Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Summer Savings Up to 25% Off Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Oasis Listen in Prime Shop now Learn more
Profile for Jon 'ET' A > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Jon 'ET' A
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,378,655
Helpful Votes: 44

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Jon 'ET' A (Surrey, UK)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2
pixel
The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War
The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War
by Andrew Roberts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling account, 27 April 2011
After searching through masses of books on WW2, wondering which one to buy, I finally decided upon Roberts' new history, last year. Having read it then, I was extremely pleased with my choice, as it was easy to read and full of all the key facts about the conflict, as well as the author's own judgements (which aren't forced down the reader's throat) and 'anecdotal' stories which make it truly accessible to anyone with even the slightest interest in this subject.

The large amount of maps included were of great help to me, being someone who needs to picture the battle/campaign movements in order to really understand them. The writer's analysis of crucial phases in the war brought home the enormity of this war, and his closing comments on why the axis powers lost and potential turning points (Dunkirk, etc.) were thoughtful, yet still down-to-Earth.

The detail was faultless for me (experts may well disagree), with consideration given not just to the fighting, but also aspects of the War such as the Blitz, atrocities committed, as well as quotations from historians, soldiers, leaders and civilians.

This was an excellent, flowing study with good amounts of originality, making it by no means 'just another' World War Two book that has been flung into the market.


Juan Carlos: Steering Spain from Dictatorship to Democracy
Juan Carlos: Steering Spain from Dictatorship to Democracy
by Paul Preston
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, once it got going, 27 April 2011
Having read and admired a couple of Preston's other works (including the excellent 'Franco'), I bought this book in the hope that it would match them in terms of quality. The subject of the book wasn't something that I expected to be overly interested in, but Preston's writing style really made it readable and exciting.

Juan Carlos' relationship with the unpredictable Franco (as well as his own father) is described wonderfully, and all the key moments in the king's life are included in detail. Reading about Juan Carlos in the 'changeover' period really kept me glued during the second half of the book, and Preston clearly illustrates how this king was not simply handed power, but had to work to firstly win Franco's favour, then manage his country in what was a volatile situation.

Once you get to grips with the various personnel and groups involved, the book does read something like a novel. At around 500 pages, I initially thought that there would be a lot of waffling and useless information included, but Preston fills out the pages well, with his own opinions providing thoughtful and reasonable insights.

Worth buying to get an understanding not just of Juan Carlos, but of twentieth century Spain.


The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution and Revenge
The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution and Revenge
by Paul Preston
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A concise and largely enjoyable account, 27 April 2011
This book is very good if you want a concise account of a conflict which is little-known by many. All the main aspects of the conflict are included, such as the 'build-up', key battles, and the politics (both domestic and international) of it.

As a general reader, 300 pages covered all I really wanted to know (as well as a map, which really helped my understanding of the conflict), although others may wish to look elsewhere if 300 pages looks a bit light to them (possibly towards Anthony Beevor's book on the subject; although I have not read it, I'm guessing that at 600+ pages it is more in-depth).

My only real complaints include the 'dryness' of some sections. The first section especially so; whilst I enjoy background information, some of it was just boring and (I found) unnecessary. In addition, I found the masses of names, acronyms (etc.) tough going at first, but not too bad once I got a few chapters in (relevant glossaries are included, but still annoying to keep flicking to).

Overall, it was concise and worth reading.


Franco: A Biography
Franco: A Biography
by Paul Preston
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly special, 26 April 2011
This review is from: Franco: A Biography (Paperback)
I was fortunate to get this book second-hand, despite usually only buying new, and I have to say that was a powerful work of history/biography. Whilst I was expecting merely the ins and outs of Franco's life, Preston also gets a vast amount of Spanish history (civil war, post-Franco succession issues, etc.) in, which really made it a formidable study.

I really do not buy into to the claims of it being 'bias'. Obviously the author's opinions shine through strongly at times, but he has earned the right to express them, and this was by no means some shoddy whitewash (for a start, Preston clearly points out that both sides in the civil war committed terrible atrocities). An author explaining his views to the reader is not bias (If he had written these views as though they were fact, THEN it would be). In no way did this ruin the book for me.

The book was structured fairly well and pretty much all you would want to know about this period was included. As a general reader, it was tough going at times, and the scholarly reader would appreciate the book even more than I did. I don't feel that I can complain too much about this; you don't buy a 1000 page book for a bit of light reading.

I would recommend this to students mainly, but I believe that anyone with an interest in the subject could benefit from reading it.


The Morbid Age: Britain and the Crisis of Civilisation, 1919 - 1939
The Morbid Age: Britain and the Crisis of Civilisation, 1919 - 1939
by Richard Overy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, 26 April 2011
In general, this was a good social history of inter-war Britain, and the author has done a good job analysing such a complex period into less than 400 pages.

Before I outline my criticism, I have to say that parts of the book were genuinely interesting, with some of the weird and wonderful people/groups prevented it from being the boring run through that it could have been. In particular, reading about aspects such as the Eugenics Society, as well as the impact that well-known individuals (Freud, Darwin etc.) had on society made some chapters truly memorable and informative.

Having said that, many of the names of people and organisations mentioned got a bit overwhelming in some parts, and I sometimes questioned whether some of them were really as influential as the author described. Whilst I understand that more detail can be better, over-complication may deter some of the more general readers. In addition, I would like to have seen maybe a bit more political analysis, although to be fair this book was intended as more of a social study.

Indeed, as a social history it is a well written book, and the 'Chronological Introduction' included was a nice touch, providing a few pages that the reader can refer back to when necessary. However, I personally found a few too many dull passages which contained little of note (perhaps this is more a reflection of the subject than the author, though).
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2015 5:04 AM GMT


Hitler
Hitler
by Ian Kershaw
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding History/Biography, 26 April 2011
This review is from: Hitler (Paperback)
This was a hugely informative and enjoyable read which told me all that I needed to know about this immensely important individual.

The length of this book (approx. 1000 pages) may be off-putting for some readers, and obviously if you're looking for a brief summary of Hitler's life, then this isn't for you. Despite the enormity of the subject and level of detail given, it wasn't too tough a read, with each chapter broken up into sections to make for easy stopping points. Whilst this is an abridged version of Kershaw's original two-volume work, it was more than enough for me (Readers that want the complete experience can always buy the two-volume version instead).

The new preface explains the author's intentions for this book very well, and I would say that both Hitler's rise to power and his subsequent use of power are masterfully written about. Some parts (the dense politics of his rise to power, for example) were inevitably still complicated to understand, but there were plenty of other monumental moments, such as how close Hitler came to being shot at a protest, to keep reader interest up throughout.

A very rewarding reading experience.


The Cold War
The Cold War
by John Lewis Gaddis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise, as it was intended, 25 April 2011
This review is from: The Cold War (Paperback)
This book was perfect for supplementing my college studies, whilst also fuelling my interest in twentieth century history. I agree that it is really only an overview of the Cold War, but at around 300 pages that is to be expected (The author also explains the length of the book in the preface).

The writing style made the book flow nicely, allowing for concise explanations of the conflicts key aspects, and the alternative history at the start of chapter 2 (Korean War) was an interesting touch, highlighting how volatile some Cold War situations were. Gaddis does offer his own opinions throughout the text, but that by no means ruined the reading experience for me because he explains his judgements (and I don't hate someone just because they express opinions which differ from my own!).

This book was, for me, a high quality summary of the Cold War, with short sections which are easy to reference for study purposes. It should be said that it is not difficult to find books devoted to specific events (Cuban Missile Crisis, Berlin Wall, Korean War etc.) should the reader want more detail after reading this.


A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924
A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924
by Orlando Figes
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vast and hugely impressive, 25 April 2011
I have to say that this book was a massively impressive account of one of the most important events in twentieth century (maybe even World) history. After finishing it, I could not help but feel that I had read the definitive work on the subject, even though I have in fact read no others to compare it to.

There was an enormous amount of detail (as you would expect from nearly 1000 pages) but I felt that the breakdown of the book into sections, then chapters, then passages was just enough to make it accessible to a general reader such as myself. Admittedly, the section on pre-1917 may have been a bit much for people who just want the 'action' phase, but I guess that the author invested so much into those years in order to make it a 'complete' account.

I felt that the personal accounts, as well as some of the more outrageous stories (such as the 'misunderstanding' between Lenin and Dzerzhinsky that resulted in the needless execution of many prisoners), really added to the readability of the book, helping to break up potentially dense paragraphs. I am glad that the author did not go all 'biographical' when talking of Lenin and Trotsky, because there are plenty of good books on those individuals, and to include irrelevant information about their whole lives would have somewhat overloaded this book.

I did have some basic knowledge of the revolution (through school and college) prior to reading the book, which helped me through it. However, I do not feel this was essential (although there's bound to be websites that provide a quick summary of the revolution before you start this, should you require). Also, I would advise people to stick with this book (it took me over a month to finish), as its over 900 pages and covers over 30 years of history, so you're bound to find certain parts that don't interest you as much as others.

In summary, I could not really fault this book (although I'm sure some experts in the field probably could, as with any book) and would recommend it to anyone with a genuine interest in early twentieth century/Russian history.


Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the China He Lost
Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the China He Lost
by Jonathan Fenby
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic reading, 25 April 2011
Having really enjoyed Fenby's book 'Alliance' (which drew my attention to Chiang) I was keen find out more about the man who some have labelled as insignificant.

However, this book cleverly explains Chiang's importance in an interesting phase of Chinese history, and I have to compliment the writer once again in producing a genuinely enthralling account of a complicated subject. I was afraid of getting bogged down in all the names and terms (of places, warlords, etc.) but on the whole the maps and glossaries included in the book allow the general reader to easily resolve any possible areas of confusion.

I found the book to be a balanced account, with good explanations of Chiang's achievements and mistakes. The author's concluding judgements provide thoughtful insights (such as being critical of Chiang's efficiency in handling the Japanese and the Communists simultaneously, but also considering if anyone could really have done better) which help the reader to understand why this man has caused much debate over the years.

All in all, it was interesting enough for the casual reader, but with enough detail and scope to ensure that scholarly readers get their moneys worth as well.

A fantastic work of history/biography.


Rising Sun And Tumbling Bear: Russia's War with Japan (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS)
Rising Sun And Tumbling Bear: Russia's War with Japan (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS)
by Richard Connaughton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable Work, 25 April 2011
A very good account of a conflict which is more important than most people think.

I found that the book explained the dynamics of the key battles and personnel very well, and the author's discussion of its impact on future wars was very welcome and informative. Personally, I would like to have seen more detail given to the political side of the conflict, but I understand that the majority of readers would have been satisfied with the level given.

Otherwise, it was a good read and well written (battle statistics aren't easy to make interesting to the general reader). I found the maps very useful to flick back to when reading about some of the more complex battles, and, at nearly 400 pages, it was good value for money.


Page: 1 | 2