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Reviews Written by
DB "davidbirkett" (Co. Kildare, Ireland (but born & raised Liverpool, UK))

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Mr Midshipman Easy (Wing-&-Wing)
Mr Midshipman Easy (Wing-&-Wing)
by Frederick Marryat
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars I should probably have read this when I was a young teenager, 10 July 2014
A good fun naval adventure, but I found Marryat's reactionary attitudes, while amusingly expressed and not unusual for the time when the book was written, rather grating. On the other hand I probably wouldn't have noticed them fifty years ago.


Wool (Wool Trilogy)
Wool (Wool Trilogy)
Price: 3.32

3.0 out of 5 stars Pulling it over the eyes, 8 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The concept of humanity being preserved in silos, and the consequent repression deemed necessary to preserve the status quo, is an interesting one. For me the book got off to a slow start, got interesting about half way through, and I liked the denouement. However, I haven't felt compelled to carry on with the trilogy.


Symphonie Fantastique (Lpo, Mehta)
Symphonie Fantastique (Lpo, Mehta)
Price: 4.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Missing link, 7 July 2014
I've a pretty good collection of the popular classics - this was just about the best known piece that I didn't have, and I'm ashamed to say that I had never even heard it. Anyway it has gone straight into my top 50 & may go higher after I have listened to it a few more times. When I first heard it, I thought to myself "This is rather like something between Beethoven and the Late Romantics", but not being sure of myself in terms of musical analysis I checked it out on Wikipedia. I'm smug to say I was bang on - even Wagner recognised it.

The two shorter pieces reminded more of Tchaikovsky than of Mahler or Bruckner btw.

Obviously I can't comment on how this compares to other recordings, but it seemed pretty good to me.


Lancaster And York: The Wars of the Roses
Lancaster And York: The Wars of the Roses
Price: 4.31

4.0 out of 5 stars Bringing a critical period of our history to life, 4 July 2014
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I've recently been rewatching the BBC Shakespear 1980's "Henry VI" plays, with Bernard Hill as Richard of York and Mark Wing-Davey (Zaphod Beeblebrox) as Warwick, and very good they were too, but I think even better for having this by my side so I could check up on the historical accuracy (WS certainly took a few liberties.)

Given the success of this book and the TV version of the fictionalised "The White Queen" I think it is high time for a serious TV history of the Wars of the Roses plus Bosworth, ideally with Alison Weir contributing, and a big glossy book accompanying the series with more detailed maps and colour photographs.


Die Leiden des jungen Werther ($1 German Edition)
Die Leiden des jungen Werther ($1 German Edition)
Price: 0.77

3.0 out of 5 stars The trouble with (not quite) unrequited love, 3 July 2014
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"Werther" was enormously successful when it was first published, but Goethe soon came to regret writing it, and even distanced himself from the whole Romantic movement. It is a thinly disguised account of Goethe's own young love for a girl who likes him very much, but who is perfectly happy with her fiance/husband, the pain it caused Goethe, and how he thought about resolving it. It is still popular, so obviously rings bells with some of those who have gone through a similar relationship, but it didn't work for me.

Btw: the Kindle edition can be quite difficult to read at times as it doesn't use umlauts.


Lord Jim (Wordsworth Classics)
Lord Jim (Wordsworth Classics)
by Joseph Conrad
Edition: Paperback
Price: 1.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Can you ever escape your past?, 2 July 2014
This is one of the more "difficult" Joseph Conrad books, and forms a sort of family with "Outcast of the Islands" and "Victory". As Conrad himself made clear he meant the book to ask questions about our actions - are we fully responsible for them, or do our own pasts and maybe certain external forces compel us to behave in a certain way?

The answers I draw fo these existential questions come more from Ibsen (Peer Gynt, Brand) and McGoohan's "The Prisoner" (McGoohan was agreat admirer of Ibsen btw) than from Conrad. We are our past. If we peel all our experiences away, we are left with nothing. But we aren't trapped by our past. We aren't our own gaolers. We can and should use our pasts, do our best to atone for any regrettable actions, but we should also always be on the look-out for new experiences to expand our personal lebensraum.

Surely if Jim had taken that attitude his tragedy could have been averted. What do you think?


The City & The City
The City & The City
Price: 3.59

4.0 out of 5 stars A very clever idea, 1 July 2014
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There's not much to add to what the most helpful reviews have already said, although I do want to reinforce that it doesn't translate well over to Kindle - I wish I had bought the hard copy instead. The hero, Borlu, is a great character, reminding me of a twenty-first century, "earthling" Sam Vimes. It's good to see that Mieville has left open the options of a sequel or a series - I hope he does return to this world. This was my first China Mieville, who was recommended to me by a colleague. I'll certainly read more of his books now.


Bruckner: Symphony No. 9
Bruckner: Symphony No. 9
Price: 7.61

4.0 out of 5 stars I'm going to have listen to more of his stuff now., 30 Jun 2014
I was browsing my classical collection wondering where the biggest gaps were, and spotted that I didn't have any Bruckner at all. Nor did I know much about him, which was inexcusable as he was a favourite of an old friend of mine. So I went to the highest rated symphony of his on Amazon and was very impressed.

For others new to Bruckner, think Mahler, and if you don't know much about Mahler either, think Wagner without the singing. This was Bruckner's last symphony and he didn't finish the finale. Various scholars have tried to complete it from scraps and notes that he left, and this is the first recording of the latest version. The Brucknerphiles seem to love it. For what it's worth I like to think that Bruckner might also have edited the second movement a bit had he lived, as there is a (stirring) recurring theme which I think recurs a few times too many.

Anyway, the "B" section of my cd's is about to expand significantly!


A More Perfect Heaven
A More Perfect Heaven
Price: 4.63

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Please write some more, Dava!, 26 Jun 2014
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It's a pity Dava Sobel hasn't written more popular books on the history of science and astronomy, because I find her such a pleasure to read - meticulous research combined with an easy flowing style. I knew about the scientific importance of Copernicus, but knew next to nothing about his life nor about the political situation in Poland at the time, so this book supplied some great colouring in. It's also interesting that he was initially attacked more by protestants than by catholics.


Weltraumpartisanen 01. Bordbuch Delta VII
Weltraumpartisanen 01. Bordbuch Delta VII
by Mark Brandis
Edition: Perfect Paperback
Price: 9.43

3.0 out of 5 stars Stones and Birds, 25 Jun 2014
I wanted to try to combine my German reading with my favourite pulp, so googled on "most popular German science fiction authors" and found this guy. I discovered when I got the book that the series was actually aimed at the adolescent market - apparently teenage boys would read them until the early hours under the bedcovers. So, not what I would have bought had I known, but I read it anyway and it wasn't bad. It's about the struggles of a group of colonists on Venus and their friends on Earth (the Space Partisans of the series title) in the aftermath of a fascist coup on the home planet. I thought at the time that i would probably read some more of the series, but that was two and a half years ago, and I still haven't got round to it, so it is obviously not really calling me.


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