Profile for History Geek > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by History Geek
Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,683
Helpful Votes: 161

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
History Geek

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-14
pixel
Bitter Winds P: A Memoir of My Years in China's Gulag
Bitter Winds P: A Memoir of My Years in China's Gulag
by Harry Wu
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Chinese gulag survivor, 1 Oct 2013
In the flood of Chinese autobiographies that followed the publication of Wild Swans, Harry Wu felt that there were none that dealt with his particular experiences in prison. Wu served a sentence after being declared a rightist and remained in there long after the official ending of his term. Wu describes the Chinese gulag system frankly and tries not to let his emotions overrule his writing, because he is aware that his book is a valuable historical source. We also hear about his youth and the circumstances that saw him being given the rightist label that would lead to his arrest and imprisonment. It's a harrowing and difficult read, but a stunning expose of the oppressive methods that the Chinese government under Mao used to remain in totalitarian control.


World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
by Max Brooks
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Samey, 24 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I like zombie books, and I like this premise. After World War Z - a world conflict against a zombie pandemic - a researcher is sent to gather an oral history from survivors around the world. On the whole, it makes for an interesting take on the genre. But it doesn't work perfectly. There are many different characters, but they don't really stand out from each other. They all use the same kind of language and phrases, so they tend to merge into one and it's easy to forget that this is supposed to be a collection of different viewpoints and perspectives - perhaps fewer characters with more development would have helped.


Dissolution (The Shardlake Series)
Dissolution (The Shardlake Series)
Price: 1.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Strong start for Shardlake, 17 Sep 2013
The Shardlake series of books starts strongly in this crime mystery set around the fictional Scarnsea monastery as it comes under pressure from Henry VIII and his Reformation. One of the King's commissioners is killed, but the unlikely hero of the book - a hunchbacked lawyer serving Thomas Cromwell - soon finds out that the roots of the crime go deeper than the monks seeking to avoid closure. A shortlist of characters who may have wanted the commissioner dead is assembled, but Shardlake must discover which of them is the guilty suspect. His investigations form the basis of this engaging historical novel, one which will drag you in to the rest of the Shardlake series.


From Sheffield with Love: Celebrating 150 Years of Sheffield FC, the World's Oldest Football Club
From Sheffield with Love: Celebrating 150 Years of Sheffield FC, the World's Oldest Football Club
by Brendan Murphy
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.61

3.0 out of 5 stars Stick to the point, 3 Sep 2013
This is a chatty, informal history of the early years of football focusing on Sheffield FC. The author has obviously done a lot of research - but therein lies the problem. Murphy is so passionate about his subject that he wants to tell you everything that he has discovered, whether relevant or not. He regularly wanders off subject and his digressions are at best irrelevant, at worst verging on the ridiculous. While reading about the football team in Attercliffe, we find out that John Stringfellow, a native of the area, was responsible for a powered flight in 1848 - and we are then given a page-long description of his flight. Interesting, but this is a book about football. In the same section, we are told that the author's mother grew up in Attercliffe - a fact of no interest whatsoever to anybody but the author and his family! It makes for a frustrating and difficult-to-follow read. Also, for a book that will be useful for other sports historians, it's a shame that there is no index. In terms of research, this book is worth 5 stars. In terms of the writing style and having to wade through so much irrelevance to find the valuable information, it's worth 1 star.


House of Cards
House of Cards
by Michael Dobbs
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 8.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic political thriller, 27 Aug 2013
Many people have watched the television adaptation of this before reading the book and that might skew their views. The television producers - in the BBC version, even more so in the Netflix US remake, for obvious reasons - have tweaked the story to suit the screen. I can see why and their changes have helped, but this was a strong story in the first place. Basically, a government MP is prepared to do anything to become Prime Minister. A reporter is on the trail, gradually uncovering the truth. All three versions - book, BBC and Netflix - have that at their heart. Don't get bogged down comparing the three - they are all good!


1776: America and Britain at War
1776: America and Britain at War
by David McCullough
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive military history of 1776, 20 Aug 2013
By focusing on a single year of the War of Independence - the 1776 of the title - McCullough raises some interesting issues about the war. It was by no means certain that the American revolutionaries would win, especially when mistakes were made on the battlefield - George Washington becomes a human commander rather than an American icon, indecisive leadership coupled with moments of marvellous clarity. This book focuses primarily on military issues, especially George Washington and the battles at Dorchester Heights, Long Island and Trenton - political events like the signing of the Declaration of Independence are a secondary issue. Well recommended for a narrative view of the war in 1776.


When the Whistle Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War
When the Whistle Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War
by Andrew Riddoch
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive research, 13 Aug 2013
Football had only confirmed itself as the national sport in the decade or two before the outbreak of the First World War. Although players were professional, they did not earn the mammoth wages taken home by modern players. Once the war began in 1914, footballers were initially criticised - a little harshly - for continuing in their jobs while the rest of the country was volunteering for service. When the pressure became too much, a pals' battalion of footballers, the 17th Middlesex, was formed. Riddoch and Kemp explore the controversy of the first few months of the war then embark on a detailed history of the 17th Middlesex. The research is impressive and the story of these sportsmen at war is one of great interest.


The End: Hitler's Germany, 1944-45 (Allen Lane History)
The End: Hitler's Germany, 1944-45 (Allen Lane History)
by Ian Kershaw
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 25.17

5.0 out of 5 stars Kershaw's best, 6 Aug 2013
The end of the Second World War was very different to the end of the First World War. Germany fought on to the bitter end, excellently illustrated from the start of this book by Kershaw's description of the German execution of a 19 year old 'collaborator' in Ansbach, the last act of the German authorities as they evacuated the town. Kershaw makes clear that he wants to explore why it was the Germany fought right up to the point of destruction - the force of Hitler's personality or the Allied demand for unconditional surrender alone are not enough. His answer is in the systematic nature of the Nazi regime. Even after Hitler's charisma had failed, his acolytes continued to follow him until the very last moments. Personally, I found this the best of Kershaw's books.


The Girl Who Fell From The Sky
The Girl Who Fell From The Sky
by Simon Mawer
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.82

4.0 out of 5 stars Jane Bond in WW2, 30 July 2013
This is a solid, decent read. A Second World War spy thriller with a female agent as the lead offers a slightly different perspective on the usual. Marian Sutro is parachuted into France as part of the Special Operations Executive, with the job of persuading a key scientist - and former family friend and romantic interest - to escape occupied France for Britain. The pace is good, the historical detail adds to the plot, the characters are convincing. Not perhaps as strong as I expected from a Booker Prize shortlisted author, but still an enjoyable read.


Spitfire: Portrait of a Legend
Spitfire: Portrait of a Legend
by Leo McKinstry
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of an icon, 23 July 2013
The Spitfire is an icon of British history. As Leo McKinstry notes at one point, the Battle of Britain is one of the first battles that's best known for a weapon that was used in it rather than the name of its commander. There isn't the rich technical detail and scale drawings that enthusiasts might be looking for here. However, there is a rich abundance of history and anecdotal stories from those who flew Spitfire and those who came into contact with them. We hear about the Spitfire's birth on the blueprints of Supermarine in the 1930s through its success in the Second World War and the Spitfire's post-war action (although post-1945 is dealt with in just a page or three). As a general reader rather than an aviation buff, I'm glad that McKinstry has gone for this approach.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-14