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Mr. P. J. Davison (UK)

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100 Days to Victory: How the Great War Was Fought and Won 1914-1918
100 Days to Victory: How the Great War Was Fought and Won 1914-1918
by Saul David
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great..but a continental map please!!, 2 Jan. 2014
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This was a brilliant read, and the other 4/5 star reviews cover why, but there was a desperate need for a map of the continent plus the Middle East. It would also have been better to group all the maps together in one place, as the same regions are referred to disparately throughout the text, and it is hard to keep finding the necessary map buried half way through the book. Nevertheless, this is a common problem and the book overall was excellent and highly readable.

Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony)
Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony)
Price: £6.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Flat, lacking drama and rather tame, 30 Oct. 2013
I bought this as my first recording and thought it was pretty good. But after a Building a Library recommendation I bought Krajan's 1981 recording- I am now listening to Haitink's 'storm' section directly after hearing the same section by Karajan, and it sounds dreadfully flat and tame- more like an April shower than the violent alpine storm Karajan conjures. This is broadly true of the whole recording, which lacks drama and ultimately sounds rather dull. The Building a Library reviewer coined it well by commenting that here Haitink paints the Cotswolds rather than the Alps.

If you are buying just one recording, I strongly recommend against buying this one

Anthill: A Novel
Anthill: A Novel
by Eo Wilson
Edition: Roughcut
Price: £17.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An endearing novel by an endearing man, 23 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Anthill: A Novel (Roughcut)
In common with the previous reviewer, I am been a great admirer of Wilson and too was intrigued, if not a bit puzzled, by his publishing a novel.
Before reading it, I was a little wary of taking it too seriously as a literary work, but Wilson has made the transition from fiction to non-fiction easily and it reads very well. It is clear that much of the narrative derives from Wilson's own upbringing and personal philosophy, resulting in both an inspirational character and a fascinating portrait of the American South and its culture. Much of what is so endearing about the novel is born of Wilson's own character. This is easily appreciated by imagining if Richard Dawkins wrote a novel.
The plot centres around Raff, I suspect a semi-autobiographical character, who is a brillaint child naturalist with the good fortune to have his interest nurtured and encouraged by a professor from Florida State Uni (narrater). The novel follows him through all his growing up and education and his eventual involvement in saving the wilderness of his childhood. Without further revealing the plot, much of the novel's success derives from the personal experiences and an intimate knowledge of the places and culture by the author. I found it a real page-turner and read it in three days and, finding it a largely brilliant read.
However, Wilson still manages to educate the reader about ants. Some readers not interested in ants may find this a needless digression from the narrative, but I found it fascinating and an excellent way to learn natural history. A sizable chunk is taken up by a sub-plot featuring the ants and Wilson skilfully brings the reader right down to the their level and view of the world.
The only things, which are being pedantic, but probably because I'm a zoologist by training, is that he says poisonous when he means venomous and one bit about ants reproducing for the continuation of their species grated, particularly as I know full well that is not what he meant. Individuals, or colonies in this case, reproduce for the continuation of their own lineage.
As a whole though, I found it a thoroughly enjoyable read and am planning to recommend it to many friends. I am left wondering whether Wilson will venture to write another novel should this one prove a success- if so I will surely buy it.

What Darwin Got Wrong
What Darwin Got Wrong
by Jerry Fodor
Edition: Hardcover

28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing and Irritating, 10 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: What Darwin Got Wrong (Hardcover)
When I started reading it I was genuinely interested, but as I read on I became less interested and more irritated- my criticisms are as follows:

1)Too many words that are clearly used to make the aurthors feel superior and constantly having to consult a dictionary is incredibly annoying.

2)None of the arguments made are either new or convincing in the radical way they are made (though they are right to point out evolutionary constraints etc, just not to make the absurd leap to the conclusion that natural selection is unimportant).

3)They constantly quote Ernst Mayr from 1963 (I thought we were in 2010) and they seem to suggest that real scientists believe in bean bag genetics. Nobody believes in bean bag genetics, it is just a way of explaining an idea.

4)As I understand it they argue that because you can't tell which trait is being directly selected for and which is a hitchhiking trait, then by some logic it means that selection can't be important. They raise an interesting point (though it's been around for over 30 years) but the degree to which they take the argument is absurd.

5)Their criticisms of game theory are weak. Game theory is a way of simplifying interactions between individuals/species and is thus a model. No model is taken as literal truth.

6)They seem unable to explain their argument in simple terms. The second half (the harder of the two parts) seems to be full of philosophical smugness at their own power of reasoning and as such comes across as elitist (not helped by the continual use of latin, french phrases and Jerry Fodor's jacket photograph)

I have to say the more I read the more I found myself shouting "that's not an argument against natural selection".

I recommend reading it as an intelectual exercise, but don't expect the current concensus of evolution (largely) by natural selection to be blown apart. One consolation is that it is a very nicely produced book and will look good on the shelf.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2010 11:15 AM GMT

Travels in Egypt and Nubia (Great Adventurers)
Travels in Egypt and Nubia (Great Adventurers)
by Giovanni Battista Belzoni
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping fascinating and read!, 16 Feb. 2010
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I read this largely in the evenings of a research trip to Gran Canaria where it was the perfect book to temporarily take my mind off work. For the most part it is highly readable and very moreish. It is a fascinating insight into the life of an astonishing man who overcame seemingly insurmountable problems and had an insatiable appetite and dogged determination for his work. My favourite example is where he is taking wax moulds of the inside of a temple wall but he only stopped because the wax melted in heat so intense that his thermometer reading went off the scale.
I cannot recommend this book enough

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