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Why England Lose: And other curious phenomena explained
Why England Lose: And other curious phenomena explained
by Simon Kuper
Edition: Hardcover

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!, 7 Aug 2009
Given the subject matter, I thought this book could be a little dry. Far from it. Its exceptionally easy reading and deals with a number of myths about the Beautiful Game. The 2 authors neatly dissect various intuitions and myths that have arisen about footie, and present their findings in a very readable form.

I won't spoil the fun, but if you ever wondered WHY England lose, WHY Real Madrid buy galacticos (and its not because they want to win the league) and exactly how MUCH difference a manager makes, then you should buy this book.

Despite having finished it, this tome retains pride of place next to the bog for essential peaceful reading.


Blood Over Water
Blood Over Water
by David Livingston
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on the Boat Race, 14 Mar 2009
This review is from: Blood Over Water (Hardcover)
This is the best book about the boat race. Period. Better than True Blue, better than de Rond's To Hell and Back (whose shortcomings become even more apparent once you read this, if that's possible), and better than Yanks at Oxford.

There is genuine personal detail in every single page about what it takes to get a seat in either one of the Blue Boats. Either side of the story would be a bestseller in itself. However, in this offering you get the additional angle of brothers competing against one another. You'd think that would be enough to guarantee book sales. As it happens, there's another way to see this - this is the only book that I can think of that allows for comparison and contrast of the different approaches of Oxford and Cambridge to the same race.

The structure of the book is well thought out. Chronological order with no annoying flashbacks is very much the way to go. Crewmates are described in sufficient detail without ever stealing the limelight, and other halves show how much stress being a professional athlete puts on a personal relationship.

I ordered it weeks ago, it arrived this morning, and by judiciously ignoring my family, I finished it this evening.

As a book on rowing, this is as good as it gets. As a general sports book, this is on a par with Lance Armstrong's 'It's not about the Bike.' I can see this winning one of the generalist Sports Book of the Year Awards very easily.


The Devil's Workshop: A Memoir of the Nazi Counterfeiting Operation
The Devil's Workshop: A Memoir of the Nazi Counterfeiting Operation
by Adolf Burger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.23

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing yet fascinating, 28 Feb 2009
I came across this book when the author was interviewed in one of the broadsheets, in February 2009. He had just visited the Bank of England, some 60-odd years after he had been forced to forge British bank notes.

The book does not focus entirely on the forging aspect but is broadly autobiographical, including a harrowing account of the author's incarceration in Birkenau & Auschwitz. Indeed, the book is entirely worth reading just for this account in itself.

The latter half of the book describes the author's miraculous selection from the death camp and his subsequent deployment within the forging Kommando at Sachsenhausen. It's important to note that while living conditions were better - how could they not be - the forging inmates were all still utterly convinced they would eventually be executed. Given the secrecy surrounding the project, how could they be allowed to live?

The book is extremely well-written and for those with a more academic interest, includes documentary evidence, plus illustrations of the innocents and the guilty. The author clearly does not seek pity, yet achieves one of the most moving texts I have ever read. The factual episodes, such as the more technical aspects of forging are explained in a concise, intelligent and erudite manner.

I recommend this book whole-heartedly.


John Wright's Indian Summers
John Wright's Indian Summers
by John Wright
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.08

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best sports books I've read, 21 Feb 2009
This book has to be one of the best sports books I have ever read, but it is much more than just a 'sports' book. It's part autobiography, part social history, part political exposé and part sports commentary. It's also not dissimilar to some damn fine war reporting either!

Wright's self-deprecating style and wry humour paint a picture of an exceptionally decent man doing the hardest job in cricket. I knew Indian cricket was passionate but the sheer weight of expectations is simply astounding. The political tentacles of Indian cricket and the patronage system are infuriating to my naive sensibilities, but that's probably nothing compared to Wright's annoyance when trying to make the whole thing meritocratic.

The chronological account of Wright's tenure allows for great inside into the personalities within the Indian dressing room and the phenomenal sacrifices made by some of the players.

The whole book is nicely rounded off by Wright's general tips on coaching.


Stephen Lynch - Live At The El Rey [2004] [DVD]
Stephen Lynch - Live At The El Rey [2004] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stephen Lynch (II)
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £6.67

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, 16 Jan 2009
Categorising Lynch is difficult - his singing ability is phenomenal (good enough for the Wedding Singer) and his voice distinctive and powerful. Pleasingly, however, he doesn't waste it on normal songs, but instead writes some truly fantastically politically incorrect tunes.

The man is a genius and does a great job of offending the annoyingly overly-sensitive. Even better, on DVD, you can see how well he adapts his facial expressions to the music.

I thoroughly recommend this DVD to anyone with a pulse and a sense of humour. Don't buy it for your grandfather though...


The Last Amateurs: To Hell and Back with the Cambridge Boat Race Crew
The Last Amateurs: To Hell and Back with the Cambridge Boat Race Crew
by Steve Redgrave
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.50

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good but not great, 1 Jan 2009
de Rond's book is initially compelling and I had to finish it the day I started. Despite this, it was ultimately unsatisfying. In some key areas, he focussed too much on his own role in settling disputes, or doing a social row at the Head of the Charles. While I have no issue with his own activities, I bought the book to read about the Cambridge oarsmen, not about his own conflict resolution skills.

To be fair, he went into good detail on the baby-mutiny over initial selection. But in my opinion, he failed to go into enough detail on the extremely unusual case of replacing a blade AFTER selection, especially as to how the rest of the crew or the replaced man dealt with the decision. Likewise, Dowbiggin's installation was somewhat skirted over.

A good read, no doubt, but given the access he had, it could have been so much more. I doubt I will read it again but equally I won't give it away (just).


The Hard Way (Jack Reacher)
The Hard Way (Jack Reacher)
by Lee Child
Edition: Hardcover

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars only just got 4 stars, 5 Aug 2006
Lee Child has had a "mini-wobble" with this one.

Yes - its still excellently written. Yes - Reacher is still righting wrongs as only he can. Yes - you'll smile at Reacher's observations of the odd behaviour of brits.

BUT - the trouble for Lee Child is that he's set himself some very high standards and this is a tad below his best. He's still better than most which is why this gets 4 stars from me but I wouldn't pay up for it in hardback, put it that way...


Relentless
Relentless
by Simon Kernick
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another simon kernick that kept me up, 5 Aug 2006
This review is from: Relentless (Hardcover)
simon kernick is rapidly becoming one of my favourite thriller writers, and its not just because he writes about an area of London with which I'm familiar. Its because his characters make sense, are well developed without holding up the action and his storylines both imaginative without being over the top.

can't wait for the next one...


Dead Simple
Dead Simple
by Peter James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.02

6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 22 July 2006
This review is from: Dead Simple (Paperback)
started it at 8.30 pm. continued until wee small hours, high as a kite on coffee. Simply un-put-downable.


Starting Advanced Mathematics: The Essential Foundation
Starting Advanced Mathematics: The Essential Foundation
by Hugh Neill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars if i could give more stars, i would do, 5 Nov 2005
This excellent book is totally perfect for self-teaching of algebra, formula work, factorising and quadratics, simultaneous equations and trig.
Each chapter explains carefully and easily, step by step, how to solve the problem. Exercises follow, with answers at the back. You don't actually need a teacher if you've got this book - and given the current state of the education system, its probably just as well.


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