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Henry Gladwyn

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Marching with the Devil: Legends, Glory and Lies in the French Foreign Legion
Marching with the Devil: Legends, Glory and Lies in the French Foreign Legion
Price: 8.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Surprising and refreshing, 15 April 2014
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I recall watching a documentary about the legion not long ago which showed one of their infantry courses in (I think) Djibouti. I didn't look all that, and various things that would have resulted in a charge in the British Army (in particular moving without covering fire, and firing on the move in a non-CQB environment) seemed standard. I put it down to different cultures, not least because most of what one reads about the legion implies that they are warrior ninjas.

This is certainly not the image conveyed by this book. Who knows whether the author is really a disgruntled failure, or whether his occa attitude results in a particularly gimlet eye. However, the legion he portrays is a combination of no-hopers and adventurers. The author joins because he wants an adventure and a challenge, and appears to get the former at least.

I can't say that it had me longing for the recruiting office, but provided a well written counterpoint to most of the legion books I have come across.


Bode: Go Fast, Be Good, Have Fun
Bode: Go Fast, Be Good, Have Fun
Price: 12.12

2.0 out of 5 stars Should have had a ghost, 15 April 2014
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Or maybe a better ghost. Either way, notwithstanding his evident achievements, this weird attempt to bestow the wisdom of Bode onto the world does not really work. I think the intention is to portray him as a sort of cocky jack the lad, but instead he came across as simply arrogant.

It may be just an issue with conveying tone on paper, but I found the constant barrage of half-zen beer commercial style soundbites deeply grating.


Facts are Subversive
Facts are Subversive
by Timothy Garton Ash
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great collection, 15 April 2014
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This review is from: Facts are Subversive (Paperback)
I read the File many years ago and found Ash to be an engaging and amusing writer, with a particular talent for a sort of detached, semi-journalistic autobiography.

Having read nothing of his since I was surprised that this carries over very well into his journalism, in particular his long for journalism. A very satisfying read.


At Risk
At Risk
by Stella Rimington
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Does not ring true, 8 Aug 2013
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This review is from: At Risk (Paperback)
There is a description in (I think) The Inklings of a book in which the protaganist arrives to work in his city job by seaplane that he parks of the Thames. One of the inklings comments that this ruined the whole story for him because from that moment on he could not suspend his disbelief. This story suffered from the same issue, but was all the more annoying because it happened at the denument.

Rimmington's claim to fame is of course that she was head of Mi5 and therfore the detail of 'tradecraft' and so on is second nature. Perhaps this is why it is not hugely compelling. We are treated to a good 'technothriller' set up; semi-Slone agent with an interesting personal life; super-sloane Mi6 chancer; 'invisible' jihadis; and silent Russian guns. However, they are put together in a clunky way, and the protaganist I found to be utterly unappealing and chippy.

The 'silent' Russian gun sums up my feeling on the book nicely. It is described as a Russian invention to get around the problem of silencers, using silent ammunition rather than noise supression. The consequence, we are assured, is that someone could fire it next to you and you wouldn't know. A short bit of youtube research shows that, interesting as it might be, teh gun is not quiter than a conventially 'tube' silenced weapon. I wouldn't have cared if it hadn't been oversold, and the whole book felt like this: promising plenty but in the end not quite delivering.

I shan't spoil the end for anyone who wishes to read it, but it was intensely annoying.


The Death of Cool: From Teenage Rebellion to the Hangover of Adulthood
The Death of Cool: From Teenage Rebellion to the Hangover of Adulthood
by Gavin McInnes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.81

5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book and a buy copies for your friends, 8 Aug 2013
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I did not expect to like this book. In fact I very much did not want to like this book, as I thought Mcinnes to be a borderline nutcase with a penchant for abusing people. If the stories conatined here are true then he is definatley a nutcase with a penchant for abusing people, but it was an amazing read nevertheless. Hilariously funny in parts, it's the story of a true iconoclast that only America could make rich.


Be Here Now
Be Here Now
by R. Dass
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Does the job, 8 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Be Here Now (Paperback)
I acquired this book so that I could annoy people with glib buddalike thoughts. It has plenty of those and so was a worthwhile purchase. I did not find enlightenment, but possibly came to it with the wrong mindset for that.


Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse [1991] [DVD]
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse [1991] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Francis Ford Coppola
Price: 7.36

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything I expected, 8 Aug 2013
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I've wanted to watch this film for some time and it did not dissapoint. Coppola says at the beginning words to the effect that his film was not about vietnam, it was vietman. Well, this was not about Apolocalypse Now, it is Apoclaypse Now; rambleing, self-indlugent, and without any real plot, it is still absolutely compelling . Coppolla comes off as boarderline insane, with no real conception of where his film was going, but confident enough in his own talents and those of his team to press on ahead and see what came out the other side.

In fact, his bravery in making the film was shocking. He knew that he was spending both the money and good will he had accumulated from The Godfather in an adeventure of his own, and yet he continued. Perhaps, bravery is the wrong word, it was almost narcissistic cimpulsion, but the results were of course brilliant.


Hotels, Hospitals and Jails
Hotels, Hospitals and Jails
by Anthony Swofford
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 19.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written, engaging tale, 8 Aug 2013
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I hated Jarhead with a passion I can hardly express in words. This is so much better. It was clear in Jarhead that he was both readable and a talented memoirist (as in he could make the relatively banal enagaging) and these talents are much better suited to his strange life post fame than to war.


Ghost Wave: The Discovery of Cortes Bank and the Biggest Wave on Earth
Ghost Wave: The Discovery of Cortes Bank and the Biggest Wave on Earth
Price: 12.53

3.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting once it gets going, 8 Aug 2013
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This book cannot make its mind up about being a book about big wave surfing, or a book about the cortes bank. I really wish the author had focused on the surfing element more because that was fascinating stuff. The storied tale of Cortes, to me at least, was less so. A slight shift in emphasis would have produced for a me a more enjoyable read.

That said, once it gets into the big wave surfing tale it's enthralling. There are some enjoyable side swipes at 'The Wave' by casey, which I enjoyed (both the book and the swipes) and a slightly more nuanced presentation of the big wave riding than one would noramlly see. As the author points out, big wave srufing is (by the standards of 'extreme' sports) quite safe. To my mind this makes his description of the surfers and their work all the more compelling. I cannot view them as modern day dragon slayers, but when they are presented as extraordinarily committed athletes, pushing the edge of their abilities, they are far more compelling.

I'd recommend the book, but skip the first quarter!


The Gentlemen's Hour
The Gentlemen's Hour
Price: 3.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 8 Aug 2013
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Seqeul to the Dawn Patrol, more assured, though repetitive in many ways. I give it five stars because I read it first and found it utterly absorbing, if I had read it second I would have been a little annoyed. Nevertheless it contains all that I have come to expect from Wimslow: sweeping history, detailed trivia, and quotable dialogue. Read it in the space of a morning.


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