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John Nygate (London)
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The Age of Arsenic
The Age of Arsenic
by W. Branch Johnson
Edition: Unknown Binding

5.0 out of 5 stars A witchcraft scandal, 16 Sept. 2012
This review is from: The Age of Arsenic
This is the story of Catherine Montvoisin, aka La Voisin, a sorceress in Paris during the reign of King Louis 14th. After her husband's business failed, Montvoisin obtained money by fortune telling, eventually graduating to organizing black masses in which unwanted babies and children were murdered as the participants prayed to Asmodeus. This was a major scandal at the time involving leading members of society and the royal court. The book is sourced from sworn testimony from the Archives of the Bastille prison. In 1679 Montvoisin was arrested and eventually convicted of witchcraft and murder. She was was burned in public on the Place de Grève in Paris on the 22 February 1680.

This book in an interesting and comprehensive history of the 'Affaire des poisons' as the scandal came to be known.


Martin Luther: Hitler's Spiritual Ancestor
Martin Luther: Hitler's Spiritual Ancestor
by Peter F. Wiener
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Convincing, 13 Sept. 2012
This is a short polemical book published in 1945 by an intelligent schoolmaster in England seeking to understand the reasons for German and Hitler exceptionalism. According to the author and the late Dr. Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, Luther prepared the way for Hitler. In several short chapters the author asserts that Luther did not reform Catholicism. He simply rejected it. This is shown in Luther's attitude to truth, the state, and to the Jewish people. Luther was a man of poor character. He drank too much; he had "three wives" but "no intention whatsoever to marry". He encouraged worship of the state and the oppression of the poor. It is this rejection of a thousand years of Christianity that eventually called forth the Nazis and Hitler.

I found the argument of the book convincing though there does exist a rebuttal 'Martin Luther: Hitler's cause or cure?' by E. Gordon Rupp, which I have yet to read.


Sorcery, Witchcraft and Christianity in Melanesia
Sorcery, Witchcraft and Christianity in Melanesia
by Franco Zocca
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Papua New Guinea's Sorcery Act, 1971., 14 Aug. 2012
Papua New Guinea has a Sorcery Act in force. Under the Sorcery Act 1971 it is an offence to conduct a sorcery or witchcraft ritual with the intention to cause harm. This may be punished by five years imprisonment. This book gives a good overview of the subject, including successful prosecutions under the Act and details of sorcery and witchcraft rituals. The book includes a copy of the Sorcery Act 1971. Roughly, a sorcerer is a male witch and a witch is a female sorcerer. The book is available from the Melanesian Institute, Papua New Guinea.


Eastern Inferno: The Journals of a German Panzerjager on the Eastern Front, 1941-43
Eastern Inferno: The Journals of a German Panzerjager on the Eastern Front, 1941-43
Price: £11.27

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am a man, I consider nothing that is human alien to me., 24 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
"Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto", or "I am a man, I consider nothing that is human alien to me." Terence, Roman playwright.

These are the diaries of a brave German soldier who fought on the Eastern Front from 1941 to 1944. The diaries have the rare distinction as being contemporary; that is to say they were written as the events unfolded and not after the war. They have been recently translated into English.

Hans Roth left a loving wife and daughter in Frankfurt when he was drafted to fight on the Eastern Front at the age of twenty-eight. His journals give a fascinating personal account of the war. They are written in soldier's language, sometimes with a wry humour; he was a "frontline pig."

There are many descriptions of fighting and the terrible conditions of life on the Ostfront. Just to give a flavour of the book I will give a few examples...

...The book opens a few days before the invasion of Russia. Private Roth is proud to be part of this offensive which he believes is necessary to defend Europe from barbarous communism...

...Some partisans are arrested. Three of them are beautiful girls ranging in age from eighteen to twenty. After interrogation the commander decides they must be executed because they are part of a group that killed German soldiers. Roth cannot witness this. After the executions everyone is quiet for the rest of the afternoon...

...On September 26th 1941 Roth has a conversation with a young SS soldier of the "kill commando" whose function was to murder the Jews in the captured territories. The young (19!) SS man explains to Roth how the Jews dug trenches over two days to hold 1500 bodies. Then groups of 250 Jews at a time step to the edge of a trench and are killed by machine gun, then falling into the trench. Roth cannot believe what he hears and tells the young man so. The young man laughs and suggests they should take a look. So they ride their motor bikes to the outskirts of Kiev to witness an Einsatzkommando action. Roth is shocked and says he will never forget what he saw that day...

...On January 8th 1942, Roth is part of a raiding party on a village called Strelezkaja, near Obojan. At 5.30am the village is full of sleeping Russian soldiers. Without mercy every Russian soldier is gunned down or clubbed to death. In half an hour 360 Russians are killed...

The book includes many black and white photos : of Hans Roth, his wife Rosel, his comrades, maps, and Roth's military medals and accompanying certificates.

This book is a heart wrenching account of the appalling suffering and privations of history's greatest land war. Read with care I found it difficult not to like and admire Hans Roth. Wounded, he elected to remain at the front with his comrades rather than retreat to the safety of a field hospital. He risks his life to take a Christian cross to dead Lieutenant Liebetran, his best friend, killed by Russian artillery.

One must admire Hans Roth's incredible presence of mind. Again and again after a day's fighting, killing Russians, seeing his comrades killed, just avoiding death himself, he managed to take his diary out and write a few paragraphs.

The book has a couple of downsides. Sometimes the translation is not as good as it could be. And sometimes it is repetitive, but that was the nature of Roth's war, just never ending battles. Nevertheless the book is so unique and powerful, it deserves five stars.

Feldwebel Hans Roth was reported missing in June 1944 and his grave was never found.


Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1939-45
Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1939-45
by Siegfried Knappe
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A career soldier's tale, 6 Mar. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Siegfried Knappe came from a fairly ordinary background, made the army his career, and ended up in the Fuehrer bunker in Berlin in 1945. This is a memoir of his military life which includes lots of fascinating detail such as:

His pre-war army training

His participation in the invasion of France

Operation Barbarossa....Knappe was an officer in the horse drawn artillery and rode on horseback to the outskirts of Moscow.

General staff training during the war. Knappe was intelligent, competitive and capable, and it was a high honour to be selected for General Staff Training.

His experiences in Berlin in the last
days of the war.

His incarceration in Russian prison camps for four years after the war.

The book was "ghost written" by Mr Brusaw and occasionally one reads something that is untrue or does not ring true. For example the book states that the night of June 22nd 1941, the night of the invasion of Russia, was moonlit; it was not. So the book loses a star. But don't let this put you off. This is a worthwhile book about the second world war written by a man who, while not a saint, was no "evil Nazi" either.

I found the book very interesting. You get a lot of insight in what it must have been like for ordinary Germans during the war.


Love Song for Osho
Love Song for Osho
by Ma Anand Devika
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A disciple's journey, 9 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Love Song for Osho (Paperback)
The author of this book is Ma Anand Devika, an English sannyasin (follower of Osho.) Born in the middle of the last century, Devika tells her love story with the enlightened mystic Osho. This is a lovely book giving insight into Osho's teachings and the mystery of the master/disciple relationship. I highly recommend this book.


New College
New College
by Christopher Tyerman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £45.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My beautiful Alma Mater, 8 Dec. 2011
This review is from: New College (Hardcover)
This is a large "coffee table" book about New College, Oxford University, one of the largest, most beautiful and most famous colleges. It is illustrated with many lovely photographs. Notwithstanding its name, New College was in a sense the first college of Oxford or Cambridge, in that it was the first college to be built around enclosed quadrangles.

It was founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham who rose from humble origins to become a leading statesman and prelate during the times of King Richard II. Its original function was to train Catholic priests and I think the College's humane and "nice" atmosphere must be the result of its Catholic origins, all those centuries ago.

Today the College is a large educational institution teaching both undergraduate and graduate students. Woman were admitted as undergraduates in 1979.

The book is written in short chapters by fellows and old members. There are chapters on all the subjects you would expect...architecture, history of the College, the gardens, the Wardens, College people, College servants, sport, teaching, the College at war, etcetera. As I said above the book is lavishly illustrated with the most beautiful photos. The text is written with honesty, intelligence, understatement, wit, grace and charm, as you would expect of Wykehamists.


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the Wicca people., 29 Oct. 2011
Modern wiccans will tell you that witches burnt at the stake were all innocent. Don't you believe it.

This book is about La Voisin, a witch at the time of Louis 14th of France, who murdered scores of street children in witchcraft rituals. This was a major scandal at the time. This book is sourced from records of the trial from the Bastille. La Voisin was found guilty of murder and witchcraft and burnt at the stake.

Altogether very interesting.


Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press
Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press
by Gore Vidal
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars News as propaganda, 30 Oct. 2010
This is an excellent, if slightly hectoring account, of the myth of a free press. In a series of essays, leading journalists give accounts as to how big business and government determine what shall be in the news media and what shall be omitted.

Book was published in 2002, so it is a little bit dated.

I got my copy here in London, UK, on loan from the British Library. On the flyleaf are the words "Not for sale in the United Kingdom." Publishers are scared of the English libel laws. See, we can't even read about this here in England!

There are more reviews of this book in amazon.com if you are interested.


The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets (Cornell Studies in Political Economy)
The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets (Cornell Studies in Political Economy)
by David E. Spiro
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The economics of US hegemony, 13 July 2010
According to Mr. Spiro, the US engineered a brilliant response to the oil crisis of the 1970s.

It goes like this. Through stick and carrot the US gets an agreement from OPEC only to accept US dollars in exchange for oil. This means that the US can print dollars to pay for price increases in oil. Industrialised countries without oil, such as Japan, have to export to the US in order to obtain dollars to exchange for Opec oil; for example, cars in the case of Japan. So America gets oil and services and goods (eg cars) in exchange for pieces of paper. Not only that but Opec's excess dollars were then reinvested in the US and other industrialised countries, thus funding the US budget deficit and reducing US interest rates.

I had read this elsewhere and could not quite believe it is true. However Mr Spiro's book is very scholarly and carefully written, so this makes me think the above theory is true.

Mr Spiro's book is mainly about the second half of the process--the "recycling" of OPEC's excess dollars. He shows that contrary to conventional wisdom most of the excess dollars were "recycled" to industrialised countries rather than less developed countries. In the process of acquiring excess dollars the US reneged on agreements with the IMF.

Much of Mr Spiro's book is concerned as to whether the above history corresponds with various theoretical economic models. I found this of some interest but it might be too heavy going for some people.

Mr Spiro concludes that traditional economic theories fail to take account of the fact that nation states use violence and the threat of violence to "distort markets."

Altogether very interesting and worthwhile, though the writing style might be too academic for some people.


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