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Reviews Written by
Mr Gordon Davidson "Gordy" (Glasgow)

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Under The Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Under The Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
by Jon Krakauer
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Fundamentally brilliant, 10 July 2014
This is a fascinating if a little frightening account of the reasons for the seemingly random murder of a mother and her child by a pair of religious nutters. It is also an absorbing account of the rise of the Mormon faith and its subsequent splintering into hundreds of sects each following their own "Prophet".

It is quite an eye-opener. I would guess that most of us know that some Fundamentalist Mormons practice polygamy whereby a man will have multiple wives. What I certainly wasn't aware of is that many girls are married off when they turn 14 and the child abusers who commit these crimes are seldom successfully prosecuted.

Many other disturbing facts of Mormon history are uncovered in this book and I was struck by some of the similarities between Fundamentalist Mormonism and the modern Pentecostal NAR movement as espoused by such "Apostles" as Bill Johnson, Che Ahn and the Arnotts. It's all about literally hearing directly from God and should what is heard or imagined contradict scripture, it must over-ride scripture because the individual believes that God has spoken directly to them. This of course leads to a free-for-all of competing theologies, many different sects and cults all disagreeing with one another and sometimes appalling acts of violence because, "God told me to do it".

I can't recommend this book highly enough.


Sepulchre
Sepulchre
by James Herbert
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars A thrill a minute, 6 July 2014
This review is from: Sepulchre (Paperback)
More supernatural nonsense from Herbert. Well actually, it is quite enjoyable if you like your books to be action-packed.

Of the genre it's well enough written and quite imaginative but is let down by no proper relationships between the characters. The dialogue merely serving to advance the plot.

One of the better Herberts.


What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (Oxford History of the United States)
What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (Oxford History of the United States)
Price: 6.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, 24 Jun 2014
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Another excellent book in the Oxford History of the United States series. I really can't fault it.

Sometimes reading epically large history books can become a rather onerous task but this book is beautifully written and does a such good job of moving around the various spheres of society (politics, the military, religion, women's rights, science etc) that it never becomes boring.

The author has also done a good job of giving the book a proper ending which can be tricky when writing about a period of time rather than a particular subject.

Highly recommended.


The Commonwealth of Thieves: The Story of the Founding of Australia
The Commonwealth of Thieves: The Story of the Founding of Australia
by Thomas Keneally
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting book, 16 May 2014
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This is indeed an interesting book and for the most part I enjoyed it. I didn't find it a particularly easy read, however. With the enormous cast of characters hard to keep track of and the author's sometimes convoluted grammar necessitating the rereading of numerous sentences. It would also benefit from some maps.

The time period that the book covers is quite narrow and it has left me wanting to find out what happened next. One book leads to another, c'est la vie.


Dam Busters: The Race to Smash the Dams, 1943
Dam Busters: The Race to Smash the Dams, 1943
by James Holland
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.81

4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading, 9 May 2014
Most people in Britain will know the basic story of the "dam busters" probably from seeing the classic film. This book examines the personalities, the political maneuvering, the training, the technical difficulties and the incredible specialist flying skills that enabled the raid to be successful.

Most of the book necessarily is about the planning and the logistics of getting the squadron up and running in time to carry out the mission. This is interesting but not exactly riveting. I would have liked a bit more information on the science behind the bouncing bomb. The sections dealing with the raid and its aftermath are extraordinary and genuinely exciting.

A fine history book.


Fools Die
Fools Die
by Mario Puzo
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 2 May 2014
This review is from: Fools Die (Paperback)
This book was not what I as expecting at all. I assumed it would be a mafia story set in Las Vegas but it turns out to be a much grander tale of the lives of writers/gamblers with only a hint of the Cosa Nostra. The book is mainly concerned with how friendships and love affairs are mostly borne out of selfishness. We want what the other person can provide for us and when they no longer can, the relationship withers and dies.

I was quite enthralled by it until the love affair section which went on for far too long and got quite boring. Also the graphic sexual language and no-holds-barred misogyny gets to be a bit much after a while.

It's very good but could have been brilliant.


Confessions of an Ivy League Bookie
Confessions of an Ivy League Bookie
by Peter Alson
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into a seedy subculture, 23 April 2014
I couldn't put this book down. The chapters are all fairly short making it too tempting to read just one more and then one more...

It is apparently a true story and it certainly has an authentic feel to it. The description of New York holding cells is particularly astonishing. If you enjoy Bukowski or Steinbeck then you should feel right at home. It opens up a rather slimy, intensely masculine world in a very matter-of-fact way. The literary equivalent of turning over a stone to watch all the creepy crawlies.

Highly recommended.


Her Fearful Symmetry
Her Fearful Symmetry
by Audrey Niffenegger
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculously good, 22 April 2014
This review is from: Her Fearful Symmetry (Paperback)
I do so enjoy a book where the author takes time to tell the story, giving the reader a chance to get to know and like the characters so that when it seems that disaster is about to strike you're thinking to yourself, "No, don't be so stupid!", whilst at the same time understanding why the characters would go through with their ill-conceived plans.

This is such a book. The characters are beautifully formed and are well worth reading about even without all the ghostly nonsense. The supernatural stuff is quite ludicrous but also very original and despite my disbelief resuming on a couple of occasions the overall deliciousness of the characters and the setting quickly stopped it in its tracks once again.

Gothic, mesmeric and almost bound to inspire a Kate Bush song.


Haunted: Number 5 in series (Otherworld)
Haunted: Number 5 in series (Otherworld)
by Kelley Armstrong
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.86

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining enough, 17 April 2014
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More supernatural pulp fiction from Kelley Armstrong. We have the usual sassy female lead character (this time she's a ghost, but also a witch, but also a half-demon) who can crack wise even in the stickiest of situations. I can see why they've made a TV series based on these books.

There are some genuinely exciting moments and a sprinkling of horror but they are all delivered in such an upbeat style that it's hard to take them all that seriously. Still, I eventually became engrossed and quite enjoyed it, although the ridiculously arbitrary nature of the solution to Eve's ascendancy problem rather spoils the ending.


A History of Brazil (Myth and Poetics)
A History of Brazil (Myth and Poetics)
by E. Bradford Burns
Edition: Paperback
Price: 26.22

3.0 out of 5 stars A bit dull, 17 April 2014
This is not a book to set your pulse racing. It has the look and feel of a school text book and reads like one too.

For the most part the book focuses on Brazil's political and socio-economic history. There isn't much in the way of detail about the main characters who shaped Brazil and the various military dictatorships are rather glossed over and for the most part accepted as being necessary. The fact that people were tortured and killed during these regimes is only mentioned in passing.

Having said all that, it was refreshing to read about a country that relatively speaking hasn't been involved in many serious wars with its neighbours or torn itself apart with civil strife.


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