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S. Coster (Kent. UK)
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British Leyland: Chronicle of a Car Crash 1968-1978.
British Leyland: Chronicle of a Car Crash 1968-1978.
by Chris Cowin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Really good read - should be properly published, 9 April 2013
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This is a really worthwhile and entertaining book, telling a story which should be told. The author writes well, and has structured the story cleverly both chronologically and with reference to the various 70s BL models. While he's predictably strong on the cars themselves, the social and political stuff is also surprisingly good.

It would be nice to see it properly published. As it is, it feels like a postgraduate thesis in A4, with its small font, poor pictures and floppy cover. Taken on by a mainstream publisher - in a normal paperback format, with a snappier title ("Car Crash!"), more and better pictures of the cars, people and strikes in a central plate section, and a bit of editing and re-ordering of the last 30 pages - this could sell a lot, and you could see a spin-off documentary on BBC4. When you consider some of the trash that the big publishers put out as non-fiction, it seems a bit of a shame.


Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974-1979
Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974-1979
by Dominic Sandbrook
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magisterial, 7 May 2012
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A triumph. Sandbrook continues his series with a first rate run through the period 1974-79. My only slight disappointment with this book is its greater concentration on straight politics - a fascinating tale, certainly, and told with a novelist's sure touch, but the last third of the book feels less balanced than either the first two, or State of Emergency. But, given that Sandbrook had already covered much of the 1970s cultural ground in the latter title, that is understandable.


Brian Clough: Nobody Ever Says Thank You: The Biography
Brian Clough: Nobody Ever Says Thank You: The Biography
by Jonathan Wilson
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant vignette inside a more than adequate biography, 15 Feb 2012
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There have been too many books about Brian Clough. And - like many, I think - I've read quite a few of them. I only bought this because it is by Jonathan Wilson: Inverting the Pyramid really is that good. While this one is not a wholly satisfactory experience, it is certainly worth reading. But for me there is a quite superb (and much shorter) book hiding inside it. Wilson has structured his book in five chronological sections, but for this reader it resolved itself into three ... the second of which is excellent:
The first couple of hundred pages cover Clough's childhood, playing career and management up to the Derby title win in 1972. It's done well, with some elegant and pithy writing: the reference to the "triangle of loathing" between Clough, Don Revie and Bob Stokoe is a good example. But all this is well-worn ground, and to be honest Wilson seems to add little to what's already out there, while relying heavily on contemporary press reporting. It has to be said, though, that having set out to write a full-length biography, it is difficult to see what else he could have done here.
The book really takes off with the 110-odd pages covering the final period at Derby to the end of the Leeds affair. Equally well-worn material of course, but Wilson produces the most even-handed, entertaining and convincing treatment I've read in a section that reads like a good novel while dispassionately sticking to the evidence. Quite a feat.
The third section - the rest of the book - doesn't quite hit that standard, but it keeps you reading. The handling of the break with Taylor, and of the final events at Forest in 1993, are particularly illuminating. Rather oddly, though, the book pretty much ends there. Aside from a perceptively analysed description of a 1995 Clough TV appearence, the last 11 years of his life are covered in a couple of paragraphs. It would have been interesting to know if - and, if so, how - Clough looked back critically on his career and his persona in that time. Maybe there's just nothing to say?
In sum, then, this is a very good biography. If I'd been Wilson's editor, I might have been tempted to suggest that he should publish just the 1972-74 section as a monograph. And, if I were a reader who's pushed for time, I might be tempted to start the book at page 229. All that said, though, I'm glad I read it.


JOHN'S PHONE 'TREE' (BROWN) is the world's most basic unlocked mobile phone. No frills - no unnecessary features such as a camera, text messaging or an endless number of ringtones. JOHN'S PHONE features large buttons, a concealed paper address book & pen and an energy efficient battery that can last for 3 weeks on stand-by. JOHN'S PHONE allows you to make and receive calls throughout most of the world. JOHN'S PHONE keeps things simple.
JOHN'S PHONE 'TREE' (BROWN) is the world's most basic unlocked mobile phone. No frills - no unnecessary features such as a camera, text messaging or an endless number of ringtones. JOHN'S PHONE features large buttons, a concealed paper address book & pen and an energy efficient battery that can last for 3 weeks on stand-by. JOHN'S PHONE allows you to make and receive calls throughout most of the world. JOHN'S PHONE keeps things simple.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great - nothing else like it on the market, 8 Jan 2012
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Great 'phone, and a joy to use. Does everything I want it to do, and - just as important for me - doesn't do what I don't want it to do (texting, internet). Looks and feels good in the hand, good sound quality and battery life, and the paper address book and pen are actually very useful. Perhaps a little expensive for what it is, but as it's the only thing on the market that does the things I want, that's OK by me. One quiblle only: the headphone on the hands-free attachment is freakishly big and therefore unuseable. All in all, though, a brilliant product.


Mussolini's Italy: Life Under the Dictatorship, 1915-1945
Mussolini's Italy: Life Under the Dictatorship, 1915-1945
by R J B Bosworth
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.55

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and entertaining, if a bit too long, 6 May 2010
A superbly-researched, impressionistic portrait of a regime about which I suspect many of us don't know as much as we perhaps should (I speak for myself here). I agree with other reviewers about the mass of biographical detail on obscure fascist figures. For me this helped to re-inforce the author's central argument that a highly-diverse and idiosyncratic Italy actively shaped the regime from below, as much as being shaped by fascism from above. But I could have done with a little less of it. All in all this is not a book for the fainthearted. Certainly worth perservering, though - the author brings things together admirably in the final few chapters. And the bleak portrait that emerges of an increasingly misanthropic and ineffectual Mussolini is sobering. The treatment of the Duce - always there behind the narrative, even if the number of pages devoted to him is not many - is one of the best things about this.


Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics
Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics
by Jonathan Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.36

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on football for years, 11 Sep 2009
The good reviews this book has received are fully justified - in my opinion it is the best book written on the sport since Arthur Hopcraft's The Football Man in the late 1960s. A highly entertaining blend of analysis, explanation, and chronological history, the book's argument turns a highly satisfying full circle as the author charts the inversion of "2-3-5" in the 100 or so years to the 1980s, before engaging in illuminating fashion with tactical developments since then. It's all done so well that I'm sure non-football fans would appreciate it too, if they could be persuaded to open it (though I couldn't persuade my wife).


We Are the Damned United: The Real Story of Brian Clough at Leeds United
We Are the Damned United: The Real Story of Brian Clough at Leeds United
by Phil Rostron
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.67

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Scraping the barrel, 10 Sep 2009
This book covers ground which has become very familiar since the publication of David Peace's The Damned Utd. I had hoped, though, that the advertised approach of basing the narrative on the thoughts of the Leeds players who were actually involved would provide an entertaining and illuminating read. It doesn't. Material from what seem to be new interviews with four or five players is included, but this adds little to a tale that's been told much better in the past. And there's little enough new material. Much of the text is taken direct from newspaper articles, and a lot of it is neither relevant nor particularly interesting - for example, I can see little point in reprinting a lenghty interview with Billy Bremner from over a decade ago, giving his views on the England/Scotland match from Euro 96. I'd say more than half the book is material of this sort, ranging from potted histories of Leeds and Nottingham Forest, the managerial career of Peter Reid (why?), to some autobiography from a local Leeds sports journalist. The 44 days themselves are dealt with in pretty cursory fashion. On the plus side, the contemporary Yorkshire Post match reports are interesting, as are some of the players' comments - still surprisingly bitter even 35 years later. But that doesn't justify the filler which makes up the remainder, I'm afraid. Peace's book is a superb original, but it has encouraged a lot of poor cash-in publications. I'd suggest you read The Unforgiven instead, which attempts some serious discussion of this memorable incident in its final chapter.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 12, 2010 3:10 PM GMT


Northern and Proud: The Bob Stokoe Story
Northern and Proud: The Bob Stokoe Story
by Paul Harrison
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity, 17 April 2009
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I wouldn't recommend this. Bob Stokoe was clearly an interesting fellow, and played and managed at a time when football abounded with interesting characters. But this biography is litle more than a series of interviews with him strung together, without much attempt to develop any narrative or re-construct the era in which he was active. The author is clearly also a devoted fan of his subject, and the unquestioning approach which results doesn't help. The photos - many quite evocative - are good, though.


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