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Profile for Matt Beeson > Reviews

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Matt Beeson "Violet Stabbings" (innerleithen, United Kingdom)

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The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920
The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, thoroughly enjoyed, 31 Mar. 2016
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This is a fantastic book that has filled a major gap in my knowledge of the Great War, and of the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. It also explains how the Imperialist greed of Britain, France and Russia carved up the post war Middle East into a nightmare of Arab and Muslim resentment and reaction. The catastrophe of Islamic State can be traced back to these events 100 years ago


War Is A Racket
War Is A Racket
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Early investigation of big business links to war, 30 Mar. 2016
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This review is from: War Is A Racket (Kindle Edition)
Retired general of US Marines exposes the murky links between profiteering corporations, the military, politicians and war. His conclusion is that war simply uses the blood and sweat of the poor to line the pockets of the rich. Packed with facts of how war boosts company profits


Rambo III
Rambo III
Dvd
Price: £5.99

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pitiful, 3 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Rambo III (Amazon Video)
A cretinous movie that defies all logic. At one point the muscle bound halfwit, who can barely speak, manages to drive a Soviet tank while simultaneously loading and firing the tank gun. This is before we enter debates about USA good and Soviet Russia evil, which we now know is an extremely grey area. But if you like cretinous plots, cretinous actors and guns that never need reloading, this is for you


War Without Garlands: Operation Barbarossa 1941-1942
War Without Garlands: Operation Barbarossa 1941-1942
Price: £8.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 27 May 2015
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Extremely informative and well written. Good explanation of the campaign and the consequences of it. Personal accounts bring the book alive


Finland's War of Choice
Finland's War of Choice
by Henrik O. Lunde
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Well researched, but deadly dull, 22 Mar. 2015
I was very keen to get this book, as I have a family connection with Finland, and I had enjoyed reading about the Winter War. I think this book is well researched and factually correct, but the lack of any human perspective makes it deadly dull. I gave up before the half way mark. If there had been some soldiers eye views on the situation on the ground, the story could have come alive. Very disappointed. For the scholar only.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 3, 2016 11:08 PM GMT


The Vote
The Vote
by Paul Foot
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Anarchist Perspective, 26 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: The Vote (Paperback)
Paul Foot was the best British investigative journalist, and no one has since replaced him. His wit and wisdom fill this (and all his other books and articles), and make it a really easy read. As the other reviewers point out, this is a first class analysis of the struggle in Britain for democracy. Paul Foot was a democratic Marxist. I will declare my background here as an anarchist. Paul did not have much time for Anarchists, but (obviously) I think he was wrong.
Paul details in this book how every consession, from the ruling class, was wrested from them by class struggle and direct action, or the threat of it. His conclusion is that each action and each extending of the voting franchise, was the victory. He describes how each victory came with other concessions from the ruling elite, such as the NHS and industry nationalisations.
In his final chapter Paul Foot shows how the vote has been undermined, by the corporate/ruling class elite. He recommends a return to the struggle and direct action to wrest back democracy. That's where I disagree with him, yes take back to the streets, but don't get fobbed off with a vote. It is virtually worthless. Stay on the streets until we get true democracy at work, the corporations and national industries are run by the workers and local communities. Never leave the streets, that is a revolution


Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism
Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism
by Michael Parenti
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Parenti Kicks the Black and Red, 23 Dec. 2014
I found some of this book informative, but mostly found it a Bolshevik apologist's wet dream. Here is my précis Parenti points out the obvious, some things behind the Iron Curtain were great health care, job security, education. The Soviet Union was the subject of attack and sabotage from the Capitalists for all it's days. Fine so far.,..,then Parenti turns his guns on his real enemy anarchists and libertarian communists, they stabbed the revolution in the back, they are infantile dreamers and have never had a success story to support (he can't have heard of Mahkno's Ukrainian Siege Anarchism or the CNT/FAI's Catalonia (that Trotsky, Lenin and Stalin turned on with fury)). So Chomsky gets the boot stuck into him and so does poor old George Orwell. George, Parenti tells us pretended to be of the left and sniped at good old Uncle Joe Stalin from the safety of England. Obviously "Homage to Catalonia" isn't available in America. George Orwell knew what the Stalinists were like as he saw for himself in Spain.
Parenti also does his best to play down Stalin's crimes (Lenin's and the other Bolshevik murderers also). He hates Trotsky, which is one thing we agree on, but mainly because he ran away from Russia and started sniping from the safety of Mexico (until Stalin's ice pick got him). He uses old NKVD files that basically say Stalin "only" killed 800,000......it does not occur to Parenti that the NKVD, having seen what happened to the Nazis might have kept quite about some of their activities. Bolshevism isn't like Capitalism Parenti tells us, because it has no imperialist need to conquer other lands for gain. Tell that to the Poles, Ukrainians, Finns, Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians among others.
Yeah, the grass looked greener on the other side, and now the Russians and East Europeans realise what they lost.....well they didn't get like for like did they? They lost all their benefits and went straight to third world status. But here's a thing, what if Britain, France, West Germany etc. were better places to live? Of course now we have let the capitalist trolls take away most of the post war settlement. In the 1980s the other side of the wall looked a lot better, to those in the East, maybe it was? Parenti's book is extremely myopic.
A great buy if you are a commie and will substitute freedom for a full belly, but not if you value socialism and freedom


The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War
The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War
Price: £9.49

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book that has filled in many blanks on my ..., 23 Dec. 2014
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Great book that has filled in many blanks on my knowledge of Polish WWII history. A very sad tale of a country torn apart by the bestial Nazis and Bolsheviks. Also a reminder of how the world sold out Poland, in particular how Britain stabbed it's first WWII ally in the back. Also uplifting in that it shows the heroism of the Poles and sets the record straight on the treatment the Polish Jews got from Polish people (good and bad). Brilliant


The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire
The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire
Price: £9.49

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, well researched, 23 Dec. 2014
Great book, well researched, well written. Enough humour to pad out the sorry tale of British Imperialism and robbery, without belittling the subject. If you sense empire was wrong and shameful, and you want to know why, this is the book


Free to Learn
Free to Learn
by Peter Gray
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Eureka Moment Book, 14 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Free to Learn (Hardcover)
There are very few books you read that you get a eureka moment when reading. Dr. Peter Gray's "Free to Learn" is, for me, just such a book. A few pages into this exceedingly well researched and referenced work, and I realised that Dr. Gray was explaining to me the reasons why, I instinctively knew, we in the UK and USA (and lots of other places) are getting childhood and learning wrong. Dr Gray first sets out to link how human beings learn through play, and also how this in turn is linked to our evolution and ancestral heritage. To illustrate our instinctive need to learn through play, Dr. Gray explains the fact that humans are basically hunter gatherers, that have, through a roller coaster ride of technological advance, ended up "forgetting" the ways our forefathers, wisely ordered their lives and society, to ensure life remained playful and fun. Basically humans have existed in the hunter gatherer mode of life for 1-2 million years and as only started farming 10,000 years ago. We are, essentially, in evolutionary terms, still hunter gatherers. Further Dr. Gray shows us, that in fact, all mammals learn most of what they need to learn, instinctively, through play. The more intelligent or complex a mammal, the more it plays (carnivores play more than herbivores for example). Much of this learning through play involves little or no parent/adult supervision or input.
In linking the instinct for play, and learning through play to evolution and the lifestyle/customs of our forebears, we learn how crucial play is for our children. This leads to other sections in the book, early on Dr. Gray examines how as a society we have limited, in various ways, free play for our young people. The fear of sexual predators, less playing fields, less trust of our young people, longer school hours, more homework, more organised sports and activities have all contributed to a situation where opportunities for free, unsupervised play are few and far between. Later in the book, Dr. Gray gives us examples of how to reverse this trend and give childhood and free play back to our kids.
Another major part of the book is devoted to a real life school, in the USA, that Dr. Gray's own son attended. His son was clearly not fitting in to regular schooling, was deeply unhappy and was rebelling. Fortunately, this "school" was an option for the Gray family, and his son attended and thrived there. This seems to have been the inspiration for Dr. Gray to study this subject in depth, and to analyse how the organisation worked and further, to scientifically quantify the results. The result is we see that not only did the "school" seem idyllic in it's structure and ethos, but it produced bright, confident, happy young adults who were able in almost all cases to enter the world of work without the formal schooling most of us are put through. The "school" is basically a well resourced and safe base, with a staff of adults on hand to assist the kids, learn for themselves through play. There is a complete democracy in the school, in which all decisions are put to a vote that every "pupil" and adult has a say in. Thus there is no hierarchy. Disputes, such as bullying, are dealt with by pupil boards in a democratic fashion, and this leads to such disputes being infrequent and any that arise being fairly adjudicated with little bad feeling. The kids are free to do as they wish while "at school" and this leads to play, which in turn leads to learning through play. Through this play, with a wide range of children of all ages and both genders, the children learn everything they need to grow into adults, you'll have to read the book to find out exactly how. An illustration of how we learn through play is learning to talk. We never had any formal lessons in how to speak the language of our parents and peers, however by play and copying we can by age four to five converse to a pretty high standard. Dr Gray goes on to show (in a scientifically quantifiable way) how the alumni of the "school" go on to do perfectly well, perhaps even better than their peers who go through traditional schooling.
What did I get from the book? My own experience of school was a very negative one, I couldn't stand the rules and hierarchal structure, I found the lessons boring and uninspiring, I was bullied and I rebelled to the point of exclusion. I didn't really ever think it was my fault, and reading this book I now know why school and I were always going to be on collision course. Later in life I went through an ACCESS course and onto university graduating with relative ease with a first class science degree. The difference in the latter learning experience was the freedom to quit, the lack of pressure to do work (your own enthusiasm made you work or you failed/quitted) and the structure, although still bring hierarchical, being less obviously so. Dr Gray's excellent book makes me understand my problems with school, and also the problems my son is now encountering. I am going to act on the practical advice given towards the end of the book, on how to increase my boy's freedom to play and to learn


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