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C. W. Robbins (Spain)
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When the Facts Change: Essays 1995 - 2010
When the Facts Change: Essays 1995 - 2010
by Tony Judt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Well, not good enough for him, 22 July 2015
Judt's premature death was a great loss to all who valued clear thinking and straight talking in political and historical discussions. But I fear this volume does not do him full justice. It is a collection of essays written on specific occasions and never intended by him to be seen between the same covers. Yet here they are, complete with many minor repetitions (e.g. the same quote from Tolstoy on pp 132 and 326) and major reprises of the same material, for example in his accounts of American foreign policy. Not unexpectedly, there are repetitions of stylistic flourishes and often an over-generous use of adjectives including - if memory serves - the amazing phrase 'an existential threat to its existence'.

The editor of this volume says that Judt was committed to facts. Surely, but then the editor's job was not allow minor errors to persist in print, but to correct them silently, indicating that some corrections have been made. For example, Judt is rightly critical of the historian Davies for misspelling names, yet we find Piłsudski misspelt, and Georges Duhamel and a curious rendering of the name of Martin McGuinness. We also find the same facts cited differently, for example the number of French casualties during the German invasion in 1940 is given as 100,000 (p 187), 124,000 (p 210) and as double the US casualties in Vietnam (pp 264 and 275).

I look forward to a better-edited second edition.


RAVPower Portable Charger 16000mAh Power Bank External Battery Pack with iSmart Technology (3rd Generation Deluxe, 4.5A, Dual USB) - Black
RAVPower Portable Charger 16000mAh Power Bank External Battery Pack with iSmart Technology (3rd Generation Deluxe, 4.5A, Dual USB) - Black
Offered by Sunvalleytek-UK
Price: £69.99


The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell, Calum Roberts (2013) Paperback
The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell, Calum Roberts (2013) Paperback

1.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS NOT RUSSELL'S BOOK This should NOT appear in ..., 15 July 2014
THIS IS NOT RUSSELL'S BOOK
This should NOT appear in the listing with Russell's book. It is written by someone else piggy-backing on Russell but substituting most of his skilful prose for chatty, inconsequential, trendy stuff which no sane person would willingly spend 2 minutes reading.

Don't buy it.


The Essential Augustine
The Essential Augustine
by Saint Augustine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Serviceable but no more, 11 Jan. 2014
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This slim volume heroically attempts to cover all the main topics which Augustine wrote about copiously. It is useful but has drawbacks: there is virtually no indication of when and how Augustine changed his mind on various points, according to the demands of the controversy he was engaged in. For some of these, e.g. human freedom, there may be no "essential Augustine". The book could have been twice as long with no loss of user-friendliness: I'd have liked more on the controversies with or about competing philosophies of life, e.g. Epicureanism and Stoicism, and on particular philosophers, e.g. Cicero and Seneca.


Goldberg Variations (Cole, Maggie)
Goldberg Variations (Cole, Maggie)
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £10.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect control, superb lyricism, 14 Aug. 2013
I can't believe no one has yet reviewed this excellent version of the Goldbergs. As one would expect from hearing her in concert, Ms Cole exhibits complete technical and musical command of this demanding work. She varies tone and rhythm on this warm-sounding (modern) instrument with aplomb; where the music sings or dances, so do Ms Coles' fingers.
As well as being a delightful person, Ms Cole is a musician of the first rank. If you want an unpretentious yet wholly satisfying harpsichord version of the Goldbergs,do try this bargain disc.


J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations (Fretwork)
J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations (Fretwork)
Price: £15.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a brave attempt, 14 Aug. 2013
I am a fervent admirer of Fretwork since their beginnings in the 1980s. In various incarnations as well as Fretwork itself, the Fretwork people have transformed the world of viol consorts. The line-up has changed over the years but I am glad to see that the beautiful Susanna Pell is still bestowing her remarkable musicianship on the group.

That said, with due reverence,this - although there are some magical moments - was an adaptation too far. Robert Boothby is almost apologetic about it in his note - and rightly so.

For me the problems start with the Aria: the treble viols just do not express the lyricism of this melody and making the variation-theme pizzicato does not do it justice either. For the first time, I had difficulty adapting to the sound world of the viols: they invariably sound a bit strange to modern ears but here I also became aware how difficult they are to play. And THAT is exactly what has to be avoided. I also fear that trying to give a role to the tenor viols (especially var. 3 and 7) just does not work: Bach's right hand is just that. Tamper with it at your peril.

After their beautiful Bach disc, "Alio Modo", this is a great disappointment.

May I also be grumpy about the ghastly plastic case for the CD. Why not a cardboard one?


The Cambridge Companion to Pascal (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy)
The Cambridge Companion to Pascal (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy)
by Nicholas Hammond
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful but of uneven quality, 9 Aug. 2013
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This was an important addition to the literature on Pascal in English. The articles it contains are mostly clear but the whole displays signs of careless editing and a certain editorial unwillingness to get obscure texts re-written. The substantive pieces invite the following comments:
PHILLIPS: Pascal, Montaigne and Descartes: essential reading because Pascal was profoundly influenced by Montaigne, and yet challenged by his scepticism and tendency to agnosticism. Phillips helpfully identifies the various functions Montaigne & Descartes had for Pascal. The article is marred by some slips which the editor should have corrected: e.g.: Descartes is not referred to explicitly in the "Entretien" (p 23); the reference to Alcibiades' wife should be to Socrates' wife (how could this error arise over such a well-known passage?)(p 26); on Descartes, (a) it is somewhat odd to assign any apologetic role to the Meditations which appear principally aimed at establishing that the new science is compatible with established religion; (b) Phillips does not have the space to go into Descartes's difficulties in describing the immaterial soul (so many mental functions are tied to the body) but there are real complications here of which Pascal must have been aware.
EDWARDS: Probability: highly qualified author but uses a notation which presupposes expertise which most readers of Pascal will not have.
ELSTER: Decision Theory: brilliant, like all Elster's work. But Elster should have raised the question whether the Wager would have been included in the Apology projected by Pascal: it appears to have been written well before he decided to draft an Apology. The Chapter is marred by a muddled quotation on page 63 which the editor should have spotted.
FOUKE: Physics: Thorough and enlightening except for a muddle on p 82 which attributes the criteria of clarity & distinctness to the scholastics rather than to the new science
CLARKE: Philosophy of Science: excellent
KHALFA: Theory of Knowledge: sadly only intermittently intelligible: is it the translation?
MORIARTY: Grace & Religious Belief: a vital subject in Pascal studies handled by an expert. But - unless I missed it - I see nothing on Pascal's key problem: there is no faith without grace, but one cannot know one has received grace therefore one cannot know one has faith: one may be deluded.
WETSEL: Pascal & Holy Writ: useful to explain the debt to Sacy but the author is only mildly critical of Pascal's methods.
PARISH: the "Provinciales": very helpful on the Jesuits' constructive work as well as their laxity. Their approach succeeded and Pascal's went into oblivion.
BOUCHILLOUX: the social world: helpful but perhaps more on the radical transformation of one's Weltanschauung brought about by true faith.
FORCE: philosophical method: helpful
HAMMOND: the art of persuasion: rightly stresses that the elements of the "Pensées" destined for the Apology do not themselves indicate in what order Pascal would have set out his arguments; he may not have decided on an order.
McKENNA: reception of the "Pensées": helpful.


Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City
Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City
by Guy Delisle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, but, 16 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
While this book says little that is really new about the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio, the facts, impressions and insights are engagingly presented by an experienced and intrepid traveller. I learnt a good deal about some of the details of life for both Israelis and Palestinians. But he did not get under the skin of those Israelis who feel embattled and threatened, who find deep within themselves a sense of the insecurity of the Jewish people since AD 70. Perhaps he didn't meet any he could talk to.

If Delisle is a faux naïf, no matter. The technique works reasonably well.

But the book has two drawbacks:
1.although he CAN draw well for other contexts, Delisle adopts a shorthand draughtsmanship which didn't appeal at all to me. His treatment of faces - and particularly eyes and mouths - makes people look either expressionless or positively ugly. I was sorry to see his partner depicted in this way. Delisle uses dialogue to express character but couldn't he also draw people with that aim in mind? He misses golden opportunities: why no large scale drawing of the model presented to Sultan Selim I?
2. The translator has rendered Delisle's French is a curious N American demotic which - to my ears at least - made Delisle seem more flippant than he was. At any rate, the result is not verbally stylish.


Breville VST025 Sandwich Press, Stainless Steel
Breville VST025 Sandwich Press, Stainless Steel
Price: £29.50

4.0 out of 5 stars effective but is it the best design?, 25 April 2013
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As the picture shows, this gadget does not close completely to toast your sandwich. The result is uneven toasting. But otherwise it works well.


Groundhog Day (Collector's Edition) [DVD] [2002]
Groundhog Day (Collector's Edition) [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Bill Murray
Price: £3.97

3 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars In the end somewhat tedious, 25 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this, a rather celebrated film, because I'd missed it when it came out and thereafter. I can't understand what made it glow in the minds of so many: I regret to say I found it a bore.


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