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Graham Mummery (Sevenoaks, Kent England)

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Why Mahler?: How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World
Why Mahler?: How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World
by Norman Lebrecht
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars My Mahler: Me, Me, Me, 25 Feb 2013
The "Mahler industry" has been one of the features of the classical music world since the second-half of twentieth century at least. From being a "neglected" composer, love him or loathe him, Mahler is now mainstream, having influenced composers as diverse as Britten, Shostakovich, Boulez as well as Bernstein, who as performer also played a major part in popularizing the earlier musician's works. In this book Norman Lebrecht looks at the phenomenon.

It's interesting to note that there have been a number of works that interpret Mahler in more ways than musically. Examples include David Holbrook's Gustav Mahler and the Courage to Be as well as high powered (and to my mind overly intellectual) commentators such as Theodore Adorno in Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy. Lebrecht himself has written an interesting essay on the Mahler phenomenon in Mahler Remembered which he also edited. The book contains a fascinating selection of memoirs of the composer as seen by his contemporaries. It is worth reading, as is Lebrecht's essay there which links Mahler to various twentieth century artistic and intellectual movements.

It's this thesis that Lebrecht expands upon in the first part of the book, continuing into a wander round Mahler's life which is told in the present tense. The amount Lebrecht has read about Mahler is impressive, as is the number of recordings that he appears to have listened to judging from a later chapter about interpretation. He also gives us stories from his meeting of various Mahler performers. And it is through this we encounter aspect of Lebrecht that is less than agreeable.

Some readers may remember that Lebrecht is also the author of the gossipy and caustic book about conductors The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power in which he documented many of their faults and/or foibles. This aspect is also on show here. In between there is a lot of name dropping and claims of intimacy with some of them ("scotches with Lennie" or "curries with Klaus.") there are lots of swipes at performers (particularly Bernstein) for vanity, and self-indulgence. In the end, this works to the detriment of the book. This combination of gossip and opinion becomes irritating. Lebrecht's telling readers about how moved he is by the music, his pilgrimages to Mahler's grave rebounds on him and sounds self-aggrandizing. The later discussion of Mahler recordings reinforces this. What initially looks like an impressive inventory becomes a hit-list (in both senses of the word) against performers whose sole offence against Lebrecht is to have dared to interpreted the symphonies and songs in ways he disapproves of. This too becomes less than informative, with recordings where single words dismissing them and replace any real description about what the features they might have except that the author likes or dislike them.

At the beginning of "Why Mahler," Lebrecht states that this book is about his journey with the composer. Long before it ended, I was feeling it added little my understanding of the music. The best of what he has to say about Mahler is the essay in "Mahler Remembered." For readers wanting a good single volume introduction, I would recommend Michael Kennedy's Mahler (Master Musician). Alternatively, there is Deryck Cooke's Gustav Mahler: An Introduction to His Music. Both are insightful into what Mahler was about, and why the Mahler phenomenon may have come onto being. This volume says more about Lebrecht.

The Red Book: A Reader's Edition (Philemon)
The Red Book: A Reader's Edition (Philemon)
by C. G. Jung
Edition: Imitation Leather
Price: £18.70

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mostly about The Readers Version, 10 Jan 2013
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Many of the reviews of this volume appear to have been lifted from the full version of Jung's Red Book, which was published a couple of years ago. My own review concerns mainly the Reader's Edition mentioned above. However, I borrowed the earlier publication from my local library, so will make comparisons that are hopefully helpful for people deciding which to buy, or both.

The Red Book by Jung, Carl Gustav(Author)Hardcover is a beautifully produced facsimile of writings, drawings and journals that Jung transcribed from his dreams and fantasies at a time described as his "confrontation with the unconscious" in Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Flamingo). These are all beautifully presented and have the look of a Medieval book transcribed by monks, printed on quality paper. There are also introductions, translations and notes on the text by the editors.

Yet, for all the beauty and care putting this book out, it probably always will be a specialist's book. Firstly because of the price- though sales suggest this has been less of a problem for Jung enthusiasts. The main problem is more practical. The volume is slightly larger than A3 size which makes it cumbersome and physically difficult to read, apart from on a large lectern or table. This also makes cross-reading the pages containing translations, and looking at notes and the introduction difficult. After borrowing it, though fascinated, I decided not to buy this edition for that reason.

The arrival of this Readers Edition changes matters. It has been designed for those who mainly want to engage with the text, or who want something more portable to be used in conjunction with the larger volume. The text is transcribed to a normal hardback size and cross-referenced to illustrations in the larger volume, and is in a red cover reminiscent of some editions of the Bible. As with the larger volume, the production can be barely faulted. The paper is high quality. There are the introductions by editors and translators from the larger book about how the Red Book was produced, its publication history, as well as Jung's own text. My one disappointment is that there are no colour plates (none at all!) of Jung's illustrations, though there are some copies of pencil drawings.

To fully engage with The Red Book probably does require the full illustrations in the larger volume. Yet, that said, the text is fascinating in its own right, and will still give much, because it contains Jung's record of his engagement with various characters who appeared in his imagination. As the introduction suggests, these partly reflect Biblical influences as well as Goethe and Nietzsche. Many of the writings have a poetic and aphoristic flavour with meditations on, for example, the nature of mind, good and evil. They also have a tone reminiscent of William Blake's Prophetic books, or more contemporary poetic texts like Rilke's "Duino Elegies," which was composed at around the same time. This book can be read in the same vein.

In the end, what one makes of the content will largely depend upon one's view of Jung. For those who see him as a madman and crank, it may suggest insanity. Those who see him as a visionary will take much of this as as spiritual insight, and may read it as a prophetic work. One of the psychological fascinations of this text, for me, is when Jung deals directly with his material. In this we can see origins of many ideas that were to resurface later in his writings.

Interestingly, Jung himself regarded the book as a journal of a psychological experiment with his unconscious. He was also seeing patients and discussing some of the things which came up with his colleagues and friends. This, to me, suggests that this much more than a diary of psychotic material. But as Sony Shamdasani suggests, the one certainty is that in the long-term term the publication of this work will revolutionize scholars' views of Jung, not least because it provides first-hand material of what was happening in his mind.

At times the book is a heavy read. It is heady material. But for those sufficiently interested, it will yield much of interest and value. A fascinating book for those with a deep interest in Jung and his work.

Gustav Mahler: The Complete Symphonies &  Kindertotenlieder
Gustav Mahler: The Complete Symphonies & Kindertotenlieder
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: £17.32

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Landmark Mahler- and Bernstein, 2 Jan 2013
Leonard Bernstein's New York cycle of Mahler Symphonies was a landmark. It was the first released commercial recording of all Mahler Symphonies (excluding the Tenth) and perhaps, Bernstein's greatest recording achievement from his New York period. These recordings are also important in my appreciation of Mahler. I was given them many years ago on LP. As I replaced them with CDs, I bought the symphonies individually, often from Bernstein's later DG cycle Mahler: The Symphonies as it unfurled.

The LPs suffered from CBS then habit of keeping microphones too close to the orchestra which created a harsh sound. This Sony remastering has cleared this up giving a cleaner, more natural sound which makes the orchestral detail so much clearer, showing just subtle Bernstein was in this area even his approach was dramatic. Each CD is in a reproduction of original LP sleeves, though reading them is difficult without a magnifying glass. There's also a booklet with photographs of Bernstein at the time, plus essay exploring his close, if idiosyncratic, identification with Mahler. My one complaint with this set is that there is no libretto for some of the Symphonies. That said, at bargain price, this set is an attractive package, not least because the performances are outstanding. I rate them as follows:

-No.1 (5 Stars). The New York performance is brilliant and charismatic, though, astonishingly, Bernstein's later DG performance (Mahler: Symphony 1) is even better (the best I've ever heard).
-No.2 (5 Stars). My LPs had a fine, later, performance with the LSO. But the one here with the New York Philharmonic is more spontaneous. Bernstein's best recording of the work.
-No.3 (5 Stars) remains my favourite performance of the work.
-No.4 (4 Stars) I have felt Bernstein's to this symphony needed more lightness of touch. The remastering corrects this. Bernstein also has female singer which works better than the boy soprano in the DG recording.
-No.5 (3 Stars). This performance is OK, but it's completely superseded by the later DG recording Mahler: Symphony No.5 with the Vienna Philharmonic.
-No.6 (5 Stars). Possibly the best recording of this set, and more intense than Bernstein's later one Symphony No.6, Kindertotenlieder again with the Vienna Philharmonic, which I wouldn't want to be without either.
-No.7 (5 Stars). Bernstein holds this schizophrenic work together as well as anyone. The later version was a fine performance, but the generally faster tempi in this version have more dramatic tension and so give the earlier performance the edge.
-No.8 (5 Stars). I know no version of this symphony that is so physically exciting.
-No.9 (5 Stars). The New York performance is less idiosyncratic than the later DG set, though I also have a strong partiality for Bernstein's Berlin Mahler: Symphony No.9 which is available separately.
-No.10 (4/5 Stars). Bernstein only ever conducted the Adagio from No.10. From the performance here, one can only wonder what he might have made of the work as a whole.
-Kindertotenlieder (5 stars). As a "filler" to go with the Adagio from the 10th Symphony there is a wonderful performance of this song cycle with the great mezzo Janet Baker.

Coming back to these performances, I have been pleasantly surprised at how outstanding these recordings are. The enhancement of the sound works in their favour. Though there are great recordings in Bernstein's later DG cycle, the earlier performances are often more exiting, hence I rate more of them higher. Indeed, with two exceptions, I would go as far as to say none of the later recordings supersedes what is here. I would be more than content if this New York cycle remains my sole recording of Mahler's Symphonies.

The obvious drawback of this set, as with those by great Mahler conductors of the same generation (e.g. Haitink, Kubelik, Solti and Tenstedt) is the need to purchase a separate disk for a complete version of No 10. Despite Deryck Cooke's "completion" of the work being more authentically the composer than in many similar projects, these conductors strangely refused to perform it. Simon Rattle's brilliant Berlin performance of Mahler: Symphony No.10 shows there is no longer any excuse for this, and is my recommendation to supplement this omission. None of this, however, should detract from the achievement here: it's an outstanding monument to Bernstein's conducting and well as Mahler's music.

Healing Our Deepest Wounds: The Holotropic Paradigm Shift
Healing Our Deepest Wounds: The Holotropic Paradigm Shift
by Stanislav Grof M.D.
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.18

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beginners Guide to Grof, 10 Dec 2012
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Stanislav Grof is one of the pioneers of transpersonal psychology who has spent over fifty years exploring consciousness and various ways of accessing it, including breathwork and LSD. He is a qualified psychiatrist whose researches are thorough and disciplined, and his work on LSD was on the scientifically and ethically disciplined end of the research, far from the "tune in and drop out" aspects that lead to the drug being banned.

However, Grof's observations have also lead him to the radical conclusion that the current scientific paradigm is inadequate to explain what he has observed. He holds the view that a greater awareness of consciousness will make for a radical change in our view of ourselves. In doing this he has surveyed various forms of psychotherapy (including Freudian, Rankian and Jungian approaches) to develop an inclusive approach that addresses different levels of consciousness including the instinctual, personal, existential and archetypal.

This is inevitably controversial in some conventional areas. I will leave readers to make their own mind up over these issues, though personally, I have found Grof's observations useful. What we get here is a succinct guide to his ideas that is engaging and and clear. Grof is also literate on the philosophical differences which lead him to accept evidence that others will discount.

The book itself came about after Grof received an award from the former Czech President Vaclav Havel in 1997. It contains transcripts with speeches from the from the ceremony. There are also chapters on the history of transpersonal psychology, Grof's ideas about levels of consciousness, birth trauma, spiritual crisis, what his researches have revealed about the roots of violence, as well as on psychedelic research and a tribute to the discoverer of LSD Albert Hoffman.

Readers familiar with Grof's work may find this holds little new for them. But the text is referenced for those who wish to follow up what is read here. That said there are some updates on some of his work. Those coming to Grof for the first time won't find a better short introduction even from the man himself.

Ives: Four Sonatas
Ives: Four Sonatas
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.97

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crackerbarrel Folksiness and Musical Sophistication, 5 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Ives: Four Sonatas (Audio CD)
There are many paradoxes associated with Charles Ives. Possibly the greatest American composer, he also ran an insurance firm. His music often reflects other paradoxes. He can combine a cracker-barrel folksiness with acute musical sophistication. Yet, the music is often very approachable. Ives, without realizing it, was also experimenting with new musical techniques that were to later be discovered by the likes of Schoenberg and Stravinsky.

The violin sonatas, according to the notes in the jewel box, are largely from early in Ives' career. There is an interesting article about the music from the violinist Hilary Hahn (something which seems to be becoming a feature of her recordings) which explains that the music has a deceptive simplicity to it, plus difficulties in Ives' notation in the score.

One would hardly guess this latter problem from the performances which are highly polished. Hahn's typically immaculate attack on the violin is ample testament to the fact that she has one of the most formidable techniques of any violinist around at the moment. This is allied to strong musicality. Her feeling for some of the best classical music American music from other disks (e.g. her debut recording, Violin Concerto / Serenade, which included Bernstein's Serenade ) has been amply displayed before, and it is apparent here. She is sympathetically accompanied by the Russian pianist Valentina Lisita, and there is a good rapport between both performers.

The sonatas themselves are similar in style to late Romantic early twentieth century works and have rhapsodic quality as well as something American about them. This is my first proper acquaintance with the sonatas which would not perhaps not be my first recommendation to someone coming to Ives for the first time despite the quality of performance. But they are works to enjoy, and the advocacy of Hahn and Lisita can only further their appreciation.

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5; Piano Sonata No.28
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5; Piano Sonata No.28
Price: £13.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Musicmaking, Shame About the DVD, 26 Nov 2012
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Having enjoyed Helene Grimaud's performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.4 (Grimaud, Nypo, Masur), I came to this with high hopes. Grimaud, for me, is a visionary musician, who sometimes gets criticized for for being willful. In my book that is not necessarily a fault. In the words of the legendary Beethoven pianist, Artur Schnabel, it's a case of safety last. And this works for me.

There is a physical excitement in the Emperor Concerto with its thunderous salvos of pianism at the beginning which were composed as Napoleon's army was outside Vienna. Did they influence, Beethoven's composing? Perhaps I'll never know. But for me this is the ultimate piano concerto with dramatic first movement, a heart rending slow-movement (as always with this composer) and the triumphal final movement. This was the first piece of classical music I came to know, and it still lifts my spirit when I listen to it.

Like another reviewer here, I love Kempff's brilliant recording this work (see Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos.4 & 5). Perhaps this is not quite up there with that, for all my love of Grimaud's playing. And perhaps this is not as much in the stratosphere as her version of the 4th, But it is near, not least because of Jurowski's musical and inspiring conducting of the LPO, which has made me look up at the conductor.

In the sonata No 28, Grimaud is again in fine form. She is emerging as a a fine interpreter of these late Beethoven sonatas and never seems to approach a work without something to say. Hence admirers of her work need not hesitate purchasing this recording.

After this the DVD seems rather short measure. It has an intriguing snippet of the pianist and conductor working together, and abeautiful recording of Grimaud playing Bach. But is too short to add much that is not covered in the the notes and the cover. Indeed it seems to be more about marketing to go with the sexy packaging of the pianist. I've no problem with that per se, finding her very easy the eye. Bit that's icing not the cake which is the music and her playing.

If the package had just been the CD, I might have awarded the performance and sumptuous recording 5 stars. But the DVD adds very little, yet the company are marketing it as if it added something major to this issue. It does not, hence 4 stars

The World's Two Smallest Humans
The World's Two Smallest Humans
by Julia Copus
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humane and emotionally articulate, 25 Nov 2012
Julia Copus is one if the most interesting poets writing at the moment, for a combination of insight into emotions, acute observation of life, sometimes including scientific detail, and a wide ranging and subtle imagination. This collection was shortlisted for the 2013 TS Eliot Prize, and deservedly so.

Subjects include love relationships, not least in the final sequence about the poets experience of IVF treatment which looks at the effect of this on all protagonists the couple, medical interventions at the conception and the welcome of the resulting child. These have a poignancy and dignity in them that perhaps seem unlikely when one considers some of procedures in the treatment room.

That said, all these poems are very rooted in the human world, for example, in a poem that describes a past lover, or another describing a sixty year old man on a bus and his life remembering the time of the death of his mother. This poem, "Raymond at 60," consists of two stanzas on facing pages. It's only after reading this that one realizes the poem is a palindrome, where the second stanza has the same lines of the first in reverse. This attests to the virtuosity of the poet's control of her words, because it was not something I noticed until I had read the poem' and then moved on a few pages.

There are also poems that display a good knowledge of the arts, not least a sequence about a composer (not the same story as in the play Amadeus!) living and a reworking of a poem by Ovid. However, perhaps my favorite poem of this collection, and the one for me that is worth the price of the books alone is one called "Heronkind." This is about a slender heron's longing for reaching out to catch a fish. Copus concludes:

How much less complex
life would be
without this feverish
dance between
the wanter and the wanted,
though the truth of it is
that without fish
all heronkind would
be stunted.

This poem form me has a subtle music and states, with simplicity, a profound truth in a way that cannot be bettered.

This didn't win the TS Eliot Prize in the end. But we're all winners with poetry of this quality. Thank you, Julia.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2014 8:08 PM GMT

Piano Concerto No.4 (Grimaud, Nypo, Masur)
Piano Concerto No.4 (Grimaud, Nypo, Masur)
Price: £6.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound Musicianship From Artist Prepared to Risks, 24 Nov 2012
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Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto remains one of the best loved works in the Piano Concerto repertoire. Less dramatic and more lyrical than its brilliant successor the "Emperor," it has a charm and intimacy to it that make some prefer it. It's first movement starting, unusually, on the piano instead of orchestra sets listeners a question that seems to be answered here. Beethoven moves from being a "classical" composer and successor to Mozart into Romanticism. This continues in the second movement, where the piano "tames" and an angry orchestra, before the final joyous movement.

Helene Grimaud is a brilliant, visionary pianist, In my view one of the best of her generation, a successor to Martha Argerich, who is also and individualist as her autobiography Wild Harmonies: A Life of Music and Wolves amply demonstrates, with an empathy for wolves. There is a photograph of the pianist in the notes for this CD, presumably photographed at her sanctuary for this animal.

For skeptics of her, this is an ideal disk to acquaint themselves with this brilliant artist. The opening of the fourth concerto begins in a searching manner, and is sympathetically accompanied by the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur. Masur, to my mind is often an able but uninspiring conductor. Not so here. His musicianship is subtle and eloquent perhaps inspired by the soloist who had never been so insightful as here. Until now my favorite recording of the work has been Wilhelm Kempff with Leitner (see Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos.4 & 5) but this is stiff competition. The old DG recording still stands up well to modern recording standards, but Grimaud and Masur make for a very strong comparison.

In the sonatas Grimaud is in brilliant form also. I have a prejudice towards older pianists like Artur Schnabel, Wilhelm Kempff, Mitsuko Uchida and Alfred Brendel in late Beethoven, all of whom have given brilliant interpretations of the Opus 109 and 110. The only exceptions I might make is the genius, Daniel Barenboim. But after hearing Grimaud here, I will let her join him with those other masters, because the musicianship is profound and inspired, reminding us of the depths this great composer could reach. The Op 109 is thoughtful, while the Opus 110 is devastating. My only regret is the Op 111 is not also included here

All in all, a delightful and inspiring disk that should convince skeptics. Grimaud is one of the best pianists of her generation. One who is prepared to take creative risks.

What?: 108 ZEN Poems
What?: 108 ZEN Poems
by Ŭn Ko
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Little Book of Seoon (Zen) Poems, 23 Nov 2012
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This review is from: What?: 108 ZEN Poems (Paperback)
Ko Un is possibly Korea's best known poet. Yet despite this, until the publication of First Person Sorrowful a few weeks before writing this review, his books have not been published in the UK. Having read, and reviewed, that book I was looking for more. Translations of his work have been available in an American imprint before with this little book with a warm, and typically generous, forward by Allen Ginsberg.

Ginsberg was known for his interest in Buddhism. There is also a separate forward by the Vietnamese monk Tich Nhat Hahn. This is fitting since Ko Un, himself, was once an Zen monk. All of this is explained in various essays in the book, including one from Ko Un who introduces Zen, or Seoon as it is known in Korea, explaining that it concentrates on making the mind conscious. The book itself in a previous edition was called "Beyond Self."

Readers translations from Chinese and Japanese poetry such as examples in The Penguin Book of Zen Poetry will find the poems here have a similar style. There is much concentration on the moment, observations of nature and the poems themselves are often short and focused, like Haiku. An example of Ko's is a one liner about a shooting star:

"Wow. You recognise me."

In another poem he compares the life of a sub-atomic particle, "Three hundredths of a second" being a fraction of a second and argues:

"You say a day's too short?
You greedy thing."

Also at times, poems have an earthy edge which is in my experience typically Korean.

The book itself is beautifully presented in a small edition that can be carried in a pocket and dipped into at occasional moments. But if preferred it works if read from cover to cover. Compared with the previously mentioned book by Ko Un, "First Person Sorrowful," I would say it has a narrower range of themes, emotions and scope. This may mean it may have less to English audiences unfamiliar with the Zen style. But this book still deserves an honoured place on the shelves next to it.

Moonraker: James Bond 007 (Vintage Classics)
Moonraker: James Bond 007 (Vintage Classics)
by Ian Fleming
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps one of the lesser known novels in the series, 21 Nov 2012
Moonraker was the third James Bond novel that Ian Fleming wrote. Surprisingly, it seems to be one of the lesser known of them. It was the last novel (as opposed to short stories) whose title was used by the "official" makers of the films, who only later acquired the film rights for Casino Royale [DVD] [2006] to complete the process of filming them all.

Of the films, Moonraker [DVD] [1979] is by far the most disappointing for me, not least because the novel is one of my favourites. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the film makers made their version, which (to put it mildly) barely resembles he novel, about space flight. The novel, however, concerns is a Cold War plot to sabotage the Moonraker rocket which Fleming describes as "the greatest weapon on earth."

One of the features of Bond novels is that he comes across as a convincing human being, even if some of his exploits border on superhuman derring-do. "Moonraker" is no exception. It's the only Bond story to take place entirely in England. It begins in London where we meet him doing target practice at Secret Service headquarters. The action moves to the club "Blades" where we see Bond in action once again as the Service's expert player of cards, while most of the rest of the novel takes place on the South coast.

In this novel we also learn something about his life away from missions. Indeed, Fleming gets more inside the heads of other characters than in most other of his novels, yet without sacrificing narrative sweep and pace. The action itself takes place over a week not long after events described in Live and Let Die: James Bond 007 (Vintage Classics). Bond is called into M's office for a personal favor: to help with a problem at a club where Sir Hugo Drax, the head of the Moonraker project, is also cheating at cards. The game is a very different one to that described in the "Casino Royale", but Fleming carries it of just as effectively.

In the latter part of the novel, Bond is seconded onto the Moonraker project where the bulk if the action takes place. I won't spoil the plot for readers. Though perhaps little that emerges is truly hidden, the "Fleming sweep" carries the whole thing with the pace that keeps the readers tuning the pages. There are other familiar motifs such as the author's ability to portray places such as Blades, the card club and the Kent coast. One big surprise is Bond's relationship with the inevitable beautiful heroine ends with a twist of realism, which paradoxically shows up a romantic streak in Bond's nature.

There's no introduction in this Vantage edition of the books, unlike is in some of the other books in this reprint. But Fleming's production values are as consistently good as in other novels. All in all, one of the best of the series, even if it is less discussed. It certainly won't disappoint Fleming fans.

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