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John D. Andrews "free democrat" (grantham, lincs United Kingdom)
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Blacklisted
Blacklisted
by Phillip Chamberlain
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Another chink of light into the deep state., 21 May 2016
This review is from: Blacklisted (Paperback)
It's impossible to underestimate the importance of this book. EVERYONE should read it, for it opens a tiny chink of light on the immensity of darkness that is the institutionalised evil of own government. One of the most powerful testimonies to this fact is given at the start of the last chapter. It's a quote by Michael Meacher, the MP and former Labour Minister, in 2013. Addressing a group of blacklisted victims, he said, in part, "All of the institutions of our state have utterly failed you, and I am utterly ashamed to be part of a state that has allowed this to happen."
My only slight criticism of the book is this: I think there are too many case histories provided as evidence - in the main body of the text at least. Of course these are important, but there are so many that they become repetitive, and I almost gave up with the book as a result. Personally I would have used just a handful of these in the main body of the text, to show my point, and then included all the others in an appendix at the end. For me, the most important chapters are the last three, but I almost never reached them because chapter after chapter of case histories gave me a sense of wondering if the book was going to be anything other than a collection of case histories.
But this is an important book, which is why I rate it as a five star read. It's right up there with Owen Jones' "Establishment", and Lewis and Evans' "Undercover".


The Establishment: And how they get away with it
The Establishment: And how they get away with it
by Owen Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars What I'd like to say about Owen Jones, 25 Mar. 2016
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This book is essential reading. That's it. Nothing else to say about it.
What I'd like to say about Owen Jones, however, is this: it's really exciting that someone so young has so much understanding about the world. I was in my fifties before I began to see the things that Owen Jones so clearly understood in his thirties. His voice will be a great one - up there with Chomsky.


Steepletone Memphis 5-in-1 Music System - 3 Speed Turntable / CD Player / DAB/Analogue FM Radio / USB/SD MP3 Player / Cassette Player / Vinyl to MP3 / Cassette to MP3 / Radio to MP3 Recorder (Silver)
Steepletone Memphis 5-in-1 Music System - 3 Speed Turntable / CD Player / DAB/Analogue FM Radio / USB/SD MP3 Player / Cassette Player / Vinyl to MP3 / Cassette to MP3 / Radio to MP3 Recorder (Silver)
Offered by DIRECT 4
Price: £144.99

5.0 out of 5 stars good value for money, 4 Feb. 2016
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We bought this a couple of weeks ago and I've waited till now to do the review so we could use it for a while. I have to say it's pretty good value for money. We had a problem at first playing CDs - it was jumping between tracks, but I contacted the supplier and they sorted it straight away (by e-mailing me some sort of fix which I could download onto a stick and then input the fix to the Memphis - which worked immediately).
We've also played some vinyl LPs and used the radio - all working just fine.


Dirty Wars: The world is a battlefield (Wellcome)
Dirty Wars: The world is a battlefield (Wellcome)
by Jeremy Scahill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.18

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars blood-curdling, 30 Sept. 2013
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I think of myself as pretty clued-up on how the world really works. But every now and then I read something that is not only quite eye-opening, it's also seriously important. Dirty Wars is an important book, and it should be mandatory reading in every high school in the world.

Most of the narrative is set in two parts of the world which, apart from those who live there, few people know anything about: Yemen and Somalia. For that reason alone, this is an important read, because these are not a couple of countries that exist under the radar because they tick along very nicely and never cause any ripples, they exist under the radar because that's what the masters of the universe decree. Everyone should know what's going on there, but almost no one does.

Just over a week ago there was an horrendous incident in a shopping mall in Nairobi that resulted in more than sixty deaths. That event was covered by most news organisations around the world. Here in the UK the BBC explained it as a dispute between the al Shabab, the Somali-based attackers, and the Kenyan government. On a superficial level, typical of most BBC "news", that was correct. But it goes much, much deeper than that.

Dirty Wars informs the world about JSOC. I'd never before heard of JSOC, and haven't yet come across anyone else who has. JSOC is effectively a new secret army that makes the CIA look like choirboys. It is effectively under the direct control of the US president and can and does operate anywhere in the world. It can and does murder countless numbers of defenceless civilians anywhere it likes - even US citizens.

The world changed with the creation of JSOC, just over ten years ago - not for the better. Dirty Wars explains how.


Dangerous Men: SAS and Popular Culture
Dangerous Men: SAS and Popular Culture
by John Newsinger
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could be so much more, 6 Jan. 2013
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I must begin by saying I am a huge Newsinger fan. "The Blood Never Dried" should, in my view, not only be mandatory reading in every school in the land, but school children should also be required to pass an exam in it.

However, were it not for the fact that someone else has written a rather silly account of "Dangerous Men", in my view, I must say I probably wouldn't have bothered to write this. I mean, for example, that reviewer writes, "there are many fallacious appeals to authority which betray the author's lack of military knowledge". I can't think of a single "appeal to authority" in the book - fallacious or otherwise. Furthermore the book is not supposed to be a textbook on military knowledge; as the title clearly states it's about the effect of the SAS on popular culture. To that end I think Newsinger did an amazing job, and the research he clearly undertook was obviously very considerable. So the reviewer's final comment, that, "No literate student of modern military history will find this book of value, unless as an object lesson in the dangers of not doing your research before venturing into print" is, in my view, really quite ludicrous. The book is obviously well-researched, and it is not supposed to be a study on military history, it's about the effect on popular culture of the SAS phenomenon.

That said, I'm not sure it succeeds in that purpose very well, which is why I have only rated this book with 3 stars.

Newsinger's research was clearly impressive, and his book is almost worth having simply to obtain a list of the sources he used. But my reservations prevent me from offering enthusiastic support for this particular project.

Like the afore-mentioned reviewer, I am uncomfortable with Newsinger's central belief that the accomplishments of the SAS are exaggerated. It's almost impossible to say whether these accomplishments are exaggerated or not, because to do that you would have to create two identical scenarios one with the SAS and one without. That of course is impossible. What Newsinger does use a couple of times as a measurement are the number of bodies left behind - and that is simply an erroneous method, because it depends absolutely on who the bodies are, and what function they used to serve. Furthermore, battles are often decided on quite small and apparently insignificant events - the way the tipping point on a mound of sand can be triggered off by adding just one more grain of sand. The presence or absence of the SAS at a particular moment in time might very well have been the decisive factor in many battles. It's almost impossible to prove one way or the other.

The other thing that quite got on my nerves was Newsinger's several referrals to the SAS as being objects of erotic desire, and even homoerotic desire. Whilst I'm sure that's true of some people, and of how some of the books and films of the SAS have been used, it would probably be equally true of any hunk in a uniform, and therefore the SAS are not exceptional and this point need not be repeated as often as Newsinger does so. But more to the point, Newsinger fails to offer any proof of this assertion. It would be equally possible (and more probable) to suggest that the fascination with the SAS stems from an even more basic human characteristic: our deep-rooted survival instincts.

If it weren't for the fact that this was a Newsinger book I wouldn't have bothered to read "Dangerous Men" at all. It's very good at what it does, which is to list many of the ways this band of licensed killers has influenced popular culture. But it could do so much more. It's as though this book hasn't actually been written. It's like a collection of reference material which is waiting to be used to examine the important questions, such as why do we live in a world where people like the SAS exist; and why do so many other people want to idolise them?


Celebrating Subversion
Celebrating Subversion

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Brilliant, 22 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Celebrating Subversion (Audio CD)
There are 30 tracks on these two discs, and every one of them is a little gem in its own right. Buy them NOW! And if there's an anti-cap roadshow gig playing anywhere within 50 miles of you go see it. It's brilliant.


Debt: The First 5,000 Years
Debt: The First 5,000 Years
by David Graeber
Edition: Paperback

19 of 45 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unconvincing, 26 Nov. 2012
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I must begin by saying I haven't read all of this book. I gave up with it. I would urge anyone thinking of buying it to browse Chapter Two. If that makes any sense to you a) you're a better man than me Gunga Din and b)you might get on with the rest of the book just fine.

Mr Graeber has a provocative style of writing which didn't endear me to his work - not that there's anything wrong with being provocative, but you do need to supply some convincing evidence. Mr Graeber tells us plenty of times that there is hard evidence for what he says... but I couldn't see it. Take for example the title of Chapter Two - The Myth of Barter. That suggests that bartering didn't exist, which is obviously ridiculous. I e-mailed him for clarification and he replied that the myth is that money comes from barter. Whilst that makes a little more sense I don't agree with his assertion that this is what historians of money say. My understanding is they say that before money was invented people used to barter with each other - which seems entirely plausible to me. If he had instead titled his chapter The Myth ABOUT Barter it would have been a little clearer, but the evidence he keeps on talking about that proves the so-called "myth" is not very obvious to me.

Also Mr Graeber seems to delight in attacking the work of Adam Smith. All I can say is that I find Adam Smith a good deal more rational and convincing than Mr Graeber.

I really, really wanted to like this book. Wikipedia says that Mr Graeber is an anarchist, and we anarchists need all the support we can get. But I'm afraid I was disappointed.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 28, 2015 12:33 AM BST


Some Recent Protest Songs
Some Recent Protest Songs
Price: £9.02

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another work of genius, 10 Oct. 2011
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If there's a better singer-songwriter working anywhere in the world today, I don't know about them.

Robb Johnson is a genius - and that's not a word I use lightly. I say it because of the sheer quantity of brilliant songs he produces, songs which are funny, or sad, angry and rebellious or happy and loving.

I've had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Robb, and he comes across as a wonderful, warm person who seems to live the ideals that so clearly drive him to do what he does brilliantly well: inform and inspire through his superb musical abilities.

"No Cuts" is yet another great album, and there's not a duff song anywhere in it. Tracks one and three are seriously funny, five and six are bitterly angry, and twelve and thirteen are upbeat and inspirational. I guess these are my favourite songs on the album; but they are all good, with well-written words and catchy tunes that you find are playing in your head throughout the day, and if you wake up in the night.

I've now collected most of Robb's published music, and I have no hesitation in thoroughly recommending all of his other work too, from "Margaret Thatcher, My Part in Her Downfall" - with the superb "Sunday Morning St. Denis" - which is quite simply one of the best songs ever written - to "Liberty Tree" - the brilliant album he recorded with Leon Rosselson about the life and work of Tom Paine.

Buy this man's music NOW; and if you ever get the chance to see him live, don't miss it. It's not often we get the opportunity to watch a genius at work.


Swiss Watching: Inside the Land of Milk and Money
Swiss Watching: Inside the Land of Milk and Money
by Diccon Bewes
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading, 31 Aug. 2011
I enjoyed this book, and read it in a couple of days. It's light-hearted, really funny in places and quite informative too. The fact that I've given it 4 stars instead of 5 is no reflection on its quality. I have a particular interest in Swiss government, which is arguably the best in the world, and so personally speaking I would like to have seen more about the subject (although it is covered quite well). However, Swisswatching is still definitely worth reading for most people, from those with little knowledge about the place, to those more familiar with the country but who enjoy a chuckle at others' idiosyncrasies.


Margaret Thatcher: My Part in Her Downfall
Margaret Thatcher: My Part in Her Downfall
Price: £24.02

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 24 Jan. 2011
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I'm ashamed to admit that I only discovered Robb Johnson a few months ago (as a result of hearing the wonderful 'Liberty Tree' - the album he recorded with Leon Rosselson), but after hearing this brilliant four disc album I'm now a firmly committed disciple and searching out his live gigs where I can behave like a sad little groupie.

You wouldn't mistake Johnson for a monarchist; or any other kind of apologist for our ruling classes.

I like almost every song on all four of these discs - which takes a bit of doing. The tunes are superb, the lyrics range from funny to angry and outraged and are often deeply thought-provoking, and Johnson has a great voice for folk song - which is the style of most of the tracks; and you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with his tunes running through your mind.

This is a great album and worth every penny. Buy it now.


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