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Philip Spiers (Moravia)

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Red Dragon Cartel (+1 Bonus Track)
Red Dragon Cartel (+1 Bonus Track)
Offered by Softbayglobal
Price: £22.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars love it, 5 May 2014
I have always been a fan of Jake E Lee although I didn't get into his solo album. This is a great album in which his talents become part of the overall picture. Only 1 track I don't like - Redeem Me as I don't like the Tina Turner style vocals.

Broken Crown Halo
Broken Crown Halo
Price: £8.49

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great chapter in the LC story, 4 April 2014
This review is from: Broken Crown Halo (MP3 Download)
Overall, it's a great album. Very atmospheric with a big and often heavy sound. All the classic elements of LC's but as always with a new dimension. AS ever a key strength lies in the many wonderfully compelling and, at times quite intricate, melodies particularly from Cristina whose performance on this album is stunning. If you want to jump straight to an example try the track Cybersleep.

With this in mind, I am surprised by some of the negative reaction here, particularly the unfavourable comparisons to the previous album. So far I prefer it to Dark Adrenaline. Yes, it has a distinct sound but I find it a natural progression from DA and that it still sounds absolutely like LC. There is actually more depth here; maybe a lot more. Also, whilst I understand that some may not like the direction the band has taken I can't understand the criticism that they don't sound like they used to. Personally, I would would they make the music they want to at any given time and think it's dishonest to do otherwise.

However, in my opinion, the track order makes the album less seamless and accessible than previous releases and perhaps gives it a disjointed feel to begin with; but perhaps this is dues to that fact that I had already heard the 3 songs they had released to streaming which created flat patches in my first listen. I also think that the first two songs one after the other don't properly reflect the album in it's full diversity so this is why it will take longer than your first 8 minutes to come to full glory of what's on offer.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 4, 2014 11:36 AM BST

Cheshire: The Biography of Leonard Cheshire, VC, OM
Cheshire: The Biography of Leonard Cheshire, VC, OM
by Richard Morris
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The selfishness of the selfless?, 13 May 2009
This book is a highly detailed biography of the life of Leonard Cheshire and it makes a very interesting read indeed.

Cheshire's life was a truly incredible journey. From early life through his remarkable bomber command service, Nagasaki, the evolution of the Cheshire homes, humanitarianism, conversion and devotion (dare I say fanatical) to Catholicism, and much more besides, its all very well documented in this account.

Whilst as an avid reader of war memoirs and biographies I expected to find his war service interesting, I was surprised by how riveting I found the post war aspect of Cheshire's life. Of course many will come from the opposite direction of a primary interest in his care work and, I am sure they will be equally surprised by how interesting his earlier life was.

Perhaps what makes this biography so interesting is a desire to examine Cheshire the man rather than simply catalogue his life's work. Whilst his life appears as a transformational journey this book shows that his life was actually an evolution. Rather than pivoting on a Damascus moment, as many might assume, from pre-war boy who wanted to be rich and famous to post war man that rejected those very achievements, his personality retained its key attributes.

For what it's worth my key observation of Cheshire is as follows. Cheshire was an incredibly determined, brave and selfless man. His compassion and human touch is beyond question. However, his strengths, which enabled him to achieve so much, also created a selfishness. In his preparedness to do whatever it took he so often took for granted that others were willing to do the same, even though at the root of his selflessness lay a burning desire to fulfill a personal mission.

That a man I had heard of but, knew very little about, has been brought to life as a complex, charismatic and ultimately flawed man is I believe testament to the strength of this biography.

Warburton's War: The Life of Maverick Ace Adrian Warburton, DSO, DFC, DFC (USA)
Warburton's War: The Life of Maverick Ace Adrian Warburton, DSO, DFC, DFC (USA)
by Tony Spooner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read war biography, 23 Mar 2009
This is a well researched and poignant account of a remarkable and unconventional young man's wartime exploits and untimely death.

Warburton was a fiercely individualistic pilot -the kind that had the war not occurred would have been forever frowned upon by senior officers. Unlike his former school mate Guy Gibson, Adrian Warburton had little time for the detail of regulation and was seen by many as a misfit. However, Warburton found himself in a place and time where where he shone and his unconventional bearing was overlooked and actually credited as a strength. Operating out of Malta at a crucial time he became arguably the most valuable pilot in the Mediterranean theatre taking reconnaissance photo's of high importance and shooting up a fair bit of stuff along the way. His keenness to get the best possible photographs, often by flying at very low level, put him in extreme danger.

Well written and, keen to explore 'Warby' the person, this book is a testament of to his individualism, skill, determination and unbelievable courage. His humour, zest for life and indeed perhaps melancholy are all present. Tragically, it also shows how war chews up the best and the brightest and how they can be pushed too far once too often.

Tony Spooner, himself a highly decorated wartime pilot, can be very proud that he has once again brought Warby to life through his meticulous research and conversations with so many who knew him. Sadly he passed away in 2002 before the mystery of Warburton's last mission was solved and he was at last laid to rest (which is thankfully included and described in an addendum and postscript by Chris Goss).

I cannot recommend this enough to anyone interested in wartime aviation or simply wartime biographies. Men like Warburton don't just deserve to be remembered they must be remembered.

American Soldier
American Soldier
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £5.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best sounding album since Promised Land, 22 Mar 2009
This review is from: American Soldier (Audio CD)
Firstly, I know this review is before the official release date but having pre-ordered my album I was delighted when it arrived apparently much sooner than it should.

This album is a concept album exploring the experiences of US soldiers in conflicts including and since the second world war. It is dedicated to America's service personnel and you can see that the subject matter has meant a lot to Queensryche.

The first thing that struck me as the first track started to play was the production. I quite liked the last album (Mindcrime II) but I was not that keen on the overall sound. However, American Soldier has an altogether better sound to my ear; spacious and rich. Very pleasing and reminiscent of Promised Land.

I must admit I wasn't sure what to make of the opening track Sliver to start with and for a moment thought that the album was going to be a disappointment. It's not that the track is bad but certainly it's among the weaker moments on the album. However, I am pleased to say that overall I really like the album. There is much more of a return to the kind of melody that has been getting rarer since Promised Land. And there really are some great melodies on this album both instrumental and vocal. There is also a good spread of heavier moments and softer moments and by softer I don't mean ballad.

If Empire and Promised Land are musically your favourite Queensryche albums then this one should please you.

The lyrics are well thought out and the use of real veterans voice-overs adds credibility to the integrity of the thought process and research that created the album. Credit is due to the band for honourably tackling this subject matter.

After a few days listening stand out moments are: Hundred Mile Stare; A Dead Man's Words (great riff); Middle of Hell - it's not a heavy tune but has lots of atmosphere and a great groove to it; Remember Me; and Home Again which is a very touching softer number where Tate Duets with a Emily Tate (his daughter?). What I really liked about this song was the juxtaposition of Tate's highly polished vocal performance and the beautiful rawness of this other young female voice. At first it it is a real surprise to here this voice on the song but I think it works very well. The simple story of a father missing his daughter and vice versa is something that at least any listener with children will find moving.

With enough catchy stuff to like quickly and more (I think) to get my teeth into over time American Soldier is a strong effort and it could be that in a couple of weeks it deserves 5 stars.

Sons of the Reich: The History of II SS Panzer Corps in Normandy, Arnhem, the Ardennes and on the Eastern Front
Sons of the Reich: The History of II SS Panzer Corps in Normandy, Arnhem, the Ardennes and on the Eastern Front
by Michael Frank Reynolds
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive history of the II SS Panzer Corps, 16 April 2008
There is no doubt that former British army general Michael Reynolds is one of the foremost experts on the premier armoured divisions of the Waffen SS.

This volume covers II SS Panzer corps whose mainstay divisions were the 9th and 10th SS Panzer divisions, with other units such as 2nd SS being brought under the corps command at various times in the story.. Whilst a little dry at times it is nevertheless well written and provides a detailed and comprehensive history of the Corps.

This book will be of particular interest to those seeking a German perspectives on the Normandy battles, Arnhem and the Ardennes. It also covers participation in the battles in Hungary in 1945. These units saw extensive combat in the last twelve months of the war and readers will be astounded at how the remnants of the shattered divisions rebuilt themselves time and again.

The account chronologically deals with the operations and day to actions of the units and Reynolds narrative is interrupted by well chosen first hand accounts.

The inclusion of 35 maps, referenced in the headings of the various chapters, is most helpful - particularly as they are very clear. One will also find other useful supporting information in the appendix (unit composition).

For those interested in the subjects of this book I wholeheartedly recommend this work along with Reynolds two volumes. covering the I SS Panzer Corps.

The Battle for Budapest: 100 Days in World War II
The Battle for Budapest: 100 Days in World War II
by Krisztián Ungváry
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £28.05

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A much needed account, 14 April 2008
I fully concur with a previous reviewer that the beginning of the book can be considered a little dry. When I first started reading it I felt that the book was a missed opportunity to grab the attention that this subject so richly deserves.

However, after pressing on I must say how wrong this first impression was. Not only has Krisztian Ungvary produced a work of high scholarly merit, the narrative does indeed flourish into a captivating account of one of the most forlorn episodes of the war.

Using many first hand testimonies, meticulous research and his own analysis, Ungvary recounts events, examines rumours and airs different perspectives surrounding the battle. The authors extensive use of Hungarian sources adds to the importance of this work as seldom are we exposed to these view points. Whilst covering political and strategic aspects, this book is above all a human story and the better for it. The heroic, the tragic and, the shameful -nothing has been shied away from.

Not only is this book the definitive account of the battle for Budapest, but it is essential reading for all scholars of the Soviet-German war. I would also recommend this book to those who know little about the war in the east. It will certainly be enlightening for those used to looking at the war in the west, as it reveals the complexity of the eastern war in that it was not simply a good verses bad conflict.

Additionally, if you are visiting Budapest and have an interest in the history of the city I would highly recommend you read this book. It will certainly give your visit an added dimension and the tourist spots will be alive with stories.

What I would like to see improved are the maps. Maps should make events easier to follow and are critical to a full understanding of this book. Whilst the existing maps are helpful they were not clear or aesthetically pleasing.

Overall though, this is an excellent account that does justice to its subject. And if you are tempted to give up at the beginning don't. Your perseverance will be rewarded.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 27, 2013 2:13 PM BST

First and the Last
First and the Last
by Adolf Galland
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £23.88

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important account, 22 Aug 2007
This review is from: First and the Last (Hardcover)
Galland was a key figure in the German fighter arm from its inception to the very end. It is no surprise therefore that this is a must read for anybody interested in the air war on the western front. It is also an interesting commentary on the inadequacies of the German war effort and the hierarchy.

The frustration Galland felt at what could have been done better is the recurrent theme. Perhaps it's just as well he wasn't listened to more for Galland was a talented pilot and clear headed commander who made many sensible deductions from his experience, which could have cost the allies dearly.

Skorzeny's Special Missions: The Memoirs of the Most Dangerous Man in Europe
Skorzeny's Special Missions: The Memoirs of the Most Dangerous Man in Europe
by Otto Skorzeny
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 22 Aug 2007
Otto Skorzeny was a cunning, clever and ruthless operator. Most famous for the daring rescue of Mussolini, he oversaw and participated in many other special operations including in the Ardenne, where his men disguised themselves as Americans and, in Hungary, where he helped keep the country in the war on the Germans side. All this and many other fascinating incidents are recounted in this memoir.

This book and many others (such as Grenadiers by Kurt Meyer), have been overlooked because of their unashamed position. Yes its true Skorzeny makes no apologies for what he did. However, I feel that as such it is a more valuable and honest insight.

Dusty Warriors: Modern Soldiers at War
Dusty Warriors: Modern Soldiers at War
by Richard Holmes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Filling the void, 22 Aug 2007
Dusty Warriors is an excellent look at the deployment of an infantry battalion to Iraq in 2004. It covers preparatory training, deployment and some actions of the unit -although it is by no means comprehensive. Using many eye witness statements it is very much a view from the ground up and it is certainly the story of the soldiers experience rather than of strategy.

Richard Holmes has a very accessible writing style, yet does not seem to compromise his language. Therefore, he is extremely good at bringing the unmilitary person into the military world, complete with all its different values, fashions, language and etiquette. This book should be compulsory reading for members of the present government who have so little understanding of the storm they have sent our forces into and how best to support them. Furthermore, with British society often ignorant or apathetic to the operations performed in its name, this book is a vital source for all those inclined to be better informed.

My only complaint is that I would like to have learned more of his opinions on how we should be adapting to the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan; the lessons he learned from this unit study. He certainly will have much to say on this topic but, sadly at the time of writing he still found himself bound (or self regulated?) by his commitment as a serving officer. Therefore, he is perhaps a little too diplomatic in his language and I strongly suspect there are ommissions to this end also -as Lcpl MacQuire hints in his review below. But, that Homes cares very deeply about Britain's soldiers was evident on every page.

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