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Night Watch: (Discworld Novel 29) (Discworld Novels)
Night Watch: (Discworld Novel 29) (Discworld Novels)
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet another good Pratchett novel, 13 Nov 2002
No, this isn't Pratchett's best book yet - but what did you expect? After so many dozens of books, it's hardly realistic to demand that each be better than the one before.
Nonetheless, it's very good. As you probably know, Vimes ends up back in time, before the era of Vetinari, before Ridcully, and before the Watch was an effective civil body. I was somewhat nervous this would be a pretty transparent plot device, but it is actually handled rather well.
These days, Pratchett doesn't force the humour. When the time is right, Night Watch is exquisitely funny, though for the most part this is maybe the blackest and bleakest Discworld novel.
The mood of a more ancient Ankh Morpork is nicely crafted. If you follow the progression in the Watch novels from Guards! Guards! through to The Fifth Elephant, this book makes a very clear and interesting step in the opposite direction.
By Pratchett's standards, this is a workmanlike and professional offering. It's enjoyable to read, by turns thought-provoking and humourous. It both meshes with, and gracefully extends, the Discworld that we know and love. But that's by Pratchett's standards; most other authors would sell their souls to be allowed to write a book this good.

The Good Pub Guide 2002
The Good Pub Guide 2002
by Alisdair Aird
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Close enough to perfect, 22 Oct 2002
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This does precisely what it says on the tin - it's a guide to good pubs in the United Kingdom (with some brief notes on pubs elsewhere on the planet).
The book strikes a whole sequence of sensible balances. The division of each chapter into long entries for the main recommended pubs, plus a more succinct "pot luck" section listing many more, is very wise. I am also pleased that character, atmosphere, beer, wine, food are given roughly equal billing as important aspects of a good pub.
I've checked many of my favourite pubs around the UK, and was generally impressed by how well the book's opinions matched my own. I've since visited many of the pubs it recommends, and not been disappointed. I've also casually compared its reviews with some competing books, and feel this is the best by a significant margin.
My biggest gripe is that personally, I'd like to see a little more information on the quality of soft drinks in pubs - the book will inevitably be used most by people when far from home, one of whom will very likely be driving!

In A Metal Mood - No More Mr Nice Guy
In A Metal Mood - No More Mr Nice Guy

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinatingly unusual, 18 Oct 2002
It's hard to judge Pat Boone's motives in creating this album, but I'm inclined to take the liner notes at face value. So - this is an album of Pat Boone cover versions of well-known heavy metal tracks, which has been done partly with tongue in cheek, and partly in order to show that, behind the popular face of heavy metal lies a lot of very good music that can survive being transplanted into another genre, and thereby made accessible to a different audience.
A one-of-a-kind project such as this is automatically also the best of its kind, which can yield complacency. However, there is no doubting that a lot of very talented people put considerable effort into making this album good - which is a very pleasant surprise.
There are a few tracks that don't quite work, but fundamentally this is good music, performed well. Regardless of the motivation, isn't that what really matters?

The Elements of Style
The Elements of Style
by William Strunk Jr.
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.22

135 of 151 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful, but neither perfect nor the best, 16 Aug 2002
This review is from: The Elements of Style (Paperback)
This brief book can teach the inexpert writer much, and even experts will learn a few new things. However, it presents itself, and is often presented by others, as a flawless masterpiece - something it is not.
What jars most is that the book itself is riddled with errors. I'm not nit-picking about pedantic subtleties - there are real, serious mistakes: the authors spell the English place "Bridgwater" as "Bridgewater", for example, and they often omit essential hyphens, thereby missing their meaning.
I was also upset that so many of the before-and-after examples are flawed. Too often, in mending style, nuances are lost; in many cases I could see alternatives that were more correct, brief, elegant and exact.
It would be interesting to see Strunk's original offering, or an earlier edition of White's adaptation: some of the material is pristine and unobjectionable, so maybe successive editings have let the work fall from former greatness. It is hard to tell, now.
If you are buying just one book on English usage, let it be Bill Bryson's "Troublesome Words". If you want to own a legendary work on the subject, buy Fowler. If you already have a dozen such books, by all means get this one too.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 14, 2013 12:31 AM BST

The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering
The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering
by Norman G. Finkelstein
Edition: Paperback

200 of 212 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fearless, authoritative and important, 8 July 2002
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Until comparatively recently, I implicitly accepted the image of the holocaust and its victims that was presented by the mass media. Then, a year ago, I read the Penguin Book of Twentieth-century Speeches, in particular some of what Elie Weisel had to say about the holocaust.
It was clearly exaggerated, sentimentalist nonsense. I began to think a little more independently about the issue, but had nowhere to turn for a more balanced view.
One day, Amazon's recommendations system suggested this book to me, and I bought it at once. Having read it, I'm delighted to be able to recommend it unreservedly as exactly the book I needed.
Finkelstein does not deny the Nazi holocaust, nor the suffering it inflicted on both those it killed, and on those who survived. His contention - persuasively argued - is that their genuine suffering is being debased and abused by the Holocaust "industry" in order to bring political power and huge sums of money to an élite minority.
He also points out that by labelling the Holocaust with false superlatives, one belittles the plight of others who have suffered comparably awful genocide and victimisation, both in World War II and throughout history.
The book is well written. Finkelstein occasionally personalises the debate, or becomes less than dispassionate, but I never once felt this damaged his objectivity. He quotes sources throughout the book - in many cases his opponents are condemned by their own tongues.
It is time the media stopped pandering to the abusive interests of the Holocaust Industry, time they took a more balanced, more critical and less sensationalist view. Billions of dollars are being extorted from governments (even those that can hardly afford it, such as Poland's) by the playing of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism cards. This is unjust.
Buy this book. Read it. Tell your friends about it.
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 13, 2012 10:06 PM BST

Nostradamus: The Complete Prophecies
Nostradamus: The Complete Prophecies
by John Hogue
Edition: Paperback

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but far from perfect, 14 Jan 2002
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This book does give complete parallel original text and English translation for Nostradamus's Prophecies, and is apparently authoritative.
Unfortunately, while the author professes even-handedness, there is a clear bias towards credulousness - particularly, many instances where he says that some quatrain is "clearly" or "obviously" referring to a particular moment in history, when it could equally have applied to myriad other events that might have taken place but did not.
Nonetheless, there is a wealth of historical detail in the annotations throughout the text, and it is a worthy and scholarly work. My one other gripe is that I feel the index should have been much more extensive - ideally with the depth of a proper concordance.

PKI Best Practices (NC): Best Practices Guide for Deploying Public Key Infrastructure (Networking Council)
PKI Best Practices (NC): Best Practices Guide for Deploying Public Key Infrastructure (Networking Council)
by Russ Housley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £45.76

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative, within limits, 19 Sep 2001
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I bought this book because I have to understand PKI in order to administrate IPsec and TLS. It has given me a lot of useful information, and on that basis the book can be recommended.
The authors appear to have had a very narrow focus, and poor critical faculties, however. Much of what they suggest is indefensible in security engineering terms.
A security expert would reject such advice out of hand, so no real harm is done. Anyone else should read a more general book on security engineering first.
I also have concerns about the authors' objectivity. All the case studies involve Spyrus hardware, and one of the authors is their Chief Scientist. Apart from the blurb on the back cover, this vested interest is never declared. There is no informed discussion of methodologies that compete with PKI, such as PGP, nor acknowledgement of many of the flaws in PKI.
So. If you need to know, buy this book. But be careful.

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