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Kubik Evo 8GB MP3 Player with Radio and Expandable MicroSD/SDHC Slot - Black
Kubik Evo 8GB MP3 Player with Radio and Expandable MicroSD/SDHC Slot - Black
Offered by ARC UK
Price: £49.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sound reproduction., 6 Mar. 2015
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This is a good product which is currently (7.3.15) priced appropriately.
I would advise purchasers to obtain high-quality earphones to enhance their enjoyment.
it is easy to populate this MP3 with music and other files via the USB cable and standard Windows software.
I have two minor quibbles with the product. Firstly - it sometimes allocates music into the wrong file. Secondly - the keys function in a counter-intuitive manner.
Despite these minor points, I would recommend it as a good lower-mid range investment.


Dominion
Dominion
Price: £4.19

2.0 out of 5 stars "Five fight the fascists", 25 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Dominion (Kindle Edition)
The novel has some qualities. Flat prose and drab surroundings evoke the moral and spiritual desolation of a compromised country. Some of the characters are well-realised. For example, Hoth is a memorable and sympathetic villain. There is an overweening atmosphere of decay and hopelessness.
However, the narrative is badly bloated. It is fleshed out by interminable conversations about motive and politics. Some of the minor characters are nothing more than cyphers, inserted by the author to convey his political views. In an attempt to convey a sense of realism, the author deploys characterisations of political figures who were alive in the period in which the novel was set. Some are believable. Others - Enoch Powell, for instance - are laughable. The "good guys" are balanced in a politically-correct manner - troubled couple, "love interest" provided by a "liberated" European of mixed-ethnicity, even a gay Communist!. Sanson isn't troubled by the improbability of this arrangement in the historical context in which the novel is set. "Bad guys" include Presbyterians, the aforementioned Enoch and the police.
The didactic writing style is more appropriate to a novel for teenagers.


24 Hours at Waterloo: 18 June 1815
24 Hours at Waterloo: 18 June 1815
by Robert Kershaw
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good account of the battle., 28 Oct. 2014
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The narrative focuses upon first-person accounts of the battle. It is designed to take the reader to the heart of the conflict as it was seen, heard and felt by those who fought it. It succeeds in it's aim. Kershaw constructs an enthralling account which is enhanced by his professional insights.
There are a couple of errors in the text. The text refers to "decorations" awarded to one soldier - in fact, these were the equivalent of medal clasps, which were awarded to denote participation in a battle. Additionally, Kershaw states that this was the last conflict between England and France. The de facto (Vichy) French government engaged in conflict with British forces between 1939 and 1943.
Hopefully, re-editing will correct these mistakes.
Despite these slight errors, this book is required reading for anybody who is interested in "coal face" history.


The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919
The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919
by Mark Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Self-satisfied & verbose, 30 April 2013
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The book is a bold synthesis of military & political history as well as literary criticism & psychology. It provides an illuminating introduction to a largely forgotten campaign.
However, it is flawed in several respects. Other reviewers have drawn attention to a lack of maps & the limited use of Austrian sources. Additionally, the narrative style is heavy-handed. The narrative voice intrudes often, & it is self-amused & "clever", particularly in the passages which deal with poems / prose produced by combatants.
The author also fails to give a voice to the soldiers at the sharp end of the conflict. Whilst the book contains interviews with veterans (which are often remarkable), little use is made of accounts which were prepared contemporaneously by ordinary combatants. The author uses accounts written mostly by educated soldiers which are often poetic in style but uninformative about daily life in the trenches. We learn little about the lives of the mainly peasant Italian army or their opponents.
The author sets out to establish the relationship between the Italian experience in World War One & the rise of fascism in the early 1920s. He is only partially successful in this endeavour because he neglects the effects of "class" & the adherence to late 19th-century military doctrine common to the military caste of all Western nations. Cadorno was a brutal general, but he was a product of his time.


No Country for Old Men
No Country for Old Men
by Cormac McCarthy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic., 31 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: No Country for Old Men (Paperback)
The novel is structured around an extended chase which is triggered by the accidental acquisition of a large sum of drug money by Moss, one of the central characters. Moss is pursued by two hired gunmen - Chigurgh & Wells - & a careworn sheriff - Bell. The narrative is punctuated by the thoughts of the sheriff, as he tries to come to turns with his growing doubts about the validity of the moral code which has governed his life.
Bell & Chigurth represent the polarities of good & evil. Moss is a cypher for "everyman" - a normal, good-natured guy who is suddenly presented with limitless possibilities & their accompanying dangers.
The story is told in a stylised, spare prose. Character dialogue is often repetitive - presumably, characteristic of the dialogue of south Texan people - but every word is significant.
McCarthy is deeply concerned by what he sees as the ending of a way of life. Violence & greed undermine & corrode the morality of the "old West".
There is a funereal tone to much of the novel. It can be seen as a straightforward struggle between good & bad, & it is also possible to interpret the chase as a metaphor for the corruption & death brought about by drugs, greed & "big money".
I rate it as a classic for several reasons. Despite it's spare prose & laconic dialogue, it manages to address important themes in a clear & concise manner. It's characters are memorable. It evokes a sense of place. And it is a damn good read as well......


SAS Operation Storm: Nine men against four hundred
SAS Operation Storm: Nine men against four hundred
by Roger Cole
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Narrative faults detract from thrilling story, 23 May 2012
This account of the Battle of Mirbat has it's good points. There is a detailed prologue in which the context of the battle is explained. Additionally, the final chapter is a detailed history of post-battle events. The final paragraphs are moving.
The overal thrust of the narrative is difficult to dispute; the SAS & those who fought with them deserve more recognition for their achievement.
However, the narrative is repetitive. One suspects the author wasn't able to obtain too much information about several of the central characters, so he simply repeats what we know about them at various points of the book. The author creates tension at crucial points during his description of the battle, only to diffuse it with largely irrelevant diversions. These have the effect of slackening the tension & frustrating the reader. I also think the editing leaves a little to be desired.


Zulu Rising: The Epic Story of iSandlwana and Rorke's Drift
Zulu Rising: The Epic Story of iSandlwana and Rorke's Drift
by Ian Knight
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed but over-long account, 19 May 2012
The author is clearly an expert on the Anglo-Zulu War. He deploys his knowledge with confidence & clarity, drawing the reader into the story by focusing upon the actions of several of the key protagonists from both sides. I learned much about the background to the conflict.
However, the book has it's faults. The narrative style is didactic. Knight believes the Boer settlers & the British almost always acted from the worst of motives. His beliefs colour his history of the conflict. For example - the killing & mutilation of wounded men by the Zulus is treated as a cultural issue; by way of contrast, wounded Zulus are killed "in cold blood". I suspect is is trying to write in an even-handed fashion but he inadvertently creates characatures of the Europeans (greedy / incompetent / complacent) & the Zulus (noble / brave).
And he likes the word "ideology"!
Additionally, I get the impression that he is trying to reinforce his status as a leading authority on this period by telling us everything he knows about it, irrespective of whether or not the information is directly related to the battles.

I would have awarded more stars had the narrative been more focused & less about Knight's personal bias.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 9, 2013 5:32 PM GMT


Gallipoli
Gallipoli
by Peter Hart
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good; but not his best., 30 April 2011
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This review is from: Gallipoli (Hardcover)
Peter Hart's extensive use of primary source material make this an invaluable assessment of the Gallipoli conflict. Excerpts from the letters & diaries of participants from all sides provide a vivid insight into their lives. However, his revisionism becomes repetitive. Additionally, some of his judgements about indivuduals arguably are arguably lacking in fairness, For example, his criticism of Lt.Col.White's leadership of the suicidal assault on the Nek (pp.314) neglects the imperative of duty & the willingness to lead from the front which was characteristic of many - if not most - British officers.
Despite my objections I remain a fan of Peter Hart's work, primarily because of his judicious use of primary sources & the "feel" he has for the lives of soldiers. This book is well worth the investment - it's just a little heavy on easy hindsight.


A Loyal Spy
A Loyal Spy
by Simon Conway
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ...mired in political correctness....., 20 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: A Loyal Spy (Paperback)
This novel has it's good points. The narrative structure mirrors the complex nature of the plot. The author skillfully creates a downbeat atmosphere. The writing is transparent & there is an authentic sense of place.
However, the narrative thrust is skewed by the author's centre-left worldview. Americans are almost invariably bad. Christians are fundamentalist nutters. Britons are almost invariably supine either at the heel of the Yanks or dreaming of our imperial past. At the heart of the tale is the notion that we (the West) are to blame for the Islamist terrorist threat. Inevitably, the threat is challenged by the outsiders who, in the view of the author, we blame for the problem.
Pay heed to the source of the recommendations on the cover, who are mostly liberal-left media types possibly personally known to the author.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 11, 2011 12:34 PM BST


Monte Cassino: The Story of the Hardest-fought Battle of World War Two
Monte Cassino: The Story of the Hardest-fought Battle of World War Two
by Matthew Parker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, transparent & moving account., 1 Jun. 2008
This is an excellent book.
Parker presents the reader with a concise & authoritative account of the battle. His use of source material is excellent; the narrative is supported by eye-witness accounts from combatants from both sides of the conflict & by the testimonies of civilians. These accounts add authority to the text. The book is firmly focussed upon the experience of, & the effects of, armed conflict upon a range of individuals. Parker's criticisms of senior commenders are supported by evidence & his arguments are always reasoned & convincing & based upon a cool assessment of their actions & not upon easy prejudices. He easily avoids historicism & characature.
Perhaps the major strength of this book is in it's invocation of the experience of warfare from so many different points of view. The reader is presented the views of those who clearly believed in what they did (& are still able to justify it) & those whose health & nerves were damaged by their experiences.
A deeply affecting account.


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