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Loz

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Young Stalin
Young Stalin
Price: £6.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and revealing, 21 April 2014
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This review is from: Young Stalin (Kindle Edition)
Too many books pass over any discussion of Stalin's background, implying, or in some cases stating that he came from nowhere.

This book provides a fascinating account of Stalins early life, covering his parents priests training and years as a revolutionary and gangster. The book also debunks the idea of a 'good' Lenin and 'bad' Stalin showing how similar there attitudes were.

Perhaps the most interesting revelation (among many) was the way the seminary Stalin attended was run with a network of informers and sudden and arbitrary searches and harsh punishments. Stalin railed against this at the time but clearly saw it as a good model to follow.

It is stated several times in the book that Stalin was a committed Marxist but the evidence for the assertion is not presented, which is slightly disappointing. However this is a must read for anyone interested in Russian or Soviet history.


Aman Iman: Water Is Life
Aman Iman: Water Is Life
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 21 April 2014
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Brilliant album and absolutely compulsive listening.

If you like Tamikrest you'll love this. More 'desert blues', in this case with a more rhythmic quality.


Chatma
Chatma
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 31 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Chatma (MP3 Download)
Fusion of Malian music with guitar rock. This is the best thing I've heard in ages, completely mesmerising. The only drawback is it ends too soon.


Quadrophenia (Remixed And Remastered Version)
Quadrophenia (Remixed And Remastered Version)
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 25 Nov 2013
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That 70s indulgence the concept album, has become a much maligned genre, but put aside your prejudices for Quadrophenia. This is no tedious pompous doodling, there is a strong concept and Townsend and the band deliver in spades.

This is The Who at the top of their game. Certainly they never touched these highs again and arguably the best thing they did.

I am not sure I want to see the return of the concept album, but this displays an extraordinary vision and confidence that matches nothing currently being done.


The Great Railway Revolution: The Epic Story of the American Railroad
The Great Railway Revolution: The Epic Story of the American Railroad
Price: £0.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Heavy going at times., 25 Nov 2013
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Having read a couple of Christian Wolmar's books I have come to the conclusion he isn't really a particularly good writer. There is a mass of facts here, but it is presented in a rather repetitious turgid style which makes it hard going.

I found the chapter on the Civil War particularly hard going - it felt like everything of importance could have been said in a page but it was a lengthy chapter, often repeating the same observations over again.

Plus point is that there aren't many single volume histories of American railways but it's heavy going.


Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams
Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams
by Ian Marchant
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Affectionate memoir-cum-travelogue., 25 Nov 2013
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Even if you don't like trains you may well like this book, as it is a much a personal history as a book about trains. This is a reasonable amount of railway history here but it is mixed with a generous dollop of observation about growing up, being in a band, being in a family and more.

Highlights for me were the gonzo trip round the Great Little Trains of Wales and the description of taking his daughter to railway themed days.

Good entertaining read and persuades you to think a bit.


DIGIFLEX DVI Male to HDMI Female Converter Adapter Connector
DIGIFLEX DVI Male to HDMI Female Converter Adapter Connector
Offered by Digiflex
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does the job., 22 Oct 2012
Not the highest quality in the world but does the job at a very keen price. Excellent value for money.


Union Black [Explicit]
Union Black [Explicit]

4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 18 Aug 2012
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If ever there was proof that bands that are associated with the metal genre are unfairly ignored by the mainstream it is here.

A brilliant combination of musical styles combined together. Essential listening.


Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West's Afghanistan Campaign
Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West's Afghanistan Campaign
by Sherard Cowper-Coles
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.06

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Punches Pulled?, 20 Feb 2012
This book received rave reviews in the papers but I found it disappointing.

It's not really clear if Cowper-Coles wanted to write a personal memoir of his time involved in Afghanistan or a measured critique of Britain's role there, but for me it doesn't quite work on either score.

There is much description of meetings attended, ministers briefed, parties enjoyed, wheels oiled, as well as frequent genuinely witty or illuminating vignettes, but for a personal memoir it is simply not personal enough. For example, we know Mr Cowper-Coles has at least one son but no idea if he has other children or a wife. We know he left the diplomatic service having failed to get the "top posting" he had been promised but no information is provided on what must have been a hugely emotional decision for a dedicated career diplomat.

But there is no need for personal details to be provided if what is really being written is analysis of Britain (and western) efforts in Afghanistan. The problem here is that there simply isn't enough analysis - Mr Cowper-Coles drops tantalising hints throughout of his disenchantment with the process but never pulls it together into a convincing whole. It's as if ultimately he was unable or unwilling to write what one feels could be a much focussed or more hard-hitting book. There are some conclusions at the end but interestingly none relate directly to the diplomatic side at all.

The second half of the book, covering his time as a Special Representative is particularly frustrating. Cowper-Coles has many warm words for his American opposite number, Richard Holbrooke, but Holbrooke comes across as an incredibly difficult person to work with. The author is perhaps unwilling to speak ill of the dead but once again the analysis is lacking. Did Holbrooke achieve anything? The role appears to have been a complete waste of time and to have involved quite extraordinary waste of time and money with vast numbers of expensive meals, flights and conferences. But what does Cowper-Coles think? - he clearly entertains serious doubts, but there is no conclusion drawn of the whole episode. Once again, one feels his is pulling his punches.

There are other irritations. Did I say we got little personal information? We may not know if Cowper-Coles is married but we do know which Prep school and Oxford College he attended, the club he belongs to and key diplomatic postings he has had. It would have grated a little less if there had been some acknowledgement of just what a privileged bubble he occupies. There is a sense that the book is written more for his friends and colleagues than for the general reader. He is so careful to be so nice about everyone he works with or meets with, but there is never an explanation or justification for what diplomats do, how embassies function and why it matters. Ironically there is a rather self-satisfied air to the book whenever he addresses any aspect of the diplomatic service, where everyone is very clever and terribly hard working and efficient.

Is this worth reading? There are certainly much better books on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, "Losing Small Wars" and the incomparable "Imperial Life in the Emerald City", for example. It is interesting for the (frequently amusing) sidelight it shines on the diplomatic life and efforts in a war zone, but there was the potential for a much better book than this.


Devolo 1408 dLAN 200 AV Wireless-N HomePlug Adapter (discontinued by manufacturer)
Devolo 1408 dLAN 200 AV Wireless-N HomePlug Adapter (discontinued by manufacturer)

5.0 out of 5 stars Very pleased, 22 Dec 2011
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This is amazingly easy to use. It really is as simple as plugging it in and it works.

I wanted to have network in a cabin which was too far from the house for wifi and this made it easy.

Highly recommended.


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