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Divine Designs [DVD]
Divine Designs [DVD]
Dvd ~ Paul Binski
Price: 11.90

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Medieval Church History Poorly Presented, 11 Sep 2011
This review is from: Divine Designs [DVD] (DVD)
I totally agree with the reviewer who also rated this with 1 star. Presenter Binski gives too limited historical detail in each episode; I would expect better from a Professor of the History of Medieval Art. I have to wonder how he comes across in a classroom setting, as he is the most agitated, animated, and irritating presenter I have seen on BBC in many a year. The camera work was amateurish. The script needs a complete re-write. Don't waste your time with this one. Better see "How to Read a Church" series with Richard Taylor, for a more polished and presented production. Churches - How to Read Them [DVD]
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 16, 2013 3:41 PM BST


First Light (BBC) [DVD]
First Light (BBC) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Matthew Whiteman
Price: 12.49

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Battle of Britain Story, 6 July 2011
This review is from: First Light (BBC) [DVD] (DVD)
Based on Geoffrey Wellum's book "First Light," First Light (Penguin World War II Collection) this film was released in time for the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. At the age of just 18, Geoffrey Wellum was one of the youngest Spitfire pilots to go into combat during the Battle of Britain. A boy, barely out of school, he exhibits the wide range of emotions as a combat pilot in this film. The film, as a document drama, perfectly mirrors the book's story, and perfectly captures the mood of the period. If you want some sense of what it was to experience combat in the air, this is the film to see. I have only admiration for Geoffrey and all the chaps who flew with the RAF during the war, and especially during the Battle of Britain. We must never forget their courage and sacrifice.


A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland
A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland
by Charles Lachman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 15.05

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars May we see the DNA test results?, 6 July 2011
The blurb on the inside jacket cover gives the best review, with this phrase: "...allegations of rape, violence, slander, and prostitution." The book, which reads more like a novel than an academic tome, is very much made out of allegations. The subtitle on the books' cover, "The lies and scandals of President Grover Cleveland," will indeed catch a prospective purchaser's eye. However, the inside pages are something else entirely. Ignoring the typos sprinkled throughout, this reader got the idea he was reading a novel, rather than academic history. The footnotes were not numbered in the text, and you have to use guesswork from the "notes" section, to find out what is what, within the "quotes" marks given in the text and "notes." The numbers in the back do not correspond to the page numbers. What are your sources? is a good question to ask the author, when he makes statements that are not in quotation marks. For instance(s): p. 133: `Every Cleveland veto message to the Common Council came larded with sarcasm.' I have examined the original documents and do not find that to be the case; p. 127: `During that mayoral campaign of 1881, Cleveland hoisted many a stein of beer.' What is the source for making that blanket statement? P. 140: no source for the dialog: "I understand that you are prominent in the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association?" "That's right," Mahoney said. He was the supreme vice president; p. 221; `Surely, Cleveland felt deeply ashamed.' What is the source for making that assumption; p. 307: `A shower of insults came down on Burchard...' What were these (shower of) insults? The author gives none, and there is no footnote for making this statement; p. 335: `"That is not true," he responded gruffly.' There is no footnote for this quote; how does the author know that Cleveland ever said it? Then, to add to the lurid tale, the author adds pp. 364-65 of speculation about domestic violence in the White House and does nothing to absolutely refute the evidence, by adding another non-quoted: `Supposedly, President Cleveland simmered with jealousy, and when Frances returned to the White House, he went berserk...' Again, no source is given, and one must assume that the author has made up the dialog to suit his storyline. And the list goes on...ad nauseam.

The text is filled with much inconsequential detail, i.e., Mark Twain's brief visit to Buffalo as editor of the Express newspaper; Jacob Riis application for a reporting job; the Scripps brothers purchase of the Evening Telegraph; the Rev. Burchard's "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion," speech; the many pages devoted to the lesbianism of Rose Cleveland, sister of the President; how some of the principal characters in the story died...with the author's implication that "...she was not the only person touched by the scandal who came to a sad end." So what? That the Halpin scandal had some impact on their deaths? And then, p. 401: `the vagaries of history passed Buffalo by. In 2010, it was ranked the sixty-ninth largest city in the United States, with a shrinking population of 270,000." So what? Why denigrate the city of Buffalo?

Since the affidavit of Rev. Ball in the libel suit transcript, was inaccurate and filled with falsehood, in the trial transcript, (he had falsely accused Cleveland of being involved in the Oscar Folsom accident and being drunk); Ball was also a political hack who chaired his own minority independent party, in opposition to the Democrat and Republican, who had income from backers; what about those of Maria and Frederick Halpin? The author may have located a libel-suit trial transcript which includes these affidavits alleging Grover Cleveland's wrongdoing (but no testimony by Maria Halpin), but we have yet to see a DNA sample to prove the claim.

The author closes with the chapter, "Keeper of the Flame," an allusion that Grover's wife managed his papers in such a way to keep the truth of Maria Halpin from coming out. This is incorrect. Maria Halpin Seacord Hunt (she was married three times) was, we know, sexually involved with other young married and un-married men in Buffalo.

Along with some newly published pictures of Maria, baby Oscar, and Dr. James E. King, Jr. (who was, in reality, Oscar Folsom Cleveland) are included, we are not told anything new, except the trivial tidbits as mentioned above. The reader is not told how Cleveland, as Mayor, fought the grafters trying to gouge the city of Buffalo for street cleaning; seeing to it that professional engineers, not political hacks, laid a new sewer system. He even made a surprise visit into the sewers himself, to look for shoddy construction...and found it. As nominee for President, he had indeed had an affair with Maria Halpin. So had many other men...married ones. Cleveland was not sure that he was the father, and it is very likely that he suspected who the real father was. But as the only bachelor, he felt a responsibility to claim paternity, and had taken full responsibility, legal and financial. Now look back at that presidential race and compare Blaine's lying and Cleveland's honesty, and the character of the man stands out. We might not remember famous sayings of other "Gilded Age" presidents, but it was Cleveland who said, "Public office is a public trust." And, when he lay on his deathbed, his last words were, "I tried so hard to do right."

The truth was this: In the early 1870s as a young Buffalo lawyer, Cleveland befriended Maria Halpin. He was, in fact, one of several gentlemen who found Maria interesting and attractive. In 1874, she revealed that she was pregnant and claimed that Grover was the father. All her other male friends were married with families of their own, and it isn't clear whether Maria really believed the bachelor Grover was responsible, or was just naming the man most likely to confess and marry her.

Of Cleveland, the acerbic commentator H. L. Mencken once wrote an essay which he entitled, "A Good Man in a Bad Trade." If Mencken were writing of Bill Clinton today, he might well title his essay, "A Bad Man in a Trade He May Have Made Even Worse."

Charles Lachman's book reads more like a novel with undocumented quotes, lacks good footnoting, is lurid, leaves out much, includes too much trivia, and, will probably sell well, given the cover and title/sub-title. Unless there is DNA proof, he cannot claim with certainty that Grover Cleveland was the father of Maria Halpin's baby.


Hell On High Ground, Volume 2: World War Ii Air Crash Sites
Hell On High Ground, Volume 2: World War Ii Air Crash Sites
by David W Earl
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Research on WWII Air Crash Sites in the British Isles, 11 Jun 2011
Author David Earl deserves much praise for this outstanding reference book covering over 100 air crash sites during the War. The superb text is accompanied by excellent pictures of the men who flew, and in some cases, a view of the actual crash site. This is a treasure trove of information not to be found elsewhere, and in such detail.

The book covers air crashes in the Peak District, Yorkshire Moors, Lake District, Western Pennines, Isle of Man, South-West Moorlands, Scotland and the Highlands, Border Hills, Welsh Mountains, Northern Ireland, Irish republic, and The Islands and Outer Hebrides.

With an excellent table of contents, index, O/S grid references, and list of airmen lost; we are also given amendments and additions to the author's volume 1.

You couldn't ask for a more detailed and accurate picture of these WWII air crashes. With each crash assigned an appropriate title which, includes aircraft name and number, the reader is taken on a journey that becomes a page-turner in its own right. The research is extensive, making use of accounts of those involved, MoD, CWGC, Public Records Office, next of kin, etc. There is a personal element developed in each air crash story, which is a constant reminder of those who flew these aircraft and gave their lives for freedom. Anyone involved in aircraft archeology will want this volume in their library. Excellent...and highly recommended!


Vera - Series 1 [DVD]
Vera - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Brenda Blethyn
Price: 10.20

10 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Forbidding, Foreboding; Unbelievable Police "Psychodrama", 30 May 2011
This review is from: Vera - Series 1 [DVD] (DVD)
It's surprising and unfortunate that the ITV crime drama, "Vera" is being picked up for a second season. There is more "psycho" than "drama" in this very dark and brooding police who-done-it, set in Scotland. I call it unbelievable, because...it is: the characters, plot, background music, and scenery are very surreal. The characters are unbelievable: a Detective Inspector, Vera Stanhope, played by Brenda Blethyn, who is brash, brusque, and not believable. This reminds me of taking Patricia Routledge ("Keeping Up Appearances") and trying to cast her as "Hetty Wainthropp Investigates." No DCI would behave this badly during an investigation. And her assistant, a DS played by David Leon, is treated as a son than a team player. The most believable character was that of the pathologist, who played it as a more realistic part. The plots are herky-jerky, with no central theme that, instead, is made up of small vignettes, that are constantly changing, with no real carry-over: one is jerked along from one "scenette" to the next; no smooth transition; no substance that helps the overall plot, which basically just jerks you along. It is not fulfilling to the viewer. And the scenery (which is an injustice to the gorgeous Scottish scenery that many are familiar with) is so dark, moody, grimy, and surrealistic, that one wonders if Macbeth himself is going to step out of the abandoned castle in the first episode. The music, mostly classical and moody, is inappropriate, except that it matches the dark scenery. Having struggled through the first two episodes, I couldn't stand to choke on the next two. If I could, I'd give it a rating of star. The series, if it continues, needs a fresh director, who can take control of the scripts and music, and do something more creative for the crime drama viewer. If the producer can't do without the two lead characters, at least make them more believable and less "dark," and bring them down to earth. Otherwise, it's not worth the time or money.
Comment Comments (16) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2014 7:46 AM GMT


Lincoln Unmasked
Lincoln Unmasked
by Thomas DiLorenzo
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.43

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Research on the Lincoln Many People Don't Know, 28 May 2011
This review is from: Lincoln Unmasked (Paperback)
I will not go into the detail, as other reviewers who have also given this book 5 stars, have written. I will mention that what Dr. DiLorenzo has written is factual presentation of the Lincoln I was not taught in grade school, but was later exposed to, by a Columbia University professor in my undergraduate days, which information clearly upset several minority members of the class. The truth was hard for some students to swallow: that Lincoln was racially biased and had definite plans to export (I chose that word for a reason: slaves seen as property) the blacks to Africa and other countries, because, in his view, they simply would never assimilate well in the population. This book dove-tails nicely with his early work, "The Real Lincoln," The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda and an Unnecessary War, which provides an excellent frame of reference. I never tried to whitewash my own lectures in the ensuing years about this president, who was a white supremacist and was disliked by many abolitionists of his day. There are other facets of Lincoln's character that would not sit well with students, including his early law career which included corruption as a railroad industry lobbyist. Highly recommend.


November 22 1963: You Are the Jury
November 22 1963: You Are the Jury
by David W. Belin
Edition: Hardcover

2.0 out of 5 stars The Jury is Still Out, 21 May 2011
As I've said before about David Belin's books, anything written by David Belin should be taken with a grain of salt...maybe the whole salt shaker. He, it is now known, tampered with evidence given by at least two witnesses whom he interviewed, Policeman Roger Craig and Victoria Adams, and completely ignored other witnesses in his own rush to judgement. Belin had a way of interrogating the witnesses. Take for instance Roger Craig, in reference to his testimony: he, Belin, would ask certain questions and, whenever an important question would come up, such as a description of clothing or a time element or something; he had to know what Craig's answer was before hand, and would turn off the tape recorder he was using, and instruct the stenographer present, to stop taking notes. Then Belin would ask for the question, and if the answer satisfied him, he would turn the recorder back on, instruct the stenographer to start writing again, and he would ask Craig a completely differently question. Consider Belin's question if the Rambler car Craig reports as having Oswald away from the area, had out-of-state plates or Texas plates. Craig replied that they were not the same color as Texas plates...in the final testimony, Belin took the word "not" out, so it completely changed that particular sentence. Craig later saw the car in question and it had out-of-state plates. Belin also changed the color of the car, the color of the man's jacket driving the car; he just rearranged everything. Now in 26 volumes of Warren Commission testimony, Craig's testimony, was changed 14 times! Is Belin a man who can be believed? For new disclosure on David Belin's interrogation techniques, and how he manipulated what he presented to the Warren Commission, see the book: "The Girl on the Stairs," by Barry Ernest. The Girl On The Stairs: My Search For A Missing Witness To The Assassination Of John F. Kennedy As is stated in that book, it was Belin who had officially questioned many of these witnesses; it was Belin who wrote memos attempting to undermine those witness statements; it was Belin who allowed the Warren Report to say that what the witnesses said was wrong. Now writing in his book that asks the public to be the jury in this case, but he hides from them what would prove him to be the one who was wrong, and instead continues with the distortion that several of the key witnesses he interviewed were "mistaken" about their testimony. Honest men do not make these kinds of errors, and evidence to make some of these witnesses appear wrong, was fabricated. New letters from witnesses with collaborating evidence, withheld from the public, have been recently released concerning Belin's mishandling of his position. He's the one who should be put on the stand and made to answer questions about his dereliction of duty as an officer of the court, to the Warren Commission. I give the book 2 stars for interesting reading and other JFK tidbits, but do not recommend it for accuracy. The jury is still out.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 31, 2011 6:31 AM BST


Final Disclosure: The Full Truth about the Assassination of President Kennedy
Final Disclosure: The Full Truth about the Assassination of President Kennedy
by David W Belin
Edition: Hardcover

2.0 out of 5 stars Not the Truth, The Whole Truth, The Full Truth, and Not Final, 20 May 2011
Anything written by David Belin should be taken with a grain of salt...maybe the whole salt shaker. He, it is now known, tampered with at least one witness whom he interviewed, Policeman Roger Craig. Belin had a way of interrogating the witness, Craig, in reference to his testimony: he, Belin, would ask certain questions and, whenever an important question would come up, such as a description of clothing or a time element or something; he had to know what Craig's answer was before hand, and would turn off the tape recorder he was using, and instruct the stenographer present, to stop taking notes. Then Belin would ask for the question, and if the answer satisfied him, he would turn the recorder back on, instruct the stenographer to start writing again, and he would ask Craig a completely differently question. Consider Belin's question if the Rambler car Craig reports as having Oswald away from the area, had out-of-state plates or Texas plates. Craig replied that they were not the same color as Texas plates...in the final testimony, Belin took the word "not" out, so it completely changed that particular sentence. Craig later saw the car in question and it had out-of-state plates. Belin also changed the color of the car, the color of the man's jacket driving the car; he just rearranged everything. Now in 26 volumes of Warren Commission testimony, his, Craig's, was changed 14 times! Is this a man who can be believed? For new disclosure on David Belin, see the book: "The Girl on the Stairs," by Barry Ernest. The Girl On The Stairs: My Search For A Missing Witness To The Assassination Of John F. Kennedy. As is stated in that book, it was Belin who had officially questioned many of these witnesses; it was Belin who wrote memos attempting to undermine those witness statements; it was Belin who allowed the Warren Report to say that what the witnesses said was wrong. Belin has also written another book November 22 1963: You Are the Jury in which he asks the public to be the jury in this case, but he hides from them what would prove him to be the one who was wrong, and instead continues with the distortion that several of the key witnesses he interviewed were "mistaken" about their testimony. Honest men do not make these kinds of errors, and evidence to make some of these witnesses appear wrong, was fabricated. New letters from witnesses with collaborating evidence, withheld from the public, have been recently released concerning Belin's mishandling of his position. He's the one who should be put on the stand and made to answer questions about his dereliction of duty to the Warren Commission. I give the book 2 stars for interesting reading and other JFK tidbits, but do not recommend it for accuracy. This is definitely not the final disclosure of the JFK murder.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 1, 2011 10:54 AM BST


Lost Jfk Tapes: The Assassination [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Lost Jfk Tapes: The Assassination [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Artist Not Provided
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: 8.29

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Basic JFK assassination material, 19 May 2011
"Lost Tapes," are the basic materials for anyone wanting to know about the JFK assassination. However, I hate to disappoint the reviewer who stated that he found the most intriguing thing was, and I quote: "I've long wanted to have this delightful little snippet to counter the claims by 'conspiracy buffs' who seized upon a statement made by Curry late in his life in which he did say that they (the DPD) couldn't place Oswald in the window." BUT, it just so happens that Jesse Edward Curry, who was Chief of Dallas Police when the assassination occurred, stated on a video clip readily available on the internet: "But just in my mind and by the direction of the blood and brain from the President from one of the shots, it would just seem that it would have to be fired from the front rather than from behind." This is significant, since Lee Harvey Oswald's position during the shooting of President John F. Kennedy is, according to the Warren Commission and many others, to the rear of President Kennedy's limousine. Curry was later quoted, "We don't have any proof that Oswald fired the rifle, and never did. Nobody's yet been able to put him in that building with a gun in his hand." (For reference see: " 'Not Sure' on Oswald Author Curry Indicates", Dallas Morning News (Nov. 6, 1969; also the video of Curry on YouTube). Conspiracy and Revisionist History theories are alive and well precisely because of Curry's statements and because of new evidence that continues to surface.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 29, 2011 3:13 PM BST


Ghost Stations the Story: True Ghost - Mystery Stories
Ghost Stations the Story: True Ghost - Mystery Stories
by Bruce Barrymore Halpenny
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overview with no Detail, 14 May 2011
The author presents a sampling of his "ghost station" stories in this paperback, which should be considered a background for his entire "Ghost Stations" series. In addition to the 2-3 pages for each "story," we are given in the beginning, a copyright warning page, which also appears in almost identical form at the books' end. Halpenny is clearly upset that "everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon" of RAF station research, and feels that there are many who have plagiarized his work. This is an interesting way to begin a book, but if the reader will continue into the details, one finds that the author's vanity is clearly at work: almost every picture portrays him holding a copy of his latest ghost station book; he continually uses the personal pronoun "I" and bold-face type when he claims to report an "Exclusive" ("Exclusive" in bold-face type) interview with someone of note. Not content with the first page "Copyright Warning," he broaches the subject again and again, within the books' pages.

Consider his chapter on "So what is Folk-Lore?" He pauses in the third paragraph of that short chapter to launch into a diatribe of disdain with use of profanity (edited out of this review): "...no plagiarists are going to steal my Work and think they can get away with it....see Copyright and Warning Notice." The "Copyright and Warning Notice" again appears after the last page of text, and it has some queer statements in it: "This book may not be used to prepare or compile articles or other books; nor as a source for students, schools or any commercial services, books or media; without first obtaining permission and a License." (I assume that students in school could not read his books and include quotations in term papers which would be properly footnoted? Without a "License," which he would charge for?) His "warning Notice" threatens all sorts of "Debt Collecting, Blacklisting, and Unpaid Invoices."

Sadly, I conclude that Mr. Halpenny is using a Vanity Press or Print-on-Demand Press, to publish his material. You don't see these types of ludicrous statements in genuine academic books. When I read through his earlier "Ghost Station" series, the stories were presented without much of his vanity intruding into the narration, and the ludicrous copyright warnings.

But in this book, as far as the content is concerned, I take issue with, among other things, his chapter, "Dishonoured--Disowned," when he takes the MoD to task, for small compensation liability payments in the 1994 RAF Chinook crash case. He likens the British government officials to "Hitler's and little Tin Gods," for their failure to look after war pensioners and war widows, which is a little drastic to state.

Don't waste your time buying this one; his earlier "Ghost Station" books are probably the best, even though at times, they are written a little un-evenly and disjointed, story-wise.


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