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AK (London)
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We Should All Be Feminists
We Should All Be Feminists
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and finely argued feminist tract - something men will benefit from, too, 30 April 2015
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The author - more famous for her fiction works like Half of a Yellow Sun or Purple Hibiscus (P.S.) - has tackled a more personal topic here - her take on gender relations. The book is basically a reproduction of the author's speech on the topic.

Her literary polish is apparent in the nicely flowing language and unlike some feminist works she is neither dogmatic, nor rabid. At the same time there is a determination to reorder gender relations along more equitable lines - not requiring both to be the same but treated with equal dignity and equivalently in terms of chances provided.

As such it is a book that can be read equally well by a male or female audience and everyone should be inspired to reflect on the examples and hopefully change something in their lives. The fact that her approach is based on positives, rather than negatives will also make the recommendations much easier to swallow and it would be a shame to forego the book because of its title, or feminism as its theme.

If you have a daughter and wish for her to at some point have a better life with the same chances as (y)our sons, the book is a good source of ideas where to start - and where every individual can make a difference, rather than waiting for some all encompassing external program that will somehow miraculously solve it in the future.


Secret Life of Money - Everyday Economics Explained
Secret Life of Money - Everyday Economics Explained
Price: £4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amusing take on everyday economics from an investment banker and management consultant duo, 30 April 2015
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If you have ever wandered about the economics of funeral parlour business, or of elevator installations, this is the book for you. Written by an investment banker and management consultant duo, it is quite amusing, insightful and presented at a level that people without an economics degree will not find difficult to fathom, while at the same time providing valuable insight into the areas presented.

Even if you actually had studied economics or worked in management consulting, the book is still both fascinating and amusing. There is bound to be one or the other field you have never thought about and the book is so readable that even the ones you may know about from previously are not a drag.

I can definitely recommend it, as much for entertainment value as for bringing across a way of thinking and analysing problems that will be helpful in more serious pursuits, too.


Wristwatch Annual 2015: The Catalog of Producers, Prices, Models, and Specifications
Wristwatch Annual 2015: The Catalog of Producers, Prices, Models, and Specifications
Price: £11.39

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful almanac of significant 2014 watches, 2 April 2015
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The 'Wristwatch Annual' has entered the 15th iteration by now, so it must be doing something right. In essence it collects some of the most important new launches of the prior year (meaning it covers 2014, not 2015) into one book and adds a selection of articles as a complement.

After a handful of introductory notes on how to use the manual, the book launches into some introductory articles, this year on what can be expected from the independent boutique manufacturers, on technology evolution and on chronographs.

The main body of the book is of course a list of manufacturers and the most significant new launches of the previous year / current models being sold. While the one year delay is generally not dramatic in terms of standard watches, many limited production series will have been sold out by the time the book gets into print. For each watch manufacturer the author(s) provide a brief company introduction, followed by the individual models, as well as the movements (in case these are designed in house).

This is obviously the main feature of the book but comes with some caveats. The coverage is by no means universal or complete and it appears that the author shows preferences to some brands over others. So long as you are aware of that and not looking for a complete overview (but are satisfied with a moderately comprehensive one), you should be fine here. There are some notable omissions (for instance some manufactures have no movements covered) and the company histories are more or less always given a positive twist (one can assume the PR departments of various watchmakers having had a significant hand in composing those parts).

This year I also had the feeling of the author having padded the book somewhat, with duplicate entries for the same watch in different metals (even though there is not much different than the price, which is duly noted for both options in both entries). And the focus seems to be crystal clear on manufacturers from Switzerland, Germany and partially the US. While this covers the lion's share of 'expensive' watches, it also means that there are pretty notable omissions, too.

The data provided includes all the essentials, from the movement used, to the complications / features, dial, case and strap / bracelet design and materials, dimensions (both movement and case), variations (if any), and a US market price. The latter means that some watchmakers, which are not present in the US market are not covered (although some others are included).

Following this comes a section on standard movements utilized by the manufacturers not making theirs in house (i.e. ETA, Soprod, Sellita...) and a final section with an illustrated glossary. This is particularly useful for the novice watch enthusiast, as it will explain all the important components in sufficient detail to garner some elementary understanding (and the pictures help, too), however you will not notice any differences to the section in the prior years at first glance (not sure if they exist if you dig deeper).

If you are hoping for commentary or critical analysis of the watches covered, the book will clearly disappoint, as this is not its focus. If, on the other hand, you prefer an overview of some significant previous year's new market entries / current collections of most watch manufacturers to come in a book format (as opposed to searching for the information on the net), this is a solid guide. It may have an advertorial twist in some of its components but definitely involved a lot of effort in putting together and provides a very decent (if not complete) overview of what is available on the current wristwatch market.


The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation Is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture
The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation Is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you felt it was all about electronics and cars, here is the possibly surprising next wave of Korean exports, 1 April 2015
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The postwar rise in the living standards and economic performance of South Korea is both well known and generally quite meticulously documented (one of the better sources being How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World's Most Dynamic Region). What may come as a surprise to many, is the concerted attempt by the Korean government and private enterprise to extend their export dominated business model to areas beyond manufacturing and construction - namely to pop culture.

The author - a Korean American journalist that returned to South Korea with her parents in the 1980s - is well positioned to provide a reasonably nuanced perspective on both how far the country has come since her culture shock 1980s time there and on how the basic business model employed for conquering the world with culture exports works.

Be it K-Pop music, Korean soap operas or computer games, all are covered, with plenty of the interviews with the stars, the creators and the government agencies promoting and regulating the industry that were the basis for the research being summarized or partially reproduced for a richer 'voice'.

While many approaches will be familiar to readers who have studied the Japanese and Korean export based manufacturing growth models, it is quite fascinating to read how one can - and successfully at that - transfer those principles to a segment that is much more heavily dependent on creativity and less on process optimization.

While at current levels neither of the Anglo-Saxon entertainment powerhouses need be fundamentally worried in the short run, an understanding of what may follow and how to prepare for it - remember, no one took their electronics or automotive attempts seriously for a long time, either - is probably a good thing to acquire. And for that - even if the book cannot be classed as an in-depth industry study performed by an insider / expert - this is one of the best possible starts. On a lighter note, if you are just baffled by the Psy phenomenon, the book will enlighten, too.


Weird Cars: A compilation of 77 avant garde silly, slow, experimental, failed, rare, ridiculous, revolutionary, obsolete, obscure, idiotic, and X-rated machines
Weird Cars: A compilation of 77 avant garde silly, slow, experimental, failed, rare, ridiculous, revolutionary, obsolete, obscure, idiotic, and X-rated machines
Price: £5.72

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting collection of short vignettes on non-standard cars, 3 Mar. 2015
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The book is a collection of short vignettes on 77 different - weird - cars and will primarily appeal to people interested in topics outside the automotive mainstream.

Each car is covered with a single photograph and then several pages of text describing its history, genesis and success (rare) or otherwise in the marketplace. Quite some were produced in series of under 10 units, while some were more prolific but none would be frequent in any country of the world.

The book is written in an easygoing style and is very readable. It is not intended as a serious scientific treatise on the automotive industry and does not come across as such.

Where some readers may find it lacking is that there are almost no performance figures available and the single picture often does not do the car justice - some of them would definitely need several to really get a good understanding of how the cars looked like in reality. This is especially unfortunate, since many of the cars were really rare and will not be familiar to most readers.

So overall an interesting collection of trivia for the automotive enthusiast but could have been much better with some more effort - i.e. more and better pictures and some technical data would easily make it a five star in my opinion.


Journey by Moonlight
Journey by Moonlight
Price: £4.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of hungarian literature and a must read generally, 25 Feb. 2015
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Hungary - in spite of its modest size - has produced a raft of truly excellent novelists in the 20th century, including Sandor Marai, Arthur Koestler (with talents spanning beyond fiction into many other spheres) to Antal Szerb - the author of 'Journey by Moonlight. At the same time, with the partial exception of Koestler, who on occasion portrayed life from its lighter, more humorous side (for instance in Call Girls), they also look at the deeper, less happy elements of our existence - so an easy read they are often not.

'Journey by Moonlight' fully fits into this mould, being both beautifully written, and dealing with a - delayed I suppose - coming of age, or at least the topics related to it. And while some issues may not resonate quite to the same extent today as they did at the time of publishing - the entrance into a family firm and the associated resistance and the suicide curiosity then prevalent in society - the book is no less excellent for that.

It revolves around Mihaly, who is on his Italian honeymoon with Erzsi - the former wife of a good friend and business partner. The honeymoon is then the catalyst for a journey of self exploration, reminiscing and at times mourning his youth and getting to grips with his current situation. The book spans from Budapest, via various localities in Italy all the way to Paris, and the author does an excellent job of interweaving the past with the current events in the book and at no times does the occasional reminiscing appear forced or superfluous.

The writing - not being blessed with the ability to speak Hungarian I can only speak of the translation - is truly great and is a reason for reading the book on its own.

So overall, if you have enjoyed the other Hungarian masterpieces from the 20th century, such as Embers, or Darkness at Noon, I can only recommend Szerb's book to go with them.


The Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 (Essential Histories series Book 20)
The Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 (Essential Histories series Book 20)
Price: £1.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid, concise account of the Iran - Iraq war; light on military details but convincing otherwise, 23 Feb. 2015
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The Essential Histories format is a good way to read up on a particular historical era or event for those with a limited amount of time, or alternatively, still being in an early phase of exploration and looking for a first overview. The current book is no different - it will give you a good overview of the bloodiest third world post WW2 conflict, namely the ill-conceived Iran - Iraq War from 1980 to 1988.

The author covers the background and reasons for the conflict, and fortunately goes beyond the standard sound bites of just the historical conflict between Persia and the Arab world, or Shia and Sunni interpretations of Islam. Following this are several sections, looking at the military preparedness, the aims of both sides and finally the conflict itself. In such an abridged retelling of an almost nine year long conflict you cannot expect much detail on specific battles or overall ebbs and flows of the battlefield month by month. It is - as to be expected from the series - an overview only.

The book then ends with several mini chapters of analysis, for instance one interviewing Basij PoWs for their reasons in joining, or one on the effectiveness of the military forces and the failures of Saddam's strategic thinking.

The military analysis may fall somewhat short of what I hoped for and there you will be much better served by books such as Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991 (Studies in War, Society, and the Militar): Military Effectiveness,1948-1991, or by more air force focused volumes such as The Role of Air Power in the Iran-Iraq War, Iranian F-14 Tomcat Units in Combat: 49 (Combat Aircraft) or Iranian F-4 Phantom II Units in Combat: 37 (Combat Aircraft). In essence there is much more to the Iraqi decisions not to proceed further than as far as they got in 1980 than the author presents here.

Still, he does at least present a very good scene setting for the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 - something I have not read described in this fashion but which makes perfect sense in hindsight.

So overall a very solid, concise groundwork on the war, which will suffice for those with only a passing interest, or those first looking to dip a toe in the water, before committing to heftier volumes on the topic.


Chinese Whispers: Why Everything You've Heard About China is Wrong
Chinese Whispers: Why Everything You've Heard About China is Wrong
Price: £5.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A realistic review of China and the stereotypes surrounding it, 19 Feb. 2015
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Ben Chu is a pretty interesting author to write on China - the product of a mixed Chinese British marriage, with lots of relatives in China and with a sufficiently broad perspective to be able to discuss both the perceptions of the country in the 'West' as well as the situation on the ground.

The book is organized around whispers - for lack of a better term stereotypes - that are held about China and the Chinese. These range from the obsession with learning, to the unflinching acceptance of backbreaking work, to the complete ambivalence towards democracy.

The author then examines each one in turn, usually starting with the historical development of the particular world-view (often being based on little more than guesswork of people never having set foot in the country). The next step is a critical examination and debunking of the 'whisper', with a more balanced view being placed in its stead.

This makes the book relatively refreshing to read and while some sources get used in many whispers, the debunking generally always contains well argued logic and to the point examples casting more than mere doubt on the widely held stereotypes.

If you are interested in more than just the odd sound bite about the country (that can be regurgitated at will to people equally modestly informed) this is the book to go for. It provides a more solid understanding and delivers in spades. It reads well with How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World's Most Dynamic Region and will help provide you with the insight necessary to engage with China and the Chinese more fruitfully.


Savoia-Marchetti S.79 Sparviero Torpedo-Bomber Units (Combat Aircraft)
Savoia-Marchetti S.79 Sparviero Torpedo-Bomber Units (Combat Aircraft)
Price: £9.35

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A much needed book on the Sparaviero in the torpedo bombing role, 5 Feb. 2015
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The relative dearth of English language sources on the Italian participation in WW2, together with some widely spread stereotypes, has produced a fairly biased and lopsided understanding of the 'lesser' Axis combatant. As such, the book on the operation of the Sparaviero in the torpedo bomber role is a vwery welcome addition, shedding much additional light on the topic of the naval war in the Mediterranean.

The book follows the standard Combat Aircraft format and provides some basic information on the aircraft, the development of the torpedo bombing role and then launches into the operations during the war. While it will definitely not be the ultimate resource on the bomber type in question, it produces a very comprehensive account on the operations in the torpedo bombing role, both in the colours of Reggia Aeronautica up to 1943 and then in the RSI afterwards.

What is fairly shocking is the real determination and heroism of the bomber crews, who performed their duties till pretty much the end of he war, with an aircraft that was soon fairly obsolescent and in spite of limited success. And the losses were very high - still, so was the effort keeping the torpedo bomber units at bay. The book will on occasion allude to other units working in conjunction (flying the CANT Z.1007, SM-84, Ju-87, Ju-88, He-111) but generally does not stray from the primary type covered.

You also get some glimpses into why the units were not more successful, the torpedo failures, the difficulties in evading the heavy defensive AA and the ever heavier air cover in the Mediterranean.

The book comes with the customary colour plates and also has lots of pictorial material - both action shots, as well as plenty of crew pictures.

Overall an excellent effort, with lots of info on the operations of this most famous Italian WW2 bomber type in its important torpedo bombing role - something for the library of every WW2 aviation enthusiast.


Britain's Cold War Bombers
Britain's Cold War Bombers
Price: £6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview of the British bomber designs of the post war era - from the Sperrin to the Eurofighter, 5 Feb. 2015
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The book sets out to give an overview of all the jet bomber projects entering UK service from just after 1945 all the way to today. And while not all would be considered pure bombers - the Panavia Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon certainly qualifying for the multi-role moniker - none of the operational ones are left out.

The author starts with jet bomber research and experimentation following WW2, resulting in English Electric Canberra on the one hand - with long service, significant exports and global renown - and the Short Sperrin, which while testing lots of technology in the end never reached operational service (as a low risk back-up to the V Bomber force it got superseded by better designs before service entry was possible).

Following from those come all three V-Bomber designs, with significant material provided also on the nuclear testing, the use of US nuclear weapons, and the design, utilization and issues with domestically produced nuclear weapons. It covers the Valiant Mk.2 as well, which was designed for the low level role from the outset and which could easily have been used as a superior solution to the requirement, making both the Vulcan and Victor surplus to requirements (and leaving the world of aviation a less colourful place as a result).

As expected, the TSR-2 is covered in some detail, as is the Buccaneer, which finally fulfilled the role envisaged for the former not only in the Fleet Air Arm but also in the RAF. Even less prolific types, such as the Supermarine Scimitar (FAA onlx) get their due.

The author covers the F-111K saga in conjunction with the TSR-2 and finally goes into the Panavia Tornado and the Eurofighter Typhoon (the SEPECAT jaguar is mentioned only obliquely).

There is lots of detail, of the personalities involved, the design and flight test programmes, the deployments and changes in broad doctrine... - in short a pretty comprehensive overview is provided in a still compact format, making the book an excellent starter summary on the subject. The pictorial material is mostly black and white but works quite well in conjunction with the text and reading the book in Kindle works very well, with no transformation issues.

Overall, if the post war military aviation is of interest, one almost has to go for the book - not only is it an excellent summary, it is available at a pretty good price to performance ratio, too.


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