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David I. Howells "outlawcatcher" (UK)

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Travels Amongst the Great Andes of the Equator
Travels Amongst the Great Andes of the Equator
by Edward Whymper
Edition: Unknown Binding
Price: 28.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pioneer Climber, 27 Sep 2007
I have hiked and climbed a lot in Ecuador so for me reading this book was of infinite interest. In fact I have managed to get about a fair bit of the world and I have often wondered how this incredibly well travelled Victorian pioneer alpinist managed to do the same nearly a hundred and fifty years ago. This book explains it.....

The book gives a preface into the fascinating life of Edward Whymper and gives a brief synopsis of his alpine career to date, including his famed and tragic first ascent of the Matterhorn. This book primarily deals with Whymper's visit to Ecuador in 1879. It gives a great insight into what Ecuador was like at the time and especially how one travelled about within this lovely country. I liked the descriptions of the historic centro in Quito very much as it really is a most beautiful place (Unesco World Heritage Site). Of course the book covers in the main the many climbs that Whymper undertook such as on Cayambe, Cotopaxi, The Illinizas, Corazon, Antisana, Sincholagua and many more. Many of these were first ascents and of particular note was the first ascent of Chimbarazo, thought at the time to be one of the highest mountains of the world. The narrative of the groups climbing style, equipment, food and mode of travel is fascinating and makes interesting reading.

Until this book I did not realise that Whymper was also a keen scientist and this trip to Ecuador had as much...if not more...of an emphasis on scientific research as it did on climbing and both went hand in hand. Apart from the natural specimens obtained, the scientific data gathered from his mountain trips by way of chronometer and other recordings was immense and some of the earliest hyperbaric work was done and recorded by Whymper in Ecuador on this trip. The science of the expedition is well covered and gave me as much interest as did the climbing narratives.

Overall this is a climbing and scientific history book compiled by another of the great Victorian pioneers. These pioneers did an awful lot to shape our world but Whymper...well, he did just climbed most of it! A real interesting historic read.


3 Para
3 Para
by Patrick Bishop
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.08

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Paras, 22 Sep 2007
This review is from: 3 Para (Hardcover)
This is a great book that puts you out there on the ground with the Paras. Plenty of action along with an insight into the day to day grind of a modern soldier fighting a brutal war in difficult conditions. The constant battles and fire fights are what strikes you about the 3 Para tour of Afghanistan, literally daily contacts....and these are amply covered in this book. We should do more in this country to highlight the service that we are getting from our armed forces....a great book about great soldiers, they were great in 82 and still are!


An Ordinary Man: The True Story Behind 'Hotel Rwanda'
An Ordinary Man: The True Story Behind 'Hotel Rwanda'
by Paul Rusesabagina
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saviour, 14 Sep 2007
Confronting killers with a combination of diplomacy, flattery and deception, Paul Rusesabagina managed to shelter more than 1,200 Tutsis and moderate Hutus while homicidal mobs raged outside his hotel with machetes during the Rwandan genocide. His autobiography explores the inner life of the man in a way the film could not. Rusesabagina discusses the racial complexity within his own life, he is a Hutu married to a Tutsi, and his complete estrangement from the madness that surrounded him during the genocide.

The book takes the reader inside the hotel during those 100 days, relates the anguish of those who saw loved ones hacked to pieces, and describes Rusesabagina's ambivalence at pouring the Scotch and lighting the cigars of killers in the Swimming Pool bar, even as he hid as many refugees as possible inside the guest rooms upstairs. Never-before-reported elements of the Rwandan genocide will be disclosed in this book, such as the lack of interest of the international community, and the disgraceful behaviour of some of the UN peacekeeping troops, who purchased the cars of the Tutsis who had taken shelter inside the hotel.

"An Ordinary Man" draws parallels between what happened in Rwanda with other genocides throughout history and asks the question: what causes an entire nation to go insane? It also offers an inside look at the problem of genocide and the responsibilities of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events. It concludes with an exploration of the tremendous power of words to sow hatred, but also to bring life and hope.

A great read about a totally selfless humble man who faces the impossible madness of genocide and survives whilst saving a great many lives in the process....the western nations should hang their heads in shame; Paul Rusesabagina deserves to hold his high!


The High Andes: A Guide for Climbers
The High Andes: A Guide for Climbers
by John Biggar
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Good book but a rip off price, 14 Sep 2007
This is a great little climbing book. I have hiked and climbed a lot in South America, especially in Ecuador and Chile. In the main the routes described in the book are accurate, very descriptive and contains virtually all the information you require. A negative aspect of the book are the monochrome topo relief maps and the route 'drawings', which are in my view quite poor and look bit outdated even for a 1996 printed book. Yossi Brain has a book on Ecuador and has route profiles etched onto actual photographs which is far, far better in my view. However my main gripe is the silly price that the book is going for on this website (NOT by Amazon)...40!! You are having a laugh, this should be a 10 book tops!


Michelangelo (Icon Editions)
Michelangelo (Icon Editions)
by Hibbard
Edition: Paperback
Price: 26.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius Artist!, 11 Sep 2007
As an art layman I bought this book in order to have a more rounded appreciation of the life and times of arguably the best if not `the' most famous artist in history. Born in Florence, Italy in 1475 Michelangelo lived an intense and productive life until 1564, a prodigious life span for the time period. He used this long innings in life to produce his artwork over a period of sixty years and left a legacy that let him be known as the greatest of the renaissance painters and sculptors.

Howard Hibbard gives the reader a great insight into all aspects of the life and art of this genius artist. The book is chronological in nature and follows Michelangelo's life from his first work of art until his last. As the book unravels into the life and travels of the painter so does his art begin to unfold in all its beauty from his early works on the Battle and the Bacchus to his masterpieces such as the Pieta, David and the Sistine Chapel. Each piece is covered in detail and includes an artistic analysis that reflects the antiquity interpretation of it as an art piece within the sphere of the renaissance period, which to me was quite new and fascinating. The book is also exceptionally well illustrated and amply interjected with a variety of well referenced quoted sources including Michelangelo's own letters. The latter gives an interesting overview into how this great man thought, not only about his art but about all things in life.

Overall I found this an extremely well researched, very detailed and well illustrated book that was surprisingly easy to follow. It gave me exactly what I was looking for and more. Sometimes I wish I had a greater entry level knowledge base especially on Dante's scholarly works...but on the whole an excellent and stimulating read.


Great Trek
Great Trek
by Oliver Ransford
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great History Book of South African Pioneers..., 3 Sep 2007
This review is from: Great Trek (Paperback)
This is a superb story that takes the reader on a wagon trek over the veldt wilderness of mainly Eastern South Africa. For over a thousand miles the pioneers encounter raging rivers, unrelenting heat, wild animals, disease, starvation, Zulus and of course later on the dreaded redcoats. On top of this they have to haul their oxen powered carts up and down the lofty rocky barrier of the Drakensberg mountain range. You get to flavour the subversive slaughter of trekkers at Zulu encampments, the revenge of the trekkers with over 3,000 Zulu deaths at the set piece battle of Blood River and further desperate fighting in the foothills of the Drakensbergs. There are just too many violent contacts, confrontations and set piece battles to name altogether but the Boers do finish off fighting and pitting their wits against the old imperial enemy. The casualties range from a few to thousands and the slaughter is often all encompassing with nothing and nobody spared.

The story is one of high adventure, great determination, utter perseverance and pure daring do. In addition it is simply littered with stories of constant savage encounters with native tribes and the bitter fighting against British troops. To read this book is to read about the proud birth and colonisation of the republic of South Africa. It is an absorbing book lacking in no detail, it amply covers not only the events but also the savage arena where they took place and gives an insight to the political birth of this great country. In addition it gives a thorough description and personal dissection of the main characters involved. It is just full of amazingly true stories that are often of historical significance!

I enjoyed this book immensely and would love to see a documentary or film based on this book. I would think that it would have to be a documentary series though as there are just too many dramatic events held within its absorbing pages to justify a one film showing.....a great, great read!


No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah
No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah
by Bing West
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.60

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Urban Fighting in Iraq, 1 Sep 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The battle of Fallujah pivoted around Iraq's most dangerous city, which emerged as a major battleground for the Iraqi insurgents and the American marines tasked to take it. In 2004 this bitterly contested urban battle cost the marine's nearly 200 fatalities and the insurgents some several thousand. It was a bitterly fought battle with the insurgents fighting to the death with rudimentary weapons against the might and techno how of the US armed forces. The bravery and determination shown by both sides was of the highest order and the text flows with countless tales of fire fights, sniper battles and ambushes......sadly it is mainly about plain old fashioned brutal killing!

Meanwhile the whole narrative is tinged with the wasteful tale of political incompetence as Whitehouse meddling cancels the original assault mid way only to have to recommence it a few months later much to the chagrin of the embittered marines. 'No True Glory' is a testament to the bravery of the US Marines and a cautionary tale about the political complexity of such battles.

A tale of brutal fighting which reads well and gives an insight to the dangers of urban conflict and the sacrifices involved. I also quite liked the insight that this book gives the reader about the equipment and back up available to the present day US soldier...it is really quite awesome! A first class read about a modern conflict from a good author.


The Bedford Boys: One Small Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice
The Bedford Boys: One Small Town's Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice
by Alex Kershaw
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars American Sacrifice, 31 Aug 2007
This is quite a sad book portraying the loss of one small American town during the D-day landings at Omaha beach, which resulted in so much slaughter. The memorable opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, which portrayed the appalling scenario on Omaha Beach, was loosely based on Kershaw's story. The first wave of seasick young GIs that landed on that fateful beach were mown down by the waiting machine gunners and torn apart by the devastating shell fire. The dead lay there in their hundreds, bodies and dissected limbs of the fallen were strewn all over the beach like flotsam and the water turned red with their blood. Omaha was finally taken but at a terribly high cost and the cost to Company A, who were in the first wave of landings, was higher than most. A company was all but obliterated by the end of the Longest Day.

A story that encompasses the young men from the time they joined to the time they died, their loves and their hopes, their training and their humour, from small town lives to the fateful beaches of Omaha...a vivid account of American sacrifice on the deadly beaches of Normandy and dedicated to the loss of one small American town...a town called Bedford.


The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom
The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom
by Slavomir Rawicz
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb escape story...., 27 Aug 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I picked this book up just to pass the time, I am so glad I did as this is just about the best 'escape' story I have ever read. It's an amazing story of adventure, survival and hardship in the most extreme of circumstances.

Slavomir Rawicz was a young Polish cavalry officer when in 1939 he was arrested by the Russians and after brutal interrogation in Moscow's infamous Lubyanka prison and a farce of a trial; he was sentenced to 25 years' hard labour in the Gulags for 'spying'. After a three-month journey to Siberia in the depths of winter he arrives at his Gulag and realising that to stay in the camp would eventually lead to his death, In mid 1941, Rawicz escapes with six companions. They start their incredible long trek to freedom along Lake Baikal and cross into Mongolia where they have an epic crossing of the Gobi desert before climbing into Tibet and finally over the Himalayas into India where they arrive into the arms of British soldiers in March 1942.

This 4,000 mile march to freedom took nine months over some of the most inhospitable terrain in world. By the end Rawicz weighed just five stone and 3 of the 7 had died (they picked up a sixteen year old girl). It is a gripping tale of survival and brotherhood tinged with moments of sadness as some of the 'brothers' died along the way...simply an epic story of an extraordinary hike to freedom...brilliant!


Above All, Courage: The Eyewitness History of the Falklands War (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS)
Above All, Courage: The Eyewitness History of the Falklands War (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS)
by Max Arthur
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.18

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grit and determination...., 27 Aug 2007
This is a compilation of compelling first-hand accounts of modern war by British soldiers, sailors and airmen involved in every incident of the Falklands conflict. The accounts are graphic, gripping and each one gives a secular viewpoint from the serviceman involved that gives a rough overview of a short, intense and brutal war. I was there in 1982...with this in mind I found the book informative and cast new light on areas of operations that I was not involved in.

The book highlights very well what we all know...that due to cut backs, political miss management and the tenuous logistical supply line that this conflict was a close run thing. In the main however it shows how, as always, the grit and determination of the British serviceman shines through no matter what the conditions and no matter what the odds. We should never have won this one!


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