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Danton
Danton
by David Lawday
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars School-boy mistakes, 27 July 2009
This review is from: Danton (Hardcover)
O.K. So this is 'Popular History/Biography', and Lawday is certainly no Christopher Hibbert or Antonia Fraser. Lawday's experience of many years as a journalist has contibuted to compelling prose and a pacy narrative. However, as I raced through this book it felt as if I kept hitting speed-bumps, and the more I hit, the more cautious my reading became and what might have been an otherwise pleasent jouney became something of a rush-hour crawl. One example of such a speed-bump will suffice: The populace of Paris attacked the Bastille for - ostensibly - no real reason other than it being a symbol of tyrany (one line only, apparently there were "many prisoners" (7!) no mention of Les Invalides and the people wanting the gun-powder). Lawday even suggests (without a single line of supportive evidence) that Madame Roland had a crush on Danton.
In his (very few) notes, Lawday criticises the film which - it seems only too evidently - he has used as part of his (un-quoted) primary source material.
I was really looking forward to reading this book, because I have always found Danton fascinating. As a read - if one can vague generalisations inflated into assersions - it is alright, but it still left me wondering what the real Danton was like.


The Trojan War
The Trojan War
by Barry Strauss
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 14 Jan. 2008
This review is from: The Trojan War (Hardcover)
Drawing largely from various Ancient examples from the Egyptian, Hittite and Anatolian Kingdoms, Professor Strauss has reconstructed the various tales that combine to create a narrative history of the war between the Greek Kingdoms and Ilium at Troy.
By using the evidence, Strauss illustrates that the story may well have been true - although embellished for dramatic effect. Although the Gods probably didn't play a role as prominent as that ascribed by Homer et al, Strauss fully places the conflict in its historical context, comparing the political and military context.


The Trojan War
The Trojan War
by Barry Strauss
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 14 Jan. 2008
This review is from: The Trojan War (Paperback)
Drawing largely from various Ancient examples from the Egyptian, Hittite and Anatolian Kingdoms, Professor Strauss has reconstructed the various tales that combine to create a narrative history of the war between the Greek Kingdoms and Ilium at Troy.
By using the evidence, Strauss illustrates that the story may well have been true - although embellished for dramatic effect. Although the Gods probably didn't play a role as prominent as that ascribed by Homer et al, Strauss fully places the conflict in its historical context, comparing the political and military context.


Spartans - The Rise & Fall (Including the story of the 300) - History Channel [DVD]
Spartans - The Rise & Fall (Including the story of the 300) - History Channel [DVD]
Dvd ~ Spartans
Price: £9.34

49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Value, 30 Dec. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Roughly three hours of high quality documentary are on this DVD, and (at the moment) at only £7 represents a bit of a bargain. With scholars like Barry Strauss (Trojan War, Salamis) Donald Kagan (Pericles, The Peloponnesian War) Paul Cartledge (too numerous to mention) and others, the DVD is not only entertaining but highly educational too. There is no `dumbing down' of the subject, and although The 300 is mentioned, it doesn't take up too much space. You get a broad military and social history of Sparta from Helen all the way to their eventual defeat at the hands of the Thebans.
Although not as high profile as the very good `Sparta' with Bettany Hughes, it is just as good, and with the other currently out of press this is only 1/4 of the price, so get it while you can.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 27, 2015 7:57 PM GMT


Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King
Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King
by Lady Antonia Fraser
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars more light on the sun king, 8 Oct. 2007
I wrote this review for the Hardback edition, and think it fitting to include it here:

Another historical masterpiece from the author of `Mary Queen Of Scots', `Marie Antoinette The Journey' et al.
The book has at its centre the life of Louis XIV and the women who found themselves in his orbit.
Despite the allusions to romantic love in the title, there is a platonic element to the numerous biographies that Fraser intertwines with Louis', such as his mother and daughter-in-law.
The light shone on the Sun King is painted in delicate colours and there is little allusion to `goings on' outside his immediate court, such as the Edict of Nantes (a very significant event of his reign) and the wars with the Dutch and the `Grand Alliance' under Marlborough and Eugene. This is because it is a biography devoted to the emotional - dare we say it - human side of Louis.
One really can find little fault in any of Antonia Fraser's scholarly works, of which this is an elegant and insightful example.


The Spartans: An Epic History
The Spartans: An Epic History
by Paul Cartledge
Edition: Paperback

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Want to know more about the Spartans than just the '300'?, 7 Oct. 2007
This is an entirely readable, not to say enjoyable account of Spartan history, it explains their origins, development and culture in a simple way without any `dumbing down', and thus is very accessible to the reader unfamiliar with the people of the period.
I would counter the previous reviewers comment on the book as a `thesis draft': Cartledge has taught a Cambridge since the 70's and has honorary Spartan Citizenship for his contribution for telling it's history. So although not going to great lengths to give a highly detailed day to day chronological account of the minutiae of Spartan life for 400 years, it has indeed avoided dates upon dates, and used other sources in it's narrative - it is a scholarly work clearly intended primarily for the general reader with an interest in this era.
Read also Cartledge's `Thermopylae' for THE story of Spartan battle, or the fantastic `Persian Fire' by the brilliant Tom Holland.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 21, 2010 5:07 PM BST


In Hitler's Bunker - A Boy Soldier's Eyewitness Account of the Fuhrer's Last Days
In Hitler's Bunker - A Boy Soldier's Eyewitness Account of the Fuhrer's Last Days
by Armin Lehmann
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Woeful, 7 Oct. 2007
I cannot help but to agree with the previous reviewer, and thus reinforce the point that this book is awful. There is far too much material lifted from other sources that Lehmann would certainly not have been privy to at the time to really give this book any real credit in it's own right. One feels that there has been a lot of `padding out' done, otherwise this book would have amounted to little more than 50 pages.
There are many books on the last days in the bunker, and Trevor-Roper's is good given the immediacy of the authorship and the hoops he had to leap through with the occupying Soviet forces (the NKVD had already made off with what remained of Hitler and didn't let on for 60 years).
However if a quick summary of the `Last Days' is wanted, Fest's `Inside Hitler's Bunker' is quite good and very informative.


House [DVD]
House [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alan Autry

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 80's comedy horror, 19 Sept. 2007
This review is from: House [DVD] (DVD)
This is a typical 80's comedy horror, which I still find VERY funny twenty years on. Our hero, played by Katz (you may remember him from Perry Mason?) progresses from annoyed, to wary, to scared and ultimately annoyed victim of a spook in his new house, and all tongues are firmly in cheeks. There were more of these made, and like Evil Dead, they just got (intentionally) funnier and funnier). The fact that there were TWO sequels - and not DOZENS - showed that they knew when to stop. If you don't feel compelled to purchase this, keep an eye out for it on telly and watch / set your timer for it.


The Exorcist - Director's Cut [DVD] [1974]
The Exorcist - Director's Cut [DVD] [1974]
Dvd ~ Ellen Burstyn
Offered by I-Deal Media
Price: £12.93

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Class Act, 19 Sept. 2007
Truly well made, this Director's Cut is worth every additional penny. Friedkin was clearly a fan of Hitchcock.
This film provoked a debate at work - was it scary? An although I'm big and brave and wouldn't go so far as to say I was scared I would freely admit to being a little disturbed (my two-year old girl can do a Reagan-esque growl voice which makes me double-take).
The tension is maintained throughout and there is no `slack' point where the narrative could digress. The whole atmosphere, the increasingly disturbing events (some clever editing with a clown face) and a classic soundtrack add up to one mighty fine film.
It's not `A Nightmare On...' or `Halloween', it's grown-up `horror' and thus not for `kids'.


A Knight's Tale [DVD] [2001]
A Knight's Tale [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Heath Ledger
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its meant to be FUNNY, 19 Sept. 2007
This review is from: A Knight's Tale [DVD] [2001] (DVD)
This is a film with something for everyone (except for those reviewers below who gave this film a verbal bashing - they have absolutely no sense of humour).
There's a dashing hero; a sultry heroine; the comedy duo; rotten baddie and my favourite who completely steels the show: Bettany as Chaucer.
It has slapstick for the kids, swashbuckling action, jokes just for the `grown-ups' and a mean soundtrack that adds both to the atmosphere and the tongue in cheek element that has be alluded to below.
It's a little like the first Shrek film, in that you can all sit down as a family, and you're all going to enjoy it, from toddler to grannies (everyone except for those reviewers below may have had a humour lobotomy).


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