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Reviews Written by
Mr. Lee Simpson "Arcas" (Amersham, England)

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Phantom Terror: The Threat of Revolution and the Repression of Liberty 1789-1848
Phantom Terror: The Threat of Revolution and the Repression of Liberty 1789-1848
Price: £4.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another interesting and superbly written book by this excellent author dealing with important though often overlooked aspect, 16 April 2015
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Yet another interesting and superbly written book by this excellent author dealing with important though often overlooked aspects of political development in Europe in the aftermath of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.

Linens Limited Polycotton Hollowfibre Non-Allergenic Duvet/Quilt, 7.5 Tog, Double
Linens Limited Polycotton Hollowfibre Non-Allergenic Duvet/Quilt, 7.5 Tog, Double
Offered by Linens Limited
Price: £11.95

5.0 out of 5 stars The product looks fine and good value for money, 16 April 2015
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It would be churlish not to give this outfit five stars. The product looks fine and good value for money. What is particularly impressive is that I ordered it by standard delivery around 3 pm on a Wednesday and it arrived the next day around 10 am.

Aces High (PC CD)
Aces High (PC CD)
Price: £1.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I'm not going to buy any more games that treat me like that. If everybody started doing the same thing ..., 1 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Aces High (PC CD) (CD-ROM)
Sorry. I see the publisher of this game wants to subject its customers to having to go through this appalling Steam thing in order to be able to play it. I'm not having it. I'm not going to buy any more games that treat me like that. If everybody started doing the same thing and refused to let game publishers do this then they'd pretty damn quickly return to the practise of selling you a game you can just stick in your computer and play without expecting you to put up with all that crap.

Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing
Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing
Price: £0.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Guide to Kindle Publishing, 10 April 2014
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Having written a comic novel some years ago but deterred from pursuing its publication through the then available traditional routes I was delighted to discover that this could be done through Kindle Publishing Direct. After following the few simple steps outlined in this guide my novel 'Belle Apocalypse' is now available to a worldwide audience via Amazon Kindle.

I would recommend to anybody wishing to publish their book that they download this free guide which explains how to do this in clear and simple steps.

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt and the Golden Age of Journalism
The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt and the Golden Age of Journalism
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.59

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four Stories in One, 17 Dec. 2013
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This is a magnificent book. I'm only half way through it but I'm so thoroughly enjoying it that I feel compelled to take the rare act of writing a review recommending it and the even rarer act of awarding it five stars. This is really four stories in one. Firstly, a superb biography of Theodore Roosevelt; a most admirable and remarkable man. Secondly, a parallel biography of Roosevelt's friend, collaborator and (it seems) eventual bitter opponent whose character and career the author brilliantly counterpoises to that of his predecessor in office. Thirdly it tells the story of a pioneering group of investigative journalists working for McClure's Magazine who did more than anybody to expose the nature of the fourth strand, the deplorable state of corruption and greed that had by the end of the nineteenth century mired American big business, politics and public service in the gutter.

Some biographies can be bloody awful. Leaving you knowing just about everything the subject had for breakfast every day of their lives but nothing about their times and the part they played in them. Not so for this book. It is brilliant history and brilliant writing and I have already ordered 'Team of Rivals' next.

Voltaire: A Life
Voltaire: A Life
by Ian Davidson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Voltaire is unwell, 1 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Voltaire: A Life (Paperback)
I agree with Mr Nelson-Smith. I found this rather disappointing. The book seems to concentrate exhaustively on the day to day minutae of Voltaire's correspondence, to a fairly limited number of people, most of which seem to concern him moaning about how unwell he was. All the excitement and drama of Enlightenment Europe is missing. I have frequently found it to be a flaw in biography, where the author seems to have spent endless hours pouring over the subject's correspondence which is then presented as their 'life'. There should be so much more about the 'Life and Times' of such a subject, and the relationship between the two, than merely an account of what he was doing, when and with whom if the story, however thorough and worthy, is to be exciting rather than dull.

Niquitin CQ Patches 21mg Clear - 14
Niquitin CQ Patches 21mg Clear - 14
Offered by My Discounts Direct
Price: £22.50

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars As was just said, 11 Sept. 2012
I just made a point of coming on to the site to write a review about these Niquitin clear patches, because I was so angry with them, only to find that two previous reviewers (the ones that presumably don't work for the company flogging them) have said exactly what I intended to say. But I'll say it anyway.

It should be fundamental to a nicotine patch that it actually STICKS to you. These bloody things keep coming away. Did they ever think of testing them first. Like the previous reviewer, I am now having to waste money securing the thing on with elastoplast. I'm going to have to write off the £17+ I wasted on these and go down to the chemist to buy some proper patches.

God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science
God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science
by James Hannam
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars God's Advocate, 14 Jan. 2012
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God's Philosophers. How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science. Very often the title of a book tells you very little about it and the sub-title is a better guide to what the book is about. In this case, perhaps I should have paid more attention to the main title if I wanted to understand where the author was coming from. I quite fancied reading a brief book that summarised the achievements of medieval science and the individuals involved. Up to a point this book does this very well but increasingly it was becoming clearer that James Hannam is on something of a mission in this book; to assert the dubious proposition that modern science owes its chief debt of gratitude to the medieval world and the frankly ludicrous proposition that we have the church to thank for this.

On the former. Few would dispute the notion that the true foundations of modern science were laid in the 17th century by Kepler, Galileo and Newton. Hannam's book throughout attempts to build the case that these giants were influenced and guided by the work of various of their medieval predecessors. That alone should be a statement of the obvious. But in fact, despite his attempts to suggest otherwise, it is strikingly obvious just how few individuals of any note there were through this period of some 500 years or more and how little any of them achieved or added to the science of the ancient world. Spectacles, mechanical clocks and improvements in agricultural techniques were medieval European achievements but these things were the products not of medieval scientists but of medieval craftsmen. The sparse advances in mathematics and mechanics that Hannam makes so much of were pitifully few for such a span of history, largely trumpeted because they contradicted Aristotle whereas in fact The Philosopher was challenged over such things by his own contemporaries. The mathematics used by Kepler to explain the laws of planetary motion and the conceptual models of the universe with which he wrestled all existed in the ancient world and owe nothing to his medieval predecessors.

On the latter. The more I read this book the more I became increasing became uncomfortable that some sub-plot was going on. Not simply a whitewashing of the church's reprehensible role in the suppression of scientific enquiry but the audacious suggestion that we somehow have the church to thank for the, already overblown, achievements of medieval science. This, it would seem, because despite all the condemnations, inquisitions, banned books and topics, etc., the church didn't interfere too much in the study of mathematics and mechanics, or to burn people for stating scientific truths without first giving them the opportunity to recant. Well, thank you church. A little web searching soon suggested that the author appears to be some sort of `believer' that has previously upheld creationist notions and the existence of miracles. Surprise, surprise. No wonder the first gushing review on the back of the book is from The Catholic Herald.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 4, 2014 9:23 PM BST

Why The West Rules – For Now: The Patterns of History and what they reveal about the Future
Why The West Rules – For Now: The Patterns of History and what they reveal about the Future
by Ian Morris
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The End of the World -As We Know It, 9 Feb. 2011
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Sometimes a book turns out to be a disappointment, you maybe struggle through it or give up half way through. Thankfully many books are wonderful; a joy to read and a disappointment to finish. But now and again, maybe only a handful of times in a lifetime, there comes along a book that profoundly affects you, leaving you somehow a different person to the one you were before you read it.

Such a book is Professor Ian Morris' Why The West Rules - For Now. I always felt the title was a little clumsy, although I'll confess I couldn't think of a better one, so it will have to do. In the book Morris compares and contrasts the Western and Eastern `cores' of civilisation, the one encompassing all the subsequent societies that derive their way of life from the development of agriculture in the middle east around 9,500 BC and the other that derive from its independent development in the Yangzi valley some 2,000 years later. These two core civilisations developed largely independent of each other with little or no direct contact until modern times.

The medium that Morris uses for this is his `Index of Social Development'. Basically a measure of how developed a particular society is derived from four factors; its per capita energy consumption, information processing ability, military power and its social organisation, the latter expressed in terms of the population of its largest cities.

The book charts, literally, the rise and fall of great civilisations east and west over the millennia. For most of this period the west led the east in social development. Morris is careful to reiterate that this has nothing to do with any notions of the innate superiority of westerners. Agriculture developed first in the middle east because that part of the world was uniquely gifted in its supply of useful and domesticatable plants and animals. Over time, during rises and falls in both cores the gap gradually narrowed. The ancient world's high water mark was the Roman Empire which still outscored its contemporary Han dynasty in China but after the fall of both civilisations China recovered faster to lead the west until the 18th century when the Atlantic economy and subsequent Industrial Revolution propelled the west's levels of social development into orbit.

Its fascinating to observe the rises of civilisations and their terrifying falls, when the four horsemen of war, famine, disease and climate change are unleashed and everything comes tumbling down. Morris postulates a `hard ceiling' at about 43 points on his index, the point achieved by the Roman Empire, from which its almost impossible to break through and at which point the various pressures set in train collapse of the social order.

It took until the 18th century for western Europe (by then the core of western civilisation) to get back to where the Romans had been over a thousand years earlier and at that point those various pressures were again building up and a new social collapse appeared likely. Only this time, largely due to benefits that flowed from the discovery and exploitation of new worlds and industrialisation the west was able to break through the hard ceiling and its social index scores soared skyward.

So far so good. Through 11 chapters Morris outlines and discusses what has been. But in the final chapter he turns his attention to what will come. And the implications are stark and shocking. All the more so in that we are not looking at some sort of `far future' but what is likely to occur over the next few decades, in the lifetimes of most people alive today.

The choices are between what Morris terms Nightfall and the Singularity.

Nightfall basically is the collapse of civilisation. Nothing new in that. That has been the recurrent pattern of things ever since civilisation began. Although since the scale of social development is today so much greater than it has ever been in the past and since the separate cores have now merged into one global social order, that collapse will be correspondingly more terrible. Nuclear annihilation, disease, famine, migration and competition for diminishing resources will result in the deaths of billions of people. Its likely that this will all kick off from somewhere in the `arc of uncertainty', basically a region stretching from the middle east through Iran and Afghanistan and into Pakistan. When its all over the survivors, if there are any, may find themselves blasted back into the stone age on a ruined and toxic planet.

Nightfall seems almost inevitable. The only chance human civilisation may have of staving it off lies with the wisdom and quality of our world leaders and international institutions to work together to prevent it happening. If the likes of Sarah Palin were ever to become American President then we all might as well slit our throats there and then, `cos Nightfall will be coming soon.

But what if Nightfall is somehow avoided. Does that just mean we go on largely as now, experiencing gradual economic growth and pursuing life, liberty and happiness in the traditional ways. The answer to this is a resounding no. And to many people the Singularity may appear almost as terrible a future.

There's a whole host of scientific advances that have been made with increasing rapidity over my lifetime. The `Singularity' here refers to a point, not too far in the future, when the pace of technological advance becomes so fast that it overtakes our abilities to predict or control it.

We've all known for decades about the concepts of Genetic Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Nanotechnology, Neurotechnology, computer processing power, etc., and their potential to decisively alter our existence; sometime in the future. Well, it seems easy for some of us oldies, sleepwalking along as we do, to be unaware that we're actually already living in the second decade of the 21st century. The future is here. And, barring Nightfall, these things will `decisively' alter the existence of most people alive today.

I have a two-year old granddaughter. She came to this world in the usual way. A random fusion of her parents genes. With a healthy, clean, nutritionally perfect lifestyle and continuing medical progress, she has every prospect of living into the 22nd century. And, after some 250,000 years, her generation is liable to be amongst the last of the homo sapiens.

By the time she comes to have a child, say in 25/30 years, its most likely that the fertilised cell can be scanned for hereditary and genetic diseases. And any found eliminated and corrected at the touch of a keyboard. Given the choice, who is likely to refuse that. But why stop there. When the same keyboard can give you the choice between, say, high intelligence or low intelligence, physical stamina or weakness. There'll probably be a deluxe package where in addition to being born physically perfect your baby can have the brain of an Einstein, the body of a Schwartzenger, the musical ability of Beethoven, and so on. For some, perhaps many, it won't just be a question of making these adjustments to the DNA of a fusion of two parents' genes. Rather you can improve your own genes in a cloned cell.

Furthermore, consider this. Suppose a 60 year old, a 30 year old and a 13 year old live together and all consume exactly the same food and drink every day. Now, the raw material that powers their activity and cell growth is exactly the same for all three. But what the body's genetic instructions do with that raw material is quite different. In the 13 year old the body takes what it needs to power rapid cell division and growth towards maturity. In the 30 year old an equilibrium has been established between growth and decay. In the 60 year old cells are dividing less rapidly and the body is gradually decaying. This process has been hard-wired into us almost since we ceased being amoebas and obviously serves the evolutionary purpose of clearing away the dead wood for coming generations. Its most likely that those same genetic engineers will be able to alter the instructions that tells the body `come in, your time is up' and instead, allow you to grow to that optimum point, around 30 years old, and then maintain that indefinitely. Barring traumatic accidents and illness, both becoming increasingly rarer, your perfected individual is also virtually immortal.

And that's just Genetics. I won't here go in to the equally amazing implications of Artificial Intelligence, Neurology and Nanotechnology, although the options might be there to swap our inconvenient bodies for nice unbreakable machines.

Human beings today are essentially no different from what they have been for probably at least 100,000 years or more. Certainly no different from what we've been for the past 12,000 years. Given a good diet and if they were lucky enough to avoid disease and injury a Roman citizen had every prospect of living as long as me. If Julius Caesar or Cicero were here today then they might lack the knowledge of the last few thousand years of accumulated science. But these things could be explained to them and they would understand. In an IQ test they might very likely outscore me. But after all this time we finally find ourselves on the threshold. What is about to take place will transform us so radically that it will no longer be appropriate to call us Homo Sapiens. We will have taken an evolutionary step every bit as profound as when we first came down from the trees.

By the dawn of the 22nd century such transformations have to have occurred to account for any continuing explosive rise in our levels of social development. Of course questions over a clean and abundant energy supply, food and water and the supply of raw materials will have to be addressed and, if they are not, then Nightfall is certain, but the scale of the transformation of what we are and what are abilities might be, could very well obviate those concerns of our inferior species.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 8, 2011 12:09 PM BST

Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947
Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947
by Christopher Clark
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars worthy but dull, 11 Nov. 2010
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I gave up reading this book. Somehow, despite its size, it just didn't seem to be doing much justice to the main historical events. Sure, you want social and cultural history as well as just the doings of kings and generals. But it seemes to me this has too much of the former and too little of the latter. In a nearly 700 page book I'd have expected to have learned a little more about things like the Seven Years War, Napoleonic Wars, Congress of Vienna, wars of German unification, etc., than the almost fleeting references to these great events.

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