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Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume Two: Everything She Wants (Authorised Biog Vol 2)
Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume Two: Everything She Wants (Authorised Biog Vol 2)
Price: £12.99

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ESSENTIAL READING - WHATEVER YOUR POLITICS, 13 Oct. 2015
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Moore has done it again. This is a brilliant account of Thatcher in her glory years. It is a presumably accurate, and very perceptive portrait of someone who - whether we like it or not - shaped her country. I come to this from a left perspective. I opposed Thatcher at the time and still think her ideas were wrong. But we cannot afford to ignore her and her legacy.
This is a nuanced account of the great political stories of the 80s - the miners' strike; nuclear weapons, privatisation. It shows that Thatcher often felt less secure than she seemed at the time. Moore mixes the personal with the political in a way that makes for a wonderfully convincing biography. And for those of us on the left, he gives some clues as to where we went wrong.
One anecdote is almost worth the price of the book. It concerns Thatcher's attitude to the then West German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl. Apparently, she once confidentially asked Moore: "Do you know the trouble with Helmut?" and without pausing for an answer, revealed: "he's a GERMAN!"


The House at the Edge of the World
The House at the Edge of the World
Price: £4.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable and moving, 30 Jun. 2015
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The best book I've read so far this year.A briliantly written, fascinating tale based on one of the most basis situations of all: a family living in a house. But what a house and what a family. These are strange people but they are brought convincingly to life in a memorable and moving story. Highly recommended.


Shakespeare's Language
Shakespeare's Language
Price: £5.49

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great book ruined by Amazon, 27 May 2014
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This is a wonderful book. If you love Shakespeare, read it! But don't read it on your Kindle. I bought this to read on holiday. When I opened it on my Kindle I found that there was a persistent and annoying typo. Every time the word "right" appears, it is preceded by the letters BodyText. That also occurs inside words, so playwright comes out as playBodyTextright. I have had numerous conversations and email exchanges with Amazon over the past for or five weeks. Every time, they promise me they will sort out the problem. Every time, nothing happens. And then, I had an email asking me to review. Well, here's your review.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2015 10:13 PM GMT


The Black Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel (Philip Marlowe Series Book 10)
The Black Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel (Philip Marlowe Series Book 10)
Price: £4.68

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Similes are not enough, 22 April 2014
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I found this a massive disappointment. Banville is a considerable writer, but it turns out he can't write in someone else's voice. And with Marlowe, the voice is everything. He also shifts Marlowe drastically downmarket, turning him into a bloke who drinks beer with men who call him "Phil." My snapping point came when Marlowe refers to a time "when I was a kid." Marlowe was never a kid.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2014 11:09 AM BST


Norman Mailer: A Double Life
Norman Mailer: A Double Life
Price: £6.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where are the Mailers of tomorrow?, 2 Feb. 2014
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This is a great book. Mailer was a great man. Lennon had great access. He has written it as it was and it’s a great story. I read this on my Kindle, entranced from the start. With Mailer, the life and the work hold equal status. Your are stretched to say which is more exciting. Lennon gives us the whole Mailer. The books, the brawls, the sex, the films, the journalism, the wives, the TV appearances, the children, the politics.
The stabbing.
But he brings us back all the time to the books, from Naked onwards, this is a story about stories and how they came to be published. And that is where I have a big problem. As I read this, I naturally wanted not just to read about Mailer but to read his words. The Naked and the Dead and The Deer Park are on Kindle (and some later stuff). But not The Armies of the Night; not Miami and the Siege of Chicago; not The Time of Our Time. Why not? I asked. The reply was: “the Kindle Store is provided to us directly by the publishers or authors who own that content. Availability of the books in Kindle version, completely depends on the publishers or authors.”
So is that it? I imagined something different. I thought someone at Kindle might have thought – we’ve got a major biography of a great writer coming out….. our readers will want to know more…let’s move heaven and earth make to sure we have his books….flattering letters to his children…. long boozy lunches with publishers…..fat cheques… whatever it takes. But no: “availability of the books in Kindle version, completely depends on the publishers or authors.”
That’s not how it used to be. . Everyone who works in publishing should read Lennon’s book. It is an eye-watering tale of excess in a good cause. In his pomp, Mailer needed 750,000 dollars a year – and he got it. There were million dollar advances for books that came in years late, grossly overwritten. There were massive fees for what from anyone else would be regarded as pieces of journalism. But what books and what pieces they were!
Worth the money? Yes. And there’s a message there for publishers. Don’t look at the bottom line. Don’t listen to your readers. Pick someone you think is good. Someone who can be a hero and a prophet. And throw a million dollars at them.


Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning
Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning
Price: £9.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading - for enemies as well as fans, 26 May 2013
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Moore has taken on the biggest political subject of our age and has triumphed with a book that everyone who lived through the time he described should read.
I was, am and probably always will be Labour. But I take my hat off to Moore for a well-considered and above all immaculately researched story. It is a measure of his impartiality that he several times contradicts Thatcher's own account of what happened and cuts through to what seems to be the truth about an extraordinary time in UK politics. Whether you loved Thatcher or hated her - read this.


How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia
How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia
by Mohsin Hamid
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping, beautifully written, story of life in south Asia., 29 April 2013
It's been six years since Hamid's brilliant second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. It was worth the wait. This is an ambitious and - I think - very successful attempt to take us into a world most of us know little about. There are many, many books in English about the Indian sub-continent. This is streets ahead of most of them.

The setting for Hamid's story is not specified. It seems like Pakistan, though. He follows the story of a poor village boy who rises to become....... filthy rich. Straight away, we are aware of what from a lesser writer would seem like a stylistic trick. The book's written in the second person and at the start of each chapter it takes the form of a self-help book. Chapter One is called "Move to the City", Chapter Two is "Get an Education" and so on.

That's just a starting point, though. Each episode is a richly described section of the life of the protagonist, on a journey from "my-s***-just-sits-there-until-it-rains poverty to which-of-my-toilets-shall-I-use affluence" The boy's family move to the city, where affluence jostles with extreme poverty. He gets an education of sorts and works his way up through a variety of dodgy enterprises to become a rich man in the bottled water trade.

Along the way there is family tragedy - the death of his mother - and some love interest. Early on, he crosses the path of "the pretty girl" - someone who like himself is pulling herself out of poverty, in her case by modelling. He marries someone else, but the pretty girl is a constant, though mainly distant, figure in his life. There's also violence, corruption and dirty dealing - all unsparingly described.

I found this a totally absorbing read. I read it in one go and have since read it again. One of its features is the contrast between the cool, almost jaunty tone of each chapter opening and the utterly convincing and powerful depiction of the reality of one person's life. Great stuff, highly recommended.


Treasure Island!!!
Treasure Island!!!
by Sara Levine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yo ho ho!, 7 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Treasure Island!!! (Paperback)
This is an absolute gem of a book. It gripped me right from the start and it kept me laughing throughout. Levine sets up a ridiculous idea - a self -obsessed young American woman chooses Treasure Island as a self help book - and follows the mad logic gloriously to its conclusion. There is, of course, a parrot. And a climactic scene that echoes Jim Hawkins' confrontation with Israel Hands. But there is much, much more: all of it to my mind very, very funny. OK it's not deep and meaningful. But it is brilliant deadpan humour. Highly Recommended.


Noughties
Noughties
by Ben Masters
Edition: Paperback

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A literary seminar through the bottom of a glass, 6 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Noughties (Paperback)
Eliot Lamb and his friends are embarking on the last night of their three years at Oxford. They plan to get hammered in a pub, a bar and a club. As he tells the story of the evening, Eliot reminisces about the years that have led up to this night.

The story isn't very interesting, really. Eliot went to a comprehensive school in Wellingborough; he found Oxford a bit intimidating. He found it difficult to split up from the girlfriend of his schooldays. He slept with the fittest girl in his group of friends, but she then got off with his best mate. They all got drunk a lot, but also worked hard. On their last night, there is binge drinking, vomiting, sexual groping, text messaging and a half hearted fight.

But despite the boringness of his life Eliot/Masters is clever. Boy, is he clever. This, for example, is his description of his first experience of sex:
"The intersubjective dynamic pricked my curiosity. Or was it more intrasubjective? Well, no actually. No, it wasn't .Disappointingly, there was no ontological intrasubjective mix-up, no blurring of the being as the Beat poets had led me to expect. It was far more carnal Earl of Rochester than transcendent Keats I don't think Lucy would put it like that, but there you have" it............... and so on.

This is, I think, Masters being Martin Amis. And in the course of the book he is lots of people - or at least, writes in lots of different styles. In fact the book "contains numerous literary resonances, allusions and quotations, including, Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis, Matthew Arnold, Margaret Atwood ..." and 34 others. How do I know that? Because Mr Clever-Clogs tells us so, in an Author's Note at the end.

The point - if there is one - is I suppose the contrast between the cleverness and erudition of the narrator and the drunkenness and immature sex that makes up the plot. There are some funny moments, notably the accounts of Eliot and his friends bluffing their way through tutorials. But it wasn't enough to keep this reader entertained. Puerile and pretentious. Not recommended.


Alys, Always
Alys, Always
Price: £4.49

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant tale of emotional manipulation, 17 April 2012
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This review is from: Alys, Always (Kindle Edition)
This is the best book I've read this year. Lane skilfully builds a portrait of her scheming heroine while pulling off the trick of maintaining our sympathy with her. A captivating read. The acidic portrait of London literary/journalistic life is a bonus (And presumably accurate, since the author comes from that world.) Deliciously funny in a mildly disturbing way. Highly recommended.


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