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Henry H8

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A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination
A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination
by Philip Shenon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE book about the Warren Commission but NOT about the Kennedy assassination, 10 Sep 2014
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It is probably my fault for not reading the cover blurb properly - but I bought this book expecting a detailed account of the events which led up to the assassination of President Kennedy, the events of the day itself and the aftermath. That is NOT what this book is about. It is about the Warren Commission. In parts the book is fascinating, but inevitably due to the subject focus there is so much detail about who said what to who at the Commissions. I soon lost track of who all the various lawyers were: 'so and so was 39 and wore glasses and studied at Yale, so and so was 45, married and went to Harvard' etc. The best and most interesting parts of the book are where people such as Jackie Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson become involved. Unfortunately these parts are all too brief. If you want a book about the Warren Commission - then this is it. If you want a book about the Kennedy assassination (including all the conspiracy theories) then this is probably not the book for you.


Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China
Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China
by Jung Chang
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat biased story of the Dowager Empress Cixi, 5 Aug 2014
Whilst this book provides a fascinating insight into the lost world of 19th and early 20th century Chinese history, it is somewhat ruined by being overly biased in favour of the Dowager Empress Cixi. She was clearly a ruthless woman who had no qualms at all about putting people to death, making and unmaking emperors etc yet the author seems to think that this was all justifiable and that Cixi actually transformed China into a modern state and if she hadn't died when she did China would have become a democracy in the early part of the 20th century! I'm not convinced. Also - and maybe it is just me - it took me a long time to get through the book. It didn't really enthrall me and I found myself not returning to it for days. But the author is to be praised for bringing Cixi's life once more to our attention.


Great Britain's Great War
Great Britain's Great War
by Jeremy Paxman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating summary of WW1 in Jeremy Paxman's voice, 29 Jun 2014
When reading this book you can definitely hear Jeremy Paxman's cynical voice all the way through. You can literally hear him speaking to you. This book is a highly readable, succinct summary of the impact of World War I on all aspects of British life. You become ever more aware of the horrors whilst Paxman also dispels some of the myths and cliches that surround this conflict. There is humour in the book as well as the more obvious serious emotions of sadness, regret and horror. If, in this anniversary year, you want to read a smallish introductory volume on World War I then this is the book for you (unless you really can't stand Jeremy Paxman and his world weary cynicism).


King George II and Queen Caroline
King George II and Queen Caroline
Price: £10.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An obscure British monarch gets his own biography!, 24 May 2014
Inspired by Lucy Worsley's excellent recent TV series on the early Georgians, I turned to this book I've had for ages to learn more about King George II (surely one of Britain's most obscure monarchs). I was pleasantly surprised how readable this book is and praise should go to John Van der Kiste for writing about George II (if only Alison Weir would move on from the over-written about Tudors at last and look at the Georgians or even the Stuarts for that matter!) Much of the book focuses on George's terrible relationship with Prince Frederick but there is also lots of interesting stories about his relationships with his other children including the Duke of Cumberland. The book thankfully concentrates on George and Caroline rather than focusing in on Georgian politics. The only tiny grumble is that it is surprisingly brief about the 1745 Jacobite uprising, which I would have thought would have been one of the key moments of George's reign to write about. It is only a minor grumble and I thoroughly enjoyed this highly readable book.


The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Murder that Changed the World
The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Murder that Changed the World
by Greg King
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

4.0 out of 5 stars A different angle on a familiar story, 11 May 2014
With the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I looming most people know that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo was the main trigger that started the whole nightmare. Yet very few people know anything about Franz Ferdinand or his wife Sophie - the first two victims of the Great War. This superb book resolves this and focuses on the story of the troubled Franz Ferdinand and his long-suffering wife Sophie. It provides a fascinating account of how the Emperor Franz Josef's disapproval of the marriage led to all sorts of humiliations for Sophie. The book also reveals how, chillingly, Franz Ferdinand suspected that something awful might happen on his visit to Sarajevo and it also tells of the difficulties faced by the Archduke's orphaned three children in the years following the assassination. The section on the assassination conspiracy is a little complicated but that is no fault of the authors. I very much enjoyed this book and welcome how it has made Franz Ferdinand into a proper three dimensional human being - not just a grainy photo of a European royal in a vintage car being shot at.


Four Sisters:The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses
Four Sisters:The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses
by Helen Rappaport
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History as it should be written, 27 April 2014
This book was superb - I couldn't put it down and read it just a few sessions. Helen Rappaport's books are all excellent and this is no exception. You really feel that you are back in Tsarist Russia and these once rather anonymous four Grand Duchesses are brought brilliantly to life from serious Olga to naughty Anastasia. I haven't enjoyed a history book so much for a long time. I look forward to Ms Rappaport's next book.


The Casual Vacancy
The Casual Vacancy
by J.K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.80

2.0 out of 5 stars J K Rowling tries too hard, 6 April 2014
This review is from: The Casual Vacancy (Paperback)
Oh dear. How utterly tedious this book is! J K Rowling clearly tries too hard to be an adult writer with this book. This long, meandering book is peppered with bad language (pages of it), drugs, sex, violence and unpleasant cliched characters. I found the endless descriptions of the teenagers' feelings and actions (especially those of Krystal and Fats) complete turn-offs and I am afraid I skim-read huge chunks of the book just to get through it. To be honest I lost sight of what happened in relation to the "casual vacancy". I couldn't tell whether the book was supposed to be comic or tragic. I suppose Ms Rowling aimed it to be a scathing swipe at English society in the 21st century. Maybe she achieved that - what she didn't create was a page-turning good story.


One Summer: America 1927
One Summer: America 1927
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into one brief moment of American history, 26 Jan 2014
Bill Bryson should certainly write more history books! This is an incredibly detailed and entertaining account on one American summer in 1927. The author has brilliantly brought back to life long-forgotten characters from 1920s America - Al Capone, Charles Lindbergh, President Calvin Coolidge and Henry T Ford - along with a huge array of other minor characters. The facts and figures in the book are amazing and in some cases quite amusing at the same time. It has inspired me to learn more about 1920s America. The only thing that stops this being a 'five star' book in my opinion is that there was rather too much on all the many aviators trying to cross the Atlantic (I became a bit mixed up as to who was who, who flew with who, who crashed etc). It would be wonderful if Bill Bryson could turn his attention to other brief moments in history. I haven't found a book so entertaining for some time.


Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York
by Alison Weir
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE definitive biography but a tough read, 15 Dec 2013
This review is from: Elizabeth of York (Hardcover)
I usually love Alison Weir's books and I was excited to read this one. However, it was hard going. Alison Weir has certainly demonstrated how much serious academic research she has put into this book, but that has been at the expense of its readability. I stuck with it but I must admit that I skipped over large parts of it. I think that this reflects that even after all this research we still don't really know that much about Elizabeth of York and we never probably will. We don't even know if she had seven or eight children (Prince Edward is a mystery). However, I am sure that this book will come to be seen as THE definitive book about Elizabeth of York. I think it is probably now time for Alison Weir to move on from the Tudors and move onto the Stuarts.


Something To Remember
Something To Remember
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Madonna's quiet classic album, 23 Oct 2013
This review is from: Something To Remember (Audio CD)
Arguably this is one of Madonna's best "best-of" albums. It demonstrates that she really does have talent and can do more than just shock and put out 'dance' records. It is a chance for her quieter hits such as "I'll Remember" and "This Used to be my Playground" to stand out and show Madonna's ability to show real emotion and storytelling in her singing. After the disappointment that was MDNA (apart from "Masterpiece"), Madonna should listen and learn from this classic album. This is the direction she needs to return to in order to keep her dwindling fan base.


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