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Wellington
Wellington
by Elizabeth Longford
Edition: Paperback

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Retained for life, 5 Sep 2007
This review is from: Wellington (Paperback)
This is a comprehensive and compelling account of the Duke of Wellington's rise to be the greatest military leader of his time and the elder statesman of Conservative politics.

Elizabeth Longford gives a portrayal of Wellington far removed from the legendary cold and stern Iron Duke to reveal a compassionate, principled and forgiving man. His life was determined by his disciplined adherence to his principles.

As a military leader in India, and in Europe he proved to be a strategist of singular genius, not only on the battlefield but also embracing the goodwill of the occupied populace, the dreaded hearts and minds of modern terminology.

Wellington dominated British politics from the House of Lords, serving under Lord Liverpool and Robert Peel, and as Prime Minister (he subsequently rejected the Premiership twice). He had his hand in all of the major issues of the day, introducing the modern police force, Catholic emancipation, and assisting Peel in the repeal of the Corn Laws. The Great Reform Act of 1832 only went through with his eventual acquiescence. Longford dispels the authoritarian image too often perpetuated to reveal him to be a flexible and pragmatic politician, as evidenced in his policies on Catholic emancipation, constitutional reform, and the Corn Laws.

This is the seminal one volume biography of Wellington.


The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (P.S.)
The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (P.S.)
by Jared Diamond
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.80

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It helps us understand what it means to be human", 15 Aug 2007
This is a brilliant examination of the rise of mankind from just another species of big mammal to our current domination of the earth, and an important exposition of our position in the world today.

Diamond combines many disciplines to produce a riveting dissection of humanity to dispel any myths of inimitable human nature, presenting examples of "human" nature in the animal kingdom, and the reasons for our sudden rise in The Great Leap Forward.

Diamond continues by warning the reader of the severe consequences of ignoring the destruction of the environment, ideas he pursued further in Collapse. Diamond, however, remains optimistic of our ability to learn from our mistakes and those if fallen civilisations, sentiments I don't share.

Like all of Diamond's books, this is immensely readable, and tackles a subject of great importance to how we perceive ourselves, our place in the universe, and the world around us.


Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry) (Wordsworth Poetry Library)
Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry) (Wordsworth Poetry Library)
by Rudyard Kipling
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.59

26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great Briton, 21 Mar 2007
It is unfortunate that Kipling is erroneously derided as a Fascist, racist and imperialist. His verse is often viewed in the context of our own time, rather than the period in which it was written, and his language is measured against modern standards of political correctness. As a result Kipling is seen to be jingoistic, a relic of the Empire, and of no relevance.

This is obfuscatory. An intelligent reading of Kipling's work will reveal that he was a prodigious writer of great scope, a critic of the Empire, and a great documenter of his time. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the late-Victorian and early 20th century periods.


Evil Empire: 101 Ways England Ruined the World: 101 Ways Britain Ruined the World
Evil Empire: 101 Ways England Ruined the World: 101 Ways Britain Ruined the World
by Steve Grasse
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.91

25 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nonsense, 20 Mar 2007
This book is, as the synopsis says, "essential reading for true-blue Americans and others oppressed by the English throughout history." But it is not for anyone who wants an accurate appraisal of the British Empire. Despite the fact that the English can't be blamed for or take credit for, everything the British Empire was responsible for (it was the British Empire), many of the examples of England's "Evil Empire" are plainly wrong.

The Spanish used concentration camps in 1898 in the Spanish-American war before the British did in the Second Boer War, the Metric System was French, the modern machine gun an American invention (the Gatling and Maxim guns), and somehow slums and child labour were invented by the English. Moreover, such sweeping statements as the English slaughtered Africans with machine guns, and England benefitted from slavery and supported the Confederacy (although they switched support to the Union) seems to imply that we're a people of mass murdering racists. He neglects to mention that although the English did benefit from slavery (they weren't the only ones) they did more than any other nation to eradicate it.

Then this isn't supposed to be at all accurate. It suffers from being a response to the English appartently blaming all life's ills on the Americans. This is history akin to Gallipoli, Braveheart and The Patriot.


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