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Diogenes "Diogenes" (London, UK)

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The Auxilia of the Roman Imperial Army
The Auxilia of the Roman Imperial Army
by G. L. Cheesman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacking in rigour ........, 15 Mar 2014
This book was originally published 100 years ago. Many more inscriptions have since been discovered, which could cause amendments to the conculsions and facts presented here.

However, even if this is not the case, his original conclusions or "facts" are on very shaky ground indeed. For example, on page 81, in the chapter on Recruiting and Distribution he makes a sweeping conclusion of the areas of recruitment based on first 100 epitaphs of Equites Singularis Imperatoris who recorded the place of origin. Hence epitaphs which do not show place of origin are ignored. There is no explanation of the total sample nor the years to which these epitaphs belong. In other words there is no way to determine if the major conclusions the author infers have validity or not.

In the same chapter, he also discusses the change on the command of auxiliary regiments without really discussing why those changes took place.

In short, there is a morass of dubious detail but no over-riding clear narrative of the development of the auxiliary regiments. Why did the composition and command of auxiliary regiments change over time? Was there a deliberate policy of the Caesar's to initiate change? These basic questions are not really addressed.

What this book urgently needs is an updated version written in clear English, getting rid of Cheesman's limp-wristed effete snobbery of quoting only in Latin and not providing an English translation. Such an updated book would be a welcome companion volume to Pollard and Berrry's Complete Roman Legions.

The Project Manager's Book of Checklists: How to Complete a Project Successfully, Smoothly and on Time: Everything You Need to Complete a Project Successfully, Smoothly and on Time
The Project Manager's Book of Checklists: How to Complete a Project Successfully, Smoothly and on Time: Everything You Need to Complete a Project Successfully, Smoothly and on Time
by Richard Newton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.12

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Check, before you leap., 23 April 2013
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This small book provides check lists for the various stages of a project. It is quite easy to overlook tasks or responsibilities in a project and is worth keeping this book just to ensure nothing obvious has been excluded. This will be an invaluable resource for a project manager commencing a career in the discipline.

That having been said, I felt that a commentary on each section or amplification of sections could have made this book even more valuable - especially as the author is supposed to have substantial experience of running projects. There is also a tendency to provide "motherhood" bland points to check. For example, Section 10.1 has the question "Do you understand all the factors that are causing risk to your project, or by your project upon your organisation". A truthful answer is "I hope so", but in any activity there are areas that one does not know what one does not know. This could have been better dealt with by, say, inserting a qustion that asks if there has been a review of prior close out reports of similar projects to ensure that previous potential/actual risks have been recognised in the current project.

Further, the success of a project ultimately depends on people management and communications. To that end, Chapter 12, managing a project team might be better placed at the beginning of the book. Furthermore, a chapter on upward, downward and sideways communications would have made the book even more useful.

Despite the shortcomings mentioned, a useful book to have in your briefcase.

Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible
Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible
by David Noel Freedman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £26.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quart in a pint pot, 23 April 2013
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This is a gem of a book. For the general (or even specialist) student it will provide sufficient information to gain at least a resonable understanding of the topic in question. I find that the length of articles are, in general, proportionate to the importance of the subject. Of particular value is the quality of historical/archaeological articles and helping put associated biblical texts into context. It also steers a tricky line between minimalist and maximalist viewpoints - although with a slight bias (I feel) to the maximalists.

Although there is a potential problem in that discoveries in such fields such as archaeology can make entries obsolete, this 2000 edition should be able to give many years of service. Additionally, the binding is especially good and will be able to withstand daily use and constant page turning. Highly recommended.

The Other Side of Israel: My Journey Across the Jewish/Arab Divide
The Other Side of Israel: My Journey Across the Jewish/Arab Divide
by Susan Nathan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.69

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dream turns to nightmare, 14 April 2013
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I too have seen incidents which corroborate Susan Nathan's story; closing the Bethlehem entry point for no reason and young soldiers dragging old Muslim men back a few yards whilst in the middle of prayers, a German woman having her luggage turned inside out just because she stated that she have visited some Bedouin, Joppa being turned into a Jewish town and the Arabs being squeezed out.

Palestinians are demonised in Israeli eyes; Israelis thought that I was on a suicide mission visiting Jericho, or hearing from educated Israelis that the Palestinians were bringing in elephants though the tunnels connecting Egypt to Gaza (true, honestly). However, her story sounds as though she was very naive about Israel prior to her emigration and still remaining naive by revealing her details of her intimate personal history to the press - especially after living in England and seeing what the tabloids can do to people.

However, Israel is not monolithic society. Arabs can study at the Hebrew University; there is a business incubator in Nazareth for Jewish and Arab start up companies; (some) Jews have Arab friends. However, these positive actions are relatively minor and do not address more fundamental issues.

Additionally, Falasha Jews have very high alcoholism and marital breakdown rates as they integrate quite poorly into Israeli society - the impression gained is that Ashkenazi racism operates even against co-religionists. The polical balance of power continually lies with the religious extremists and it is those people that, in general, dictate the government's policy towards the Arabs. Indeed, many Israelis fume at the fact that "religious" Israelis are not subject to military service but require the children of other Israelis to guard their settlements and their takeover of Palestinian land.

The book reveals the state policy of represssion of the Arabs and the determination to keep the lid on human rights. The most despicable action (well described by Susan Nathan) by the Israeli authrories is the denying of water to Arabs while Jewish settlers on Arab lands get more than enough.

I was struck by a parallel in Israel of Jews being uncomfortable with the situation but not "rocking the boat", and Germans looking the other way in the 1930's when repressive measures against Jews were introduced and ratcheted up. Obviously Israel does not operate an extermination policy (but then that may not have been the original intention of the Nazis either), but other actions are uncomfortably familiar. Susan Nathan has provided a great service describing the situation in Israel. She and all those who struggle against the situation, and try to change it, demand our respect.

Arnhem: Jumping the Rhine 1944 & 1945
Arnhem: Jumping the Rhine 1944 & 1945
by Lloyd Clark
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.52

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No new insights or penetrating analysis, 31 Dec 2012
For another book to appear about Arnhem in 2008 after the veritable cornucopia that have been published on this subject over the years there has to be something special to make it stand out for the reader. To this end, the author compares and contrasts the airborne attacks at Arnhem in September 1944 with crossing the Rhine in March 1945, although the second attack is almost an appendix.

However, in total, the book as a great disappointment. Firstly he appears to be an apologist for Montgomery and further, skates over the substantial failings of the various British Army commanders.

He also toes the party line in reiterating that operation Market Garden "was a risk worth taking" If the objective was too obtain a bridgehead as a threat to later envelop the Ruhr as Eisenhower wanted then, yes, the operation had merit. However, Montgomery had the view that having a one road corridor up to Arnhem would be a (relatively) quick springboard towards Berlin. This was totally unrealistic as:

a) the substantial German Fifteenth was still located to the west of the Market Garden salient and had to be neutralised before anything else otherwise the flanks were continually exposed (apart from other German troops in the northern Netherlands),
b) the port of Antwerp had yet to be brought into service as a first priority because logistics to the forward armies were at breaking point,
c) to go from Arnhem to Berlin would mean crossing a further three major river systems, the Ems, Weser and Elbe. Additionally there were numerous small rivers flowing south to north across the North German Plain which would have slowed progress,
d) linked to this, the ground in the North German Plain had a high water table. Progress for tanks after October 1944 with winter rains would also have been very slow at best,
e) in September 1944 there were still a good number of German tanks available for defence east of the Rhine. This would not, of course, be the case after the Ardennes offensive
f) the many thousands of 88mm dual purpose artillery pieces located in the Ruhr and major conurbations en route to Berlin could have been rapidly switched from anti aircraft to anti tank duties. The 88 mm piece was a very effective tank destroyer.

However the real villain of the piece in Arnhem is General Browning. Lloyd Clark alludes to this on pp 112-113 where General Ridgway cautions General Gavin against the "machinations and scheming of General Browning". However nothing more was mentioned. The best comparison of Browning to previous British military commanders are the buffoons Raglan and Cardigan in the Crimean War. Browning owed his position to Churchill, basically because Browning was a Guards officer (Guards could do no wrong in Churchill's book) and a fellow alcohol abuser. Browning required 38 craft (taken away from the initial Arnhem allocation) to transport his headquarters to Nimwegen where he ensconsed himself in a palatial residence and effectively did nothing else.

Browning had a duty to the people under his charge to pass on adverse intelligence reports so that tactics on the ground at Arnhem could be amended to counter this threat. This he deliberately failed to do - he was more interested in garnering glory for himself. General Gale of 6th Airborne also warned Browning that not landing very near the Arnhem bridges could lead to disaster, but Browning just requested Gale to keep silent on the matter.

Worst of all, Major General Sosobowski, commander of the Polish Paratroop Brigade was made a scapegoat by Generals Thomas, Horroocks, Adair and Browning after the Valburg conference at as a result of the shambles of Market Garden, as his prognosis that unrealistically poor planning would lead to failure was right on the nail. The main instigator of this kangaroo court was Browning, and shows senior British Army commanders to be moral cowards of the first order - reminiscent of the Generals blaming subalterns in the First World War. This is not mentioned at all by Lloyd Clark, but as he is a lecturer at Sandhurst, perhaps this is not unexpected. "Never bite the hand that feeds you" is always a good motto in the British military establishment.

To reinforce the intellectual feebleness of British Army Generals, Lloyd Clark quotes Sir Neil Ritchie (pp 288-289) stating that 1 Commando Brigade would be "the first British troops to cross the Rhine, not even Marlborough attempted it" There was the caveat that Ritchie thought his military history was a little rusty - I suppose Ritchie imagined that Marlborough's army travelled from Koblenz to Blindheim (near Ulm) by magic carpet and never crossed a river.

There is also evidence of sloppiness in the book. On p 73 is stated that paratroopers as part of their training were expected to run 200 yards in full battle gear in 16 seconds, an amazing feat as the current world record is 10.1 seconds for 100 yards.

On the plus side, the maps are clear and helpful which would assist the reader understand the military action.

In short, as a surface description of the military action (plus Chapter 3 on paratrooper training) the book is adequate. If you are looking for more detailed and real penetrating analysis then you have to look elsewhere.

Cosmic Codes -OS
Cosmic Codes -OS
by Chuck Missler
Edition: Paperback

1 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No hidden messages here, 28 Mar 2012
This review is from: Cosmic Codes -OS (Paperback)
This book is a collection of facile interpretations to justify Dr Misslers world view.

Take Jericho (pp272-3). Archeology has demonstrated (for more than 50 years) that Jericho was uninhabited at the so called time of Joshua. These findings have never been seriously questioned. The story of the destruction is symbolic.

Or take Daniel (pp 55-64). Daniel was not written contemporaneous with the existence of Babylon. All reasonable (even conservative) biblical scholars date the composition (based on internal evidence in the book) to about 200 BCE. Hence, it was no wonder Daniel was able to forecast happenings to Cyrus.

I could go on - but it would seem that this book is meant for conspiracy theorists and their ilk. Such people believe such theories even when there is overwhelming evidence against the theories postulated. Look, for example, at the reaction to the Da Vinci code.

I feel sorry for the trees whe were needlessly sacrificed to make this book.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2013 12:50 AM BST

The Bible Book: A User's Guide
The Bible Book: A User's Guide
by Nick Page
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

2 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A facile book, 28 Mar 2012
I have nothing against making scripture available, indeed I welcome it. But this book really really skims over the surface and ignores biblical scholarship for an easy non-demanding read. For example, the Jacob and Esau story is a recasting of the Egyptian myths of Horus and Set - but no mention of this interpretation occurs in the text. El (pp52) was the head of the Canaanite deities, and this entitiy would have been encountered when the tribes moved into the hill country.

Solomon is discussed as though he actually existed. But there is absolutely no trace either in archeology or in texts outside Israel to confirm his existance. This is a great stumbling block in reconstructing an early history of Judah/Israel.

Take another example, the commentary on Esther. Mr Page is correct to state that the story has a fairy tale about it. Let us just take the age of Mordecai - the text states that Mordecai came to Persia during the Bablylonian deportation of 587BCE - but it the story took place during the reign of Xerxes (486-465 BCE). Hence Mordecais would have been about 120 years old. Esther would not have been a nubile princess candidate either. Mr Page ignores that a strain going throught the book is the struggle between opposing deities Mordecai and Esther correspond to Marduk and Ishtar from Babylon and Haman and Vashti corresponde to Humman and Mushti from the territory of Elam. There is also another twist Mordecai is a Benjaminite and Haman is stated to be a Agagite. Whereas Saul did not kill Agag and was punished - Mordecai makes sure this time. In other words, the story has a number of meanings which make it more interesting.

For the New Testament, Mr Page ignores the fact that Matthew takes Isaiah 7.14 for the basis of the virgin birth based on a mistranslation of the Septuagint. Also missing is a discussion about the Roman census (which took place in 6 CE) in Luke which therefore could not have been the cause of the family travelling to Bethlehem.

Or take, the comment on pp 264 where Jesus is called a Nazarene (Matt 2.23) but then states that this occurs nowhere else in the Bible. But he discusses Nazarites (e.g. Samson John the Baptist). It is quite obvious that some words are garbled in translation, especially if the Septuagint is being referred to. A Nazarite was someone who dedicated their lives to God -(but which still gave Samson the opportunity to visit prostitutes) and if Jesus was not a Nazarite then going to Church is a waste of time.

Mr Page does discuss some "tricky bits" and sometimes it is entertaining but only at an elementary level.

When a book like this is used to educate children - who then upon maturity read further, the young (or not so young) adults will realise that have been fed a load of facile interpretations and that hey have been hoodwinked. No wonder there is a long term drift away from the Church.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 8, 2014 5:05 PM BST

The Lost Mona Lisa
The Lost Mona Lisa
by R A Scotti
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely awful, 15 Feb 2011
This review is from: The Lost Mona Lisa (Paperback)
This book has contributed nothing new to the case of the stolen Mona Lisa - except giving oxygen to the old chestnut about six forgeries being sold to Amercian collectors.

There is no orginal detective work, no analysis, no continuous narrative line but plenty of conjecture and rehash of old press cuttings. The most interesting points about scientific analysis of the picture are relgated to one line footnotes.

The only interesting aspect about the book is that it highlights what a verminous piece of trash Picasso was - cowardly and deserting his friends when the going got a little rough.

Good critical editing could have improved the book considerably.

Single and Single
Single and Single
by John Le Carré
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Clapped out old nag, 29 Nov 2010
This review is from: Single and Single (Paperback)
Having purchased this book about 10 years ago, I had never got round to reading it until a few days ago. I should not have bothered. Half dimensional characters, fatuous plot, implausible actions and execrable dialogue are all that is contained in this book. Le Carre pumps out novels with regularity, but since the fall of Communism he has had nothing original to say - just going through the motions.

by Henry Porter
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Janet and John do espionage, 28 Oct 2010
This review is from: Brandenburg (Paperback)
This really was a most disappointing book.

The beginning was interesting, but the characters soon slipped into being stereotypical. The motivations and explanations of characters actions during but especially towards the end of the book were just too implausible for words. Indeed, I was half expecting the hero's fairy godmother to appear on the roof of the Bundestag when the Berlin Wall came down..

More Dan Brown than le Carre I am afraid.

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