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G. Kent "gek3" (London UK)
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Meeting God in Mark
Meeting God in Mark
Price: £6.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful insightful and short, 13 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A sound and helpful account of Mark's Gospel, but it is not a detailed textual analysis i.e. it is not a Commentary, so though it Can profitably be read before, after or while reading Mark, it provides an insightful overview, with detailed study of a few passages.

That said Williams writes wonderfully well (in origin these are Lenten talks delivered at Canterbury Cathedral), wearing his learning lightly, but.providing it to help the reader.

Anyone, Christain or other will find this helpful to reveal and then understand the Complexity.behind the apparant Simplicity and brevity of the shortest and earliest Gospel

GK


The Lloyd Biggle, Jr. MEGAPACK TM: The Best Science Fiction Stories of Lloyd Biggle, Jr.
The Lloyd Biggle, Jr. MEGAPACK TM: The Best Science Fiction Stories of Lloyd Biggle, Jr.
Price: £0.71

3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 6 Feb. 2015
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Disappointing When you Consider his best Known worK such as 'Monument'

Graham Kent


Travels with Epicurus
Travels with Epicurus
Price: £5.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is good on Epicurus and on his views, 13 Nov. 2014
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An interesting blend of travel, autobiography & philosophy. It is good on Epicurus and on his views, especially the question of aging so relevant to the modem world. Engagingly written it is a quick and easy read.

So why only 4 stars? Because it is a bit short,
raising issues rather than engaging with them and wishing all 3 aspects had been addressed at greater lenght

l found the book helpful and reassuring, though


Sir John Hawkwood: Chivalry and the Art of War
Sir John Hawkwood: Chivalry and the Art of War
by Stephen Cooper
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine work, 23 Oct. 2009
This is a solid biography, though obviously concentrating on the military; after all Hawkwood spent most of his life in the profession of arms. Any Medieval biography has to have elements of Life and Time, because frankly the sources are not there to do the sort of detailed study and psychological analysis, which is frequently a feature of modern biographers.

It is easy to turn away from books published by predominantly military publishers. There can be an obsession with small military details such as uniform and equipment and a lack of wider perspective. There is no such risk with Mr Cooper's work on Hawkwood.

What this is is a well-written, readily comprehensible (no little achievement when describing the politics of 14th century Italy) and compact biography of a notable English soldier, who played a significant role in Italian war and politics of his time. Works on Italian history of this period and in particular of the important mercenary companies are rare in English and all those with an interest in the period or mediaeval warfare should be glad of this opportunity to plug a gap in the literature and their library.


The Last Colony
The Last Colony
by John Scalzi
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing sequel, 8 Oct. 2008
With this Scalzi brings his "Old Man's War" sequence to a finish (though it appears that his latest "Zoe's War" is also set in the same sequence, just giving a different perspective on the action).

Old Man's War was a fine example of military S. F., giving a fresh perspective. However the two sequels seem to have progressively run out of invention and I think the author is right to now draw a line, at least for now, under the sequence to look elsewhere. Because it offers little new, I was disappointed by it. It is competently written and concentrates on the politics rather than the military action in this Universe.

Basically, the protagonist Perry and his wife, recently retired from the military and put back in true human bodies, become colonial administrators and lead a new colony. The Colonial Government it is as duplicitous and questionable as it has emerged as being earlier in the sequence.

If you have read the prequels you you will probably want to read this to see how it pans out. If you have not read them, do not read this with out having read the earlier works. Old Man's War is a must read for anyone who likes military SF. Its successors do not reach that high level of gripping the reader. Hence my rating, though I stress there is nothing wrong with the work, it just falls short of its predecessors.


The Vedic Age: A People's History of India 3
The Vedic Age: A People's History of India 3
by Irfan Habib
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An important Book in an important Series, 25 Feb. 2008
This book is an important contribution to important series. When the BSJ government was in power in India (happily for those who care for historical truth it was defeated at the last election) it imposed a new series of historical textbooks on India which contained, in large part, matters that were party political dogma rather than historical fact. The People's History of India is a response to this. Written by distinguished historians, in distinct chunks, it is an attempt to present for both the general reader and the student a brief, but impartial account of Indian history, taking account of the latest research. Each volume is brief (the volume reviewed here is a mere 96 pages, including bibliography and notes) and is quite dense reading.

The third book in the series, The Vedic Age is very important. The only historical sources for the period are the Vedas, basically the hymns, composed and memorised by the priestly group who eventually became the Brahmins. The book makes the basic points, but they do need making, that the Vedas are written in an archaic Sanskrit and clearly come from a group just beginning to enter the Indian subcontinent, who still had close linguistic similarities with the other Indo-Europeans speaking groups then entering the Iranian plateau. The later Vedas indicate that the group were slowly pressing eastward down the Ganges Valley and probably absorbing the indigenous communities into their language and culture. The later Vedas in particular show signs of the development of the later caste system.

However, as the authors make clear, the Vedic Age was illiterate, without urban society or iron working, though the Indo-European speakers penetrating the subcontinent were not, it would seem, a group of wandering pastoralists, as has been suggested in the past, but rather an agricultural society with an upper-class (kingly/warrior) and a priestly class, who nonetheless attached great value to their herds, which was seen as the pre-eminent form of wealth. Obviously, this changed slightly as the culture spread down the Ganges Valley, burning off the forest, in order to start farming the fertile river valley soil. It was not an urban culture, nor one, unsurprisingly given its illiteracy, that had any great scientific achievements, though clearly the foundations for later Indian society were being laid at this time. Nonetheless, though the Vedas have a major place in Hindu Culture and worship the point is that they are not Hindu texts as we would understand that today.

One weakness of the book is perhaps an unwillingness to confront this last point eg that in the Vedic age beef was eaten. Still, it is hard to criticise them too much for that. When one academic published a work of impeccable scholarship demonstrating that point he was hunted down by mobs and his book suppressed. It is to try to spread truth and academic detachment that this series is published and the authors are to be praised both for this and for their care for setting out in a very restricted compass of important evidence and knowledge.


Tea: Addiction, Exploitation and Empire
Tea: Addiction, Exploitation and Empire
by Roy Moxham
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sound Study of Britain and Tea, 13 Jun. 2007
This is an excellent historical review of tea - though concentrating on the British (including British Imperial) experience. It starts with the author's experience as a tea plantation manager, which is quite fun, but then goes on to a sound account of tea in the British Empire - particularly in South Asia - the older orgins of tea in Japan and China get short shrift. It is really a History of the British addiction to tea. However, it is a sound account of that - not academic, but, as far as I can judge, historically accurate, well written and highly readable.


A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People?: England 1783-1846 (New Oxford History of England)
A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People?: England 1783-1846 (New Oxford History of England)
by Boyd Hilton
Edition: Hardcover

21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sound but a little disappointing, 17 July 2006
This was in some ways a strange volume that compares oddly with other volumes of the New Oxford History of England. The series has suffered from being unsure as to whether it is designed to replace or supplement the earlier Oxford History of England. This volume is excellent on traditional political history, especially in the most limited sense of the term, which is of the formation and fall of governments. Indeed, at times it reads like a history of England written from the point of view of the Palace of Westminster. The book gives a full account of the political history of the period; of the formation of governments and of the legislation and of the intellectual thought of the period. However, it seems strangely lacking in wider analysis. The account of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars is, in a book of over 600 pages covering only 63 years, for over a third of which Britain was involved in a desperate struggle for its very existence, rather slight. No one would expect a detailed survey of military history of the period; this is not the function of such a work, but a wider account of the Wars and of their impact on the nation seems called for. Equally, the volume has a heavy emphasis on the intellectual history of the period, which is both excessive and wholly out of balance with that in the rest of the Series (though it would seem very much part of the background and publishing history of the author; it may therefore be the late General Editor who ought to be criticised here). There is, I think, in a period that takes in the Industrial Revolution and the latter part of the Agricultural Revolution, more economic theory and philosophy than there is of economic history. The volume also suffers from a desire on the part of the author to draw more less (in my view less) apposite parallels between the history of the period and the politics of modern Britain. Particularly in contrast with Hoppen's magnificent volume in this series, which immediately follows this this one chronologically, this is disappointing, as it is in contrast with both Prestwich's and Harris's recently published volumes on the mediaeval period. I would strongly recommend this volume to anyone seeking an account of the political history of the period. As a wider vision of English society in this period I would not recommend it. It is I think, though a sound and highly readable work, inferior to most of the other volumes in this series.


Homeward Bound
Homeward Bound
by Harry Turtledove
Edition: Paperback

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good science fiction, but not alternative worlds SF, 13 Mar. 2006
This review is from: Homeward Bound (Paperback)
I was motivated to write something about Turtledove's novel by the rather negative tone of the other reviews. The point is that this novel (I agree with other regulars that the ending definitely leaves it open to write more novels set in this universe) is really not alternative history SF. We are now many years from the intervention point in WWII when the Race attacked Earth. What we have here is a SF story about first interstellar mission. It needs to be compared rather with Turtledove's straight science fiction, somewhat Poul Anderson influenced it seems to me, like Earthgrip and Non-interference.
It is an accomplished portrait of a very different alien society. It may basically be capitalistic, and in other respects similar to our own, but in many psychological aspects it is very different. I think many of the criticisms are unfair. It is the similarity between the Race and Humans that gives the differences their cutting-edge. After all, there has to be certain similarities for there to be like concepts of Government, war, peace, conquest and colonisation between the various species. To say more would be to give away the crucial plot denouement.
So this novel should be read as what it is, not an alternate universe (except in so far as any science fiction novel is an alternate universe), but an investigation of interstellar diplomacy. Of course most of it is talk and the equivalent of smoke-fill rooms -- this is one of all about diplomacy and avoiding war, not military SF.
Those who like the science fiction of the 50s/60/70s are likely to enjoy this novel. Those looking for alternative history are likely to find the disappointment, as the other reviewers.
If you enjoyed early Turtledove you will, I think, enjoy this,


Polaris (Alex Benedict)
Polaris (Alex Benedict)
by Jack McDevitt
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Return to Form, 17 Jan. 2006
The existing review from dark genius adequately summarises the plot of this book and it would serve no point for me to add to it.

In this novel Jack McDevitt returns to the universe of his second, and very definitely his best, novel, A Talent for War. It is worth pausing to consider the singular excellence of that work. It must be amongst the finest works of science-fiction ever written. On the cover of Polaris a quote from Stephen King puts forward McDevitt as the successor to Asimov and Clarke; yet Asimov never wrote anything as good as Talent, and of Clarke's work only City and the Stars and Childhood's End compete (I am talking here of literary merit). Mr McDevitt's more frequent works in more recent years have shown some falling away. The first of the Hutchins books was very good, but there was a tendency to become obsessed with the Big Dumb Objects theme and also with thriller style writing, even when the thrills were achieved by way of unlikely rescues in space.

Polaris still has a good deal of this kind of action, but there is an excellent problem (though the reader spots at least part of the solution annoyingly earlier than the narrator). Though there is perhaps a little too much action, in that it takes away from the problem, the problem is the central point of this novel -- this is definitely an example of the old Amis definition of science-fiction as "the plot as hero". It is a good piece of science-fiction with a detective theme; moreover it plays fair with the reader. The solution is one that the reader could have guessed at on the information given in the book.

If anyone has not yet read Talent for War (and those reading my comments will realise that I strongly recommend that they do), they really should read it before reading this novel, as, though the references to the conclusion of the earlier book are in passing, it would definitely reduce the pleasure of first reading of Talent to have read this first.


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