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C. Reid (Edinburgh and Tampa)

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Very Ordinary Seaman
Very Ordinary Seaman
by J.P.W. Mallalieu
Edition: Paperback

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great account of lower deck life on a destroyer, 17 Sep 2007
This review is from: Very Ordinary Seaman (Paperback)
Written and published during the war, this is an account of the lower-deck life on board a British destroyer circa 1942; the author served as an ordinary seaman during that period. The perspective is obviously different from The Cruel Sea and most other published accounts, as it is told only from the seaman's perspective. Officers are rarely seen, remote beings. The humour (and foul language) of a group of primarily working class ratings shine through, making this one of my favourite books. Its characters feel like real people (and some are probably based on real shipmates of the author), and the overall effect is somewhat different from the 'plucky little Dickie Attenborough' portrayal we've come to expect from post-war films and novels.

American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Centre
American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Centre
by William Langewiesche
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hysteria-free, well-written description of the WTC clean-up, 23 Mar 2005
I really enjoy Langewiesche's writing. Given the tone of most reportage of the events and subsequent clean-up operations, his calm, detatched approach is refreshing.
He doesn't shy away from the reality of the situation - factionalism, looting, profiteering. Anyone with any experience of large engineering projects will recognise the culture he describes. It's a fascinating treatment of a huge engineering undertaking which I was (literally) unable to put down and consumed in a single session.
A word about his treatment of firemen, which one review on this site (malkelno1) takes issue with. Firstly, Langewiesche doesn't say that firemen were only interested in rescuing their own living survivors, above civilians or police (as the malkelno1 review states); rather, he says that the firemen were felt by the contractors and police at the site to be much more interested in recovering firefighters' bodies than any others. Second, he makes the point that no firefighter who went up the twin towers that day as part of the rescue effort did so in the expectation that they would collapse - so they weren't operating in some expecially noble spirit of knowing self-sacrifice, but were doing the (dangerous) job they are paid for. Finally, he points out that media and cultural factors seemed to cause the firefighters and their relatives to become self-dramatic and over-emotional in the months following the attack. You may or may not find that you agree with those views - read the book and make up your own mind.

The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime
The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime
by William Langewiesche
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wanted it not to end..., 6 Mar 2005
He writes really well - so you get a mixture of excellent reportage and lovely writing. I've spent some time in various commercial vessels, so perhaps the subject was one I was more likely to warm to. But I think anyone would find this book fascinating - it offers a glimpse of worlds that most of us will never see, whether it's the job-preserving decision making which leads to unseaworthy vessels killing their crews, the reality of modern-day piracy, or a terrifyingly, heartbreakingly true account of how you live or die when a ferry sinks.
If you like it, do yourself a favour and read 'Inside the Sky', too.
I'm not connected with the author or publisher, by the way!

Shattered Glass [DVD] [2004]
Shattered Glass [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Hayden Christensen
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.73

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story-driven film, 6 Mar 2005
This review is from: Shattered Glass [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
I was motivated to write this review by the reviewer who gave the film one star; can't believe anyone could find this film boring. A very 'straight' treatment of the subject - no attempt to psychoanalyse Glass, for example - makes an very compelling and dramatic film. Shows what can be done with a low budget and the right script. Loved it.

French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France
French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France
by Tim Moore
Edition: Paperback

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think this is the funniest book I've ever read, 10 Oct 2002
I laughed out loud more times than I can count. Could be a seriously embarrassing book to take on a plane or train journey, unless you don't care about disturbing your fellow travellers with your chortles.
The book is about a journalist's journey around the route of the Tour De France, taking in most of the stages covered by the professionals, a couple of months before the race itself.
Moore is a very engaging writer, and very open about his (rather pathetic) need to identify with past and present Tour De France heroes - even though he's new to cycling, in his late thirties, and not (at the start of the book) particularly fit.
Probably you'll understand and relate to the book best if you're a follower of the Tour (expecially the Phil Liggett/Paul Sherwen combo on Channel 4/ITV), or a keen cyclist, or both.
Reminiscent of early Bill Bryson, I thought - but (for me) much funnier.

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