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Eric le rouge (London, UK)

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The Mongols (Men-at-Arms)
The Mongols (Men-at-Arms)
by S.R. Turnbull
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent book but unfortunately too short, 16 Dec 2012
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A very well illustrated and decently written Osprey.

The author sucessfully uses the small amount of page he is given to present us with various aspects such as:
- A quick review of Mongol's Conquest and history
- Mongols tactics and manoeuvers
- Mongols weapons, armour and life on campaign
- Siegecraft and tactics
- Detailed account of the Russian and European campaign

The plates are as usual very well done (by the talented Angus McBride) although editing probably precludes, do not include the caption next or very next to it. The Captions are actually at the end of the book which is always irritating.

I thought the author was maybe a bit too self-promoting himself by referencing other of his books.

A chronology would have been welcome as some sort of plate showinng a pannel of weapons used by the mongols.

One single disapointment would be the small size of the Men-at-arms series which only contains 40 pages or so.
This is quite often criticised in reviews for this series and I personally think a 50 pages book would probably be practical minimum at least not to disapoint readers who can pay quite a lot for a 40pages book.

To conclude, a very good book covering a lot despite the small allowed size.


The Aztecs: Rise and Fall of an Empire (New Horizons)
The Aztecs: Rise and Fall of an Empire (New Horizons)
by Serge Gruzinski
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Formidable book and superbly illustrated, 16 Dec 2012
A very good illustrated account of the Aztecs coming to power and fall from Cortes Conquistadores.
The title is very accurate in depicting its contents.

The illustrations in this books are stunning and sometimes frightening. Of course, the Aztecs are renown for the human sacrifices but it does not just end there.

The first part dealing with the Aztec's origins and rise is very instructive and well worth focus. Too often, historical studies concentrate on the Spanish Conquest or the human sacrifices.

I warmly recomend reading the other books in this series on the Maya and Incas.


Lost Cities of the Maya (New Horizons)
Lost Cities of the Maya (New Horizons)
by Claude Baudez
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A very good illustrated account of the Maya's rediscovery, 16 Dec 2012
A very good illustrated account of the Maya's rediscovery that reminds us of a brillant lost civilisation.

The collapse of the Maya civilisation is probably due to a series of factors rather than one. I have always been amazed that entire cities that used to rule the world could be forgotten and left to nature's repossession.

The Aztecs is another very good book in this series well worth reading.


The Silent Gods: Mysteries of Easter Island (New Horizons)
The Silent Gods: Mysteries of Easter Island (New Horizons)
by Catherine Orliac
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superbly illustrated, 16 Dec 2012
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A very good book on the Easter Island, superbly illustrated and narrated.

This is perfect light weight introduction for the history of this small islands that always has fascinated readers.


Green Mars
Green Mars
by Kim Stanley Robinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

4.0 out of 5 stars A monument of real SF?, 16 Dec 2012
This review is from: Green Mars (Paperback)
Green Mars is the second book of a series of 3 books (Red, Green and Blue Mars). All of these totalize around 2500/3000 pages of real science fiction if I could say. The story gravitates around the 100 first humans to colonise the planet and their subsequent struggle to save it from earth's greedy exploitation.

For some reasons, Mars has always fascinated man's imagination. Probably because it is the most likely planet we will move next. Or is it because it could be our savior?

The series is lengthy and many people can find it boring which in some extent I could understand. Lets say if you dont like it after 200pages, you will probably not like it at all and struggle to finish the book. The books are relatively consistant in terms of rythm, style or content thus if few things anoy you, it is likely that you will suffer to read it.

For the rest of us who enjoy the Mars series, this is a monumental piece of work. i do not think the author is trying to show off his knowledge but rather wants us to open our eyes on the multi-science requirements for colonising a planet. Everything is in there: geology, climatology, sociology, ethics, revolutions and rebellions, racism, cold war legacy, politics, etc.

One of my favourite subject is the anti-ageing treatment that is commercialised few years after the initial landing. This creates havoc on earth. Imagine: Rich citizens only can access it while the remainder of the earth population is dying of hunger !
I never came across a book that asks so many questions regarding immortality: boredom, lost of memory, change of personality, polygamism, etc..

On the contrary, one of the criticism of the book is the way some characters are pictured. I tend to agree that author is trying to give them depth but it does not always work. For example, I became a bit irritated with the triple love relation between Chalmers, Maya and Boone.

On the other hand, characters such as Sax, Michel or Hiroko are a success from my point of view.

Green Mars is slightly below in terms of quality compared to Red Mars. Probably mainly because Red Mars was more "ground breaking" than the others. Green Mars is more of repetition of the first book. In this book, the remaining 100st rebuild their world and the book ends with a second revolution. The planet is terraformed further while the Metanationals try to take more control over Mars in order to exploit its ressources. The unconvincing triple love story between Chalmers, Maya and Boone carries on while further generation of Martians are created.
The last third of the book is probably the best and provide some rythm. Cataclysmic events shake earth while Martians are trying to undo their ties with the mother planet.

One of the great question coming out from these books is: "by the time we would colonise Mars, would we have pacify our civiliation to not repeat the same mistakes or would we bring our problems to this new planet?"
the book becomes quite violent when the Mars revolution takes place. The repression by metanationals is quick and violent.
It seems that our civilisation, if successful in colonising other planets, would always be on the brink of disintegration or collapse and the jump and requirement for sending colons to reduce congestion on our already inhabited planets would be permanent. In other words, the inner pressure in our societies and poverty would continuously fuel a migration of colons to other better promising worlds.


Red Mars
Red Mars
by Kim Stanley Robinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A monument of real SF?, 16 Dec 2012
This review is from: Red Mars (Paperback)
Red Mars is the first of a series of 3 books (..green and blue Mars). All of these totalize around 2500/3000 pages of real science fiction if I could say. The story gravitates around the 100 first humans to colonise the planet and their subsequent struggle to save it from earth's greedy exploitation.

For some reasons, Mars has always fascinated man's imagination. Probably because it is the most likely planet we will move next. Or is it because it could be our savior?

The series is lengthy and many people can find it boring which in some extent I could understand. Lets say if you dont like it after 200pages, you will probably not like it at all and struggle to finish the book. The books are relatively consistant in terms of rythm, style or content thus if few things anoy you, it is likely that you will suffer to read it.

For the rest of us who enjoy the Mars series, this is a monumental piece of work. i do not think the author is trying to show off his knowledge but rather wants us to open our eyes on the multi-science requirements for colonising a planet. Everything is in there: geology, climatology, sociology, ethics, revolutions and rebellions, racism, cold war legacy, politics, etc.

One of my favourite subject is the anti-ageing treatment that is commercialised few years after the initial landing. This creates havoc on earth. Imagine: Rich citizens only can access it while the remainder of the earth population is dying of hunger !
I never came across a book that asks so many questions regarding immortality: boredom, lost of memory, change of personality, polygamism, etc..

On the contrary, one of the criticism of the book is the way some characters are pictured. I tend to agree that author is trying to give them depth but it does not always work. For example, I became a bit irritated with the triple love relation between Chalmers, Maya and Boone.

On the other hand, characters such as Sax, Michel or Hiroko are a success from my point of view.

Red Mars is probably my favourite of the three. Probably mainly because it is more "ground breaking" than the others. The two others are more of a "we take the same people, the same problems and concepts and we write another book". Still, they are enjoyable but not as much as the first one.

One of the great question coming out from these books is: "by the time we would colonise Mars, would we have pacify our civiliation to not repeat the same mistakes or would we bring our problems to this new planet?"
the book becomes quite violent when the Mars revolution takes place. The repression by metanationals is quick and violent.
It seems that our civilisation, if successful in colonising other planets, would always be on the brink of disintegration or collapse and the jump and requirement for sending colons to reduce congestion on our already inhabited planets would be permanent. In other words, the inner pressure in our societies and poverty would continuously fuel a migration of colons to other better promising worlds.


Nineteen Eighty-four
Nineteen Eighty-four
by George Orwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Formidable and timeless book, 15 Dec 2012
This review is from: Nineteen Eighty-four (Paperback)
I do not know why one should write a review of a book that already has 300 or 400 reviews but I still feel like I need to at least purely to keep it on the high sell chart !

This is probably one of my top 5 books of all time.

It is simply a "must read".

Having read it a couple of years ago, I have always asked myself if we are unconsciously going toward this society depicted in 1984 or we think we still have control?
What influence Facebook, google, street CCTVs, etc. really have on us?

This would have never happend - well it has already happened


Salamis 480 BC: The Naval Campaign That Saved Greece
Salamis 480 BC: The Naval Campaign That Saved Greece
by William Shepherd
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ...or the history of the greco-persian war up to Salamis, 5 Dec 2012
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I was expecting quite a lot from this title and overall was not dissapointed.

The writing style, plates and sketches are all of a very high quality.

My only concern was that at least two third of the book is actually not dealing directly with the battle itself. The author probably makes a point by wanting to setup the context which is important to understand battles such as Salamis but he does probably too much.
There is a right balance between contextual information and information on the battle or campaign itself but I am not sure if the author get it right in this title.
On the other hand, the long paragraphs dealing with sea warfare are very well written and indispensable to understand the battle of Salamis.

The problem with giving to much contextual information, is that information get repeated in all the Ospreys treating the same overall subject: e.g. Platea, Thermopylae, etc.

As a main "minus", I would say that the author should have focused more on the battle itself.

There is already a very good review posted about this title and I tend to agree on the non-plausibility of the fighting force on each ships that is depicted in the book.
Indeed, the ships are very narrow as suggested by one of the pictures (although this shows the Olympia, a later version of a trireme and thus maybe not contemporary of the Greco-persian war), however, 10+4 men on the greek side on each ship seems very light to fight back the 40 persians fighting crew.

Being no military expert or historian, I was always told at school that the Persians had actually quinquereme (x5 ore) and not trireme and had large defensive structures (towers?) on the deck. I was explained that this was the main reason why the Persians lost. As far as I remember, I did not come across this in the book.

To summarise, I would recommend this book but bearing in mind that the book offers only a little on the battle itself. A shame as the author has talent for writing and presenting documents.
Finally, as usual for Ospreys, the coloured plate are of a very good quality.


The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Classics)
The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Classics)
by Andrew George
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 27 Nov 2012
A must read book as this is probably one of the oldest text in the world.

The story may appear quite alien but in the same time very close to us.
It is scary but at the same time recomforting that the man of 3000BC had the same fears and issues as us modern men have.


World War II Infantry Tactics : Squad and Platoon (Elite): Vol. 1
World War II Infantry Tactics : Squad and Platoon (Elite): Vol. 1
by Stephen Bull
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent and informative but maybe lacking case studies, 22 Nov 2012
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I enjoyed the book and had a pleasant time reading it.

Being rarely dissapointed with Ospreys, this first volume of infantry tactics covers well the subject.

The schematics are very clear and instructive. The chapters on "by the book" tactics are well treated although maybe take too much room in this crammed 60pager.

As a summary, I would have the following comments:

(+)
- Dense, concise and clear
- Clear and informative graphics
- Historical documents such as extracts of manuals, sketches, etc.. which always give some shape to a history book
- A good simple well illustrated plate showing the American weapons (one on british, soviet and german would also have been welcome)

(-)
- Perhaps too much on "by the book" tactics
- Maybe more on case studies showing how "by the book" tactics did in real fights
- Why not including Soviet tactics? Maybe this was not the purpose of the book but always found Eastern Front tactics and armies are always left aside in WWII general books.

Overall a decent work.


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