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Ms. K. Hall (London)
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Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel
Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel
by Peter L. Winkler
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Neither here nor there, 31 Dec. 2011
This book is a cut above a trashy celebrity biography but it didn't make me like/dislike Dennis Hopper any more or less than I did before I read this book. Not sure if that's good or bad but it's certainly not a book I'm going to remember.

The most annoying thing about this book, however, is the fact that it was not proofread with any sort of attention. Quote marks were misused or dropped so you weren't sure who was saying what or where the quote ended and the author began again; words like to, of, the, were often missing; apostrophes were in the wrong place; words were misspelled - I reckon there was a mistake of some sort on every other page. Why should anyone buy a book that the publisher can't even be bothered to read properly?
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 4, 2012 5:00 PM BST


One Day
One Day
by David Nicholls
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.84

22 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Moaning Minnie, 12 Oct. 2010
This review is from: One Day (Paperback)
I've read a bunch of reviews for this book and they all go on about how great it is. I'm not sure I've read the same book because I wouldn't recommend this book at all. I didn't find the characters likeable in any way (the woman - dear GOD she was irritating and constantly constantly moaning about something). I liked the premise of the novel - take the same day year after year and see where your characters are - I guess I just didn't care where the characters were.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2010 1:19 PM GMT


A View From The Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin
A View From The Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin
by Chris Mullin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must try harder, 18 Aug. 2010
I'm sure that was written on Chris Mullin's school report at some point. As a lot of the other reviews mention, it is very frustrating that he hasn't tried harder as an MP. Or developed some sort of a spine. There were numerous times during my reading of this book that I screamed out 'Oh for God's sake, stop being such a wuss'. I tend to lose patience with people who think it's a virtue to eschew modern technology (and apparently irons as he's always in a crumpled suit) - Mullin refused a mobile phone and pager, even when he was in government. That bit him on the ass when he missed a phone call that could have moved him up in government.
He really did seem to have mixed emotions about being in government and he was honest about it - he wanted to be, then when he realised that he wasn't going to be given a juicy gig right off the bat, he realised that he had more power as a back bencher. That's fine, I respected him when he said he wanted out because he felt he could do more outside government, but then he started to make sounds and drop hints to everyone and their brother that he wanted back in 'if it were more substantial'. And he said himself that if he hadn't told so many people that he was going to vote against the Iraq war, he would have voted for it at the end of the day. There was a big section of him ringing round loads of people taking the temperature as to whether he could worm out of his decision without losing too much face - so him being seen as a hero for his principles doesn't ring quite true, he'd backed himself into a corner. But the book did hold my attention through the whole thing. It also made me realise more than ever that the government really doesn't know what it's doing most of the time.


Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong
by John Wilcockson
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new, 16 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Lance Armstrong (Hardcover)
I am looking forward to the day when someone writes a real biography about Lance Armstrong - this day has not come with John Wilcockson's book. I've read Lance's two autobiographies, Life on the Postal Bus, 23 Days in July, Chasing Lance, etc etc, and there's nothing in this book that I hadn't read already. I'm not looking for a Lance-bashing book - that's as unhelpful as a book written by a Lance fanatic. But I long for the day that a biographer gets the chance to write objectively about Armstrong and actually interview a lot of the key players in his life - former teammates, former rivals (why doesn't anyone ever talk with Jan Ullrich about his rivalry with Armstrong?), people who love him, people who've crossed him and have paid the price, those who work for LiveStrong, etc.
Lance Armstrong is a great champion and a great philanthropist - he's also a complex character and someone who is a lightening rod for extreme opinion. He deserves a biography that honestly investigates all of these sides of him - and so do cycling fans.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 8, 2010 10:30 AM BST


Old Gods Almost Dead: The 40-year Odyssey of the "Rolling Stones"
Old Gods Almost Dead: The 40-year Odyssey of the "Rolling Stones"
by Stephen Davis
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Skating over the surface, 14 Dec. 2008
You have 600 pages and a history as rich and outrageous as that of the Rolling Stones and you write a book that, quite simply, is not actually very interesting. Maybe it's because there's just too much material, too many years, how is he going to put it all into one book? Well, Davis could have really used a sympathetic editor - there are any number of times the same sentences or explanations are offered more than once (I counted three times that he informed us that Fred Sessler got his pharmaceutical grade cocaine from Switzerland, each time as if this were the first time he was mentioned).

He could also have cut out all thesaurus-busting descriptions of each and every song on every Stones album (again, there's a lot of repeating from when they rehearsed it to the final cuts). 'A whooshing Mellotron slipstream soared over fast drumming and percussion, and Mick's singing echoed the exalted isolation of freezing red deserts and the cold light of distant stars. An oscillating theremin sent faint signals from Aldabaran, clearing Mick's ship for a landing.' Honest to God, he really wrote that. You find yourself skipping lots of pages as soon as you realise a new album is about to be deconstructed.

But some of the most harrowing things to happen - including the repeated rape of Anita Pallenberg in a Jamaican gaol cell - are glossed over. He says it matter of factly and then says 'Keith was mad as hell'. I should think there are a lot of other emotions that Keith felt about it - not to mention how Anita dealt with it! But then he goes skipping off to talk about some tour rehearsals. I suppose we should be thankful that he doesn't try to describe the episode like he does the music. It just seems like he's skating over the surface all the time, treating everything with the same amount of importance so nothing seems important.

Oh, and he actually said that the Second World War started in 1940. Read Hammer of the Gods, it's much better.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 27, 2010 10:51 AM BST


Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption
Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption
by Christopher Kennedy Lawford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.60

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I'm saying nothing ..., 24 Nov. 2008
I read a lot of biographies, autobiographies and memoirs and, for me, the best books are those where you get a sense of time and place and you get under the skin of the person, be they famous or not. With that in mind, this is not a good autobiography. The author skips around so much, you really have no idea how old he is half the time or when he's writing about or where he is in the world - JFK gets assassinated, a couple pages later JFK is taking all the kids on his golf cart to the Hyannis Port candy shop. This would all be bearable if there were a reason for saying all that, but I couldn't find one. Why did Christopher Lawford take all those drugs? Who knows. If he does, he's not really telling us - other than growing up in a famous wealthy family is really tough work - but if he got to the root of his addictions, he's keeping it to himself.
There are so many opportunities to say something interesting: case in point - he goes to Cuba for a screening with Castro of the film 13 Days about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Wow, what does Fidel say to him? What was it like to be in Cuba? How did he get permission to go to Cuba with the US embargo? But no, he doesn't really say much, other than that he sat at the dictator's right hand during the film. The New Age Hallmark-card platitudes at the end of the book ('the things I've learned') are absolutely vomit-inducing. Shame.
The thing that made me laugh, however, was when he was talking about his grandfather, Joe Kennedy, and said that in his house there was a wall of pictures of him with all the great and the good - the King and Queen of England, Disraeli, ... wait, Disraeli!?! Considering that Disraeli died 7 years before Joseph Kennedy was born makes this nothing short of miraculous!!! God, I hate books where the editor or proofreader doesn't pick up howlers like that. Honestly, don't bother with this book.


The Sixties Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic History Of A Disorderly Decade
The Sixties Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic History Of A Disorderly Decade
by Gerard DeGroot
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Springboard, 16 Sept. 2008
deGroot's kaleidoscope approach is really interesting and one of the reasons I picked up this book. He takes different aspects of the 60s, loosely groups them together and then writes about particular events/people/subjects in short essays, so there's no straight chronological history writing as such.

He picks up on things that are perhaps less explored in other histories but strangely makes a few glaring omissions, in particular the Manson murders at the end of the decade. This is one of the pivotal events, from the point of view of the 60s hippie idyll going horribly wrong and ushering in a much darker time in the 70s. He could have certainly put it in after his essay about Altamont. Curious as to why he didn't.

deGroot writes angrily about the shortcomings of the people in the 60s - and he finds plenty. When he writes about the free love and drugs culture starting out as a means of true political protest and then becoming not a means to an end but the end itself, he has very interesting and valid points, but they are often written with what seems like a chip on his shoulder.

One extremely annoying thing about this book is when he is writing about the commercialisation of Che Guevara and he spikily writes about Ben & Jerry naming an ice cream after him - Cherry Guevara. Um, no, that would be Cherry Garcia, after the leader of the Grateful Dead. Two totally different people. Just puts the seed of doubt in my mind - what else did he get wrong that I wouldn't know about? And why didn't an editor or fact-checker pick that up?

It's a good book to introduce you to aspects of the 60s that are perhaps being overlooked that you might want to research yourself elsewhere.


The Dark Side of Camelot
The Dark Side of Camelot
by Seymour Hersh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shag-a-thon, 5 Aug. 2008
How we weren't all blown to smithereens while JFK, RFK, and Teddy were skinny-dipping in the White House pool with Fiddle and Faddle and assorted other White House dollybirds, East European prostitutes and assorted starlets is, quite simply, a miracle. Although the amount of shagging that went on every single day is truly astounding, what is really disturbing is the arrogance that the brothers had in thinking that they knew everything about foreign policy (they didn't...) and therefore just went over the heads or behind the backs of anyone with any knowledge at all and did deals with the Russians and the mob to get what they wanted. And my God did they do some dodgy deals ... No one comes off looking very good after reading this book. Is it all true? Who knows. That's the thing. You just can't be sure. I think reading this in conjunction with other books about the Kennedy presidency is the only way to get the whole picture.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 31, 2013 4:36 AM GMT


All that Glitters
All that Glitters
by Pearl Lowe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Can't someone help this woman?, 1 May 2008
This review is from: All that Glitters (Paperback)
I really don't know why people are giving this book 5-stars. It's not a classic. I don't actually feel that Pearl got to the bottom of her addiction and what drove her to it. She also didn't delve too much into the ramifications of her addiction on her children, which is who I really feel sorry for. She keeps going on about how she loves them more than anything and loves spending all her time with them, but the next paragraph she's saying she couldn't cope and would spiral back into a smack/coke haze. I'm sure she loves her children but they seem to be incidental to the story or to her addiction. Her partner, however, does not come off all that good in this. He clearly cannot comprehend the meaning of her addiction - he's either too ill-equipped to understand it (he doesn't come across as the sharpest tool in the box) or puts his own 'fun' before Pearl's health. She was put in a psychiatric ward, finally gets clean of heroin and stays clean for six months and then he throws her a birthday party at Soho House with all her friends who use ... to anyone with half a brain that would seem like a really bad idea. No wonder she snorts half of London's supply up that night. But he obviously never received counselling himself - which surely he and their children needed so they could support her in the right way in her battle against her addictions - and work through some of the damage that her addiction brought on the family. And having Pete Doherty around the house while being clean (and extolling the joy of making roast dinners) doesn't seem the brightest idea. A couple paragraphs on from that ... another coke binge that lasted six months. I really hope she stays clean although with friends like that, you have to wonder. But is the book really honest? Only in that she admits what she's done, but she never goes any further than the surface of it all.


Lords and Liars: The Inside Story of the Sotheby's-Christie's Conspiracy
Lords and Liars: The Inside Story of the Sotheby's-Christie's Conspiracy
by Christopher Mason
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pruf reeder? What's that?, 21 Feb. 2008
I can hardly talk about the content of this book because the proofreading was so abysmal that it completely put me off the book. For heaven's sake, if book publishers can't even be bothered to spell words right, why should I bother spending good money on their product? It's like finding rotten fruit after the first layer in a strawberry punnet - you feel cheated!

With regards to the content, it was okay - it didn't go as indepth as I would have liked into the workings of either of the auction houses nor did it capture the excitement of some of the biggest auctions of the past 20 years, which would have added to the drama, I think.


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