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AK (London)
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Those 80s Cars - Ford
Those 80s Cars - Ford

4.0 out of 5 stars A good overall coverage of Ford products of the 1980s by model year, 21 May 2013
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The book comes from a series by James Caster (Those 80s Cars - AMC & Chrysler and Those 80s Cars - GM being the other two) covering the US manufacturers and their products of the 1980s. It is divided into years and then proceeds to cover each model with some basic information, some text excerpts from the sales brochures and a good selection of photographs (again from the sales brochures). Each year also gets a general introduction covering some main political / economic events of the year, the movies, music, TV shows, and sports winners of the year, as well as the 'Car of the Year (in the US).

This volume covers Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Mercur but only cars sold under those brands in the US. One gets a good overview of the decade in Ford Division cars and sees both the developments, as well as the problems created by the US car manfucaturers in the 80s - lines of practically identical cars from various divisions, usually only distinguishable by the name, brand logo and trim levels.

In the book here one sees the famous 1986 Ford Taurus, which started the resurgence of the brand, the general shift to FWD, the start of the co-operation with Mazda, the Lincoln diesels (with BMW engines) and the slow but steady decline of the Couture car.

The pictures are often on the small side but will show enough detail to be useable, especially on larger screens - colour screens of course being preferable to get the full detail.

The book remains light on actual details (one generally gets the displacement of the engine choices and sometimes the bhp and some other data) but at the price it certainly forms a good overview of the decade for someone who is interested in cars (and may not actively have participated in the 80s US car scene).


Those 80s Cars - AMC & Chrysler
Those 80s Cars - AMC & Chrysler

4.0 out of 5 stars A good overall coverage of AMC / Chrysler products of the 1980s by model year, 21 May 2013
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The book comes from a series by James Caster (Those 80s Cars - Ford and Those 80s Cars - GM being the other two) covering the US manufacturers and their products of the 1980s. It is divided into years and then proceeds to cover each model with some basic information, some text excerpts from the sales brochures and a good selection of photographs (again from the sales brochures). Each year also gets a general introduction covering some main political / economic events of the year, the movies, music, TV shows, and sports winners of the year, as well as the 'Car of the Year (in the US).

This volume covers AMC, Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth but only cars sold under those brands (so you get the Renault cars only if they were sold as AMCs, and Jeep is totally absent, for instance). One gets a good overview of the decade in - what later became the Chrysler Division - cars and sees both the developments, as well as the problems created by the US car manfucaturers in the 80s - lines of practically identical cars from various divisions, usually only distinguishable by the name, brand logo and trim levels.

In the book here one sees the AMC Eagle, the predecessor to car based CUVs of today, the entry of the minivans (in both the traditional Caravan / Town & COuntry / Voyager flavours, as well as the Mitsubishi based ones that started selling at the same time. The later Renault based cars, whose platforms helped spur Chrysler's revival of the early 1990s are also included.

The pictures are often on the small side but will show enough detail to be useable, especially on larger screens - colour screens of course being preferable to get the full detail.

The book remains light on actual details (one generally gets the displacement of the engine choices and sometimes the bhp and some other data) but at the price it certainly forms a good overview of the decade for someone who is interested in cars (and may not actively have participated in the 80s US car scene).


Illustrated Buyer's Guide Japanese Cars 2013
Illustrated Buyer's Guide Japanese Cars 2013
Price: 6.37

4.0 out of 5 stars Handy guide to JDM cars of 2012, 21 May 2013
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The guide is a good resource for people interested in the cars on sale by domestic manufacturers in Japan (the so-called JDM scene). The Japanese market is home to a plethora of interesting machinery, sadly one often needs either to speak Japanese to get the full overview, invest a lot of painstaking work (and time) via a service like Google Translate, or get a guide such as this.

It covers the models by late 2012 and includes information such as a brief overview of the vehicle, technical details, the start of production of the particular model, the position in the Japanese sales rankings (by class, not overall), an average price in the Tokyo area and some pictures.

The descriptions are better than Google Translate for sure but still sound a bit 'melodious' (for lack of a better expression) to a European observer and often do not prove particularly informative. The sales statistics would also be a tad more useful if the numbers were included, as well as the ranking.

Still, if you are an expat posted in Japan, or just generally interested in the very interesting car market there, the guide is likely to save you some time and be a handy implement to start your search for the next car, or alterntively for some car industry facet or other.


Classic Cars Can Change Your Life
Classic Cars Can Change Your Life
Price: 0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Extended article on the various facets of classic car buying and owning, 17 May 2013
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The author - a long time classic car collector and enthusiast himself - has produced another volume on the effects of classic car ownership on your life (to go with his Twenty-Five Affordable Classic Cars).

The book covers topics such as general advantages of classic car ownership (beyond it being a hobby), price and value, classic cars as an investment vehicle, cliches and contradictions and looking for the right classic car.

While often not being very specific in his advice, he raises some important questions that a future classic car owner should be asking themselves before taking a plunge - as such the author is certainly not directive, which may be more or less helpful (depending on your attitude).

The points made are illustrated with some case examples (i.e. is a barn find worth more than a restored vehicle), and some hard truths that many owners would like to forget are aired, too - such as that the base value of a classic car may well be zero (worth less than the costs of restoration after this has been performed).

Like in his other book on the subject (Twenty-Five Affordable Classic Cars) the prime audience is more likely someone who is just about to enter into the field, with practically no prior knowledge or experience. For those it is a well enough written book with the most salient points raised ,and some decent photographs to boot.


Twenty-Five Affordable Classic Cars
Twenty-Five Affordable Classic Cars
Price: 1.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book to spur interest in the classical car field but do not expect a lot of detail, 17 May 2013
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As the author states in the beginning, this is neither a comprehensive price guide, nor an in-depth guide to the technical aspects of the cars described. The intended purpose is to give the reader a slightly higher appreciation for the field of classic cars and some ideas where to start.

So far, so good. However, this also defines a fairly narrow target audience - namely people with a reasonable amount of money set aside for a classical car hobby (with an eye to making this a shrewd investment on the side) but very little understanding of the cars themselves or of the field - i.e. first timers who have not taken the idea very seriously previously but need some basic information.

As to information, there is a handful of pictures for most models, a basic description of the car's history, the production period, some stats (not consistent across cars, with some getting more and others less), production numbers and a comparison of 2006 and 2012 values.

The term affordable is relative, with the cars featured going up to about US$150k, however many of those would also experience minimal depreciation (but very significant running costs). On top, the book appears somewhat US focused, with both the price information and the model selection reflecting this (the model selection also largely follows cars the author owned himself).

Unfortunately the book could also do with slightly better editing and with cleaning up of some mistakes (few but noticeable).

All in all an interesting start for someone looking at a potential classical cars hobby but beware that you will probably be very well served to do significantly more research before taking the plunge. For people already owning, or being seriously interested in classical cars, there will be little new / valuable information here.


Falstaff Restaurant Guide 2010
Falstaff Restaurant Guide 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent restaurant overview for all of Austria, 16 May 2013
This annual guide is an excellent summary of the best restaurants in Austria. The book is organized by city and then alphabetically and includes the main points of interest for the restaurants - food quality, service, atmosphere and wine list being the criteria being marked; on top comes a quick overview with points on price level, acceptance of credit cards, whether they have outside seating, if dogs are accepted, if the restaurant is open on Sundays (appears to be more of a rarity in Austria then elsewhere)...

For each restaurant you get the Falstaff rating and the ones that have it also a Gault Mileau rating. The book also comes with a several sentence long description of the main salient points on the restaurant, and a comparison to the restaurant's last years' rating. Some also get a picture.

The guide is certainly a very helpful tool for people living in / visiting Austria and the ratings seem quite realistic (for all restaurants visited so far). There are some organizational issues, i.e. the restaurants in Vienna are organized alphabetically, irrespective of the 'Bezirk' and looking for a specific cuisine can be quite a challenge, since the index does not help in this respect - in essence you need to trawl through the guide to find specific cuisines.

In any case, I can definitely recommend the guide but do try to get the most up to date version available.


Nightfall
Nightfall
Price: 2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps not the 'Asimov' classic but an interesting fictionalised account of how society deals with cataclysmic events, 15 May 2013
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This review is from: Nightfall (Kindle Edition)
The book is apparently based upon an earlier Asimov short story (Nightfall and Other Stories) but adds more depth to the characters here, an a co-author in Robert Silverberg, even if the events covered are largely the same. The basic premise - namely that an unimaginable event will happen in about a year's time in a society closely modeled on ours - is simple but the authors manage a quite convincing account of how humanity is likely to deal with it.

You get a fair number of protagonists, all of whom can be said to have been developed in sufficient depth and the writing style is certainly fluid enough (maybe not as much of a page turner for me as some of the Foundation series but still).

Where the book does a very good job in my opinion is in the twin challenges of presenting the likely response of a society faced with an unprecedented but potentially deadly event on their doorstep and of the probable aftermath of such a life altering catastrophe.

The former can very well be likened to the Mayor of Rotterdam dilemma (as used by Arie de Geus in The Living Company: Growth Learning and Longevity in Business) - even if the mayor of the city knew in 1938 that the Germans would bomb it in 1940 and practically annihilate it, his chances of convincing the government and the population to significantly alter their behavior and prepare for this were next to nil. The authors added a twist to that one, in that both a religious sect as well as the scientific community have something to say on the likely event (in order to avoid the spoilers I cannot portray their views in the review).

The last part of the book - dealing with the aftermath - is then a fairly solid discourse on how society would recover. It is, shockingly, also a convincing if scary account of how dictatorships, or put more nicely, strongly authoritarian regimes develop and is really not that far fetched; even if our world has not witnessed events of the magnitude described, the same pretense and argumentation was used time and time again in establishing strongman regimes (and capable and intelligent people have been flocking to them using the same reasoning).

The book ends suddenly - as commented upon by some other reviewers - which may or may not annoy you, depending on the amount of closure you prefer in your books. In my opinion all the points have been made, even if a more gradual conclusion would not have been amiss. For an idea of what happens after the 'rebuilding' of the new society has been going on for a while, where the new system settles, I can definitely recommend Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah (Penguin Modern Classics) - very much of this earth (and not SF piece of work) but a good continuation of the type of story portrayed in this book.


World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics (Elite193)
World War II Winter and Mountain Warfare Tactics (Elite193)
Price: 5.14

5.0 out of 5 stars A very useful summary of the development of winter and mountain warfare tactics in WW2, 12 May 2013
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Given how important a part winter played in WW2 it is certainly welcome to shed some light on the way varying armies dealt with its effects and how the doctrines of various armies evolved to take account of this. The book gives a sufficiently solid overview of the topic and draws on both published manuals of various WW2 combatants (primarily those of Germany, the Soviet Union, the UK and the US), as well as real world experience (mostly from the Winter War and the war in the East).

Topics covered range from small unit tactics, to proper equipment, weather protection, camouflage, the use of ski units, transport, appropriate defensive positions, to the time differences in conducting operations or the varying effectiveness of weapons in such circumstances. Some of the more famous mountain / winter focused units from various armies are also mentioned and quite some space is taken up by describing the training efforts undertaken.

The early learning primarily drew on the Finnish and Scandinavian experience as far as Winter went and on the German and Austrian (and to a lesser extent British from the Northwestern Frontier) one for mountain units.

These lessons took anywhere between two to three years to get fully and the winter preparedness of the major combatants' forces was certainly getting reasonable late in the war.

The book is written in a very readable style and the illustrations (some bespoke, while others are taken from / based on WW2 manuals) do an excellent job of graphically presenting the points made.


Tanks of Hitler's Eastern Allies 1941-45 (New Vanguard 199)
Tanks of Hitler's Eastern Allies 1941-45 (New Vanguard 199)
Price: 4.12

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the series' average but interesting nevertheless, 12 May 2013
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The book contains a brief overview of the tanks operated by the Axis and their co-belligerents on Eastern Front. As it covers countries as diverse as Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Finland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Italy as well as the Russian volunteer armies, the 48 page format was never going to suffice for an in-depth study. Still, the basic information is interesting, if not comprehensive.

Countries get varying coverage, with Hungary and Romania getting most (natural given the larger armored forces and the local production), while some others such as Slovakia, Croatia, Italy or Bulgaria getting a handful of paragraphs each.

The reader will generally get an overview of the numbers of vehicles operated and the types in use, and potentially a mention of some significant battles where the tanks participated and their performance. For the countries with local production or upgrade efforts some further information on local types is also given.

The introduction does point towards Germany's reluctance in furnishing its Allies and Co-belligerents with proper armored forces, even from the stocks of captured vehicles, where little cost would have been incurred. Sadly the book does not have it in its scope to explore this facet of the conflict in the East further.

Where the book loses its fourth star for me is in the frequent errors, which are probably due to poor editing (maybe this only affects the Kindle version). The dates are occasionally confused (for Slovakia for instance), the numbers of vehicles in use or delivered do not add up to the stated totals, etc. Some errors in form, such as calling the Finns Germany's allies would hardly be forgiven by Finns, while Italians may also not see themselves as 'Eastern'.

If you are completely new to the topic, the book provides a good first look and does include a useful summary of sources for further reading. If you have already some working knowledge of the armored forces of minor European countries in WW2, there is little new that you will find in this volume.


The Fear
The Fear
Price: 4.19

5.0 out of 5 stars The fourth installment in Godwin's writing on Rhodesia / Zimbabwe - and a sad first hand account of the state violence of 2008, 8 May 2013
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This review is from: The Fear (Kindle Edition)
In his fourth book on Zimbabwe (after Rhodesians Never Die: Change on White Rhodesia, C.1970-1980: The Impact of War and Political Change on White Rhodesia, C.1970-80 (State and Democracy Series), Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa and When a Crocodile Eats the Sun) Peter Godwin covers the post election violence in 2008 and the 'birth' of the Government of National Unity (GNU).

If you have read any of his previous books (not necessary for the full appreciation of this book but still helpful), you will largely know what to expect style-wise; what you get in this book, though, is a much more chilling account - simply in line with the enormous rise in state sponsored violence and 'politicide' unleashed by Mugabe, after he effectively lost the 2008 election.

The violence meticulously chronicled by Peter Godwin (who was on the ground in Zimbabwe over most of the period) is unembellished but still nothing for the fainthearted. The book contains countless first hand examples of Mugabe's henchmen unleashing 'The Fear' amongst people who possibly (with few questions asked) voted for MDC instead of ZANU-PF and both the severity of the examples and their multitude is sickening.

Naturally - given the topic and the fact that all of the author's relatives moved out of Zimbabwe by 2008 - the personal element is somewhat less pronounced than in Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa or When a Crocodile Eats the Sun but this does not make the book completely different in style or tenor to the earlier two.

The story told is one of unimaginable terror and is likely to fill readers with either sadness or rage but the author also shows some rays of hope - the people of Zimbabwe have refused to be completely cowed by the state organized violence and one can only hope that their sacrifice leads to a better future ahead. The international response has been largely muted and ineffective, even if some of the local ambassadors do lots to try and ameliorate at least some of the excesses.

In summary, I find the book an important account of a 'conflict' often forgotten about by mainstream media, and anyone interested in the region would do well to read it.


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