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Todpete "machnew" (UK)

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Undercover: The True Story of Britain's Secret Police
Undercover: The True Story of Britain's Secret Police
by Lee Evans
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Schoolma'ams, 18 Nov. 2015
I bought this book because I thought it would be good background research for a book I am writing. Which it undoubtedly is. But I have several misgivings about it now. First, I agree with the people on here who say it is repetitive. It certainly is, and at times you need good willpower to keep reading. Secondly, I began to question its moral tone. There is one section in the book where a drug dealer gets sentenced to five years, and, from the way the book is toned, it looks as if the authors think we should feel sorry for him Well I didn't. Then there is a long quote from one of the eco-activists which goes unchallenged, where he likens his feelings for the undercover police officers to "prisons up and down the country that are full of people being visited by the relatives who still love them, even though they know the dreadful things they have done". What, so we ought to put a handful of cops who went undercover (and whose actions never actually led to anyone being jailed for any lengthy time) with mass murderers? I don't think so. (Incidentally, I do find it ironic how so many of the female activists the authors have interviewed talk about how they feel betrayed, yet they themselves practise polyamory, so loyalty I guess shouldn't be something they should treasure too highly.) Finally, the very last chapter of the book is the most patronising moral sermon I have heard in a very, very long time. The authors no doubt want to sound like they are hip and trendy, yet they actually come over like a couple of Victorian school mistresses. They talk about the police officers 'misdemeanours'. Who ever uses words like that today? (One final delicious irony: one of the women mentioned in the book, who used to be an activist, discovered that she had been betrayed by one of these cops many, many years later not by reading the right on Guardian, which these authors both work for, but by reading the Daily Mail. Ha ha ha. Now what was that my old Green Party local candidate who I canvassed for used to say about there being no such thing as an OAP activist?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2016 3:51 PM GMT


A Visit From the Goon Squad
A Visit From the Goon Squad
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly there, 22 July 2014
I enjoyed this book, but probably not enough to give it five stars. I think it actually works better if you consider it as a collection of inter-connected short stories rather than a novel. The only really central character who might hold a novel together is curiously elusive. Maybe that's the point. I think it also helps if you come from/live in/have visited New York. I haven't, so a lot of the references mean nothing to me. I also get the feeling that Jennifer Egan herself has grown very tired of the city. That said, two of the chapters - the opening one and the one about the General - would stand out on their own as fantastic short stories.


Death of an Ordinary Man: A Novel
Death of an Ordinary Man: A Novel

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something of a clash, 30 Aug. 2011
Within this book there are essentially two novels struggling to get out. One initially interesting one about a dead man watching his own funeral wake, and another beautifully written one about a couple trying and essentially failing to come to terms with the violent rape and murder of one of their daughters. Both on their own would be worth reading. But put together they rub up against each other the wrong way all the time, which is disappointing.


The Believers
The Believers
by Zoe Heller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a silk purse, 30 Aug. 2011
This review is from: The Believers (Paperback)
It's a well worn saying that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but it really applies in this book. The central character is so unlikeable in every way, and one of her daughters is only marginally better, that by about half way through I gave up being interested in what was going to happen to them. If this were Joanna Trollope, who does this kind of domestic issues drama far more effectively, you would let the "bad" character have at least one redeeming feature, or you would make the reader understand better why they were like that. This, in contrast, is too two-dimensional. The central character, while living in New York, is also technically a Brit, although little is made of this. You could take the first chapter out of the book and it wouldn't make any difference.


Letter to Daniel: Despatches from the Heart (BBC)
Letter to Daniel: Despatches from the Heart (BBC)
by Fergal Keane
Edition: Paperback

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Work it out for yourselves, fellas., 7 April 2011
Ach, this is a poor wee letter, we are told, from a hard working Irish fella to the son he misses so much on his bold and adventurous journeys abroad. Cue lots of strings, preferably on a Celtic harp. So what does he do on one of his rare home visits, lasting just a couple of days? Yes, that's right, he goes out big game fishing with the lads. For the whole day. No sign of Daniel there. I imagine someone else (probably female) is left with the child. There again, what do you expect from a man who has the nerve to allow a billboard poster about one of his books to describe him as "the world's greatest living journalist"? Are you reading this, Christiane Amanpour, Matthew Parris - not to mention the many thousands of journos out there who choose not to write in English from the comfort of a BBC studio?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 3, 2012 2:25 PM BST


Waltz Darling
Waltz Darling
Price: £4.34

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my fave albums of the 1980s, 5 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Waltz Darling (Audio CD)
Eight tracks that really give you a lift and get you dancing. My favourites are 'Something's Jumping in my Shirt', 'Waltz Darling', 'Shall We Dance' (OK it's a cover, but so what?) and the truly wonderful 'I Like You in Velvet'. But everything here is worth listening to. The frothiness of the orginal Blue Danube blends in perfectly with the lightweight nature of the modern dance music. I particularly like the way Malcolm Mclaren seems to have made sure that there isn't an obvious segue from one modern tune back to the waltz and vice versa - they pop up at the most unexpected moments.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 2, 2008 8:49 PM BST


And When Did You Last See Your Father?
And When Did You Last See Your Father?
by Blake Morrison
Edition: Paperback

4 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overblown, 15 May 2003
I found this book way too long for the subject matter. Yes, parts of it are moving, but I found the central character far too unsympathetic for such a eulogy. In fact, I thought that the journalist Blake Morrison so disparagingly describes as a 'cub reporter' summed his father up better in three words - 'a militaristic bully' - than Morrison does in the whole book.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 11, 2013 2:24 PM GMT


If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
by Jon McGregor
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One book that is perhaps worth the hype, 15 May 2003
Having read the other hyped novels like Zadie Smith and Ian McEwan and found them wanting, I did approach this with a bit of trepidation. But it is definitely worth it. He's very good at picturing the kind of limboland you fall into immediately after leaving university. And I like the way he concentrates everything down to just one day.


Fugitive Pieces
Fugitive Pieces
by Anne Michaels
Edition: Paperback

7 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An example of why not all Holocaust literature is good, 1 April 2003
This review is from: Fugitive Pieces (Paperback)
This book is drivel. It's embarrasingly awful. We are meant to sympathise with a man who thinks it's cool to stick pebbles down the swimsuit of a woman he's hardly met, and then feels betrayed when she leaves him. Yet it's all because he was taught by a legendary Jewish professor who was a victim of the Holocaust. The book's written by a poet and it shows - far too much flowery language, far too little character development and a very one-sided look at life.


Alma Cogan: A Novel
Alma Cogan: A Novel
by Gordon Burn
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faded celebrity at its best, 1 April 2003
This review is from: Alma Cogan: A Novel (Hardcover)
The tie-up with Myra Hindley is perhaps a bit sensationalist. But as a study of faded celebrity this book has no equal. It's pretty good too at depicting an intelligent woman who's become a star in the innocent 1950s realising that a darker period in social mores is about to begin.


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