author of its bestselling tie-in book.

His archaeological training at Glasgow University was put to good use in BBC2's series Two Men in a Trench where he visited historic British battlefields and attempted to recreate the events of each battle. He co-wrote the two accompanying books. He has also appeared as a contributor on The One Show, and as a presenter on The History Detectives, Time Team and Channel 4's The Face of Britain. His Amazing Tales for Making Me Out of Boys is published by Penguin. He lives in Stirling with his wife and three children.

Product Description

Review

'A must-have collection' -- The Times

'Oliver is a wonderful storyteller. This is a book told from the heart with both a passion and breathless awe for the deeds recounted that leaps from every page. Sumptuously illustrated, beautifully told, and in turns both moving and inspiring, it is a joy from start to finish. I defy any reader, whether they be aged nine or ninety, not to walk with a slightly straighter back after putting down these amazing tales.' -- Sunday Telegraph

From the Publisher

Amazing Tales is packed with vivid new accounts of classic stories of courage and heroism including: The Battle of Britain, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Siege of Dien Bien Phu, The Cockleshell Heroes, The Battle of Isandlwana, The Penlee Lifeboat Disaster, Apollo XIII, The SAS and the Battle of Mirbat, The Yangtse Incident, The Battle of Trafalgar, Shackleton's Boat Journey, Scott of the Antarctic and many more

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Cockers on 18 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
I first heard about this book when I seen the Author on a TV show and he was promoting the book. Believe me he was right about everything he said, this book is brilliant. The stories make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end!! This is not a book you read and forget, you will want to read it again and again. What heroes they were, go for it, you won't be dissapointedAmazing Tales for Making Men Out of Boys
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bill Grundy on 10 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Really loved reading this to myself and my Grandson at bedtime. Full of stirring tales of how men used to behave when their back was to the wall. As a boy I used to read the Boys Own Paper,& Victor, Hotspur Comics. What memories it evoked.

I thoroughly reccommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Dresh on 17 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
Great book for any man / boy. You can feel the passion in Neil Olivers writing. I love the way he sets the scene in each chapter regarding the era and the mindset of the hero(s).
Very educational for young readers. Each story is like a history lesson but more fun then school!
Of course it is a romantic view that he depicts, slighty distorted and glossy but for me that is what makes the book great. There must be many more tales of British history to be explored so I hope he will do another along the same lines.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 16 July 2009
Format: Paperback
I didn't find this quite as riveting and `exciting' as some reviews say, not because of the lack of stupendous courage, and almost extinct `manliness', but more because it wasn't written in a particularly stimulating way. For me it's quite `dry' a lot of the time, and just lacks the `life' these stories should feel, because they certainly ARE remarkable stories in themselves.

It kept my interest, however, because it's impossible to not be in awe of the unbelievable courage in these stories, and maybe it's in describing the background history which robs the book of its momentum. Historic background is sometimes `dull' in it's telling.

This book does, however, strike a very powerful note with me. It makes a statement at it's core; that modern male children, and young men, have become so `feminised', and masculinity so unfashionable, that modern men of this new generation have lost their way. Traditional male roles have been so diluted that even men's appearance is strongly feminised. (You think not??? Well, when a man's body hair is now treated by most women with at least some revulsion, and that has resulted in many men waxing and shaving, even their legs sometimes, that's a very worrying trend.)

Political correctness and the great feminist movement have brought us to be a shadow of what British men once were, ............and for being brave enough to make the statement it makes about that, means this book is well worth the reading.

It's aimed at older boys as well as adults, but I rather doubt many of those boys would read it cover to cover, which is a shame because they need to read, and be captivated by stories like these.

Had the stories been brought to life a little more, it would have got the full five stars from me.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 24 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
This collection of tales of derring-do is easy to read, and each episode is told with Oliver's trademark enthusiasm and his obvious admiration for the heros involved. Despite the male-ness of the title it's equally rewarding for females to read -- it's just that the subjects of these adventures are mainly men.
The cover depicts the epic journey which Scott made to conquer the Antarctic, and that story provides the backbone which runs through the book. Scott's life story is told in segments, leading up to his fateful, final expedition. It's interspliced with other stand-alone epiosdes of heroic endeavour, many of which serve to illustrate one aspect of Scott's accomplishment.
So we also read about the 300 Spartans at Thermopyle, the pilots of the Battle of Britain, the lifeboatmen of Penlee, Ernest Shackleton, the French Foreign Legion, the Light Brigade and another half-dozen examples of heroic conduct plucked from the pages of history. All of it is delivered at something of a dash, creating easily-digested individual stories which are heavy on action and spiced with a little modern interpretation.
None of this is ground-breaking but it is a corking good read. At times the device of splitting up Scott's story doesn't work so well -- in fact, it makes the most important tale in the book feel somewhat disjointed, and reduced the eventual impact of the episode. That's the worst complaint, though.
Neil Oliver doesn't pretend to have any of the qualifications of the heros he describes, but he obviously admires the Britons who were prepared to sacrifice all for their countrymen and colleagues. I also liked the fact that he returns to the theme of 'Britishness' in his comments.
Recommended for all ages and both genders; very useful as a way to introduce younger folks to a bit of history. Perfect for long air flights, too!
9/10
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By Bee of Good Cheer VINE VOICE on 12 July 2015
Format: Paperback
I don't know what I expected from this.

And I don't know what I got.

It seems somewhat ironic that Neil Oliver goes on about heroism and what it could teach the men of today about living their lives when basically he prances about, striding moodily over the landscape and talking to a television camera. He complains about the feminisation of modern men yet has hair linger than mine and always seems to be wearing trendy little (feminine) scarves ...

To me, he was always onto a loser because of his hero worship of Captain Scott, who I dislike intensely - Scott was foolish, snobbish and ultimately a poor leader (I'm in the Shackleton camp, you may have guessed). And several of the stories were of pointless heroism - the Charge of the Light Brigade, Scott's expedition (it wasn't even scientifically worthwhile), the Zulu wars ... what is so great about obeying orders you know to be wrong? Would it not be braver (especially as so many of these people were ordinary working class men led by upper class ones) to stand your ground and say no?

Yes, there are some genuine heroes here and their stories are terrifying. However, the dry and bland writing style does not do them justice.

I can't help but think the premise of the book is wrong, and that Oliver is underestimating his fellow men. And what is wrong exactly with feminisation? The book talks about lifeboat men ... How about Grace Darling? The soldiers of the Crimea? Well, ten times as many men died from disease as from wounds and Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole and their tiny bands of nurses had to fight both the command and disease ... The women of SOE ... Women can be heroes too, and they don't have to be masculine to be one.

Mr Oliver, instead of wailing and moaning about the feminisation of men from the safety of his study perhaps needs to do something a little braver than writing about it if this woman is going to take him seriously.
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