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Profile for Mr. Richard Brooks > Reviews

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Mr. Richard Brooks (London)

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The Force of Destiny: A History of Italy Since 1796
The Force of Destiny: A History of Italy Since 1796
by Christopher Duggan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a review, 18 May 2010
It's a good book. It all feels a little rushed though. I guess that's going to happen with a book that covers 200 years of history. I was really surprised to find out that I only had 50 pages or so to go and I was still reading about the Republic of Salo. I can;t give a really good review because I don't know enough about Italy to say if the Author is making stuff up.

It has left me amazed that Italy even became and is still a country. Only the middle class seemed to have a feeling of national identity but then that can probably be said of most populations.

It was a fascinating book, one that has left me with a feeling that it could have gone into much more detail in every aspect and it wouldn't have felt too long. And it has left me wanting to find out more, to fill all the gaps that had to have been left to make this history concise.

The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics)
The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics)
by Alexandre Dumas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a short review of a long book, 18 May 2010
Wow, that was absolutely fantastic. I've read the Three Musketeers a couple of times the most recent time a new translation from Penguin and it was this that prompted me to give the Count of Monte Cristo a go.

Now I've seen a couple of film versions of this in the past and so thought that I had some understanding of what the book was about, I couldn't of been further from the truth. Just the first thirty chapters or so dealing with Edmond Dantes' imprisonment and escape was a fantastic story. I was a little worried that the tale had petered out when the story began again in Rome but everything came together as you'd expect but with much better style.

Don't go into it looking for plot twists or suprises, this isn't a detective novel. Everything is telegraphed well in advance but that doesn't get in the way of what an amazing story this is.

Adaptations have to chop out so much that you really aren't getting the full story if you just rely on film or tv to tell you this story. And I would urge you to read a modern translation, not a bowlderised, victorian novel that has the same name and vaguely the same plot. The translator give a overview of this problem in the introduction. It really is incredible that a large proportion of French 19th Century literature is only availible in English is a bastardised form. Even today one can't read the entirety of the Rougon-Macquart cycle in a an accurate translation.

Anyway, what a fantastic book.

The Sweat of the Gods: Myths and Legends of Bicycle Racing
The Sweat of the Gods: Myths and Legends of Bicycle Racing
by Benjo Maso
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slim but deep, 18 May 2010
I never expected this to be a very in depth history of cycling, it isn't a very large book and there is a lot of history to cover. The book does give a good overview of the history of professional road racing, starting with a very interesting chapter on the earliest races in Paris and covering thoughtfully the commercial motives of the organisers.

In fact the main strength of this book is that it gives a good overview of how and why changes happened in the sport, these are mostly for financial reasons but the interested parties change with time. Starting with newspapers, then manufacturers and finally outside sponsors. Without this wider view the development of cycling makes little or no sense. The author makes the book an entertaining read and the little pieces of myth busting are rather enlightening. Maso forms a strong argument about why riders of the past are regarded as greats in a way that no cyclist since the 60's has been.

My only problems with the book are that it tends to focus on the Tour de France, I realise that this is the greatest race around and that it is a very slim book but I had hoped for a little bit more on other races. There is a section on the Giro and a few pages on the spring classics but I don't remember reading a single word about the Vuelta the third grand tour.

On a personal level I don't agree with Maso's views as to doping which has probably coloured my recollection of the book as this is the focus of the last chapter of the book but as a whole this is a entertaining read which gives a really good idea of the way that cycling has changed over the hundred plus years that races have been run.

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