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Johnny London (london)

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a Metallica album, they have changed the record..., 9 Feb 2012
This review is from: Lulu (Audio CD)
This is not a Metallica album, it is a collaboration with Lou Reed laying down the vocals and Metallica providing the backup. Ok, so we have got that out of the way. If you want the 'black album' reheated, then you are going to be disappointed. Metallica have moved on, this is not 1992 it's 2012.

Really the music can best be described as Gothic Metal set to poetry.
And that is why so many people hate it.
And equal numbers love what these guys have done.

I do not believe it is as difficult to listen to and inaccessible as a lot people here say. Yes, you have to sit down in a dark room and concentrate on it to really 'get' it.
I find it laughable that some people say 'oh, but I listen to Pink Floyd' and I like that but I don't like this, so therefore Lulu is rubbish'. What bull - Pink Floyd is for self obsessed teenagers. Lulu is for adults.

So, I think this is probably one of the important albums of the last 10 years. In a time when music is basically homogenised and piped into peoples ears, Lulu takes us back to when music was dangerous, chaotic and heartfelt. Metallica really deserve all the accolades for even doing this. They could have sat back and done 'Black Album number XXXX' and lots of their fans would have lapped it up. Easy money taken from lazy people. But instead they have decided to challenge themselves and the listener. So full marks to them.

A landmark album.

1918: A Very British Victory
1918: A Very British Victory
by Peter Hart
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.84

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent description of the British Army's victories in 1918, 3 Jan 2010
The book is a history of the British Army in France 1918. This year has been neglected, strangely as it had the most intensive fighting and hence the highest casualties on both sides. Rather than sticking to the hackneyed 'mud and stupid generals' writing that characterises much of the histories of this war, this book digs deeper and describes how the deadlock of the western front was broken by the British Army. The author weaves together a picture of the army in 1918 by using staff officers memoirs and lower ranks letters and diaries. Also included are some glimpses from the German side to illustrate the other face of the battles fought in that year.
If you want a book that gives the most complete picture of why the Germans surrendered in 1918, this is it. The war had sideshows in Palestine, Italy etc. but it was on the Western Front where it was decided. Excellect descriptions of the strategic decisions, battlefield tactics and eye witness tales from every arm (infantry, artillery, airman, tank corps) gives an excellent picture of how the war was fought on the ground.
Good descriptions of how the British Army was becoming a modernised and professional force come through. This is called the 'All Arms Battle'. These things range from the use of artillery in a modern way (counter battery fire), deception and secrecy of your intentions to the enemy (rather than the amateurish blundering of the early years), modern weapons in the attack such as the Lewis gun and rifle grenade, the use of aircraft for harrassment and interdiction of rear areas, and the use of fire and maneouver in the infantry attack. All of these tactics had been worked out in 1917 at a small level by the British Army and in 1918 they came to fruition. Together with this the British armaments industry finally getting into its highest gear and producing truly massive quantities of arms and munitions the possibilities suddenly opened up for a successfull extended offensive in 1918.
The background to the March 1918 offensive, politically and militarily, are gone into from the British perspective are gone into. The French shutting down as an offensive ally after the mutinies of 1917, the British having to take over 25 miles of their front, whilst at the same time the British Army in France being starved of men by the interfering Prime Minister Lloyd George who thought he knew better and was horrified by the casualties of autumn 1917. Haig is described as being human, not a butcher, a stoic and very determined man who was determined to defeat the German army, and who knew that this could only be done by defeating its main force on the Western Front. Which is actually correct and was how the war was fought to a successful conclusion. He is shown to be a lot more flexible that others would describe, being open to any idea that would lead to the defeat of the German Army. The battles he had to fight to protect his own army from being defeated by the politicians at home are also described i.e. the deliberate holding back of reinforcements in England by Lloyd George just before the Germans attacked in March 1918. He also had to deal with the defeatism of his French counterpart Petain and the French government, who both lost their nerve at the crucial moment in June 1918 and almost conceded defeat by unilaterarly retreating to protect Paris and abandoning the British flank. His flexibility in allowing his command to come under the umbrella of the French General Foch was also a demonstration of his flexibility, he realised unity of command was needed in 1918 and he actually suggested this to the French himself. Foch was a man in his own mould, resolute and commited to the defeat of the Germans.
The book moves into a narrative of the intial retreats of March - July 1918, with eye witness accounts of the desperate rear guard actions fought by the British as they were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers thrown at them. Then the book moves into the description of the August offensives by the British Army, and in particular the Canadian and Australian Corps. Good descriptions of how the British viewed these units (in particular the Australians who the British soldiers thought uncouth but respected). These units were held back by Haig deliberately for the counterattack, as they were largely volunteer based and were larger units in manpower than standard British divisions. Not only that, they were better equipped in offensive Lewis guns. These units would be used continually until the Armistice in the spearhead of British attacks, until almost used up in the Australian case - the book describes the strikes that the Australian soldiers conducted when they were asked to split their units when they had been decimated - they refused to leave their old units. Normal British units were also widely used in the offensive and these are described and had their own problems - many of them had been torn apart in the German offensives of March/May and were then asked to go over to the offensive themselves later on. The book describes the utter hopelessness of the soldiers of these units, seeing their units being decimated daily and with no hope of individual survival, and then being asked later on to continually go on the attack for week after week. How they kept going is unbelievable.
Although tanks were important in some battles (tank corps soldiers experiences are also documented here), the book emphasises that the weapon that truly crushed the German Army was the Royal Artillery. It utterly dominated the battlefied from August 1918, crushing even the strongest German positions such as the Hindenburg line. Wherever the German Army stood the artillery would swiftly be brought to bear and would lay down such a weight of fire that most of the Germans would be surrendering or incapacitated by the time the infantry reached them. For example, one particular bombardment is described as being an average of one shell per 3 metres, and kept up throughout the bombardment by quick firing field artillery. You get the idea of the effect this would have on the German defenders - most of them surrendered immediately if they managed to survive.
The war reached a crescendo of total violence towards the end of 1918 that the author describes well, with truly incredible losses being suffered by both sides but the Germans always being steadily crushed in manpower, material and morale.

Others have gone into the German offensives of 1918, but these were not really inovative, they were just battles where massive quantities of artillery and gas were used before the infantry rushing the trenches. Much has been made of German infiltration tactics, but a lot of the successes from these tactics came from foggy conditions on the battlefield allowing troops to move in the open more easily. All too often later on in the summer of 1918 when fog was not available German attacks broken down into simple rushes of the enemy trenches, relying on sheer weight of numbers to overwhelm the British. Contrast this with the British Army attacking in the autumn with numbers of men that were nearly comparable, and prevailing, and you see how inovative and successfull the 'all arms battle' really was.

Easy Way to Stop Smoking (Book & Cds)
Easy Way to Stop Smoking (Book & Cds)
by Allen Carr
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 27 Sep 2009
I read the book in a 2 hour setting (100 pages).
The CD's are meant to be listened to after reading the book. The first CD is Allen Carr reiterating what is in the book, and the second is more motivational tips.
Does Allen Carr's system work? YES.
What is the system? He systematically breaks down all the smokers defences about why they smoke, and then offers an alternative - being a non smoker. He proves to the reader that smoking tobacco is nothing but nicotine addiction, once you can see it for what is really is then it is very easy to quit. There is no 'giving up' - because he proves to you that you aren't giving up anything, instead you are gaining better health, more cash etc. etc.
It is so simple and foolproof. Even an idiot would be cured of smoking with this sytem.
I can say now that this book is a bargain at the price - the system really does work. You will soon recoup the money spent on this item. Plus as it is a hardback it will last a long time if you feel yourself wavering about being a non-smoker in the future.

Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Dying Inside (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Robert Silverberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.37

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 1 Jan 2009
One of the finest SF novels in the SF masterworks series. This is not hard-science SF, it is more human based rather than science. It is set in the 1970's but you get the impression this could be set at any time.
The hero of the story is a psychic who is living on the fringes of society, unable to hold down a normal job because he can read others minds. He is too sensitive to handle this gift, and has withdrawn from other people.
The book concerns his getting middle aged and losing his psychic abilities. But at the same time he gains back his humanity - a moving story.
This is SF as literature, rather than science - blurb.
A classic book - read it.

Mission Of Gravity: Mesklinite Book 1 (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Mission Of Gravity: Mesklinite Book 1 (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Hal Clement
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, a classic?, 1 Jan 2009
As the books description says, this is a description of a mission by humans on a hostile alien world. Actually, humans are peripheral in the story. The heros are actually aliens similar to caterpillars.
It is a great book because it describes the alien world so believably - you really get drawn in. The book moves along briskly, and even though some heavy science (gravity) is thrown in, this didn't put me off (I don't like too much hard science in my SF).
Well worth reading if you are a fan of SF books, and a good addition to the SF masterworks series.

Mockingbird (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Mockingbird (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Walter S. Tevis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.40

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great SF novel, 1 Jan 2009
The book is about a not so future USA where after the dropping of the A bomb people find themselves becoming irrelevant and gradually extinct. Robots are the only things keeping society functioning, as people have been unable to rebuild a functioning society. They exist in a drugged state, dependent of hand outs.
There are three characters, two of them human and an android (who actually has power over the two humans).
This book is a well deserved 'SF masterwork' - for me it is literature, very well written. The characters, even that of the androids are well written and believable - you are really drawn into the future world created by the author.
One of the 'must reads' of the SF masterworks series - read it.

Behold The Man (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Behold The Man (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Michael Moorcock
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.05

5.0 out of 5 stars History rewritten, 13 May 2008
This is one of the superior books of the SF masterworks series.
Basically it is an alternative history of Jesus' last months and the crucifixion, involving - you guessed it - time travel. Our hero impersonates the historical Jesus, who is portrayed as being a cretin.
The story is told through the eyes of the hero.
Very enjoyable.
Highly recommended.

The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy
The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy
by J. Adam Tooze
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.59

48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive history of Nazi Germany, 12 May 2008
The author has produced what is surely the last word in explaining the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. This is an economic history, and this allows the real story of the Third Reich to be told. Like all history, the prosecuting of war really depends on the ability to raise and sustain a war machine - this has been the case for most of history. By concentrating on this fundamental fact, the book clarifies the actions of the Third Reich and it's leaders. Essentially, Germany in 1920 had the choice of either accepting it wasn't a major power and becoming a satellite state of the US, living as an exporting economy, or going down the road of war and becoming a world power and exploiting Europe as a conquered empire. Many in Germany at the time refused to accept the former, and through Hitler they made there bid to change the course of history. The author is careful to point out that although this course was fundamentally unsound in view of Germany's real position, there was a lot of logic behind the Nazis world view. Germany was critically dependent on imports of food and materials, it owed huge amounts of money to the US, and had foreign troops on it's soil. Hitler offered what looked like a credible alternative to the man in the street.
The book carefully explains how the Nazis built their war economy, and why it was used at the time and the way it was. Whenever it looked like Germany was losing it's advantage through early mobilisation, war was the only alternative to slow strangulation by naval blockade and air warfare.
After the entry of the US into the war in 1941 by offering aid to the UK, the Nazi leadership knew it had to win the war by 1942. (This thinking made the invasion of the USSR inevitable to the Nazi leadership, who were all to aware of the potential of strategic bombing).
To the Nazi leadership, a showdown with the US/UK was always going to happen, and it was better to happen on their own 'best terms' - i.e. before the US and UK could build an air fleet to destroy German industry. If all potential threats on the continent could be eliminated first, the Luftwaffe could then be built up into a force to protect the air over Europe.
One interesting thing the book also points out is the importance of the UK's blockade of Europe. Basically, Europe is dependent for imports of everything - food, materials etc. With the UK's naval blockade the economy of France (and most of Europe) basically collapsed by the end of the war, with Germany relying on the plundering of conquered countries (and slave labour) to keep financing the war. The rules of war in Europe have not changed since Napoleons time. An effective blockade of the continent soon causes huge problems, forcing Germany or whoever to look at desperate measures (invading Russia) to 'break out' of the blockade and find alternative sources of food/materials.
The author also explains the timing of the holocaust, and the timing of this too has an economic basis - food. In 1941/2 Germany found itself with too many mouths to feed and blockaded. The Nazis decreed that Germans would be the last to starve (as they had in 1918).
Unbelieavably it decided to kill millions of people in Poland to free up food, and then to mass starve the population of the western USSR. There was a plan to starve to death 20 million people as the policy of the German armed forces. This was planned and coordinated at the highest levels of both civilian and military authorities. A terrible story.
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The City And The Stars (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
The City And The Stars (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Arthur C. Clarke
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.36

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable and highly recommended, 1 April 2008
Arthur C Clarke was one of the best Scifi writers ever, and this is one of his finest books (that I have read).
Well written, accessible science and a good plot. It is one of those books that you can race through because it is so well written.
Highly recommended.

The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
The Penultimate Truth (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Philip K. Dick
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not his best, 1 April 2008
This is PK Dick treading his usual themes:
what is reality?
how can you tell what is real?
are the people around me real?
am i real?
etc etc.
The subject matter of a post WW3 community is really just a backdrop to these themes. At least there is none of his later preoccupations with religion in this book.
HAving said all this, this is still a very good SciFi book and I would recommend it, but as I say there are better PKD books out there.

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