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Amazon Customer "dragondrums" (Ingleby Barwick. U.K.)

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Witchcraze: New History of the European Witch Hunts
Witchcraze: New History of the European Witch Hunts
by Anne Llewellyn Barstow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.50

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very one sided view of the witch-hunts, 10 Dec. 2005
This is a book that focuses on the witch-hunt from the female perspective. Ms Barstow writes well and with a nice fluent style that makes history readable rather than `dusty' or `dry'. There is no doubt she paints a vivid picture of the witch craze in early modern Europe and there are references that point to further reading for those who are interested.
However the author writes from an extremely feminist viewpoint which I found a little overpowering (and I class myself as a feminist). Her prologue focuses on violence against women in modern society and uses that as a comparison for what happened in the witch hunt. There is scant attention paid to the fact that 20% of those accused of witchcraft were men, a significant number. Indeed, in Eastern Europe there were more men accused than women.
Whilst there is no doubt that some misogyny came into play during that time, and that there were awful consequences for women accused of being witches, I would have liked a more balanced view of the witch-hunt rather than one that assumed all judges, witch finders and jailers were sexually abusive toward the (female) accused. The author particularly criticises the notoriously misogynistic `Malleus Maleficarum' whilst seemingly oblivious to the fact she is as guilty of sexism as the authors of that book were.
Ms Barstow does refer to the work of many eminent historians who have written on this topic, but seems to find fault in all of their findings, giving the impression that she is the only one with a `realistic' view of what the witch-hunt was about. This is quite a useful book for the undergraduate studying this period, so long as they balance it with plenty of other reading matter rather than taking this as a definitive text.

Maskerade: (Discworld Novel 18) (Discworld Novels)
Maskerade: (Discworld Novel 18) (Discworld Novels)
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £15.98

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Pratchetts funniest works, 10 Dec. 2005
Maskerade is a take on the Gaston Leroux story ‘Phantom of the Opera’. In the opera house of Ankh-Morpork dastardly deeds are afoot. Christine, the blonde Prima Donna who cannot sing, is being ‘courted’ and taught by the opera ghost. What he doesn’t realise is the real star is really one Agnes Nitt, (also known as Perdita X). She is the voice that Christine mimes to. Agnes's talent includes being able to sing in thirds with herself…she also, unbeknown to herself, has a talent for witchcraft.
Lancres famous witches, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg are on the hunt for a third witch for their coven since Magrat Garlick very inconsiderately left them to marry the King. After all, everyone knows there has to be three witches…two just won’t do. So, Granny and Nanny take a trip to Ankh-Morpork for a night at the opera and to press gang Agnes back to Lancre. In true Terry Pratchett style, mayhem and madness follow. Death makes his appearance as does the Death of Rats, and Greebo, Nanny’s evil but hilarious cat will have you rolling on the floor laughing.
This audio book is an abridged version of Maskerade, but has been so skilfully edited that it seems complete. Having read the book I can say I didn’t notice any obvious omissions. Tony Robinson (best known as Baldrick in Blackadder) was a perfect choice to narrate this book; he injects the right amount of humour and his ‘voices’ for each character are spot on. This is a truly funny tale and well worth every penny.

Election [1999] [DVD]
Election [1999] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Matthew Broderick
Price: £2.65

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wickedly black comedy, 10 Dec. 2005
This review is from: Election [1999] [DVD] (DVD)
Tracey Flick (Reece Witherspoon) is a high flying and highly ambitious student at a Nebraskan high school. The film follows her campaign to become student-council president. Matthew Broderick plays the part of teacher, Jim McAllister, who loathes the ‘perfect’ Tracey and yet has an overwhelming desire for her. Giving in to his hatred of her, McAllister throws his professionalism aside and encourages a rather dim witted, but very popular jock, Paul Metzler (played by Chris Klein) to run against her whilst also doing his utmost to scupper Tracey’s chances by ‘fixing’ the vote count. Things get even more complicated when Paul’s sister Tammy, the school misfit, also decides to have a shot at the presidency.
This is not the usual teenage high school movie; its humour is far too black for that. The dialogue is brilliantly witty and sharp and has some genuinely ‘laugh out loud’ moments whilst other scenes will make you cringe as the protagonists lives disintegrate before your eyes. The prim and proper Tracey raises feelings of sympathy and revulsion in equal measure while McAllister is a character that deserves everything that comes to him…and come it does. The beauty of this film is in its characterisation, no character is one dimensional but a wonderful mixture of good and bad, all with their flaws.
For anyone wanting a comedy that is black as coal and saccharine free, this is the movie to watch, absolutely brilliant.

Bad Santa [DVD] [2003] [2005]
Bad Santa [DVD] [2003] [2005]
Dvd ~ Billy Bob Thornton
Offered by wantitcheaper
Price: £2.49

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very funny but not for the easily offended., 4 Dec. 2005
Anyone who is easily offended should avoid this film like the plague. It is the complete opposite of the usual saccharine offerings brought out for the festive season. Bad Santa is the story of Willy, a womanising, alcoholic, foul mouthed, safe cracker who, alongside his sidekick Marcus, spends the festive season posing as a store Santa (complete with pint sized ‘elf’) in order to rob the stores they work in. Willy hates kids, and is rude and obnoxious to all the little darlings who sit on his lap, (as well as to anyone else he comes across). Things change when a lonely, bullied boy, Therman Herman decides to latch onto Santa and become his friend. Very reluctantly, Willy finds himself considering someone other than himself.
Billy Bob Thornton is brilliant as the grouchy, unkempt Willy, whilst Brett Kelly shows a mature acting ability as the misfit Therman. Laura Graham is Sue, the girl with the Santa Claus fetish who falls for Willy but insists he always wears his hat. Peppered with language that would make a navvy blush and scenes that touch on the taboo, this is a film that makes no pretence at being politically correct and doesn’t care if it offends. It is outrageous in parts yet manages to produce some real ‘laugh out loud’ moments. The DVD features a few extras such as outtakes and deleted scenes and the usual subtitles but nothing to get too excited about. This is a film for anyone who likes a ‘belly laugh’ and isn’t easily shocked but it definitely isn’t one for the children.

Contraception Today: Pocketbook (Medical Pocketbooks)
Contraception Today: Pocketbook (Medical Pocketbooks)
by John Guillebaud
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful little book, 15 Nov. 2005
This is a useful little book that is a handy size for slipping into a pocket or handbag. It is very easy to navigate and to find relevant information and the text and illustrations throughout are clear and concise. It is no heavyweight of information but at this size it obviously isn’t meant to be. What it is designed to be is a quick point of reference, and this is a job it does admirably.
The downside of this book, and this is in no way any fault of the author, is that medicine is not a static field, and what is fact today is not necessarily so tomorrow. Already there are a few ‘facts’ in this book that are already out of date, such as instructions after missing a contraceptive pill. Anyone purchasing this book to use in a professional capacity does need to be aware of that and to be careful that any information they are providing is up to date. Overall though, this is a valuable aid, the bulk of the information is still valid, and on this basis it is still worth a look.

The Malleus Maleficarum (Dover Occult)
The Malleus Maleficarum (Dover Occult)
by Jakob Sprenger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for any student of the witch-hunts in Europe., 9 Nov. 2005
This infamous text is essential for any serious student of witchcraft in early modern Europe. Jakob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer were two Dominican monks who wrote this ‘guide’ to witchcraft in 1486. It served as a guide book for inquisitors during the Inquisition, providing information on identifying witches, wringing confessions from them and discussing suitable punishment of offenders.
This text has become the definitive example of misogyny in the witch-hunts. Throughout the book there are negative references to women such as ‘When a woman thinks alone she thinks evil’, ‘She is a liar by nature’, ‘she is more carnal than a man as shown by her carnal abominations’. It also goes on to describe women as defective, weak, and basically claims any misfortune from illness through to crop failure was due to malign magic. Nothing had a natural cause in their view. Witches, according to Kramer and Sprenger, were responsible for all this plus infanticide, cannibalism, consorting with demons and any other abominable behaviour they could imagine.
Putting the misogyny aside, this text gives an in depth, if somewhat harrowing, view of what was involved when identifying, interrogating and punishing the unfortunate accused. It is not a comfortable read to say the least, showing as it does mankind’s complete inhumanity to fellow man during this period. This is no lightweight, quick read but it is divided into manageable sections that make it less onerous to study and an excellent contents section makes it very simple to find particular topics. As a primary source it is an invaluable study aid and is a book that is a ‘must have’ on any historians bookshelf.

Edward And Mrs Simpson [DVD] [1978]
Edward And Mrs Simpson [DVD] [1978]
Dvd ~ Edward Fox
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.99

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality drama but poor quality DVD, 7 Nov. 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This production was made for T.V. back in 1979. It is the story of King Edward VIII and the love that was to cost him his throne. Edward Fox is excellent playing David, the spoiled and selfish Prince of Wales who would one day be King Edward VIII. David was the original playboy prince, more interested in his social activities than any social obligations. He had various married mistresses to the despair of his family. When Wallis Simpson, a married American woman (played by a convincingly brittle Cynthia Harris), came into his life, it set off a catastrophic chain of events. David fell head over heels in love and was determined to marry her no matter what. What is less clear, at least in this production, is whether Wallis felt the same or was, in fact, more enamoured of becoming Queen of England.
David was always popular with the public and was quite sure that, as king, he could do as he pleased and marry whom he wished. Of course the Establishment had other ideas and made it clear that a divorcee, and an American one at that, with no royal blood, was a totally unacceptable choice for Queen.
As history has shown, the Establishment won and King Edward was forced to make a choice between the throne and Mrs Simpson, the latter won and Edward went into exile where he married the woman he loved. Never again would he be welcome either to his family or in England, and as a final insult his wife was refused the title HRH.
This is a production that has stood the test of time thanks to the fine acting from the entire cast. It has everything a drama could want, romance, intrigue, tension and is all the better because it is a true story. The downside of this DVD is the fact no effort has been made to clean up the picture or sound and there are no extras, not even sub-titles for the hard of hearing, unacceptable for a format known for clarity of picture/sound and opportunities for extra material. Having said that, the quality of acting and the all too human story make this a DVD well worth viewing, just be prepared for the quality being less than you may be used to.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 27, 2009 4:26 PM GMT

The Ship Who Sang: Fantasy
The Ship Who Sang: Fantasy
by Anne McCaffrey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anne McCaffrey at her best, 7 Nov. 2005
This is the first, and the best, of Anne McCaffrey’s Brainship stories. A young woman, Helva was born with terrible physical problems that were incompatible with any kind of independent life. New technology allowed her to be encased in a titanium shell that formed the core of a spaceship, with her brain wired up to the ship, allowing her to use her formidable intellect to act as the craft’s central ‘computer’. She has become the first of the ‘Brainships’ and can now have a freedom and independence of sorts, the freedom to travel between the stars accompanied by the pilot who will be her ‘Brawn’. Helva proves to have a love of music and an incredible voice to go with it; her constant singing leads to her fame as ‘The Ship Who Sang’.
It’s hard to believe this book was written so long ago, it has certainly stood the test of time and is as enjoyable now as it has ever been. McCaffrey has introduced the idea of cyborg technology in a way that makes you question the morality of combining man and machine and to think about issues such as euthanasia. She never loses sight of the humanity of this young ‘hybrid’ however, and Helva’s development and growth as a person makes for moving reading. Granted this isn’t a heavyweight of literature, don’t expect lengthy prose or hard science, and occasionally the book lapses into more of a romance than a sci-fi story, but that aside, this is still a really good read. Keep an open mind and give it a chance, you won’t be disappointed.

Europe, 1648-1815: From the Old Regime to the Age of Revolution
Europe, 1648-1815: From the Old Regime to the Age of Revolution
by Robin W. Winks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and concise introduction to this period of history, 4 Nov. 2005
The late Professor Winks and Professor Kaiser have produced a gem of a book for the student historian. Europe, during the period covered by this book, saw a vast amount of change. England disposed of its royalty only to reinstate it, with Charles II, France became a republic, new lands/cultures were being discovered, the age of enlightenment was born and the industrial revolution occurred. Newton was discovering gravity, Voltaire was writing, Gainsborough painting and Haydn composing. The authors have covered all of these topics, and more, in a readable way that isn’t weighted down with heavy prose. There are many illustrations scattered throughout which add to the enjoyment of this book.
At a mere 199 pages it is not a text that covers any of these events in any great depth, but what it does do is to give a good introduction to them. Although concise it is not lacking relevant information. After reading this book, the student should have enough knowledge to discuss the important historiographical points from the era. The numerous references point the reader to other texts that will expand their knowledge should they need to. This is an excellent addition to the bookshelf.

Equilibrium [DVD] [2003]
Equilibrium [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Christian Bale
Price: £3.04

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated science fiction, 16 Oct. 2005
This review is from: Equilibrium [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Equilibrium is a surprisingly good film and sorely underrated. Set in a future where emotions are banned, as is anything that may engender emotion such as music and literature, the storyline may conjure thoughts of 1984 or Fahrenheit 451. Make no mistake however; Equilibrium is no copy of those films.
After World War 3, it is decided that emotions lead to war and the prevention of further war can only be achieved by preventing the population from feeling. Every day the population have to take their prescribed mood dampening pills. Christian Bale stars as Preston, a law enforcement agent, who seeks out and destroys 'sense offenders', people who stop taking their medication and who actively read and listen to music. When Preston's partner (played by Sean Bean) is found to be a sense offender and he is forced to kill him, Preston starts questioning his world and the part he plays in it. He decides to take the dangerous path of skipping his pills and starting to feel.
This is no high octane, special effects packed film. There are a few, well choreographed martial arts fight scenes but for the most part the film relies on a good story set in a sterile, featureless and soulless setting to set the atmosphere. The movie has been well produced and the cinematography is first class. This is a film that belongs in the collection of any fan of science fiction.

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