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Geoff Buck (Newton Abbot, Devon United Kingdom)

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The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London
The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London
by Judith Flanders
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings Victorian London to life, 25 April 2013
This is an excellent and readable book which brings to life London in the time of Dickens. It covers in detail three broad topics - the City Wakes, Staying Alive, and Enjoying Life. The author has researched well and provides anecdote as well as facts - the facts, unsurprisingly often debunking anecdotal evidence. Many of the daily facts of life are obvious once you've been told, such as if the main mode of transport is horse (tens of thousands of them), there will be lots of horse muck which needs to be removed, feed to be brought in and stored, stabling, and carcasses to be disposed of - hence glue factories, slaughter houses, appalling smells and such like. And similar with regard to the human population (not the slaughter house bit, though prisons and executions are covered).
This is history much more interesting than Kings and Queens, even though royalty and the aristocracy do get a mention too.


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

4.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read but an eye-opener, 30 Mar. 2013
I bought this book in the Museum in Kobarid in Slovenia; Caporetto in the book. I had not realised the extent of the fighting in World War 1 on this front, and particularly in this valley. The book was recommended by the museum curator and it has proved to be an enlightening read. I have two main criticisms; there could usefully be more and better maps; and the place names are Italian ones. It would have helped me to always have had the Slovenian (or other current) name in brackets. It is these two things which made the read more difficult.
That said, it is a thorough work, and presumably objective, Thompson being none of the nationalities involved - Italian, Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian, Austrian, Hungarian, German and more. The author illustrates the complicated nature of WW1, the jockeying for territory, and in particular how the Italians were determining their strategies - mostly badly, it would appear. Consequently the loss of life and destruction was huge, and for instance, on the last day of the war (with Italy having picked and fought on the "right" side) "some 350,00 prisoners were taken. One third of this haul were German Austrians; 83,000 were Czechs and Slovaks, 60,000 were South Slavs, 40,000 were Polish,; tens of thousands more were Romanian, Ruthenian and even - 7,000 of them - Italian." Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians had died, and the destruction of the Isonzo Valley was almost complete.
For those who thought that this war was mostly a Western Front affair, this will come a sad reminder that it wasn't, and perhaps illuminate the human cost(and futility?) of warfare.


A Division of the Light
A Division of the Light
by Christopher Burns
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Sudden surrprise, 23 Jan. 2013
I found this book compulsive to read. There is an attention to detail in every action and description which is almost pedantic and almost annoying, but which seems to work in setting the framework for the novel, which is one of fate and destiny. It pitches an apparently unempathetic photographer, who always gets his way and his woman, against a scheming woman , a potential model for his work, who also always gets her own way and her man, and who then enjoys the distress caused when she gets rid of him. The plot is tight and factual, so much so that near the end of the book there is an event which is seemingly so out of keeping with what has happened so far. It's the equivalent of a literary tromp d'oeil, and having been reeled in, the remainder of the book explains the outcome. I enjoyed it, but it would not be to everyone's taste.


Admiral Clanky Entertains
Admiral Clanky Entertains
by Patrick Middleton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inside knowledge an advantage, 22 Jan. 2013
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If you were an RN Engineer Officer then this book would strike a chord, and all of the language, sentiments, and events, would be comprehensible. As you move out from that elite circle you would understand less and less. It is mostly Pat Middleton's career told in a series of amusing anecdotes, though there are some examples of MoD stupidity which frustrated him and which he lays into with some vigour. If you were one, or if you want an insight to the life of an RN Engineer Officer, then this is the book for you; any other reader will possibly be bemused, but will also probably be entertained (and you don't have to read it all!).


How England Made the English: From Why We Drive on the Left to Why We Don't Talk to Our Neighbours
How England Made the English: From Why We Drive on the Left to Why We Don't Talk to Our Neighbours
by Harry Mount
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 100 pages done in 300, 22 Jan. 2013
The book is overlong but it is written in a very readable, almost humourly, style, so that isn't too much of a problem. A number of the ideas that Harry Mount puts forward are thought-provoking, a number are repeats of pretty well-known facts (at least well-known to someone who has read other similar books, or been around for a while). For the last part of the book he mounts (no pun) a few hobby-horses, backed up with only one or two examples, but again this is more amusing than irritating. My advice is to buy it second-hand and then it would be value for money. It is a book for the layman, not the scholar.


On the Death and Life of Languages (Editions Odile Jacob Book) (Odile Jacob Series)
On the Death and Life of Languages (Editions Odile Jacob Book) (Odile Jacob Series)
by Claude Hagege
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Listen now before it's too late, 31 Aug. 2011
This book has been translated from French (it is not particularly French-centric) and is eminently readable. Although it doesn't give many examples of words and phrases from current and extinct languages it does explain that the construction of a language affects / is affected by the way the speakers think. It explains the difference between a living and a dead language (dead equals effectively not spoken, which is why Latin and Ancient Greek are "dead"). It spends (rather too long for my liking) a good deal on the revival of Hebrew from a once-dead language. It also covers many aboriginal languages and how they often relate to the landscape and the culture of speakers ("If you do not speak the language you cannot understand the culture" Oneida Iroquois woman), and also the relationship between neighbouring languages, which may be close or not, imposed by conquerors or more unusually absorbed by conquerors. On the whole an enjoyable and easy read - it is quirkily for a non-fiction book written in bite-sized sections within each chapter.


The Killer of Little Shepherds: The Case of the French Ripper and the Birth of Forensic Science
The Killer of Little Shepherds: The Case of the French Ripper and the Birth of Forensic Science
by Douglas Starr
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forensic science solves serial killer's crimes, 14 Jun. 2011
This book explains how fornesic science was developing in France (and the western world in general) at the turn of the 19th century and how it's main advocate ((Alexandre Lacassagne) was able to link the deaths of a number of young shepherds and shepherdesses to the vicious killer Joseph Vacher. The story of the killings and the eventual fate of Vacher is interwoven with the discoveries being made in this new science. It is a very readable book and will interest anyone with an interest in general science, crime and whodunnits - though we do know who did it from the outset. There is also a reasonable discussion about the views at that time of the criminal intent versus insanity.


A Special Relationship
A Special Relationship
by Douglas Kennedy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 18 Mar. 2011
This review is from: A Special Relationship (Paperback)
This is a disappointing book compared with his others. Perhaps he should stop trying to write as a woman. The characters are also one-dimensional and stereotypical. The "surpise" ending is predictable, and the whole book is formulaic. Borrow it from a friend.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 29, 2014 1:31 PM GMT


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT translations of the works!, 2 Jan. 2011
This book (pamphlet really)is essentially a reference document listing a summary of the relevant work and where translations can be sought, usually web-based. I suspect that by googling or using Wikipedia one could go directly to the tranlsated article.


God's Executioner: Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland
God's Executioner: Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland
by Dr Micheál Ó Siochrú
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another piece in the Irish Jigsaw, 30 Dec. 2010
The cover of the book is misleading in that there is not very much about Cromwell apart from his bloody suppression of Drogheda. However, it does cover the complicated relationships in Irish history in the 1640s and 1650s, and it does put in context the almost visceral hatred that the Irish have of Cromwell. What O'Siochru does evidence is that there were brutalities committed by all sides (confederate, royalist and parliamentarian) and both religions (Catholic and Protestant), and that thousands of soldiers fought for many sides as the battles and wars ebbed and flowed - as well as fighting for some of the European armies in their wars too. Many ended up fighting what was essentially guerrilla warfare in the 1650s.
The book is well-written and relatively easy to follow, with a number of useful maps. There are thirty pages of notes and twenty pages of bibliography for anyone who wishes to investigate more deeply.


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