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William D. Freeman "wdavidfreeman" (Southern California)
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Tolkien
Tolkien
by Raymond Edwards
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably not for the casual reader but a very good book, 28 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Tolkien (Hardcover)
Raymond Edwards neatly compliments Humphrey Carpenter's official biography and the excellent studies of Tom Shippey by explaining to readers in detail the intricacies of the scholarly world in which Prof. Tolkien operated. Edwards is also well versed in the works that influenced Tolkien and those produced by his contemporaries. All this will probably put off readers with only a casual interest in JRRT, but for the serious minded there is much here of value in helping us to understand Tolkien's life and career.

Edwards makes clear that a vast amount of Tolkien's papers remain off limits to research. This, then, is probably as good a biographical study of JRRT as we can hope for at present. More detail will come in the fullness of time, but none of it is likely to alter significantly the picture that we now have.


Not George Washington (Everyman's Library P G WODEHOUSE)
Not George Washington (Everyman's Library P G WODEHOUSE)
by P.G. Wodehouse
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rare work finally re-published in a quality edition, 2 Jun. 2014
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Back in print as a hardcover book for the first time since it was published in 1907, this has always been one of the most difficult to obtain Wodehouse titles. Collectors pay large sums for the first edition, but here it is at last in a fine edition at a bargain price.

Wodehouse authority Richard Usborn dismissed this as "a very poor novel", but biographer Robert McCrum noted that it is nevertheless an important and overlooked work written primarily by Wodehouse despite his protests to the contrary when it was published.

The significance here lies in the fact that, at least up to a point, the main character is an autobiographical depiction of Plum's early days as a writer. The result is what might be expected if Wodehouse had written Jack London's novel "Martin Eden", which was published around the same time.

I found the book to be not so bad as Usborne judged and definitely worth reading at least once if you have a deep appreciation for the Master.


The Collected Stories of Rumpole (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Collected Stories of Rumpole (Penguin Modern Classics)
by John Mortimer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled: this is not THE Collected Stories, 13 Nov. 2013
The misleading title may cause prospective buyers to think that this anthology represents the complete works of Rumpole. It does not. Instead we are offered yet another re-packaging of a selection of stories, in this case 20. This may be a good introduction to Rumpole for the uninitiated, but then so are all of the original collections and preexisting anthologies.

A total of 81 original Rumpole stories have been published in book form. Of these 77 are short stories (some VERY short) and 4 are novel-length tales. This does not include the scarcely-begun final story that Mortimer abandoned due to terminal illness and published in the last anthology before this "Forever Rumpole." There do remain, however, a tiny handful of brief stories originally published in periodicals or read out on radio broadcasts through the years that have never been collected in book form.

The world still awaits the publication of the "complete" Rumpole.


The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965
The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965
by William Manchester
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.62

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Roar!!, 20 Nov. 2012
Paul Reid has done it! He has produced a worthy successor and final volume to the series started by William Manchester. It has been a long wait, but readers will not be disappointed by the result. Manchester published the first volume in 1983 and the second volume five years later. After completing research for the third book and starting in on the text, his health failed. Before he died, Manchester asked Reid to finish the project.

This volume begins just after Churchill took over as Prime Minister in the spring of 1940. At 1053 pages of closely printed text, it takes some time to read, but not one minute is wasted. The style closely follows the tone set by Manchester, and the scope of research, understanding of subject matter and presentation will impress ordinary readers and historians alike. Reid admires his subject but doesn't try to cover up Churchill's faults or mistakes.

In some ways this is a history of the war disguised as a Churchill biography. About 90% of the text covers the war while the last hundred pages or so takes the reader to the end of Churchill's life in 1965. But the approach serves to place Churchill's actions in their proper context.

I don't believe that there has ever been a Churchill biography that so underscores how desperate the situation was for both Britain and Churchill during the early years of the Second World War and how decisions taken during that time could not forsee how events would eventually unfold or that Britain would even survive. Millions of people truly believed and still do that Churchill was the last bulwark standing between them and a Nazi-dominated future. This book vividly makes clear why their adulation was justified.


The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin
The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin
by Philip Larkin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £26.00

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Five stars for Larkin less two stars for Burnett, 7 Mar. 2012
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Philip Larkin was a very good poet indeed. Alas, his complete body of work has now been embalmed in this massive tombstone of a book.

Larkin's poetry makes up the first 329 pages. There follows 400 PAGES of editorial commentary, which should never be read by anyone in their right minds least of all lovers of poetry.

Obviously this "scholarly" work is intended for the shelves of university libraries where it can be duly ignored. Faber's edition of the collected poems of Auden does without the academic trappings. Why was it necessary to burden Larkin with all this analysis by exhaustion? Certainly it does not make for an easily-held book let alone an inviting price.

Will Faber & Faber please give the world a reader-friendly edition of Larkin's complete work?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 11, 2012 12:54 AM GMT


The Adventures of a Book Collector
The Adventures of a Book Collector
by Philip Murray
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.50

5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-read for Bibliomaniacs, 20 Feb. 2012
Dr. Philip Murray has a fever: book fever to be precise. In this case the only prescription is confession. Murray, a retired Irish GP, has spent his life reading and collecting books. He has formed wonderful friendships with many authors whom he admires including Seamus Heaney as well as the booksellers with whom he deals. In this wonderful little volume of his own, he shares his passion.

A sure sign of Bibliomania is the enjoyment of reading about the habits of fellow sufferers. You will enjoy these true-life stories about trawling through used-book stores around the world, serindipitous discoveries and tracking down that particularly hard-to-get author's signature on a book.


Hands
Hands
by Moya Cannon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the Hands of a master., 18 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Hands (Paperback)
This is, I believe, Moya Cannon's fourth collection of verse. Hopefully there will be many more volumes to come. If you love poetry, you will love Moya Cannon.

Most of her poems are quite short, but you can't help re-reading each of them over and over before moving on to the next. Thus it may take you much longer than you think to get through just 55 pages of poetry.

These poems will haunt you longer after you close the book.


J.R.R. Tolkien's Double Worlds and Creative Process: Language and Life
J.R.R. Tolkien's Double Worlds and Creative Process: Language and Life
by Arne Zettersten
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £54.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must for the serious student of Tolkien, 24 Dec. 2011
Professor Arne Zettersten of the University of Copenhagen had the privilege of getting to know J.R.R. Tolkien personally in the last dozen years of Tolkien's life. Like Tolkien, Zettersten specialized in the philological study of the English language as it developed in the Middle Ages. The two men had many face-to-face discussions and exchanged many letters which illustrated how Tolkien's love of language inspired his own essays in fiction.

While not a traditional biography, this book esentially provides Zettersten's insights through following the story arc of Tolkien's life. This book is not for the casaul reader or even someone new to Tolkien studies (who should indeed start with Humphrey Carpenter's classic biography). For those who are serious, though, about the study of Tolkien's life and work this book is an instant classic.


Forever Rumpole: The Best of the Rumpole Stories
Forever Rumpole: The Best of the Rumpole Stories
by John Mortimer
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caveat Emptor, 4 Nov. 2011
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This 2011 anthology is the second to be published since the author's death. Unlike 2009's "Rumpole at Christmas", however, nearly all of this material has been published in book form before. In fact this book is really just an expanded version of the 1993 anthology "The Best of Rumpole" and includes the same introduction that Mortimer wrote for that volume. So what does this new book have to offer?

1. There is a nice introduction by Ann Mallalieu reminiscing about about her long friendship with the author and their time together at the Bar.

2. Seven stories have been added drawn from the various Rumpole books published after 1993.

3. ABOVE ALL, There is a six-page fragment at the end that was to be the start of a Rumpole story which Mortimer was forced to abandon when he became terminally ill. This really is the book's main selling point, and it is actually a well-polished piece with some funny bits that are vintage Rumpole.

Veteran Rumpole readers, though, will already be familliar with 95% of this book's contents and probably consider the price much too steep, which it is. Many, therefore, may prefer to order this book in electronic format or simply wait for the paperback edition. To be brutally honest, however, if you are only interested in the new bits, you can just pop into your local bookstore and easily read the last few pages under the guise of browsing.


Five Red Herrings: Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery Book 7
Five Red Herrings: Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery Book 7
by Dorothy L Sayers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 500 Red Herrings, 10 Sept. 2011
This has got to be much the most tedious of the Wimsey novels. The title comes from the fact that there are six suspects but only one of them is the killer. Sayers was very cheeky in the way she planted the most vital clue to solving the mystery while inundating the reader with seemingly hundreds of misleading facts. Rather than plodding through all of this and trying to reason out the solution, readers are likely to think 'let's get on with it' and start skimming ahead towards the end. I certainly did.


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