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Flakey "Gerald" (London)

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Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World
Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World
by James Hamilton-Paterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Like the Lightning, just not good enough, 25 July 2011
In this day and age it's simply not good enough to have history books written in this way. I'm a plane nut and grew up watching Lightnings and Vulcans thunder overhead. I was so looking forward to reading this. Well, the subject matter is spot on; the problem is with the writer who appears to have stepped out of some prehistoric time warp. In his introduction he wonders why a woman who is working as his assistant is angry with him. Probably because she was a PhD working for someone who was, by his own admission, bad at his work and only got the job because he knew the man in charge. Apparently she was intelligent "in a Guardian reader sort of way". Are we supposed to agree with this sort of claptrap? I've read local history books that are better written.

The decline of the British aircraft industry appears to be due to some conspiracy of unions, politicians and civil servants. The Comet kept crashing, the Lightning had an endurance measured in minutes. The aircraft were interesting, occasionally ahead of their time; the problem was, in the end, they just weren't good enough. In the same way everyone can admire the Concorde but gloss over the fact that it was the wrong aircraft at the wrong time, most of these aircraft were failures. The success of the Hunter and the Canberra showed it could be done. Perhaps there were too many people in the inductry who got their jobs because they knew the boss.

Please, someone write a book on this subject who's not looking back at some idealised time that never existed. The Elizabethans DIDN'T rule the sealanes, as the author claims in one of his rose-tinted musings, the Spanish did and we just managed to keep our heads above water. This is a great subject and merits a serious study. This isn't it.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2015 9:08 AM GMT


Moon Over Soho
Moon Over Soho
by Ben Aaronovitch
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's not to like?, 24 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Moon Over Soho (Hardcover)
Rivers of London was great fun but, as the first novel in what I hope will be a series, had to spend a lot of time establishing the characters. This time that's all in place and Mr Aaronovitch settles down and allows th plot to develop at its own pace. It's quite a pace. The tone is relaxed, the action is full-on and the locations are spot on. Take an hour one day and trace the action around Soho and the West End; great fun. I just hope the author has saved enough London trivia to feed another few novels. Bring on the TV series!


The Sinking of the Prince of Wales & Repulse: The End of a Battleship Era?
The Sinking of the Prince of Wales & Repulse: The End of a Battleship Era?
by Martin Middlebrook
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Naval tragedy perfectly told, 1 July 2009
I was familiar with Mr Middlebrook's wonderful histories of the bomber war and had always been struck by how fundamentally humane he was in his outlook. Regardless of which side the participants were on, or the morality under which they were operating, the author always seemed to recognise the tragic nature of events. How would he tackle an event, in this case the sinking of the Repulse and Prince of Wales in 1941, that was so far removed from his previous subjects? Well, he did so in a wonderfully illuminating way using his usual method of expertly blending eyewitness accounts and meticulous research. There's a melancholy about the book that I found almost startling. If anyone has restricted themselves to Mr Middlebrook's airforce histories please be advised that the man's genius covers other subjects. Strongly recommended.


D-Day: The Battle for Normandy
D-Day: The Battle for Normandy
by Antony Beevor
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still pretty good, 1 July 2009
Mr Beevor has produced a pretty good book here and reading the other reviews I can't help feeling that many of the reservations expressed by other readers are the product of the wealth of competing descriptions of D Day rather than any particular shortcomings of this book. The problem is, how do you follow a book like Stalingrad? OK, you cover the fall of Berlin. Then what? In his previous books Mr Beevor gave us the vital human element and projected it on a beautifully detailed broader canvas; and he told us (well, me at least) lots that I didn't know. Here, there just isn't the wealth of new personal detail; everythings been covered before. Monty wasn't the genius he believed himself to be, Britain was exhausted, the Americans had to learn from scratch, Falaise was a missed oportunity, war is hell....

The poor man can't just make stuff up; he can only take what is there. In the case of D Day he's produced a well-researched and moving account and deserves credit for that. The fact that his previous books have been so impressive is the only reason this book can be judged in any way a failure.


Raise the Titanic
Raise the Titanic
by Clive Cussler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, 1 July 2009
This review is from: Raise the Titanic (Paperback)
When I read a thriller I'm not usually looking for literature but the line has to be drawn somewhere. This was recommended to me by a friend, preseumably as a joke. The writing is so bad it had me in stitches, every character is a complete cliche and the plot staggers around like a drunk. Didn't this guy have an editor? Perhaps he was too busy checking the spelling. I've never seen the film but if it's half as funny as this book then I might give it a go when I'm next in need of a laugh. Buy this book, it's hilarious.


Cold Earth
Cold Earth
by Sarah Moss
Edition: Paperback

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book ready to be made into brilliant film, 30 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Cold Earth (Paperback)
This is a rare case of Blakey buying a book after reading a review. I usually ignore reviews, so here I am writing one. Cold Earth is a brilliant idea and a great story. It's not fantastic writing - I found the early pages in particular had a rather unfinished quality - but it reads well although it's certainly true that the female characters are much better written than the male. The author's determination not to drag out the ending results in the book being shorter than it should be. However, it's that rare thing, a popular book, generally well-written and with a cracking plot. Furthermore, a proper ghost story. Yes, I know, they might be only in the mind, etc, etc. Nope, these are ghosts and they are handled with aplomb. So, when you've gloried in Sarah Water's brilliant take on the twentieth century ghost story, try this one. Even better, if you're a film producer looking for your next project, snap up the rights as soon as you can.


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