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T. MacFarlane "History Nut" (Fylde Coast, UK)
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Sutton Coldfield 2 in 1 (Archive Photographs: Two in One)
Sutton Coldfield 2 in 1 (Archive Photographs: Two in One)
by Marian Baxter
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars "Into my heart an air that kills ... ", 23 Oct. 2005
Marian Baxter has offered us a splendid photographic history of the Royal Town, dating from the 1860's to the 1990s.
Like most towns in England, Sutton Coldfield has seen enormous changes, which are recorded here.
Not all change is for the worse, and Sutton is a much bigger and more comprehensive shopping centre than it was in the 1950s, for example.
However, something has been lost.
Suburban towns, like Sutton, have become homogenized. Little remains to let you know that you are anywhere different from a hundred and one other similarly sized towns up and down the country.
Also, as this book powerfully records, much architecture of local interest has been lost.
The case of the Library also points up the fact that many changes which have occurred have not always had the support of local people.
The naming of the shopping centre - Gracechurch - itself demonstrates that the power of moneyed interests to override that of the locality.
Also recorded, if like me you recall the town as it was at the end of the Second World War, is the huge loss of farming land, which our grandchildren may live to regret.
Finally, and on a more personal note, having left Sutton many years ago, this book exercised a powerful emotional tug not unlike that which A. E. Housman evoked in his poem "The Land of Lost Content".


Sutton Coldfield 2 in 1 (Archive Photographs: Two in One)
Sutton Coldfield 2 in 1 (Archive Photographs: Two in One)
by Marian Baxter
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars "Into my heart an air that kills ... ", 20 Oct. 2005
Marian Baxter has offered us a splendid photographic history of the Royal Town, dating from the 1860's to the 1990s.
Like most towns in England, Sutton Coldfield has seen enormous changes, and they are recorded here.
Not all change is for the worse, and Sutton is a much bigger and more comprehensive shopping centre than it was in the 1950s, for example.
However, something has been lost. Suburban towns, like Sutton, have become homogenized. Little remains to let you know that you are anywhere different from a hundred and one other similarly sized towns up and down the country.
Also, as this book powerfully demonstrates, much architecture of local interest has also been lost.
The case of the Library also points up the fact that many changes which have occurred have not always had the support of local people.
The naming of the shopping centre - Gracechurch - also demonstrates the power of moneyed interests to override that sense of locality.
Also recorded, if, like me, you recall the town as it was at the end of the Second World War, is the huge loss of farming land. Something which our grandchildren may live to regret.
Finally, and on a more personal note, having left Sutton many years ago, this book exercised a powerful emotional tug not unlike that which A. E. Housman evoked in his poem "The Land of Lost Content".


Restorer of the World: The Roman Emperor Aurelian
Restorer of the World: The Roman Emperor Aurelian
by John F. White
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fall Postponed, 9 Oct. 2005
John F. White's book is a model of its kind.
We get a good overview of Roman history up to early third century AD, an in-depth account of the descent into chaos, and near collapse of the empire during that century, and a very detailed account of the time of the "Danubian" emperors, with an emphasis on the reign of Aurelian.
Nor is this a purely military history. White is also good on the economic, and social problems, including the debilitating
effects of plague on the population of the empire - a matter not often referred to in many standard texts.
Finally, we get a very detailed examination of the problems which Rome faced, and which would eventually cause the collapse
of the Western half of the empire in the early fifth century.
John White argues that Valerian's "final legacy" was that he and the other Danubian "supermen" " ... allowed the empire to
survive ... long enough for Christianity to become widespread even among the barbarians ... "
This is not a new argument - it featured in RE lessons when I was at secondary school in the late 1940's - but it is
controversial.
The Roman emperors never solved the problem of setting up institutions that allowed for stable regime change, nor did it
occur to them that their technological achievements were at risk, both from the 'barbarians' and from the other-worldliness
of Christianity.


No Title Available

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Excellent images if you can stand the waiting around!, 9 Oct. 2005
I recently sold one of these, and was pleased to do so.
The quality of the images was not the problem: the problems were:
1. Very sluggish start-up.
2. Very sluggish write-time.
3. Very sluggish shut down.
I ended up shooting in continuous mode all the time. The problem here is that after about 3 shots, the read time was anything up to 30 seconds, I exaggerate not.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 1, 2011 11:06 PM GMT


What Stalin Knew: The Enigma of Barbarossa
What Stalin Knew: The Enigma of Barbarossa
by David E. Murphy
Edition: Hardcover

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Stalin handled 'Disinformation', 6 Oct. 2005
David Murphy confirms in massive detail what we have long been told: that Stalin received a multiplicity of warnings about Operation Barbarossa from a multiplicity of sources, both home-grown and foreign, including Richard Sorge in Tokyo, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill , who was acting on Ultra intercepts.
Stalin dismissed it all as "disinformation", and anyone who persisted in feeding him the truth was likely to be shot.
Stalin was not only the victim of Hitler's own disinformation, and the cronies and sycophants he had appointed to surround him. He was also deceived by Marxist-Leninist dogma: that the conflict between Hitler and the West was the last spasm of the dying capitalist system, after which Stalin would launch the world-wide revolution.
(Does this account for the argument, advanced by several historians, that Stalin was planning an offensive of his own? Murphy is silent on this issue, and there no evidence in his book to support this view.)
Stalin was confirmed in his beliefs about the West by the nature of the Anglo-French mission to Moscow in August 1939, which was supposedly about an alliance with Russia. Stalin correctly spotted the half-heartedness of the mission, and cut a deal with Hitler instead.
Apologists for this infamous pact have always argued that Stalin bought time to prepare for the war. The author shows quite clearly that he did no such thing.
It is, of course, easy to read this book with the benefit of hindsight, and wonder at Stalin's credulity.
The extent to which Hitler played on Stalin's weaknesses is illustrated by a letter in May 1941 in Hitler told Stalin that "some of my generals" might take "provocative actions" and he tells Stalin to "show restraint, not to respond but to advise me immediately of what has happened."
Even within days of the invasion, requests to increase the troops' combat readiness were turned down. Murphy tells us that the local NKGB "assigned to every troop unit ... would notice and report (it) to Moscow". War hero Zhukov even told one commander that "Such actions can provoke the Germans to armed conflict ... "
Finally, at about 21:00 on June 21, Stalin and his henchmen learned of a German deserter who had crossed the border and warned of what was to come in a few hours. As they debated this, another warning arrived an hour later, so orders were finally issued to bring units to combat readiness and to disperse aircraft.
This order did not reach the frontline until 2:25-2:35 am on the June 22nd.
Murphy calls it " ... one of the strangest military orders in history".
David Murphy has offered us what is probably the most comprehensive, and detailed, account of this period that we are likely to get.
According to the author archives in Moscow which were opened up in the early nineties are now being closed, so there are aspects of the story which remain in the untold.
491 words
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 29, 2012 12:44 PM GMT


The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization
The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization
by Bryan Ward-Perkins
Edition: Hardcover

78 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pots, tiles and coins: the loss of comfort., 13 Sept. 2005
Towards the end of this book, the author sums up his case:
"My conception of Roman civilization, and its demise, is a very material one, which in itself probably renders it
unfashionable."
Whilst Bryan Ward-Perkins is careful to explain that the end of the Roman Empire was not a uniform process, and
that the Eastern half of the empire continued to flourish until the time of the Arab attacks, in the west there was
a return to a much more primitive existence, which he calls "the end of comfort". Hence the materialist stance
adopted by the book. The autthor takes three items to underline "the disappearance of comfort".
The use of pottery was widespread throughout the Empire, it was not solely the preserve of the elite, and its manufacture
was industrial, and its quality was excellent.
In provinces like Britain the availablity of sophisticated, mass produced, quality pottery simply disappeared.
The skills and technology had gone. The trade routes from Africa had gone.
Tiled roofs do not catch fire, they do not attract insects, and they do not need replacing every thirty years.
In Britain, " ... the quarrying of building stone, preparation of mortar, manufacture and use of bricks
and tiles ... " all ceased.
This was the worst case. In areas like the Mediterranean the author tells as that "shrinkage" is a better
description.
Coins are the hallmark of economic sophistication: in Roman times they were "a standard feature of everyday
life ... gold, silver and copper."
The disappearance of coins means the disappearance of economic complextity, and in the West it was "almost total".
(Not so in the east.) Rome seems to have been an exception. There it is, again, a case of "shrinkage" rather than collapse.
These three instances highlight the loss of specialisation, and as the author points out, specialisation depends on
"a sophisticated network of transport and commerce ... in order to distribute ... goods efficiently and widely."
But the frontiers were no longer secure, the countryside was more dangerous, and walls started to re-appear round cities.
Traders who would have journeyed safely along the empire's highways find the empire's security has gone.
The world's first intricate interlocking economy was unravelling.
In this situation, specialization actually posed a serious danger: " ... its very sophistication rendered
it fragile and less adaptable to change."
Indeed, the author argues that countries like Britain went back to less-sophisticated levels that those
which had existed before the Roman invasion:
"It took centuries for people in the former empire to reacquire the skills and regional networks that would
take them back to these pre-Roman levels of sophistication. Ironically, viewed from the persective of fifth-century
Britain and of most of the sixth- and seventh-century Mediterranean, the Roman experience had been highly
damaging."
Did the population decline?
Here the author admits that evidence is hard to find, since poorer communities leave little if any trace of their
existence.
However, the author demonstrates from Syrian evidence, that as farming became less specialist, and only local needs
could be met, there was a decline in acreage cultivated.
More tellingly, he cites the remarkable shrinkage in the average size of cattle, from a growth between the Iron Age and the Roman period, to a decline below the size of Iron Age cattle afterwards.
Your world-view determines how you interpret of the end of the Roman Empire.
The author takes up the Marxist view that the collapse of the Roman Empire marked the end of an imperial exploitation of
the lower classes, and slaves.
Whilst not denying the huge differences in wealth - such as there are in some Western countries today - he believes
that "basic good-quality items (were) available right down the social scale."
He further points out that Anglo-Saxon England, for example, was manifestly not an egalitarian paradise.
The European Union needed the end of Rome to be a peaceful transition. The German 'invaders' of the fifth century AD
are no longer the barbarians "assassinating" the empire, rather a Romano-German world came peacefully into existence. Hence the hallowed place of Charlemagne in the EU's pantheon.
The 'fall' of Rome coincided with the rise and rise of Christianity, the so-called "Dark Ages" were not 'dark' at all,
they were the period when the western invaders were converted to Christianity. They were the age of saints like St Bede. They were an age of spirtuality.
Rome, it is claimed, is not a yardstick by which to judge other cultures.
All cultures are now equal, and none are to be judged by another's criteria. The notion that Rome "fell" somehow
implies its superiority. The concept of Roman = Civilised, Barbarian = Uncivilised is no long allowed.
Bryan Ward-Perkins tries to steer a middle course in all this, but it is clear, from his statement I quoted at the start
of this review, the he takes the view that material comfort is important.
Finally, Bryan Ward-Perkins sounds a warning. There are lessons to be learned from the events of the fith century AD.
This is history at its best, detailed, carefully argued, but never losing the sight of the big picture.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 11, 2011 7:33 PM BST


Elgar: Orchestral Works
Elgar: Orchestral Works
Offered by treguntersw
Price: £8.90

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best, 4 Sept. 2005
This review is from: Elgar: Orchestral Works (Audio CD)
This was Sir Adrian Boult's last recording of Elgar's First Symphony, and as a recording it has obvious adavantages over earlier recordings.
But that should not, of course be the main or only criteria.
Elgar was in Boult's blood, and although there cannot be any one performance that eclipses many others which are excellent, Boult had that extra something which means that his performances stand up to repeated hearings in a way that others perhaps do not.
At this price it is, as they say, a steal.


The New Thought Police
The New Thought Police
by Tammy Bruce
Edition: Paperback

240 of 252 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blair's Thought Police, 1 Sept. 2005
This review is from: The New Thought Police (Paperback)
Not long before 7/7 the government was planning to outlaw hatred of religious groups, a move based on the perception that the Muslim community - or should that be communities? - were victims of said hatred.
Presumably Salmon Rushdie's 'Satanic Verses' would be proscribed under such legislation?
Last year the BBC showed a documentary in which a member of the BNP stated the he would like to "machine gun" Moslems as they came out of the local mosque.
So we have two extremes: the Moslem fighting against the decadent West, and a member of the BNP who, presumably, has a rather higher opinion of Adolf Hitler than the rest of us.
This is the importance of this book: the argument that if an opinion is dangerous, it must be suppressed.
As the author rightly argues, the suppression of opinions is now a major plank in what passes for thinking on the left.
And nowhere is this more relevant than in the left's obsession with "multiculturalism".
People who are uncomfortable with this concept - probably a majority - know to keep quiet.
Diversity - pluralism - is a normal feature of an open society.
Multiculturalism, however, is something different. As the author puts it, it seeks " to shield non-European cultures from moral judgements. In the mind of today's multiculturalist, the cultural practices of minority groups are above reproach, no matter where they lead."
And we have seen where they sometimes lead on this side of the pond. There was the African boy whose body was found in the River Thames. His injuries - and death - were the result of witchcraft practices imported from Nigeria.
Many years ago, my next door neighbour sent his daughter back to a Middle Eastern country to an arranged marriage which she did not want.
These are examples of practices which multiculturalism dare not debate, and similar examples are given in this book.
The Thought Police in the UK are active in an unlikely area: criminology. As in the US, there is silence on the matter of black crime statistics. It's inviting a charge of racism to even mention - as the author does - that "the crime statistics speak for themeslves. ... Although African American men constitute only six per cent of the overall population, they account for roughly 40 per cent of the country's violent crimes."
Police officers in the UK who have made similar statements have come to regret it. After 7/7 there was talk of the police "targetting" young Moslems. This was instantly stamped on. Of course white old ladies were just as likely to blow themselves up on the Underground, how could you have thought anything else?!
The difficulty posed when facts are suppressed, is that rational discussion of why young black men are more likely to be involved in violent crime goes off the agenda.
The left undulges in a kind of Christian Science approach to human affairs. The Christian Scientist believes that if you are ill you can think yourself well - by reading Science and Health - because illness is the result of bad thinking, and Mary Baker Eddy's book will correct your thoughts.
So, for the left, thinking that someone is a criminal makes them a criminal: they are the victim of your bad thoughts.
The left's delusional thinking is ultimately an indiaction of its deep seated wish to return to the comforts a closed-society where "I think" has been abolished. It is a victory for Hitler, Stalin, and the Inquisition: someone else knows best.
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 6, 2014 10:20 PM GMT


No Title Available

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best, 1 Sept. 2005
I made the mistake of buying a C-760 from J*ss*ps. Sluggish? It must be the worst on the market. But the rest was superb.
So I decided to upgrade to the C-770 while it is still on the market. (The new SP500 super zoom has just been announced.)
In all respects this a superb camera. Images are sharp, nicely saturated and have that "transparency" look about them.
In addition to an excellent stills camera you get a very good movie mode which includes an MPEG4 setting.
Now you don't need a stills camera and a camcorder, this is both.
Snap one up, while they are still available, because the new SP500 does not have the same 640x480 movies.


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