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William Stuart (UK)

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Thermos Ultimate Flask, Graphite, Steel, 0.8 Litre
Thermos Ultimate Flask, Graphite, Steel, 0.8 Litre
Price: 27.82

15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Virtually unbreakable? Try again Thermos., 20 April 2011
When I first got this flask I was absolutely over the moon as it was the first 'unbreakable' flask I've ever owned that managed to keep its contents warm for more that a few hours. Indeed, I've left boiling water in it for a full day and still got a piping hot drink out of it so the 24hr claim is a fair one.

Unfortunately, the "virtually unbreakable" part is a load of nonsense, at least in my experience. I've used the flask maybe a couple of dozen times and at no point has it been subjected to anything close to rough treatment - no drops, knocks or bangs that caused me to raise a concerned eybrow. Granted, I don't wrap it up in cotton wool but given that such a flask is clearly aimed at the outdoor pursuits market, I don't expect to.

So, last outing I found that my coffee was barely luke warm when I went for my first drink a few hours after filling. On filling it again when I got home it was clear the vacuum had bean breached as the heat instantly leached through to the external wall of the flask. Close inspection shows no signs of the sort of dings or dents that might indicate any significant trauma, only a few extremely minor scratches that are barely visible to the naked eye.

Who knows why it's failed but it has. Maybe I was just unlucky and got a bad one but given the price, and the pedigree of the manufacturer, I expect better.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 5, 2013 12:52 AM BST

Sniper One
Sniper One
by Dan Mills
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Reinforce the edge of your seat before reading!, 4 April 2009
This review is from: Sniper One (Paperback)
An absolutely stunning first-hand account of what must surely be one of the British Army's "finest hours". Shame on the self-serving, spineless politicians for playing down the truly outstanding resolve and professionalism demonstarted by our troops during the seige of Al Amarah.

Great book. Thrilling. Inspiring. Humbling. A must-read.

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know
Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know
by Ranulph Fiennes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite do a great man the justice he deserves, 9 Mar 2009
It might seem strange that I only rate this book a 3-star and yet would heartily recommend it nonetheless. Ranulph Fiennes is well and truly a legend in his own lifetime and a personal hero of mine. That said, I found the book just didn't pull me in the way I hoped it would and I actually found it a bit of a chore to read at times.

I don't regret buying or reading this book, I just wish it had lived up to my expectations more than it ultimately did. Perhaps it's too much to expect someone to be a god amongst men and a literary genius to boot.

I should add that one of my friends who is far less familiar with Ranulph's exploits than I am found the book absolutely enthralling so please don't let my slightly downbeat review put you off.

Sod That for a Game of Soldiers
Sod That for a Game of Soldiers
by Mark Eyles-Thomas
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.34

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real eye opener, 9 Mar 2009
With so many positive reviews there should be little reason for anyone to doubt this book is essential reading. Mark's story is compelling and I'm not ashamed to admit it moved me to tears on more than one occasion.

In response to some of the less positive comments, the point has to be made that the author makes it quite clear in the preface that he is telling it exactly as he lived it, because to dress his experiences in a sugary coating would be a gross disservice to those friends he left behind. The constant disparaging references to "hats" may seem offensive to some readers but don't be so quick to judge. For generations, the British army has used regimental pride as a key motivator to great effect. The author simply bought into the Paras particularly enthusiastic implementation of that system and if he still feels so passionately 25 years later then he's earned that right, in my opinion.

For me the book was riddled with insight and was very thought provoking. In some cases the author makes quite clear the point he is trying to get across but much of the time he simply presents his evidence and relies on the reader to actually think about what was going on. The opening paragraphs are a very good example of that. One reviewer has described them as "pretty dull" and yet for me they are essential to the story as they expose the factors that contributed to Mark's decision to enlist at the earliest opportunity. There was nothing all that remarkable or extraordinary about his upbringing. No abuse, deprivation or malicious neglect. Like so many kids, he quietly suffered the adverse effects of parental separation and a father incapable of forging a proper emotional bond with his son. It's little wonder that he saw in the Regiment a much needed sense of belonging and self-worth that had previously been missing from his life. I think, sadly, too many parents would have to admit there but for the grace of God go mine.

The main section of the book, centred around the fight for Mount Longdon, is a truly harrowing account of the grim realities of war. We are left in no doubt as to the effects such an experience had on the author, only seventeen years old at the time. As a father with sons around that age I can't begin to imagine them having to deal with such stress and trauma, yet who am I to hope my children might stand aside whilst others step up to the mark? It raises very serious questions about minimum combat age and I have to admit I had not given that particular issue enough consideration, until now.

Questions also have to be asked about many of the strategic and tactical decisions that were made by those in charge. The multi-day forced march in near arctic conditions, one of several, was a staggering achievement and became the stuff of legend overnight, introducing words like tab and yomping into the common vocabulary. But was it wise, or necessary, to force those men to undertake such a daunting challenge without the benefit of their sleep systems or even a change of clothing? Why weren't the enemy positions on Longdon subjected to a sustained artillery barrage prior to the attack? Was the hope that the paras could somehow take the enemy by surprise based on sound military judgment or just misplaced officer ego? What about the decision to attack a heavily entrenched position, complete with heavy machine guns, using tactics "not dissimilar to those seen in the battles of the first world war?"

Even after the war had ended there are many questions to be answered. Not least where was the support for those men who had given so much of themselves? Where was the support for the families of those who were killed or injured? These men were heroes and deserved so much better.

One would like to think lessons have been learned and things have improved but with constant reports of kit shortages and of charities battling to fill gaps in the inadequate support systems provided by HMG & MOD it seems, sadly, very little has.

I apologise if this review was overly long but, as I said earlier, this is an extremely thought provoking book. Buy it. Read it.

One Dog at a Time: Saving the Strays of Helmand - An Inspiring True Story
One Dog at a Time: Saving the Strays of Helmand - An Inspiring True Story
by Pen Farthing
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly inspirational read, 2 Mar 2009
I generally judge a book by the number of sessions it takes me to complete it. By that measure alone One Dog At A Time fully deserves 5 stars as I was unable to put it down from the moment I opened it. Every emotion was tweaked along the way - anger, despair, hope, disappointment, frustration, sadness, relief, joy - they all came at me in an unpredictable and sometimes overwhelming onslaught. This is partially an inevitable consequence of the subject matter but a great deal of credit must also go to the author who did a truly excellent job of telling the story.

The plight of the dogs is obviously the focus of the book but you also get a very personal insight into what life is really like for our troops serving on the frontline in Afghanistan. You also get a fair and honest view of what life is really like for the local population, the challenges they face and why it's essential we give our forces the support they need to see this job through. It's very humbling and inspiring to know that we have men like Pen and his mates who have the professionalism to serve in such an inhospitable and culturally backward environment without ever losing touch of their own humanity.

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