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David J. Kelly (Scotland)
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Politics and the English Language
Politics and the English Language
by George Orwell
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Effective and thought provoking, 13 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The first part of this publication is an essay on the use of the English language and the prevalence of poor, lazy English among the political writers of the mid twentieth century. It is, however, just as true today, as it was when it was written and I was able to see many of the faults Orwell picks out in many passages I have written. The essay is thought provoking and has made me more aware of how I use language. Clarity and simplicity are the main messages that Orwell is attempting to get to the reader, and as one would expect with a great writer does so clearly, simply and effectively.

The second part of the booklet is a review of "Mein Kampf" and it is difficult to read this now as a reader in 1940 would have. We are now all too aware of the horrors which Hitler and his party brought to Europe. From the review we can see that Orwell had begun to understand he true nature of Hitler and his regime but he and his 1940 audience still have no idea of the true nature of Hitler's tyranny and the genocidal years that follow.


TP-Link TD-W8968 300Mbps Wireless N USB ADSL2+ Modem Router for Phone Line Connections (USB Port for Storage Sharing, Printer Sharing, 3G Modem Sharing, FTP Server and Media Server)
TP-Link TD-W8968 300Mbps Wireless N USB ADSL2+ Modem Router for Phone Line Connections (USB Port for Storage Sharing, Printer Sharing, 3G Modem Sharing, FTP Server and Media Server)
Price: 29.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Unreliable, 1 Mar 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
After three days this router loses its internet connection every 5-10 minutes. I am on BT Broadband and the HomeHub was a lot more stable and gave a better Wi-Fi signal than this, my I phone 4GS responds better if I switch off wi-fi when it is in range of this router. Unless performance improves I will be reverting back to the HomeHub. I see a lot of satisfied reviewers on these pages but even with the power of the internet (when it's on) I can't find an explanation or solution to my intermittent access.


Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid
Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid
by Wendy Williams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A teuthological review, 21 Feb 2013
This book is a popular review of the latest science around the biology of the Cephalopoda, not just the squid of the title but also various octopus, cuttlefish and the Nautilus. Many of us will be familiar with these animals as food, calamari or pulpo, but their importance goes far beyond that. As the biologists who study cephalopods, teuthologists, uncover more data on these animals the more questions they need to answer. The science of squids and their ilk has led to advances in evolutionary biology, neuroscience, fisheries ecology and ethology.

Wendy Williams uses this book to review the state of modern teuthology, concentrating on the swuid including the little know but fascinating Giant and Colossal Squid and our search to discover more about them as well as their passage from creatures of myth to fully described and named species. The ecology of the Humboldt Squid, its researchers and what their research may reveal about the changing ecology of the oceans features a lot in the book but so does the importance of squid neurons in understanding how the human nervous system works, the evolution of the eye and the amazing life cycle of all cephalapods, exemplified by the Pacific Giant Octopus. Through it all the question of cephalaopd intelligence comes through, how it compares to mammalian intelligence and how these animals learn, communicate and develop forms a fascinating and intriguing major theme of the book.

Williams is a good author she lets the scientists tell their stories and writes around these. The book is beautiful, with an old fashioned feel to the paper and that and the splendid cover wre what first attracted me to it. Once I started it I found it easy to read and, despite, probably having a bit more knowledge about these animals than the average reader I found out plenty of new information which showed why these animals fascinate the scientist heroes of the book.


Histories of Nations: How Their Identities Were Forged
Histories of Nations: How Their Identities Were Forged
by Peter Furtado
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 24.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Good in parts but not always good with parts, 20 Feb 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The book attempts to consider how the the histories of various states are perceived within those states through asking historians from each statewrite an essay examining their countries' respective pasts and offer an opinion on how their home state's "national identity" is based around the popular perception of its history.

The States or counrtries examined include Egypt, India, Iran, Greece, China, Ireland, Spain, France, Russia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Sweden, Great Britain, USA, Australia, Ghana, Finland, Argentina, Canada, Italy, Japan, Germany and Israel. I can't call all of them countries as some are multi-national states such as Russia, China, the United Kingdom and Spain. The treatement of each state is inconsistent. The multi national chartacter of some states comes out well but in others the dominant national "identity" is discussed to the detriment or exclusion of the others. Where more modern states are discussed this is in greater depth than with the more ancient and complex states such as Iran.

A further criticism of the book would be in the Eurocentric bias shown in the selection of states discussed. There are few African states and only the largest Asian and South American states are given space. I found the book interesting in parts but often the essays were too superficial. I enjoyed it but I was not sure that it was telling me much new about the countries discussed.


A History of the World in Twelve Maps
A History of the World in Twelve Maps
by Jerry Brotton
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting but a challenging read, 5 Jan 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I found the subject matter of this book to be of great interest and it probably says more about me than it does the author that I found this a challenging read. The concept is that for as long as people have been producing maps of the world they have put their own cultural spin on those maps. Whether it is the ancient Babylonian stone tablet that starts the book where the centre of the world is Babylon, the Hereford mappa mund which has Jerusalem as its pivot through to the controversial Peters projection which sought to address the Eurocentric, "imperialist" bias of the standard Mercator projection in the 1960s and 1970s.

Brotton is really good at explaining the geometry of the production of maps and how the various map makers through history used the latest advances in science and technology to map the world. He also charts the development of the "science" of geography and of how the cultural norms and ideologies of the map makers influence their maps. The book takes us all the way through to Google earth and the readily available geo-images we now have access to on our tablets and smart phones.

This is a well written book, explaining the advances in map making and their results and bringing out the personalities and biographies of the cartographers. As I said, it probably says more about me that in some of the more technical passages I found myself losing concentration and the book took me longer to finish than many of the historical books I have read. I found, however, that it was actually worth the effort.


Fighting for Birds: 25 Years in Nature Conservation
Fighting for Birds: 25 Years in Nature Conservation
by Mark Avery
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.69

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why we need the RSPB and its ilk, 23 Aug 2012
This book distills one man's life but it is not an autobiography, it is the story of his vocation, his calling to a cause which should be important to every single person who has been uplifted at the sound of the skylark's song as spring approaches and the days grow longer in Spring, or had the privilage of watching hen harriers quarter over fields in search of voles. Mark Avery was employed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for 25 years and he describes it as a love affair rather than a job. He convinces the reader that of all the conservation NGOs in the UK, the best and most effective is the RSPB. It isn't perfect, and Avery suggests many ways in which it could be improved, but it has been effective in so many struggles to protect what we have left of our natural environment.

He covers the conservation issues which have hit the headlines over the last 25 years. Forestry in the Flow Country, the intensification of agriculture and the subsequent decline in common farmland birds, the growth of nature reserves, the reintroduction of iconic species such as the Red Kite, White-tailed Eagle and Common Crane to areas from where they were lost, climate change and our responses. Even the misguided and thoughtless responses such as the switching of food production to the production of biofuels and the presecution of Britain's birds of prey by the privileged few so they can shoot mass reared, artificially maintained hordes of game birds, many of which are as wild or native to Britain's countryside as Turkeys and Chickens. These are some of the topics covered in this passionate and eminently readable book which is unashamedly one sided, as it should be, and yet readable and thought provoking.

The whole ethos of the book is summed up in an anecdote Avery recalls about a rather testy meeting with Ed Milliband, the then Energy and Climate Change Secretary, that he should bear in mind that the environmental NGOs, such as the RSPB and its allies, were on the same side unlike the spokesmen for the vested interests. The NGOs were fighting for what they believed was right and stood to make no profit from their position, and the Sceretary should put more weight on the evidence they presented than of that of the spin doctors and lobbyists employed by those who stood to make money from damaging our natural inheritance. Avery says this is true, and it is.


Berghaus Chromia 30 Rucksack/Travel Bag - Black/Lichen Green
Berghaus Chromia 30 Rucksack/Travel Bag - Black/Lichen Green
Price: 47.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Versatile rucksack, 23 Aug 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This versatile travel bag cum rucksack was one which I found excellent for using on short business trips. There are various sections of the bag which allow you to carry a variety of items in separate parts of the bag. On trips I separated my netbook and its accessories from my clothes and toiletries. The netbook was still easily accessible if I neded to use it or go through airport security and the other items stayed secure. It would also pass the hand luggage test for longer trips where you were checking in a larger bag. All in all a well designed, versatiule and good looking rucksack/travel bag.


The Dispatcher
The Dispatcher
by Ryan David Jahn
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.68

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent thriller, violent and original., 6 Sep 2011
This review is from: The Dispatcher (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Ian Hunt is a police despatcher in a small Texas town where his 7 year old duaghter disappeared 7 years earlier, then one day she calls to ask for help. So begins a violent and exciting journey through the underbelly of the sunshine belt of the United States. She has been taken by Henry dean, a violent psychopath who kidnaps girls of the same gae as his deceased daughter would have been to keep his simple minded wife, Beatrice, happy. Maggie Hunt is locked in a cellar in the Dean's house and lasts longer than his other unfortunate victimes despie being subjected to brutal punishment. She has been renamed Sarah after the Dean's dead duaghter but she has not forgotten her true identity and one day she escapes, reaches a call box and dials 911 before Dean recaptures her. This sets her father on her trail, a trail which leads to Dean fleeing across the south western desert leaving a trail of murder behind him.

This is a dystopian road trip as Jahn takes the reader through the world of the dirt poor inhabitants of the American desert and their often dysfunctional lives surrounded by the detritus of ghost towns, drunkeness, failed marriages and desperation. It is not a tourist brochure for Texas anymore than Ian Rankin's novels show the shortbread tin side of Scotland. It is however a good read and I finished the book quite quickly. I had not read any of Jahn's other books but I will be checking more of them out.


Sworn Sword (The Conquest)
Sworn Sword (The Conquest)
by James Aitcheson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.34

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Harrowing of the North, 2 Aug 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This novel takes the reader back to the start of the campaign by the Normans to subjugate northern England during the winter of 1069-70. The hero of the book is a Breton Knight, Tancred a Dinant, who follows his lord Robert de Comines into Northumberland to claim his title as Earl and to bring the rebellious Northumbrians under the Norman heel. Tancred escapes from the massacre of the Norman Army in Durham and escapes to York where he is asked to give his oath to Guillame de Malet, Viscomte of York, and agrees to escort his wife and daughter to safety in London. A series of fast paced and rather bloody adventures follow as Tancred and his companions uncover a conspiracy to overthrow the King and get back north for the decisive battle of the campaign. An enjoyable adventure set in early Medieval England and the first in a series of books featuring Tancred.


Fire Season: Field notes from a wilderness lookout
Fire Season: Field notes from a wilderness lookout
by Philip Connors
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.96

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One season with musings on a whole century of the struggle to save America' s wild places, 2 Aug 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This short but interesting book covers one season of being a forest fire lookout in the Gila Wilderness Area in south-west New Mexico. The author uses the book to discuss a number of issues around the history of forest fires in the US and the changing view of forest fire as land managers come to realise that fire is an important factor in the ecology of these wilderness areas. Fire, Connors, tells us is no longer controlled at all costs and some are allowed to burn. The vegetation of these forests has, in fact, been shaped by these fires which create a healthy mosaic of different habitats ranging from grassy meadows to ancient Ponderosa pine forests.

Connors also passes on his views on many of the issues affecting the rural areas of the United States such as farm subsidies, using public land for grazing cattle, human interactions with predators such as the Grizzly Bear and the Mexican Wolf and the other authors who have shared his experience in the wilderness. He also touches on his own life whether it is his experience of 9/11 or his marriage but on the whole this book is an argument that we all need wilderness and that we interfere too much with that wilderness. We try to recast the wilderness for our needs and in doing so destroy its essence. If you enjoy books about the experience of the wild and the issues behind wilderness conservation then this book is one I would recommend.


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