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I. R. Bishop "flamins" (London)
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Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age
Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age
by Peter Paret
Edition: Paperback
Price: £68.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitive, 11 Oct. 2006
Edited by Peter Paret, co-author of the definitive translation of Carl von Clausewitz's "On War", Makers of Modern Strategy is a tour de force of strategic military thinking throughout history. Encompassing many of the great strategic thinkers of history, the book progresses in a series of well-written articles taking an historical thinker or idea as its subject. Contributors include many prestigious and respected individuals in the fields of academia and policy-making. Michael Howard, Condoleezza Rice and Lawrence Freedman are only three big names among many adding their thoughts and knowledge to this highly informative and comprehensive work. Definitely an essential read for anyone seriously interested in the history of military thought.


The War of the World: History's Age of Hatred (Allen Lane History)
The War of the World: History's Age of Hatred (Allen Lane History)
by Niall Ferguson
Edition: Hardcover

62 of 72 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Generic History, 11 Oct. 2006
I've been very impressed by Ferguson's other works, in particular The Cash Nexus, Empire, and Colossus. War of the World, however, does not rise to the same standards as these earlier books. I found the argument to be laboured and unconvincing. Ferguson presents a lengthy tour through the history of the 20th century, throwing in remarks along the way suggesting that these events back up his central thesis; namely that the 20th century was so violent because of the rise of racial conflict. I was, I admit, instantly suspicious of the work because of its TV tie-in and catchy title that sounded more like the suggestion of a publicist than an academic. Indeed, i found the tenuous analogy between HG Wells' genocidal Martians and real 20th century atrocities particularly grating in its trivialising banality. Upon finishing the book, I was left feeling that this was history for its own sake. You get a good romp through the 20th century, but no compelling analysis. Ferguson never really tests or develops his apparent conviction that race issues were the key driver of 20th century conflict. Mediocre and lengthy.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 28, 2014 9:06 AM BST


Nineteenth-Century Britain: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Nineteenth-Century Britain: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Christopher Harvie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Start to Study, 11 Sept. 2003
The nineteenth century is a hideously complex period of British history. It has an incredibly wide-ranging scope of political, social, industrial and imperial dimensions. Colin Matthew does his best to provide a snapshot of the most salient features of each. It is no surprise that this is one of the longest of the VSI, and at times it is painfully clear that a very great amount of detail has been omitted in order to create a manageable volume. I cannot criticise Matthew for doing this, after all, these are supposed to be Very Short Introductions. Nevertheless, I felt that some issues - particularly electoral reform and the imperial dimension - were covered so briefly as to be almost useless. Major political study is also beyond the capacity of such a short book, and titanic figures such as Disraeli get very brief coverage. Again, this is not so much a failing of Matthew, but rather a revelation of the remarkable complexity of 19th century British history.
I am an advocate of the VSI series, and believe that they provide an essential narrative overview which is invaluable to a student embarking for the first time on an new area of study. In this regard, I would endorse Matthew's effort as a useful work. Yet with all the VSI's, it is important to be very aware that they are only the very beginnings of knowledge of the field. I was particularly aware of this in the case of Matthew's introduction to 19th century Britain, and would caution all readers that some of the (necessarily) truncated narrative is so deficient that it practically constitutes a half truth. However, if the reader bears this in mind, the book can still provide a useful overview of the major events and issues in the 19th century, and will be a useful backdrop for further study.


The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Robert J. McMahon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Useful Overview, 11 Sept. 2003
I am a big fan of the VSI series, having become familiar with them whilst studying at University. For anyone engaged in academic study of history, you will be all too aware of how useful it is to have a good overview before commencing detailed study. When studying any issue or time period, it is invaluable to possess an understanding of the broad sweep of events before delving into the details of any one particular event. The Very Short Introductions provide this crucial background information.
I have used many of the VSI series, and the Cold War by McMahon is among the best. The narrative is largely complete, and outlines all of the major Cold War events - certainly in enough detail for any undergraduate paper - providing an interesting veneer of analysis that often raises interesting issues that may have passed you by. The book also features occasional 'boxes' of text that explain headline-making events which are not covered by the broader narrative yet are good to know about, for example the Contra affair is covered this way.
If you are merely interested in acquiring a working understanding of the events of the Cold War, then this is a highly useful book. However, it does not delve into any of the theoretical interpretations of the Cold War, and does very little to explain the shifting strategic paradigms employed by either side. So, although you will be left with a good understanding of the events of the Cold War, further reading is essential if you wish to get to grips with the thinking that motivated shifts from, say, containment to détente, or from New Look asymmetry to Flexible Response symmetry.
In short, the book fulfils its mandate, and serves as an excellent short introduction. I would strongly advise that any student who is new to studying the cold war pick up a copy of this book before he gets started on more detailed studies.


Air Combat Legends: 2
Air Combat Legends: 2
by Nicolas Trudgian
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to Aviation Art, 11 Sept. 2003
This review is from: Air Combat Legends: 2 (Hardcover)
Nicholas Trudgian has compiled a wonderful selection of his excellent aviation paintings in this fine volume. The technical proficiency of Trudgian is beyond doubt, but he also has a brilliant sense of setting and context that allow his paintings to come alive. The exciting and highly emotive nature of his subject gives his work an energy of its own. The planes often seem to leap off the page, continuing a desperate aerial struggle that was fought out more than a generation ago. Trudgian captures the speed, the fury, the exhilaration and the tragedy of history's greatest ever air war. Each picture is filled with detail, yet the overall grandeur of the piece is not lost in the process. Truly Trudgian ranks alongside other great aviation artists like Robert Taylor and John Young.
The book has a fascinating preface by Gunther Rall, one of the Luftwaffe's leading aces. Throughout, the paintings are accompanied by helpful text, which provides information on the historical context of each painting and often gives interesting insights into the particular artistic challenges of the painting. The lengthy introduction provides a good condensed biography of Trudgian himself, and leads into a highly interesting "walk through" of the process of creating a painting, taking us from the first concept sketches through to the final oil painting of a scene at the battle of Kursk.
This is an excellent collection of very fine paintings. I did not feel that the book had in any way been 'padded out' with the inclusion of tedious or sub-standard work. Each painting was impressive and many are emotionally evocative. If you are interested in World War II aviation, this book is a must-have.


Air Combat Legends: 2
Air Combat Legends: 2
by Nicolas Trudgian
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Wonderful Compilation, 8 Sept. 2003
This review is from: Air Combat Legends: 2 (Hardcover)
Nicholas Trudgian has done it again. His first Air Combat Legends book was a wonderful compilation of thrilling and evocative aviation art. His attention to detail is matched by the emotional excitement and involvement wrapped up in each painting. Clearly an artist of the highest technical proficiency, Trudgian also manages to incorporate a sense for setting and context that truly engage the viewer. Each richly detailed painting is accompanied by text which provides helpful backround to the events portrayed on the canvas, and the introductions provides a wonderful insight into the world of the aviation artist. This is a truly worthwhile book that stands on its own as a worthy tribute to the heroism of aviators in the Second World War. I would recommend it to anyone interested in either good painting or Second World War history.


The Butlerian Jihad: Legends of Dune
The Butlerian Jihad: Legends of Dune
by Brian Herbert
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A terrible abuse of the Dune universe, 8 Sept. 2003
This is quite possibly the worst book I have read. Whilst the Preludes to Dune were at best a dubious extension of Frank Herbert's excellent work, the Butlerian Jihad is a terrible travesty that insults the reader's intelligence and butchers the legacy of the original Dune series.
The story is poorly researched, and anyone familiar with the Dune Encyclopaedia will recoil as they read each inaccuracy in Legends of Dune. Yet this failing pales into insignificance when compared to the infuriatingly poor characters and pulp-scifi writing style. Brian Herbert never matched his father's genius for description and world-creation. However, he takes this inadequacy to new highs in LoD, barely writing as well as a trashy romantic novelist. The robots are awful stereotypes, and their poor characterisation is surpassed only by the nauseatingly adorable humans.
If you want to read a book written for 10 year old sci-fi fans, this is definitely one for you. If, however, you wish to immerse yourself in the thoughtful and stimulating politco-religious world of Dune, make sure you stick with FRANK Herbert's novels. Furthermore, should you wish to defend the purity of Dune as a vehicle for ideas, burn every copy of Legends of Dune you ever come across.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 3, 2010 9:46 PM GMT


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