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Simon C McCrum (Jakarta, Indonesia)

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Encore Provence
Encore Provence
by Peter Mayle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mayle is back!, 24 Aug. 2000
This review is from: Encore Provence (Paperback)
After a ten year hiatus Peter Mayle is back and writing about life in his beloved Provence. His first two books cuased such a stir in the UK and inspired a massive tourism surge to Provence that Mayle both revered and hated.
This latest book, which to my mind is probably the best of the three, seems to tread carefully as though fully aware of what his words might bring to his adopted home.
Mayle creates an idyllic picture of life abroad, clearly thoroughly enjoys all his research into fine foods and wines (who wouldn't!). His pleasure and contentment seep from the pages making this book very easy and very delightful to read.


The War Of The Rats
The War Of The Rats
by David L. Robbins
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Well researched and gripping, 8 Aug. 2000
This review is from: The War Of The Rats (Paperback)
The novel tells the story of two crack snipers from either side hunting each other in the ruins of Stalingrad. The novel is based around a true story which has been documented in a number of heavy weight books on the Siege of Stalingrad.
The author has done his homework and his description of the hell that was Stalingrad is believable and very shocking. I found his characters well formed and convincing, this book is hard to put down.
I do have one gripe and it is to do with the inevitable 'love interest'. I felt it was totally unnecessary and out of place with the story. The author claims the female sniper Tania is based on a real person but the only references to her I have been able to dredge up are in relation to this book and to the film based on the book that is due out at the end of 2000. I am sure Mr Robbins is correct but I found this part of the book totally implausible and a bit irritating. I'm afraid it distracted from my overall enjoyment of what is a very exciting, riveting, and otherwise historically accurate thriller.


On the Spine of Italy: A Year in the Abbruzzi
On the Spine of Italy: A Year in the Abbruzzi
by Harry Clifton
Edition: Paperback

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rather different story of expats living in Italy, 7 Aug. 2000
This book is very far removed from the plethora of stories out there of living the good life abroad, happy natives, great food, lovely weather, dodgy plumbing (but in a curiously humorous way) etc etc.
The author and his wife spent a year in a tiny parish house in a very poor village high in the Abruzzi mountains. Little heat, not much food, pretty hostile villagers and a way of life filled with hardship.
This is quite a bleak, desolute book, but the author's prose is delightful. He has a keen eye for the world around him and finds much to enjoy despite the rather grim surroundings.
If you want to know what life is really like in rural Italy this is the book to read.


Ill Met By Moonlight (Cassell Military Paperbacks)
Ill Met By Moonlight (Cassell Military Paperbacks)
by W. Stanley Moss
Edition: Paperback

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An incredible story, 1 Aug. 2000
A fascinating account of one of the most peculiar events of the last World War. Two British officers along with their amazing Cretan allies kidnapped the head of the German Occupation Forces, General Keipe, and smuggled him off the island into captivity.
This is real Boys Own stuff, the two officers were only 21 and 22 at the time and the whole story reads like some jolly jape on a seaside holiday!
The book is taken from the diary that Moss kept at the time, with some explanatory notes later added. The style of the writing is therefore slightly stilted but I think it adds to the atmosphere.


Playing the Moldovans at Tennis
Playing the Moldovans at Tennis
by Tony Hawks
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Damn Funny, 27 July 2000
I loved 'Round Ireland' and so rushed to get this book when it came out. I am not sure it is as good as his first, but it is still an extremely funny, endearing and delightful read which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Terry, er Tony Hawks comes across as great fun, and I am looking forward to his next drunken bet, though not sure how it could possibly get any more bizarre than this one!


C.Q.B. (Close Quarter Battle)
C.Q.B. (Close Quarter Battle)
by Mike Curtis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good, exciting read., 27 July 2000
Another book to add to the growing collection of bio's by ex-SAS soldiers. However, this does rank as one of the better ones.
It starts in the Falklands, moves to Selection, the jungle, the Gulf and then Bosnia. Curtis is clearly a fantastic soldier who does well a job that he loves.
Again what leaps out of the pages is how dedicated these troops are, how bloody tough they are, and how glad I am that they are on our side!
Good luck Mike in your new job!


The Gabriel Club
The Gabriel Club
by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Intense, 27 July 2000
This review is from: The Gabriel Club (Paperback)
This book is serious, intense, deep and dark. I found it quite disturbing at times and hard to read, but yet I couldn't put it down.
A story of love, hatred, betrayal, lost youth, shadows and demons. I was particularly moved by the futility of the Club's dissention against the regime, it was so utterly hopeless, and yet it was the only thing that mattered in their lives.
I know very little about this period of East Bloc Europe, but I imagine that this book portrays a very accurate picture of the hopelessness of it all.


Black Hawk Down
Black Hawk Down
by Mark Bowden
Edition: Paperback

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely gripping, 27 July 2000
This review is from: Black Hawk Down (Paperback)
This is a very well researched, detailed, blow by blow (or should that be bullet by bullet) account of a Special Forces operation in Mogadishu that goes pretty horribly wrong.
It makes for a very exciting, tense read and this book is very hard to put down. The Special Forces make a lot of mistakes but you cannot fault their bravery, tenacity and toughness. The same could also be said of the Somailian rag-tag army, they certainly lack no courage either and very nearly brought off an amazing coup against America's elite soldiers.


A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople - From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube
A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople - From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube
by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Edition: Paperback

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, a must read..........., 28 Jun. 2000
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This is the first book of two describing a 1,200 mile walk from Holland to Constantinople undertaken in 1934 when the author was 18 years old. The book was written some forty years later, events and people recalled from memory and notes in a diary.
The language of this book is pure poetry, just a delight to read. The author beautifully describes amazing countryside, castles, rivers, fascinating and incredibly generous people and a way of life in parts of Europe that were forever destroyed by the war. He walked through Germany during the time that Nazism was in the ascendancy, giving hope and optimism to a nation that had long been on its knees. It is fascinating to read about the excitement that Nazism brought to Germany in 1934 with the knowledge of the destruction and horror that it brought to the World just a few short years later.
The author met the most amazing people, a lot through good luck and fortune, but a lot to do with the fact that the author comes across as a delightful companion; polite, intelligent and with a young man's enthusiasm for life and living.
I can't wait to read the second part, 'Between the Woods and the Water'.


Snow Falling on Cedars
Snow Falling on Cedars
by David Guterson
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 28 Jun. 2000
This review is from: Snow Falling on Cedars (Paperback)
I read very few novels but I was tempted into this one by a number of my friends who have read and enjoyed it.
This is a story ostensibly about a murder, but it is also a story about life in a small fishing community in NW America, about racism between different cultures within that community and about love that cannot be. The writing is fabulous, the cold, the smell of the woods and the sea leapt from the pages and I was very caught up in the atmosphere of the place.
I thought the way the murder was resolved was a little fanciful, though it did not detract from my immense enjoyment of the book. Highly recommended.


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