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Football's Comic Book Heroes: Celebrating the Greatest British Football Comics of the Twentieth Century
Football's Comic Book Heroes: Celebrating the Greatest British Football Comics of the Twentieth Century
by Adam Riches
Edition: Hardcover

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Call It Soccer Too!, 9 Dec. 2009
Combining two of my favorite subjects into one finely assembled book was a dead cert for 5 stars for me. I have been an avid collector and reader of comic books for decades, and an ardent fanatic of the beautiful game ever since I can remember.
Oddly enough I didn't read soccer comics as a kid in England; for that matter I rarely read any British comic books at all, preferring instead American superhero publications from the likes of Marvel and DC.

The author Adam Riches delves into a unique facet of the comic book art form, selecting a genre with a fantastically rich and evolved style that at one time saw 350 million comics a year sold in Britain.

Beginning with the narrative laden tracts, the so-called "penny dreadfuls" of the mid to late 1800s, Riches cements the foundation stones of what would become the modern-day football comic. Early on and for some time to come, the heroes of the football world in print were largely upper-class, scrupulous Victorian chaps who "live[d] clean, manly and Christian lives." With the advent of the war years, the football comic became the perfect vehicle to encourage young working class lads towards the battlefields of Europe and beyond, and the comic footballers gradually morphed to more closely reflect the class of the readership. Interestingly the dearth of men able to make up the numbers for competing teams, lead to the formation of 'ladies' football leagues, the most famous of which Dick, Kerr Ladies, pulled a crowd of 53,000 in 1920. Consequently women found their way into the football comic stories; albeit fleetingly.

Some football people in England seem to take perverse delight in mocking Americans use of the term 'soccer' to describe association football, so much so, that you'd be forgiven for thinking Americans invented the slang word for the game. The book however, shows us that the word 'soccer' was common parlance throughout the last century in Britain as evidenced by the comic covers and illustrations reproduced in the book. Speaking of Americans, football comic "Wizard," presciently introduced multi-millionaire, Split O'Keefe, of Arizona who took over fictitious team Rockvale FC for 12 issues in 1932. Many serious issues were tackled by the soccer comics, including race and class, although women and girls were largely invisible in these publications aimed at boys.

Roy of the Rovers, was the final hero to play out his days in the football comic book format, his publication of the same name petering out in 1993, ending completely over a century of fantasy world heroics that enabled millions of boys to dream via words and drawings of playing professionally and as brilliantly as the stars of the football comics. Eventually video games overwrote the minds of the average young lad and did all the dreaming for him; comic books suddenly seemed so 'dad.'

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in comic books, regardless of whether they take an interest in soccer, such is the fascinating presentation Riches gives us. Every page has beautifully reproduced art work in colour and black and white and the narrative is highly evocative and informative. Well worth buying.

A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis
A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis
by Michael Berenbaum
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £47.50

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Five Million Non-Jewish Holocaust Victim Have Been Forgotten, 7 Jan. 2009
One of the greatest tragedies of the Holocaust besides the event itself, is the disremebering of five million non-Jewish Holocaust victims.

Killed in the same camps, using the same vile methods of extermination and for the same profane reasons, these forgotten sufferers have been reduced to a cipher at the footnote of this monumentally evil event.

The Nazis called for the TOTAL annihilation of Europe's Gypsies in two written decrees, making claims of Jewish exclusivity to the Holocaust indefensible and dishonest.

It is imperative that we speak of 11 million Holocaust victims if we are to do justice to truth. This book is a candle in the darkness. I can only hope it's flame gets brighter.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 1, 2015 10:58 AM GMT

Not Out Of Africa: How "Afrocentrism" Became An Excuse To Teach Myth As History (New Republic Book)
Not Out Of Africa: How "Afrocentrism" Became An Excuse To Teach Myth As History (New Republic Book)
by Mary Lefkowitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Afrocentrism: Mythology Dressed up As Science, 7 Jan. 2009
Occasionally pedantic and distracted, this book correctly holds to ridicule those American academic Afrocentric mythologists who would create a fairly-tale history of black Africa. With ironic repartee, Lefkowitz notes the adoption of European standards and definitions of cultural greatness by Afrocentric scholars in the invention of this imaginary past. The inclusion of Masonic images and lore into the equation seems forced and unnecessary in addition to slowing down the pace of the book's entreaty to truth an accuracy.

Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World
Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World
by Eric Schlosser
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Would You Like to Add Some E. Coli to That Order?, 7 Jan. 2009
Eric Schlosser, doesn't like the fast food industry, and neither do I. In fact I've never eaten a Big Mac or a Chicken McNugget in my life. I have been quietly and privately vegetarian since my early youth, and thankfully so after reading this. This treatise is generally well written and engaging. We are allowed a fly on the wall purview of the at once Neanderthal and techno-obsessive world of the burger barons.

While I can agree with Schlosser that the industry and its affiliates are pretty scummy and intractably bottom-line focused, the author (a journalist by profession) is predictably and unfortunately a lefty and staunch acolyte of the Nanny State. While assuring us that this industry can be made more decent, more safe and more healthy if only we could shovel enough funds at the variegated governmental regulatory agencies, lost on Schlosser, are the examples of successful free-market checks and balances that he highlights. We learn that Jack In The Box, after poisoning (and killing) a number of customers by serving E.Coli infected burgers, takes extraordinary measures to clean up its act and that of its meat packers. This was done to prevent them from going out of business, not from any special pressure exerted upon them by the State.

Absent in entirety in the book is any chastisement of the lack of personal responsibility exercised by parents who raise their kids on this crap (some of it literal, as we come to learn from his visits to slaughterhouses). Not once are parents of teenagers who work behind the counters bought to task by Schlosser. Adult employees of the industry are viewed, with typical liberal paternalism, as victims. At one point we are privy to the tragicomedy travails of Kenny Dobbins, an illiterate slaughterhouse worker and union buster, who accumulates a massive shopping list of work related injuries ranging from broken limbs, to chemical poisonings, yet for some odd reason, never rationalizes that he might be safer in a different line of work.

Congress should ban all advertising aimed at kids and "fight against dangerous concentrations of economic power" by the McDonald's of the world concludes Schlosser. He then inadvertently speaks the real truth about how to affect changes within this industry, observing: "Nobody in the United States, is forced to buy fast food. The first step towards meaningful change is by far the easiest: stop buying it."

Until that happens, no amount of government tinkering will stop a free people making bad choices about what they and their children eat.

American Buses (Crestline)
American Buses (Crestline)
by Donald F. Wood
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Oh S***! There Goes the Charabanc, 7 Jan. 2009
A recent inclusion to my bus and coach book collection. Author Donald F. Wood has painted his subject matter with a very broad brush, to the extent that for most bus folks, the inclusion of some of the vehicles such as limos etc is a bit of a stretch (pun intended). Wood justifies this in the introduction by citing obscure government regulations that define a bus as any vehicle carrying ten or more passengers. The non-bus buses are a minor distraction though in this otherwise deftly researched book. The photographs are all black and white, but they offer a fascinating retrospective to the material in conjunction to the well written text. Not all the buses are American, though all discussed operate or did operate in the USA. All in all good value for money and well worth adding to the shelf.

Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of California (California Natural History Guides)
Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of California (California Natural History Guides)
by Samuel M Mcginnis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £51.00

5.0 out of 5 stars California Dept. of Fish & Shame, 7 Jan. 2009
This superb, comprehensive field guide covers not just the extant freshwater fish of California, but details how to catch them, how to cook them, and even how to keep them in the aquarium or pond at home. Superb photographs, and detailed descriptions of each species.

It is truly a travesty though that many of the alien fish in the state that have caused such devastation to native species have been deliberately introduced by the governmental agency responsible for the stewardship of California's freshwater ecosystems.

Reading of the California Department of Fish & Game's persistent and ongoing mismanagement is alarming, and a clear indication that the citizens of the state deserve better than the repeat offender bunglers in charge of that office.

The Abolition of Britain
The Abolition of Britain
by Peter Hitchens
Edition: Paperback

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hovis: The Bread That Built A Nation, 5 Jan. 2009
As a lad of 1970's England, I was treated to many of the socialist inspired cultural reformations that hurt Hitchens' heart. I didn't have a maths class, I had a class called "Logic." Sex education consisted of a film shown to my fellow 8 year olds of naked pre-pubescent kids jumping into a swimming pool...oh how we all cringed in embarrassment. We didn't read "Great Expectations" we read "Stig of the Dump." No school desks, we sat on tiny armchairs in a circle and discussed subjects.
There is a brilliance to much of Hitchens' lamentations in this work that makes for a sadness when one is made to realize all that has been forgotten and wrecked that was good about Britain.

That said, there is much I do not miss that he waxes nostalgic for. Society and culture rarely remain static, and the old adage about hindsight being twenty twenty applies to this book in many ways.

We had a TV commercial back in the 70's that pitched a brand of "brown bread" (it was coloured that way, it was not whole grain)called Hovis. It depicted a young working class boy and his dad walking up a steep hill in the early part of the 20th century in a North England town. When they arrive home, cheerful mum has plenty of Hovis on hand. The music in the background, a traditional English brass band, plays a solemn yet cozy tune. By implication it was great back then, everyone was chipper, life was wholesome and of course, so is Hovis bread. A comedian, Tony Capstick, soon recorded a send up song to that tune speaking in voice over as the lad now all grown up that went something like this: I'll never forget that first day down pit(coal mine), me father and me worked a 72 hour shift, then walked 43 miles home in the freezing snow wearing sacks for clothing...we had a lot of good things in them days, rickets, diphtheria.

The book at times does come off as a little like the Hovis ad, and perhaps Hitchens' misty eyes for the past are at points clouded more by sentimentalism than reality. He is a conservative but a statist conservative. He wants the government to nanny society just as liberals do; just in opposite ways. It is perhaps this facet of his thinking that I find most disagreeable. If there are now schools in Britain that are essentially Islamic madrassas that he dislikes, it is a consequence of the state sponsoring Christian schools earlier on that he liked. If homes have become cookie-cutter and characterless it is a consequence of government provided housing. The decline of the church, perhaps a response to having religion as an arm of the state. Hitchens' dislikes the virtual disappearance of the British Union Flag in preference to the specifically English St. George Cross. I consider myself English and not British, because like many of my countrymen I realize that Britain is a political contrivance not an identity.

Hitchens' makes his case eloquently even if not in my opinion always accurately, but we both agree that what Britain is now is a pitiful spectre of it's past great attributes.

The God Delusion
The God Delusion
by Richard Dawkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Post-speciesist Piffle, 5 Jan. 2009
This review is from: The God Delusion (Paperback)
"I do not, by nature, thrive on confrontation." Well, that's Dawkins' contention as he opens chapter 8 at least. Later on in the same section of the book, the author claims that the phrase "American Taliban" was begging to be coined. Begged by whom? The frothing at the mouth reactionaries who toss schoolyard insults at those they do not agree with?

Peter Singer, high priest of the deeply lunatic fringe of the animal liberation movement who argues amongst other perverse ideas that zoophilia is not unethical if there is no harm or cruelty to the animal, is claimed by Dawkins to be "...the most eloquent advocate of the view that we should move to a post-speciesist condition in which humane treatment is meted out to all species that have the brain power to appreciate it." It would be interesting to engage this ethic with the good professor using a hypothetical plague epidemic carried by rats.

Pondering the issue of abortion, the author compares the suffering of a cow in a slaughterhouse to a developing human fetus that has been terminated. Apparently the value human life is comparative to cattle. When they took Bessie to market they may very well have killed the next Marie Curie?

I share Richard Dawkins' atheism as devotedly as he no doubt does, but I cannot countenance his moral equivalency. I am far more afraid of Islamofascism (which to his credit he attacks but does not venture to call by that title) than American Christians who wish to take Harry Potter out of the library.

My values are Humanist, but I am an unabashed 'speciesist.' The philosophical world, the sciences, and the 'Zeitgeist' that indicates we are capable of becoming more compassionate, kind and humane, come from the human condition not from the activities of say a herd of reindeer.

Not Dawkins' best work by a long shot, this book is a haphazard invective of muddy moral musings and unbalanced argument against religious faith.
Comment Comments (24) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 23, 2009 9:48 AM GMT

Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone
Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone
by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of Arrogance and Insanity, 5 Jan. 2009
I'd just taken the last sip from my bottle of Arrogant [...]Ale, as I put this book down (really). On the back of the bottle just before I tossed it in the trash I noticed there was a short essay; it addresses complacency. One line caught my attention: 'We grow up thinking that the ability to become complacent is the equivalence of success in life.'

That Chandrasekaran (try saying that after a few ales), penned Imperial Life without resorting to rhetorical disgust and sarcasm is a credit to his journalistic instincts. It is a masterful work that ties in succinctly the wisdom addressed on that bottle of beer.
Correct me if I am wrong but the expression 'snafu' originates from the wry humor of the US military. It seems clear that we are in the throes of the Mother of All Snafus.

Mr. Paul Bremer, the mastabatory hand of the US President in Iraq, was a bully boy to the often more sensible subordinates that he invariably countermanded. Bremer Preferred little people to engage big issues when bigger people should have as long as the little people were politically connected, in good standing Republicans.
While Bremer plotted in the Emerald City you could imagine Mr. Rogers intoning "It's a Wonderful Day In The Neighborhood" as the fantasy of creating Iraq in America's image became more convoluted.

He was rebuilding a nation that would have ZIP codes, telephone area codes, A Highway Code, proportional representation, and I'm sure when he was done the largest apple pie factory in the world.

Our President placed his vision of a nascent US-style democracy in the Middle East in the hands of people who reflected his predominate personality traits: The 'Stay the course' president prefers stubbornness to thoughtfulness when it comes to policy, and this is amply reflected in his choice of Bremer.

I never bought the argument that we went into Iraq to make GWB and his supporters more money (although they clearly did). I really think he wanted to smack down a deviant and dangerous leader in that region and start something far more 'fun.' He didn't, and we should acknowledge that. The author could have prefaced virtually every page with "you're not gonna believe this but..." such is the litany of inanities and calamities we have put into motion in Iraq.

Bush failed, and while he bogs the US military down in a 'country' that yearns to divide along religious and ethnic lines, nations that pose a real threat see the US and the 'Coalition of the Willing' as limp and impotent and are sitting like vultures waiting to feed upon the kill.

The Road To Guantanamo [DVD]
The Road To Guantanamo [DVD]
Dvd ~ Riz Ahmed
Offered by Just4-U-Media
Price: £7.96

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Islamoganda, 5 Jan. 2009
This review is from: The Road To Guantanamo [DVD] (DVD)
So marriage-minded Asif, a British Muslim, travels with a group of his co-religionists to his ancestral home of Pakistan a few weeks after 9/11. For giggles, in the midst of massive American-led military actions, the lads decided to hop the Afghan border and head for Kandahar, home of the Taliban (as you do).

This preposterous, though well filmed 'innocents caught up in a nightmare' tale that director Mat Whitecross, launches is clear from that beginning that the truth of this story emanates solely from the mouths of Asif and his mates. They comment on their personal road to Guantanamo, while actors demonstrate what we are being told happened.

President Bush decided soon after the September attack, that he was going after the bad guys, and if that meant judicial fiat, respect for constitutional principals and international law were to be thrown out of the window, so be it. So here we have yet another botched, ill-conceived, shoot-from-the-hip plan to thwart terrorism, that does little more than give succor to the enemy and trample our moral high ground.

It is not unreasonable to conclude that Asif, and his colleagues had their civil and human rights soiled at Guantanamo. To date this debacle of a prison that masquerades as American jurisprudence has largely failed to demonstrate the effectiveness of Bush's rendition policy. Inmates continue to leave after many years in legal limbo, uncharged and unconvicted. The subjects of this documentary serve solely as heroes and motivators for the anti-western forces of Islamism, and their oddly enthusiastic cohorts, Europe's Kuffar liberals. The fact that this movie was able to be made lays at the feet of the Bush administration, for it is they that established back door rules of engagement as they pretended to effect law and order. If Asif and his pals, who may well have been joining the Holy War in Afghanistan are now movie stars instead of convicts, it is a consequence of America's impetuous hubristic approach to thwarting its enemies.

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