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T. D. Welsh (Basingstoke, Hampshire UK)
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Western Digital Caviar Blue 160 GB (7200 rpm) SATA 8 MB 3.5 inch Hard Drive (Internal)
Western Digital Caviar Blue 160 GB (7200 rpm) SATA 8 MB 3.5 inch Hard Drive (Internal)
Offered by Digital Components Ltd (dclstore)
Price: £15.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very old, barely working (from Comtronics), 27 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Up front, let me warn you: this is not a review of a working brand-new Caviar Blue 160. Rather, it's a summary of my experience when I ordered this specific product through an Amazon merchant. (Of course, I chose the merchant that offered the best price on that particular day).

I ordered this product when I noticed that a home PC was running very sluggishly and giving very slow responses. I tested its two hard drives with HDTune and found that one of them was very slow - instead of 35-70 MB/sec which a WD Caviar Blue 160 should yield, it was doing more like 10-20 MB/sec. Access time was also slow, over 20 MSec compared to 14-15 Msec. So I ordered this drive, an exact replacement (as far as I could tell).

The drive was delivered promptly and I installed it with little difficulty. Lazily and foolishly, I assumed that a brand-new drive bought through Amazon would work fine, but after a while my family told me that the PC was just as slow as ever - if not actually worse. I ran HDTune again, only to find the new drive was performing even worse than the old one! After a few false leads (such as the need to align partitions for use with Windows XP) I realised that low-level hardware tests like HDTune and HDTach do not lie, so I asked the vendor for a refund. To do so, I had to find the drive's serial number, and while looking at the label I noticed its date of manufacture: July 2007! My PC had only been manufactured in October 2008...

When I contacted the merchant, Comtronics, I received a prompt and businesslike reply. It said, among other things, "Sorry to hear you have received an item that was not as described, we actually use a fulfillment house so we don't see the items before they are shipped". I was then offered a refund if I returned the drive, which I plan to do as soon as possible.

Sorry that this does not constitute a review of a working Caviar Blue 160, but I feel my experience may be useful to other customers. Just bear in mind that, although a drive is offered as new, it may not necessarily be. So check the label as soon as you unpack it, make a note of all the long numbers such as the serial, and make sure it has been manufactured fairly recently. Then, before using the drive, run some tests on it to be on the safe side.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2013 11:33 AM GMT


Other Spaces, Other Times: A Life Spent in the Future
Other Spaces, Other Times: A Life Spent in the Future
by Robert Silverberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £29.50

4.0 out of 5 stars A collection, not an autobiography - but outstanding!, 10 Dec. 2012
I was surprised and somewhat disappointed to discover that this promising-looking book is not, in fact, a conventional autobiography of Robert Silverberg. Rather, it is a collection of short autobiographical pieces (such as introductions that he wrote at various times). In the introduction to this book, Silverberg advances several plausible reasons for this - as a fiction writer, he is never quite sure what really happened and what he later embroidered, etc. But it sounds like justification after the event, to me at least.

Nevertheless, the 160-odd pages are absolutely stuffed with fascinating facts, opinions, and insights. They are also lavishly illustrated with a wonderful assortment of SF magazine cover art, photographs of SF writers and fans, and personal subjects such as Silverberg's New York house which unfortunately burned in 1968. Only a few SF authors are discussed in any depth - notably Randall Garrett and Harlan Ellison - but others such as Heinlein, Blish, Knight, Aldiss, Bester, etc. crop up, often with fascinating details you have probably never heard of elsewhere.

This is an amusing, instructive, and inspiring read, well worth the attention of any SF fan. It also tells a lot about the interface between SF and "literature", an issue with which Silverberg strugged mightily. Read it - you are bound to like it!


The Golden Age: Number 7 in series (Narratives of empire)
The Golden Age: Number 7 in series (Narratives of empire)
by Gore Vidal
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bursting with people and events. Great entertainment!, 6 Dec. 2012
This is the first of Gore Vidal's American History series that I have read, so I was starting at the end. On the other hand, only the first 8-9 years of "The Golden Age" took place before I was born (1948), so it has a near-contemporary feel to it. And it's fascinating to read about what may or may not have been said and done in the salons of Washington while I was messing around in short pants. The book starts, rather abruptly I felt (but that's no doubt because I hadn't read the preceding books), in 1939 when the clouds of war are gathering on the horizon and President Franklin D Roosevelt is contemplating a third term in office. We are treated to some startlingly close-up and personal descriptions of FDR, his wife Eleanor, and their circle of friends and colleagues - mostly through the eyes of the main fictional characters such as film director Tim Sanford, his half-sister Caroline, and his cousin Peter. Caroline, an exotic and well-connected lady, at least as much French as American, who is an intimate friend of FDR, is privy to all sorts of state secrets which we share along with her stream of consciousness. Later, after FDR's death in 1945, President Harry Truman enters the spotlight - although Peter, the main "witness" to his 8-year administration, is by no means as close to Truman as his aunt Caroline was to Roosevelt.

One gets so used to the vibrant, tumultuous whirl of real politicians, actors, journalists, authors, artists, playwrights, and mere idle rich that Vidal's relative handful of fictitious personalities seem almost to disappear in the mixture, like herbs in a well-balanced sauce. Then suddenly, whether in the cause of art or just that subtle perversity that Vidal revelled in, we find ourselves face to face with the author himself - young Gene Vidal, who prefers to be known as Gore Vidal. This trick of the author's keeps us on our toes, as we are never quite sure whether what we are reading is a fairly accurate historical account of real events, a cleverly manufactured fictional scene, or a sudden turning inside-out of literary conventions in which the author addresses us directly.

If you are not much inclined to socializing or following the social activities of others, you may occasionally find "The Golden Age" a touch oppressive. There is just so much going on all the time: scores of people, each with a convincingly delineated agenda, all chatting away in the jolliest fashion while trying to carve out careers for themselves. But if you want an insight into what it was really like in Washington, and to a lesser extent New York, in those days when the pensioners of today were young and hopeful, this is the book for you. Even if you don't, it's all vastly entertaining and informative. After all - it's Gore Vidal!


The Foxglove Saga
The Foxglove Saga
by Auberon Waugh
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tour de force without a raison d'etre, 30 Nov. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Foxglove Saga (Paperback)
There is so much to say about Auberon Waugh, most of it good. I can't imagine a better summary than the Amazon reader reviews of Will This Do? The First Fifty Years of Auberon Waugh: An Autobiography. The man was a magnificent stylist, a craftsman in irony, and a fine journalist. Although inevitably different, in its way his writing stands comparison with that of his eminent father, Evelyn Waugh (whom he was wont to describe as "the august author of my being"). This book, his first novel written at the age of 18 and published before his 21st birthday, amply demonstrates his abilities as a writer, ranging as it does from broad comedy to dark reflections on the human lot. It follows the lives of a mixed bunch of young Englishmen from their education at a Catholic public school, through military service and dramatically varied fortunes, to a rather perfunctory but undeniably shocking denouement. If you can get through this book without laughing out loud, or at least finding yourself smiling ironically, you either have supreme self-control or no sense of humour.

And yet... "The Foxglove Saga" reminds me of other first novels by earnest young men and women, eager to make their mark on the literary establishment. Somehow it is more like an extremely accomplished set of musical exercises than an original composition. All the ingredients are there, the story is deftly - even masterfully - woven together. Yet one is left wondering, "So what?" Mind you, the same could be said of many good novels: all of Gore Vidal's early books (I have in mind especially The Judgment of Paris), anything by Scott Fitzgerald or Martin Amis, Su Walton's delightful but meandering novels Horace Sippog and the siren's song and Here before Kilroy...

Somewhere in "Will This Do?" I recall reading that Waugh found it hard to write a second novel, having put all his worldly experiences into "The Foxglove Saga". He may have been joking, but it seems all too plausible. From Cleeve school (clearly modelled on Downside, where Waugh conducted a guerilla struggle against the headmaster and other monks) to the good regiment in which one fairly unpromising young National Service youth becomes an officer, while seemingly better qualified friends fall by the wayside, and the stately home in the West country, it is all faintly recognizable. One even wonders how much Waugh's family and friends were upset by reading about their fictional alter egos with their bad habits, rotten morals and invulnerable self-righteousness. Until, that is, one remembers that, after all, Evelyn Waugh had set the gold standard for that kind of thing long before. Sadly, nothing his son could do or write had much chance of measuring up. As one reader commented acidly at the time, "Auberon Waugh/Is a baugh./I'd rather/Read father". Then again, it's hardly the fiercest of criticism to say that anyone's first novel isn't quite as good as "Decline and Fall".


Judge Electric Skillet - 30cm x 30cm
Judge Electric Skillet - 30cm x 30cm
Offered by U Stores
Price: £38.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Convenient, cooks quickly, non-stick (for a year or so anyway), 22 Oct. 2012
We were delighted with this inexpensive product when we bought it about 15 months ago. It's very handy, as it sits on a any work surface and can be plugged in to a convenient power socket using the detachable mains cable included. It's light and simply made enough that you can place it bodily in your kitchen sink (it is an easy one-handed lift), run water into it from the tap, and give it a good scrub with a brush. (You shouldn't immerse it in water, of course).

The heating element is quite powerful enough to scramble a dozen eggs in next to no time, and takes liver and bacon, sausages, etc. in its stride. Because the element is inside the skillet, right under the cooking surface, you get much more efficient heat transfer than with a frying pan sitting on top of a cooker. Indeed, you'll probably find you never need to turn the heat control up further than maybe one-third of the way. And even then, you won't want to leave the kitchen for more than a few seconds: cooking happens quickly with this bad boy.

Which brings me to the only downside. Although the non-stick surface worked perfectly for about a year - with enthusiastic daily use, sometimes more than once - we then noticed a dark mark outlining the position of the circular heating element. A month or two later, food began to stick in that particular area. Today, after maybe 16 months of heavy use, it's no longer really non-stick so we are planning to replace it. If we can find anything as good with a slightly tougher non-stick coating, we'll choose that instead. But I suspect we're unlikely to find anything better that isn't substantially more expensive.


The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001
by Gore Vidal
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, informed, logical, infuriating: Vidal in his element, 20 Sept. 2012
Subtitled "Essays 1992-2001", "The Last Empire" takes its title from an article published in Vanity Fair, November 1997 - one of the 25 which make up this slim volume. Although Vidal's lucid and convincing dissection of the American Empire is the most important topic discussed in this varied and amusing collection of essays, it accounts for only about half of the book. If you begin at the beginning, as I did (once past the mysteriously missing foreword) you may well wonder if you have picked up the wrong book. The first three articles dive into the intricacies of American literary criticism; have you ever heard of Isabel Bolton? Although Mark Twain is more familiar in Blighty (and, indeed, everywhere). Then we learn a lot about Charles Lindbergh, first man to fly the Atlantic solo, who wanted to keep the USA out of WW2, and consequently clashed with President Roosevelt; Frank Sinatra; the Greek poet C.P.Cavafy; Steven Spielberg's movie "Amistad", with a deft sideways fade into Thomas Jefferson's feet of clay and John Quincy Adams' political career; Clare Boothe Luce (with whom, naturally, Vidal was used to hob-nob at cocktail parties); bad American historians...

Most of the book's second half, in contrast, is devoted to analyzing American politics - especially foreign policy. Vidal blends the common facts that we all know (or think we do) with the inside stories that he got from personal contacts ranging from John F Kennedy to Timothy McVeigh, and comes up with a devastatingly logical and factually accurate denunciation of "the last empire". In this respect, his work stands alongside that of household names like Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader. Characteristically, the book ends with a single-spaced list of US military operations against foreign nations since 1948. It runs to seven and a half pages.


Creation
Creation
by Gore Vidal
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vidal's inimitable style makes ancient history gripping fun, 2 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Creation (Paperback)
Set in the period 520-445 BC/BCE, "Creation" gives a panoramic view of the known (and partially known) world of Eurasia, through the eyes of an educated and influential Persian nobleman, Cyrus Spitama. As well as choosing one of the most pivotal and intellectually vibrant periods of world history, Gore Vidal manages to fit in an astonishing collection of kings, religious leaders, and philosophers. As the back cover blurb (possibly influenced by Vidal) remarks, Cyrus Spitama is "probably the greatest namedropper who ever lived". To begin with, he is the grandson of the prophet Zoroaster (Nietzsche's Zarathustra), who founded the Zoroastrian religion. Then he meets the Great King Darius and his Queen Atossa, and grows up a close friend of their son Xerxes - later to be Great King himself - and Mardonius, the general who fought many of Xerxes' campaigns in Greece. As ambassador to India, he rubs shoulders with kings and princes (mostly charming, insincere, cruel and murderous) although he is equally interested in the religious ideas of the Jains, Hindus, and Buddhists - including Buddha himself, Sariputra, and Ananda. Later, Xerxes sends Cyrus Spitama to pioneer an overland route to Cathay (what we now know as China, although at the time the land of Ch'in was only a small part of Cathay). There, he encounters both Master Li (Lao Tse) and Master K'ung (Confucius), and witnesses their influence on the political life of the contending dukedoms. Finally, in the reign of Xerxes' son Artaxerxes, he is sent as ambassador to Athens, and it is here, in the closing days of his life, that he dictates the whole amazing story to the young Democritus - later famous for his insistence that everything in the universe is made up of atoms. Among Greeks, Cyrus Spitama's path crosses those of Anaxagoras, Artemisia, Aspasia, Callias, Demaratus, Herodotus, Hippias, Pericles, Protagoras, Themistocles and Thucidydes. Regrettably, others such as Aeschylus, Pythagoras, Socrates and Sophocles are only mentioned in passing - in a typically elegant piece of Vidalian contempt, Socrates gets exactly one paragraph which focuses entirely on his shortcomings as a mason.

Thanks to the book's highly imaginative and well-informed design, Vidal is able to interweave many different strands - politics, war, trade, geography, clothing, food and drink, music, architecture - with Cyrus Spitama's travels and his highly stressful (not to say intermittent) personal life. As grandson of Zoroaster he maintains a lifelong belief in the Wise Lord Ahura Mazda and the need to hold to the Truth against "the followers of the Lie". That, in turn, implies utter rejection of the older Aryan gods (devas) such as Anahita/Aphrodite, Varuna, Mithra, Brahma, Ishtar, Bel-Marduk and the rest. It was during Cyrus Spitama's lifetime that the Magi, the hereditary priesthood of the Persian empire, were gradually persuaded to forsake the worship of the old gods and accept Zoroastrianism - much as the Romans gave up their pantheon in favour of Christianity 750 years later. Over and over, Cyrus Spitama compares and contrasts the various teachings he hears from Pythagoras, Buddha, Lao Tse and Confucius with the simple dualist faith of Zoroastrianism (which has so much in common with Christianity). Can something arise from nothing? If not, how did the universe ever begin? If so, how and through whose agency did the miracle happen? Are we doomed to myriad rebirths (possibly in different forms) until we can attain nirvana? Or do we live once only? And if so, when we die will we be judged by God and rewarded or punished - or do we simply vanish, like a candle that is snuffed out? According to Vidal, "[i]f nothing else, this narrative is a sort of crash course in comparative religion and ethical systems". But don't let that put you off; it is also full to bursting with intrigue, strategy, gossip, harem conspiracies, battles, hideous cruelty, and the most wonderful pen portraits (often miniature) of some of the most famous and striking people who ever lived.

Incidentally, "Creation" serves as a useful contrarian view of classical Greece - as good in its way as Tom Holt's in Goatsong. Volume One in the The Walled Orchard Series, The Walled Orchard, and Alexander At The World's End. The European cultural tradition has, almost without exception, taken the side of the ancient Greeks - especially the Athenians - against the Persians and other Asiatics. Characteristically, Vidal seizes with both hands the opportunity to show us the other side of things. Just as typically, he uses real facts for ammunition. Item: while every Persian nobleman was brought up to tell the truth and never to break his word, the Greeks were notorious liars and given to changing sides whenever that promised to bring them advantage, even if it meant betraying their own cities. Item: while the Greeks practised slavery, on which their civilisation rested quite as much as that of the antebellum American South, slavery was forbidden in the Persian empire. (Although the Great King was wont to consider all living people his slaves, where everyone is a slave no one is). Item: the Greeks were violently racist, deeming all those who didn't speak their language "barbarians" fit only for slavery, whereas the Persian empire (which included nearly half the world population) was notably and emphatically tolerant. Right from Cyrus the Great, the kings were careful to preserve each subject people's native institutions, customs, religions, and even local forms of government. Nothing if not thorough, Vidal also casts aspersions on Greek cleanliness, food, music, and religion.

Much of Gore Vidal's prolific output was limited by its subject matter. Literary criticism, books about earnest young homosexualists and Americans abroad, even his political writing - incisive as it was - didn't live up to the depth of his insight and the brilliance of his style. It was when he turned to historical fiction that Vidal's art really gained traction and did itself justice. In "Creation", he may have been aiming to turn out the ultimate historical novel by covering as much seminal ground - and as many world-famous men - as possible.


The Judgment of Paris
The Judgment of Paris
by Gore Vidal
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, though self-conscious and contrived, 19 Aug. 2012
This review is from: The Judgment of Paris (Paperback)
Like so many of Gore Vidal's writings, this slim novel is likely to delight some and infuriate others. Few, I imagine, will find it merely satisfying. Damn! Just 250 pages, and I'm already phrasing my thoughts the way he would (though hardly as felicitously). Seriously, people seem either to love Vidal or hate him, and I am definitely one of the lovers. There is far too little intelligent, witty, educated, thoughtful writing nowadays, so when you find it you snap it up. At times Vidal comes across as channelling Oscar Wilde, while at others his characters and situations are oddly reminiscent of Simon Raven's - and when did those two civilised reprobates ever meet? (One can imagine them drinking together and swapping Latin aphorisms while Vidal tactfully evades the Captain's increasingly open passes).

I was amazed to discover that "The Judgment of Paris" was Vidal's seventh novel - I knew "Williwaw" had been his first, written during the 2nd World War, but I guessed this must have been the second. Compared to "The City and the Pillar", for instance, it looks so much more like the work of a talented beginner, unsure of his subject matter and even what he has to say. Mind you, he was only 27 in 1952, and had led a surprisingly sheltered life, as the children of the rich so often do up to a certain age. The book's protagonist (he is hardly a hero), Philip Warren, has no idea how his life is going to be spent - and, unlike many, he is quite sure that it will have to feature some grand theme or struggle. By page 2 he has already tried, and dismissed, music, painting, and writing. So he decides to spend a whole year in Europe, with no set agenda, in hopes that exposure to the Old World's rich pageant will somehow enlighten him. As he travels from New York to Rome, Luxor, Cairo, and Paris, Philip meets a colourful dramatis personae of (mainly American and British) eccentrics, perverts, politicians, adventurers, lissome young men and wandering wives. (This last contingent, with its competing attractions, gives rise to the novel's provocative title). Although he is just a year older than Vidal was at the time, and of similar attractive appearance and personality, Philip is firmly differentiated by being as consistent a heterosexualist as his creator was a homosexualist. As a sop to convention, we are told that his hair is blond (whereas Vidal's was dark).

Together with the ramshackle nature of what plot there is, another factor that leads one to see the author as callow though clever is his determined disregard of literary convention. The novel is written in the third person, but with occasional brief shifts behind the eyes of other characters; and its predominant past tense is frequently interrupted by bursts of the "dramatic present". More radically, Vidal is given to breaking in with authorial reflections that remorselessly destroy any shared illusion that might have been building up. For instance, the very first time Philip gets the chance of making love to a lady friend, a chapter break intervenes; and soon after we read, "Now, part of the pleasure one gets from reading novels is the inevitable moment when the hero beds the heroine or, in certain advanced and decadent works, the hero beds another hero in an infernal glow of impropriety". There follows a two-page discussion, very much in the style of the 18th century, of the techniques of writing sex scenes, before we finally discover how it all turns out. Vidal's works (and his conversation) were always thick with self-referential jokes and allusions, and "The Judgment of Paris" is no exception. As he describes to us the feelings of handsome young men who have become accustomed to being treated as sex objects by others, we may notice the parallel with Vidal's own self-conscious editorialising; he is good, he knows he is good, and he is so self-confident that he doesn't mind flaunting it in a way that most novelists would never contemplate.

I hope this brief review, which scrupulously avoided the many possible spoilers, helps you to decide whether "The Judgment of Paris" is the book for you. You won't find much, if anything, new or instructive in it. But it is brilliantly written, and quite cleverly constructed. If light diversion is what you are after, it should please.


Longbow: A Social and Military History
Longbow: A Social and Military History
by Robert Hardy
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful eloquent meaty book, but perhaps under-edited, 30 May 2012
I think this is probably the first book I have ever read whose back cover boasts a painting of the author! (Naturally, holding a longbow). Robert Hardy clearly knows his subject backwards, and he writes with unmistakeable enthusiasm. Anyone interested in the longbow cannot fail to learn a huge amount from this book. (Although, as Hardy points out, it was never called the "longbow" in its medieval heyday - always "the great bow" or "the war bow"). You can also read all about the mathematics and physics of bows and arrows in the extremely thorough appendix.

As a professional editor, I disagree with the reviewer who criticised the author's English; I think the book is well written, although in somewhat old-fashioned and flowery language (which I enjoyed). But it does meander a bit: starting with the history and prehistory of the bow, moving on to the medieval English longbow in the Hundred Years War, and a final section on the longbow since the 15th century including its use in Africa, the USA, and Japan. The overall effect is idiosyncratic, but with a personality like Hardy's that is a good thing - he has so much to say, and it is all interesting. Just a little unstructured.


Churchill: a life (LIVES)
Churchill: a life (LIVES)
by John Keegan OBE
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.87

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good, somewhat vanilla, summary, 30 April 2012
Considering the size (and weight) of some biographies of Sir Winston Churchill, John Keegan has done very well indeed to cover the subject in ten chapters and 178 pages (small pages, and large print, too). A quick reader could easily get right through it in three hours or so - certainly half a day would be sufficient. That in turn allows the main ideas and facts to shine through, instead of being smothered by a mass of details as they often are in mammoth biographies. On the other hand, it means that some of Churchill's complexity is inevitably lost. A decent, kindly and compassionate man, he could never resist the prospect of a scrap - whether it was with Afghan tribesmen, dervishes in the Sudan, Boers in South Africa, Germans, Russians; all else failing, trade unionists or anarchists would do. As he told the boys of Harrow school in 1941, "Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty -
never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy". Yet he rarely seemed to understand that his opponents might have similarly uncompromising attitudes, leading inevitably to a trial of strength. One of the most remarkable reversals of Churchill's long and distinguished career came early on: the social reformer of 1908-9, who insisted on taxing the rich and reducing naval expenditure for the sake of national insurance and pensions, became a fierce hawk in 1911 when he accepted the post of First Lord of the Admiralty, and built as many warships as he could.

Churchill's desire for social reform and bettering the lot of the poor may have flowed from a patrician sense of obligation to those whom he considered his social inferiors. But we mustn't get too upset, anachronistically, about the assumptions of Edwardian society. His instincts were liberal; and if he found himself obliged to change parties twice, that may have reflected the inconsistent policies of those parties as much as his own moral development. He certainly said and did some things that seem startlingly modern; for example, in 1904 he warned that the Conservatives risked becoming "a party of great vested interests, banded together in a formidable federation: corruption at home, aggression to cover it up abroad; the trickery of tariff juggles, the tyranny of a party machine; sentiment by the bucketful, patriotism by the imperial pint... dear food for the million, cheap labour for the millionaire". What a magnificent description of the UK nowadays - whichever party is in power!

John Keegan's forgiving treatment of Churchill's mistakes may have something to do with his own background as a military historian. You can't study war for very long without coming to accept a fairly high level of misunderstanding, confusion, and downright incompetence as par for the course. The Dardanelles, the intervention in Greece, Prince of Wales and Repulse... Churchill got the blame for quite a number of strategic blunders, fairly or otherwise; but think how many things he got right! Lots of people go through life playing safe, keeping a low profile, not risking much. Churchill took exactly the opposite attitude, pinning his colours to the mast and never giving way, "except to convictions of honour and good sense". There is a huge amount to be learned in reading about his life, and this slim but erudite and well written volume is a good way to start.


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