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J. Deane (Houghton on the Hill, Leics United Kingdom)
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So You Think You Know About Britain?
So You Think You Know About Britain?
by Danny Dorling
Edition: Paperback

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars selective quoting of statistics to meet preconceived conclusions, 15 Oct 2012
I bought this book while my son was looking at geography courses at university.

As a doctor with an interest in public health and statistics I thought it may be interesting. In amongst the turgid and repetitive prose there are some interesting points, but prof Dorning misuses and selectively quotes statistics to meet his marxist agenda with no respect for the evidence.

Many examples spring out. One being that doctors do not live in the same places as their poorer patients. Well corblimey! Neither do the marxist university academics of Sheffield for that matter.

He fails to look at the reasons that life expectancy is so short in Glasgow, and fails to see that the decades of Labour rule and labour local and national government with their social policies have failed to make a dent in the divide. He willfully disregards confounding variables such as the interplay and correlation between unhealthy lifestyle factors. Put simply: people who drink and smoke eat poorly and take less exercise. These factors cannot be seen in isolation.

He also ignores factors that move people out of poverty such as churchgoing and the work ethic. He ignores the debate on the evidence that working class social mobility decreased when Grammar schools were abolished. He admires Europe in many ways but ignores the fact that their health systems are mostly independent of government, often with a substantial private sector, yet deliver better health outcomes. Whenever the evidence contradicts his marxist perspective he ignores it. It may be reasonable to do this when writing propaganda but not in what purports to be a serious analysis. I hope that his academic works are of higher standard, for the sake of his students.

I was born in a Lancashire milltown, comprehensively schooled in the state system, so have no axe to grind against northeners. Prof Dorling though has travelled the other way, moving from the comfortable south to a Northern city. Unfortunately he has become more northern than thou in his approach.

There are lots of better books out there.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 9, 2013 3:04 PM GMT


A Tankie's Travels
A Tankie's Travels
by Jock Watt
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a front line view of the desert war, 16 Mar 2010
This review is from: A Tankie's Travels (Paperback)
This excellent account of Jock Watts experiences in France, Greece, Crete and the Western Desert is one of the best soldiers memoirs that I have read, comparable in many ways to the classic "with machine gun to Cambrai" from the first world war.

The author manages to convey both the hardships and the comradeship of the royal tank regiment at war, with many a revealing anecdote. The highlights the rearguard action in Greece, and his escape to Crete, but the desert fighting is also very well covered.


War without Garlands: Operation Barbarossa 1941-1942
War without Garlands: Operation Barbarossa 1941-1942
by Robert Kershaw
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The end of the Blitzkreig, 19 July 2009
I have read few accounts as good as this of the war in the East, combining the strategic and the tactical with personal reminisces.

The concentration is on the Army Group Centre, with little on the Leningrad Campaign or events in the Ukraine, Kiev pocket excepted, and while there are a few personal accounts from the Russian side the vast majority are from the German side. Often these are junior ranks from letters home, of soldiers who died in the campaign. For a more strategic account, of both the run up to the campaign and the strategic errors on both sides I would recommend "Absolute War", but this book complements it well, with a lot more detail and is far more readable. It flows very well with only a few areas of repetition that would have benefited from a little more editing.

Mr Kershaw seems to see the ultimate failure of Barbarossa to be due to the lack of preparation for a prolonged campaign, and in particular the lack of logistical support and lack of ability to replace the losses of specialist technical and officer personnel. It seems from his point of view the campaign had more or less ground to a halt before the winter campaign and counterattack got started, destructive though these were.

He doesn't shy away from the ferocious breakout attempts from the various pockets, an infantry war rather than tank war. He also describes many atrocities by the Wehrmacht, who clearly were cut from the same cloth as the SS. He also gives some description of the extermination camps and death marches of the Soviet POW camps. Of the 2 million POW from the first six months of the war, 97% did not survive the war. This was before the Wansee conference, and in many ways was its prototype. This was a war of extermination, of Slavs as well as Jews. There are also vivid descriptions of Soviet atrocities, no one should be surprised at the mass rapes and destruction when the Soviet armies got to Germany in 1945.

Highly recommended


The Interesting Bits: The History You Might Have Missed
The Interesting Bits: The History You Might Have Missed
by Justin Pollard
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rag-bag of delights, 9 Nov 2007
Justin Pollard has once again come up trumps. He is well known for his historical works on the "Seven ages of Britain" and "Alfred the Great", but here sheds light on some of the oddities of history and also exposes some myths.

This book is written in the same engaging style, but with briefer subject matter, as his writings for "QI". His knowledgeable yet refreshing style makes that series, but also means that his longer works are well worth a read.

I have already ordered my copy of his new work "The Story of Archaeology: 50 Discoveries That Shaped Our View of the Ancient World".


Lions, Donkeys And Dinosaurs: Waste and Blundering in the Military
Lions, Donkeys And Dinosaurs: Waste and Blundering in the Military
by Lewis Page
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.19

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An organisation more extravagent than the NHS...., 7 Sep 2007
Hard to believe at times but I don't doubt it, there is a more crazy organisation than the NHS.

Lewis Page has a good feeling for all arms of the services, and is equally hard on them all.

Why were rifles that would malfunction in Desert Conditions issued? why did F3 Tornados fly for years with cement as ballast rather than radar? How do the BAE and MOD sleep at night?


Rainbow Diary: A Journey in the New South Africa
Rainbow Diary: A Journey in the New South Africa
by John Malathronas
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I read it but it won't tell you much about SA, 17 Nov 2006
In the first few pages John tells us that his book based on a blog is to be an attempt to escape the Hostel/ backpackers bus view of a country. In reality though that is exactly what the book describes. If you want to hang around europeans and take drugs and dance to house music stay in Ibiza, or follow johns path through south Africa, meeting africans only as servants.

It may be a little out of date, and needing an updated epilogue but Rian Malans "My taitors Heart" remains the best book on South Africa, I was there recently and distubingly little has visibly changed....


Alfred the Great: The Man Who Made England
Alfred the Great: The Man Who Made England
by Justin Pollard
Edition: Hardcover

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "great" read for both academics and a wider audience., 3 Dec 2005
Justin Pollards latest book combines the disparate sources availible to illuminate the complexities of late Anglo-Saxon Britain. It would easy for the work to be dull and academic, but he manages to make even the most complicated dynastic intrigue comprehensible and explains its significance. From this the book flows as a gripping read to the epic battles with the Vikings that determine the future nature of England. He even explains the myth of the cake burning and the reason for its place in the popular psyche.
Historians may be sceptical of the "Great Man" school of history in favour of social movements. It seems to me that if ever the case needs to be made for this, then Alfred is that man. Without him we would probably be Scandinavian with the course of European history altered. Read it all here.
Why is the (probably mythical) Arthur revered whilst the more genuinely heroic Alfred neglected? At last a book that sets the story straight. It would be as worthy a subject for prime time TV history as Mr Pollards acclaimed series the Seven Ages of Britain.


Britain's Forgotten Wars
Britain's Forgotten Wars
by Ian Heron
Edition: Paperback
Price: 20.00

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A guide to the Flashman novels, 4 Mar 2004
Forgotten wars is a usually highly readable account of some of the most noble and ignoble of britains overseas adventures. Readers will be interested to see the real background to many of the Flashman Novels. Some curiosities of history are well explained.
Only two criticisms. The book needs some maps to explain some of the campaigns clearly, and the Modoc War does not belong as neither is it British nor frankly a war.


The Piano Tuner
The Piano Tuner
by Daniel Mason
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ultimately disappointing, 4 Mar 2004
This review is from: The Piano Tuner (Paperback)
Whilst an intereseting conceit, the idea of a piano tuner travelling to the burmese borders is ultimately too absurd. There are too many stock characters and cod victorian dialogue to carry it off.
Having said that some of the descriptions of the travels through burma were sufficiently evocative to take me back there.


A History of Bombing
A History of Bombing
by Sven Lindqvist
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking, 5 July 2002
This review is from: A History of Bombing (Paperback)
Mr Lindquist writes from a Swedish perspective, from a country neither bombed or bombing. To some extent this makes his views more objective, and it certainly gives different views to those official volumes about Bomber Command.
I liked the excerpts from the popular novels and films of the day. The doom laden fear of the destruction of europe by bombing in the 1930s gives some understanding of why the Franco-British alliance was so keen to avoid war by appeassing the Nazis.
My only gripe is with his thesis that certain devices were designed for use on primitive savages that would be unacceptable in a european context. An example is his claim is that British Rockets were for use on indiginous groups, when as any one familiar with the USA national anthem will know that they were used in the siege of Washington DC. I wonder how much else he has misrepresented. The description of the Fire bombing of Japan in 1945 puts the atom bomb into perspective.
Not a bad book, but his book "exterminate the brutes" was a much more convincing exposition of his thesis linking colonialism and other brutalities.


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