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simon.pass@bbc.co.uk (London)

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The German Trauma: Experiences and Reflections - 1938-1999 (Allen Lane History)
The German Trauma: Experiences and Reflections - 1938-1999 (Allen Lane History)
by Gitta Sereny
Edition: Hardcover

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary to live., 30 May 2001
One of the most profound books I have read, as a consequence I feel unable to write anything but a couple of comments.
This book is unafraid of the truth - however awful the outcome. It demonstrates the need to understand the 'failings' of the human condition. Sereny has the ability to show that morally repugnant behaviour can stem from people like you and me - this is because she is able to get inside the skin of these offenders, to expose their ordinariness and their monstrosity. This isn't just about war.
Superbly written, clear and eloquent.


Enigma: The Battle For The Code
Enigma: The Battle For The Code
by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore
Edition: Paperback

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched, very good read., 30 May 2001
Being untechnical and easily confused by too many mathematical equations, the structure of Enigma helped its readability. The technical information regarding the naval enigma codes could have totally blinded the narrative thrust, but this wasn't allowed to happen, such information was footnoted to a section at the end of the book.
I read Enigma because it is a part of World War 2 history I felt I needed to know about, I didn't expect to enjoy it. When a subject like this is so closely interwoven with the saving or losing of lives, enjoying the book seems a bit inappropriate.
However, I did enjoy the attention to detail, the thorough research and the style of writing.


Riptide
Riptide
by John Lawton
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For a spy novel not enough intrigue or surprise., 15 May 2001
This review is from: Riptide (Paperback)
A fluent read with good intentions. War torn east end of London is a great backdrop for a spy/detective drama.
The two English detective characters, Troy and Stilton, are strongly drawn, especially the older Stilton who initially attempts to discover the 'running scared from the Nazis' spy. Stilton is the jewel in the novel. By contrast the american protagonist, Cal, cuts a weak and limpid figure whose failings and psychology are not convincing or clear enough.
The chase for the american spy doesn't drive the novel with enough thrust or intrigue. The few surprises leave the novel feeling flat. And the unveiling of the runaway spy is lost as a footnote, he becomes a forgotten and meaningless adjunct to the rest of the novel, we find out virtually nothing about him.
The book's preoccupation with an American feeling out of sorts in London and the over conscious linguistic misunderstandings between American english and English colloquialisms all became a bit too didactic.
The female love element could have been interesting but ended up silly. A desperately uncommunicative woman, except that we know she's in a very bad mood, slips between the most convenient sheets of Cal or Troy. She is flimsy, a dysfunctional ghost.
The atmosphere of London during the blitz was evocative and boldly written. But the interweaving of plot, character and location just didn't quite make me sit up and take note. Sorry.


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