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Mad Bookie "doughnutcity" (Basingstoke, England)

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Ripley Under Ground
Ripley Under Ground
by Patricia Highsmith
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ripley makes murder seem so reasonable, 26 July 2013
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This review is from: Ripley Under Ground (Paperback)
Although the Ripley books were written decades ago, they portray a world that still seems modern, although in this one, Tom Ripley has a really bad time with the 1950s French telephone system! Patricia Highsmith makes Ripley's decisions to commit murder seem so reasonable. She keeps up the suspense as Ripley faces several imminent threats of discovery, while never really being free of suspicion. A good sequel to The Talented Mr Ripley.


The Rough Guide to Germany (Rough Guide to...)
The Rough Guide to Germany (Rough Guide to...)
Price: 6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good but doesn't reach the superb standard set by the Gordon McLachlan edition, 26 July 2013
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The Rough Guide to Germany was one of the first books to take a new look at this enigmatic country. It threw out the old prejudices and explored and appreciated the real modern Germany for the incredibly attractive place it now is. Gordon MacLachlan set the standard originally. This edition falls back on the old tourist cliches a bit, but it is still a great guide to a great country.


Fast German with Elisabeth Smith Ebook (Fast Language with Elisabeth Smith)
Fast German with Elisabeth Smith Ebook (Fast Language with Elisabeth Smith)
Price: 3.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Just Right For Me, 3 July 2012
I already knew some basics of German, and had tried learning properly several times. This book is pitched at just the right level to get me going again, and happily encourages the learner to plough on ignoring gender and case and the relevant word endings at the beginning. The theory is that any German will understand you even if you are being cavalier with just about every word ending. And it's true: I explained in English to a waiter and bookseller in Cologne that I was learning German and would they bear with me, and they loved it!


Berlin Soldier: An Eyewitness Account of the Fall of Berlin
Berlin Soldier: An Eyewitness Account of the Fall of Berlin
by Helmut Altner
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horrifyingly real account of WW2 street fighting, 19 Jun 2012
Excellent. There's nothing like an eyewitness account to give real human depth to a story you thought you already knew. The author was a teenager conscripted into the Wermacht in 1945, and sent straight to the Eastern Front which had already come nearer to Berlin than Frankfurt (Oder). However, it's what happens in Berlin that brings home the utter devastation, absurdity and human tragedy of 20th century urban warfare. In just a couple of months he sees more action than most allied soldiers ever saw and endures the deaths of just about all of his equally youthful comrades (several of whom were his school friends). If you have any romantic notions about war, you have to read this as an antidote.


Lives: Joan of Arc
Lives: Joan of Arc
by Mary Gordon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.49

2.0 out of 5 stars Howlers create serious doubt, 19 Jun 2012
This review is from: Lives: Joan of Arc (Hardcover)
Although a very readable shortish life of Joan, it contains enough historical howlers to cast very serious doubt on the book's accuracy.

Several times she talks about the 'British'. The concept of British did not appear until the English and Scottish crowns were united two centuries later. Politically, Britishness did not really arrive until the Act of Union in the 18th century. It was most definitely the English who were fighting to take over the French crown.

She imagines that if the English had succeeded then nowadays France would be dominated by English culture (by Cheddar and not Brie!). How absurd! Could she not have glanced back at the UK, where Wales had been absorbed by the English crown two centuries earlier, but Wales has retained a distinct language and culture even until now. (and Scotland too)Similarly, Brittany has retained a language and culture despite the very centralised imposition of Francophone culture. Ditto Alsace. Throughout Europe there are examples of distinct cultures surviving inside nations with more dominant ones.

The Plantagenet kings of England had a very strong connection with France. English as the national language had been dying before the Black Death, with French as the language of court and politics even in Joan's time. It's possible that a united French-English kingdom would have again been dominated by French. So, to reverse her daft thought - no fish and chips nor cups of tea rather than no Brie nor Chardonnay.

However, what is more worth pondering is what effect it would have had on world history. North America would not be the same. No separate French colonies, no Seven Years War, no French support for the American revolution, perhaps no French Revolution nor Napoleon!


The Peregrine
The Peregrine
by J. A. Baker
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Poetic for me, 10 Jun 2012
This review is from: The Peregrine (Paperback)
I love good philosophical writing about the countryside and wildlife. I'll always give Richard Mabey a go. Crow Country by Mark Cocker is superb, as are the best bits of Roger Deakin. They mostly seem to idolise JA Baker's Peregrine. However, I admit to really struggling with it. It starts with some very good observations on the way the peregrine hunts, but then goes into extended poetical descriptions of his part of Essex and its birdlife. The style is just unending lyricism and poetical wordplay. It has virtually no interpretation by the author. To me it's just words pouring out of his head, and however beautiful, it's hard work to take it in.


South London Tramways 1903-33
South London Tramways 1903-33
by Robert J. Harley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.38

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Photographic Record, 5 Jun 2012
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This is mainly a compilation of old photos of South London tramways from 1903-33, ie the era of the London County Council electric trams, before LPTB took over all public transport in London. There are a few images too of Wimbledon, Croydon, Erith, Bexley and Dartmouth trams. As much a record of early 20th Century London street life as of trams in particular (although every photo features trams in some way). Includes some network maps and street map details. Good explanatory captions.


LCC Electric Tramways
LCC Electric Tramways
by Robert J. Harley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 25.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Evocation of a Lost Era, 4 May 2012
This review is from: LCC Electric Tramways (Hardcover)
A meticulously researched and comprehensive story of the beginnings and the heyday of the electric tram in London. It covers the politics with the LCC battling the boroughs, who had a veto on the creation of tramlines in their areas. The resulting odd features of the network and the substantial gaps in central London are explained. The politics of the LCC itself meant that grand plans were made and shelved, that the ground-based conduit power system ruled until political changes favoured the cheaper overhead wires. Metropolitan hubris also ruled with London's pride insisting on techical features that experience elsewhere had proven to be less than successful. The relationships with neighbouring tram systems, some good, some bad decided whether through trams ran to the edge of the conurbation or whether there was actually a gap between the ends of the rails! A great contribution to the history of modern London


Worth Dying For: (Jack Reacher 15)
Worth Dying For: (Jack Reacher 15)
Price: 3.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard Work, 19 Jan 2012
Compelling as all 'thrillers' have to be. But it's just a relentless spree of violence with an amoral central character who is deluded enough to believe he is upholding better values. He is also improbably lucky and clever. One massive suspension of reality in that the police seem to be never interested in a whole mass of dead bodies (including local 'businessmen') and arson appearing in an otherwise very quiet part of the US. Don't go there to live! I guess it's just a violent video game transferred to print.


London Railway Atlas
London Railway Atlas
by Joe Brown
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 21 Aug 2011
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This review is from: London Railway Atlas (Hardcover)
I admit to only having the 2006 edition, but I find that I am constantly peering into it for some tiny point of railway detail that I have seen or read about. My only niggle is that electrified lines are not differentiated in that edition (are they in the 2009 one?). Even without that I find the atlas is superb, and sets a very high standard for the other rail atlas compilers to compete with.


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