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Julian "bookworm" (turin)

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Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations
Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations
by Martin Goodman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Why they wail at the wall, 14 Aug 2014
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An extraordinary fusion of knowledge of the classical and specifically Roman world, with of the Bible and the Jewish past. It compares Roman and Jewish culture aspect by aspect in an attempt to discover how such hatred for the Jews could have come to be the routine for 2000 years. I think his conclusion is that originally it was simply 'politically convenient' to the Romans to despise the Jews to justify what they had done, kind of 'by mistake'. As the saying goes 'Every man hates those he has hurt'. We discover how the Jewish Temple came to be built. How it was rebuilt and destroyed. This is 'history' as it should be, a wide understanding of issues which are also relevant today. I wonder how many Palestinians living in Gaza and Jews in Tel Aviv today have read it. They would all benefit a little if they did in my opinion, although Goodman is too professional to insinute that!


The Origin of Our Species
The Origin of Our Species
by Chris Stringer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!, 14 Aug 2014
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Speaking as a non-expert, but also as somebody who is genuinely interested in how Homo Sapiens Sapiens got to be so big for his boots, I would rate this as the current best survey on the subject. This guy covers every angle of the subject expertly, readably and convincingly. He doesn't concentrate endlessly on, for example, archaeological finds, or genetic route plotting to the exclusion of all else. A beautiful rounded all-encompassing look at out remote past. The one flaw which he himself points out in the book is that he seems to have changed his mind a bit while writing it, as the last couple of chapters take a different tack. Anyway, its a really fine book.


Total War Rome II (PC DVD)
Total War Rome II (PC DVD)
Price: £21.87

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rome 2 - update as of September 2014, 14 Aug 2014
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Current status: After patching, now very buyable! After September 16th it's likely to get even better with the Emperor Augustus edition.

Changes from Shogun 2: - Pause button reintroduced for battle deployment
- Even better graphics at both game levels
- Even greater development of the strategy map as an animated space
- Even bigger strategy map
- Improved development of strategy map 'characters', generals, spies etc
- armies can now adopt a 'stance' eg 'camped' or 'recruiting'
- cities are now grouped into 'provinces' with shared problems like 'unrest'

Changes from Rome 1: - Recruitment now centred on generals, not cities
- Less respect for historical reality, eg gladiators recruitable for legions!
eg Imperial legion names used for Republican age units
- Interaction/ Fusion of land and sea forces
- Battles are still over a bit too quickly maybe?

So far, so good, more or less.

Complaints.....
- the whole political/diplomatic side of the game needs to improve considerably
- insufficient variety of music (as in all TW games)
- too many 'revolts' of various kinds which frustrate a sense of progress.

Suggestions for improvement:

(1) the new land/sea interaction is not entirely successful because in reality a land force needs time to build boats in order to put to sea (when Pompey gave Caesar the slip by leaving for Greece after the invasion of Italy for example). So the quick flipping from land to sea seems facile. Easy to fix, right?

(2) The laudable attempt to make the game more 'personal' hasn't been thought through enough. Generals, who you are forced to 'develop' by choosing their characteristics, live about 8 or 9 turns only, and in any case their 'personality' has no real consequences on the game. This high turnover of generals was presumably introduced to make the power play between the 3 Roman 'families' more fluid. But that very power play in the Senate just has no life of its own. Maybe a third level of play should be introduced - the Senate / Parliament / Congress etc.

(3) Diplomacy is frozen up here! 'Empire' did this best. Things could be so much more interesting. Technology can be bought or swapped. Cities can be ceded as part of peace terms. Marriages can cement political alliances ....

Conclusion: The Creative Assembly continues to juggle around with a truly unique product and this time took a year to get it right (who knows the story behind that). However it should remember that its sales lie in building on the 'war-gaming' market. People who buy these Total War games are generally well educated and are attracted by 'history'. So specific historical situations (eg 'Napoleon') work better than 'Every faction has an equal chance to conquer the world' (eg Risk: The Game of Global Domination).

Why not go for the American Civil War next time rather than this multiplayer idea which just won't fit the mould? Start with strict history but then let it develop differently, (Cotton crazy intervention from Britain, an Indian Confederation bent on revenge, a Slave revolt, intervention from the United States of Mexico....) Just think of all the Blues and Country music you could pack in there! And don't hurry things next time, we'll wait for a really good game!


Golana Terra Pro Swiss Made All Terrain Mens Watch TE100.4
Golana Terra Pro Swiss Made All Terrain Mens Watch TE100.4

1.0 out of 5 stars Nice bodywork with a big chassis and you can get ..., 5 Aug 2014
CR P ! (guess what the missing letter is!) I bought this from Amazon.es to tell the truth but I can't express myself in Spanish. Nice bodywork with a big chassis and you can get to like that really, although to my tastes any bigger than that on your wrist is impractical, BUT this ia a watch that has never kept the time except by sliding insidiously backwards about 90 minutes a day (missed a few trains there too). AND the second hand fell off after 3 months - is worth a comment on AmazonUK I think. (The missing letter is A!)


The Incredible Human Journey
The Incredible Human Journey
by Alice Roberts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars an easy an informative read, 25 May 2014
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The book follows Oppenheimer's gene based version of how homo sapiens left Africa about 85000 years ago in a single batch and spread across the planet, reaching the Americas last. The difference between this book and Oppenheimer's is that Alice Roberts also takes an archeological bone based approach, which seems to match broadly speaking. In terms of its prose, The Incredible Human Journey is much more readable in that it spends quite a lot of time describing Robert's travel experiences around the planet, I presume in preparation for the BBC series. The result can be described as 'fuzzy' prose in 3D, switching entertainingly from the personal travel experience to the anciently historical in a kind of, dare I say, female way. In the same spirit of readability, she avoids being too technical either in terms of anatomy, archeology, genetics or paleontology, This would be a nice first read on the fascinating subject of how we came to people the planet.


Emporio Armani Men's Watch AR0478
Emporio Armani Men's Watch AR0478
Offered by Precision OnTime
Price: £189.00

5.0 out of 5 stars great product, 20 July 2013
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This watch has perfect styling with elegant effect. I suppose I looks best under a long sleeved shirt and a suit.


Britannia - The Failed State: Tribal Conflict and the End of Roman Britain
Britannia - The Failed State: Tribal Conflict and the End of Roman Britain
by Stuart Laycock
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.90

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine book, stay with it and you'll make mental progress, 18 Oct 2010
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Stuart Laycock's book is not making such an outrageous claim about Britannia 400-600AD at all. Rather the historical model presented is common sense and a single step from those previously postulated. He is simply arguing that no national British administration survived the early decades of the 5th century. What survived was local administration based on Roman Civitates which in turn had been based, after the revolt of the Iceni, on tribal British kingdoms. Vortigern, Gildas' 5th century cock-up administrator must have been a local magnate and the Saxon mercenaries called in to defend frontiers in the place of imperial limitanei were posted to long established tribal frontiers to defend against internal aggression rather than external threats from Picts or continentals.

Archeology has to be evidence based, and Laycock is scrupulous about deducing cultural differences from, for example, types of belt buckle and their geographical distribution. This can get a bit gruelling for the non-specialist like me and he might have been more focussed on who his intended reader was to be. This is not really `archeology made simple'. Nor is the real importance of a belt buckle to the soldiers who worn them, for example, really brought out.

One final comment in favour of Laycock's model; another reviewer below points out that 400 years is a long time for tribal identities to survive and then re-emerge. That's true, although from 70 AD when imperial stability began to be more successfully imposed to 410 is only 350 years. I think that tribal identities could only have survived so long if there were substantial cultural differences between the tribes. That means differences of language, probably religion, economic development and maybe of long term origin too. Laycock never explores this idea (being so fact based), although with a single sentence `the Belgae may not have spoken Celtic' he shows he is fully aware of the idea that Britannia had never been entirely Celtic speaking. Maybe the Saxon immigrants found local people who already spoke something akin to their own dialects ? Maybe the total lack of Celtic words in the English language is not evidence of genocide, but simply of cousins making space for each other.


Travels with Herodotus
Travels with Herodotus
by Ryszard Kapuscinski
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars what to expect, 27 July 2010
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This review is from: Travels with Herodotus (Paperback)
Just a comment on my own 'before reading' expectations, which were that Kapuscinski would follow similar routes to those described in Herodutus, that is, covering the same geographical ground. That would have been a bit fruitless, yes, as the world has changed beyond recognition in 2500 years, and even human nature seems to have been jacked up to generally more decent levels than of yore. Rather, the Greek classic accompanied a Polish journalist on travels over a much wider range, including Africa, China and India and over a time range of 30 years. There are some nuggets of understanding and observation of the 20th century world that are really worth reading and the parallel world of Herodutus offers a context in which to put it. Nice book, you won't regret it if you share my tastes.


Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom
Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom
by Tom Holland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tom Holland, a master wordsmith., 30 Nov 2009
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Having also read 'Rubicon', as well as Holland's study of ancient Persia, I was not surprised to find this book so very readable, indeed more so than the latter. He is, I think, as master of words and their grouping into sentences. Emphatic prose, elegantly articulated which, after a few dozen pages, sweeps you away on a powerful train of expression. I am tempted to make a comparison with Gibbon who did that definitive job on the rise and fall of the Roman Empire so long ago.
The downside might be that this is not really 'historical writing' as we know it today. It's like all the facts and debateable opinions we could have chewed over carefully and judiciously have been dissolved into molten writing in which what counts is style rather than content. Not that I can accuse him of getting any facts wrong ! And I'm definitely going to buy the next one !


An Intimate History Of Humanity
An Intimate History Of Humanity
by Theodore Zeldin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.39

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a French mousse dessert with nuggets of high culture, 10 Sep 2009
I'll be brief about this rather remarkable and sweet book. What really grabs you are the chapter headings. They seem to promise illumination of those few things that you had understood about modern life but had never had time or insight enough to really expand on. Things like 'How men and women have slowly learned to have interesting conversations' and 'Why compassion has flowered even in stony ground'. Unfortunately these certainly wise ideas are the finishing lines the writer jogs through rather than the start line. That is to say that although what Zeldin offers you as a follow-up is interesting and well written, you struggle to find the real link with the chapter heading. This guy knows a lot both about history and people (which is the same thing actually) but he's just so vague and optimistic that if you're not those things too, you're going to wish you had just stuck to the chapter headings. Maybe that's too mean, have a great read !


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