Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Fitbit
Profile for Pete > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Pete
Top Reviewer Ranking: 259,252
Helpful Votes: 194

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Pete

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3
pixel
Guantánamo Diary
Guantánamo Diary
by Mohamedou Ould Slahi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad yet enlightening, 18 April 2015
This review is from: Guantánamo Diary (Hardcover)
This is a remarkable book, all the more so because of the author's presumed current continued incarceration. However, what sticks with me most is not the horrific descriptions of torture nor the sheer injustice of Slahi's situation, but the sadness of it all. This book tells the story of what happens when a government falls into a trap of sunk investments, and finds itself having justified all manner of terrible means for the promise of the ends, only to find that those ends were invalid. When you resort to breaking international law to get your man, you'd better make damned sure that you have got the right man. If you haven't, you find yourself in a ridiculous stalemate situation whereby releasing the innocent captive is now more dangerous than any threat they posed in the first place.

However, far from being a sob story, what Slahi succeeds in doing is bringing the inescapable humanity out. Guards who have been trained to disassociate from their 'sub human' prisoners slip up and develop profound friendships. Interrogators whose mission it is to try and trick their victims end up confessing their own niggling doubts in the validity of their military system. Slahi mercilessly exposes the accidential cracks where humanity slips through in a system which prides itself on complete lack of empathy, and shows that even in the darkest pit a flicker of humanity cannot be completely extinguished. You also come away from the book feeling an unshakable sense that the US military is somewhat infantile and childish in its operations.

As the editor notes, some of the book is arguably more engaging than other parts, but all of it is perfectly readable. That it was written by a man who learned English simply by listening to the curses and interrogations of his captors is quite extraordinary. The redacted components are sad, but perhaps inevitable, however I found that after a chapter or so my brain started to fill them in automatically. There are very obvious redactions that follow consistent patterns (mostly do to with hiding the somewhat obvious fact that female guards and interrogators exist in the US military), and once you learn the patterns, you can just slot the right words back in.

I would strongly recommend that people read this book, both as a duty to humanity, but also as a sage warning to not ever hope that the ends will justify the means.


Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro Headphones - 32 Ohm
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro Headphones - 32 Ohm
Price: £116.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent headphones., 22 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Excellent pair of headphones, well worth the money. From first listen you can hear greater clarity in tracks, and although this extra clarity obviously isn't life-changing (there is, after all, only so much that a pair of headphones can achieve!), it's nonetheless obviously there and pleasing to hear. I find them very comfortable to wear, and my devices can power them easily. The lack of spill is particularly impressive: when you have them on, there is almost no sound leakage even at quite high volumes. They feel 'solid' in construction, which is also good.


Spinfluence: The Hardcore Propaganda Manual For Controlling The Masses ...
Spinfluence: The Hardcore Propaganda Manual For Controlling The Masses ...
by Nick McFarlane
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quirky mix of pop-art and psyops, 26 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What an odd little book. Half picture book artwork, half Machiavellian sound-bites, with liberal quoting from other sources and the odd bit of poetry thrown in for good measure, you are never quite sure who the target audience is. It's also extremely difficult to work out which bits are parody and which bits are serious, as its black humour constantly treads a tightrope of between farce and factual issues. Superficially, it comes across as a lot of graphic design flowcharts and Andy Warhol pop-art, but the underpinning messages in the words and the quotes carry weight themselves. So it leaves you unsure exactly what to take away from the book. Maybe that's part of the intention.

I get the impression that this is a summary book rather than a detailed exploration in its own right. It reads like the summation of a life of studying other people's literature and teachings, and then picking out the highlights to form a highly concise overview. That overview is presented both in prose and in picture, so you have to resist the temptation to just glance over the diagrams, as they have a lot of that summary within them. It's all great fun, and a pretty easy read, but I can't help but wonder if the complete lack of fleshing out makes it a bit of a boot-camp headache. There are hundreds of ideas and tit-bits of information presented in a very compact and hard-hitting manner.

One thing that I don't like is the words and sections of text which are blacked out a-la censorship and redaction. Whilst I'm sure this adds to the ironic nature of the book and even perhaps adds to its quirky charm, I just found it irritating wasting time trying to work out what the words were. It interrupts your attention and detracts from the book's otherwise interesting messages.


Royal Navy Way of Leadership
Royal Navy Way of Leadership
by Andrew St George
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and unusual book, quite a gem., 22 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a cracking read, but it is a hash of people's quotes and opinions, so you have to consider that when you read it. I've found some very astute insights into the deep underpinning ethos of both Naval and Marine cultures, alongside brief touches onto the more practical aspects such as structuring of orders etc. However it's not a 'complete' book by any means, so you won't find all the answers in it. But I don't think such a book would be possible, so this book to me achieves its goal: it distils much of the wisdom from hundreds of military individuals of all ranks and roles, and presents that to you in a concise and clear format. It's then up to you to wrestle with that to take what you want and develop your own style and approaches from it. For me, the introduction and quotes are the real gems in this book.


Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness
Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness
by Jim Keith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting if you are into this kind of stuff ... but take it all with a pinch of salt, 22 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Let's be clear, this is a conspiracy theory book. If you like that, great; if you don't, jog on! The book is written with every fact and figure seemingly cited and impossible to refute, but when you delve into it, a lot of those citations materialise as unpublished and anecdotal sources, tall tales, first-person testimony, and quotations from people who are anonymous; of course, this is inevitable in a book purporting that the wool is being pulled over our eyes. I enjoyed reading it, but I wouldn't say that I was swayed by the evidence presented. That may therefore mean that I'm an enslaved sheep blindly marching to the drum of the New World Order ... or it may not. Either way is impossible to know for sure, so read it with a pinch of salt, enjoy what you can, and make up your own mind. But don't expect to be using this as a reference source. I was a little disappointed, as I was hoping for something a bit more Chompsy or Bernays in nature, looking at more subtle implementations of mass control.


Policing Public Disorder: Theory and Practice
Policing Public Disorder: Theory and Practice
by David Waddington
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good coverage, but academic in tone., 22 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A good, thorough, and reasonably unbiased look at the issues surrounding public order policing both in the UK and internationally. The book uses a variety of case studies to compare and contrast different approaches and how they lead to positive and negative conclusions. It should be noted that this is quite an academically inclined book, so is not a light coffee-table read, and personally I found it a little verbose at times because of that. However, the real value comes from how it presents a wide variety of different theoretical and practical approaches in a very fair manner. You'll reach the conclusion like I did that really this is a very complex area of social policy, and it is unrealistic to expect a one-size-fits-all model for the policing of situations with the potential to become riots. In a way that is a shame, as whilst the book does make recommendations for policy implementations, you still feel that we are very much at the whim of the melting pot of life's influencing factors. There are also some very astute observations, especially about how the drive to 'contain' protest for safety and protection purposes has ironically led to frustration from protesters that their very protest is being rendered ineffective.


Epic Win For Anonymous
Epic Win For Anonymous
by Cole Stryker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating review of the culture of the web, 22 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Epic Win For Anonymous (Hardcover)
This is definitely one of the most fascinating books I have read in many years, and I learned a huge amount from this book. Although I work in an Internet and web career, I have always felt that I have missed out on some of the more back-street aspects of the social web. Facebook and LinkedIn are all very nice, but they feel manufactured. This book exposes that organic and raw side of the social Internet.

I think this book can best be described as a biography of Internet culture, and in that respect it is exceptionally exhaustive, going right back to The Well and before. It charts the development of social activity on the Internet from long before it became mainstream, alongside a strong focus on the development of memes. Even with such exhaustive coverage, it barely scratches the surface of all that is out there I suspect.

The use of 4chan as a framework for presenting this culture is interesting, and provides a central theme to the book. Without as such, I suspect it would be impossible to draw the sprawling collective of ideas together. However this is not just a book about 4chan, and merely uses 4chan as a case study. As others have commented, the actual coverage of "Anonymous" is relegated to a final chapter, but to me that seems necessary, as the background is of such critical importance. Trying to appreciate Anonymous without understanding its history and influences would be doomed to failure.

It is important to note that this book has received many negative reviews, but I suspect those are people objecting to the very nature and concept of the book rather than the content. This is not surprising since much of this culture being explored prides itself on being covert and non-mainstream; a biography akin to a Lonely Planet Guide must be an abhorrence. So objections that the book is "full of mistakes and lies" I think reflects more on the displeasure of the critic rather than the standard of the author's writing. I found the writing style easy and entertaining. For those who are inquisitive, I noticed that many of the negative reviewers had only one or two other reviews, often for a particular seemingly unrelated t-shirt with a picture of wolves and the moon on it. An explanation is found within the book as it turns out.

But despite the fears, I don't think that this book will result in a flood of "newfags" to 4chan's boards, at least not if the reader digests the book properly. Far from coming away from this book feeling that I understood 4chan and Anonymous, I came away with a huge respect for a culture which I now admire without claiming to fully understand; to claim to understand it would be arrogant and ignorant. I also came away with renewed fascination in mass-culture and the intrinsic social interest of huge groups of otherwise unconnected people.


The Joy of Sin: The Psychology of the Seven Deadly Sins
The Joy of Sin: The Psychology of the Seven Deadly Sins
by Simon Laham
Edition: Paperback

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun read, if slightly constrained by the title, 5 Jun. 2012
First things first, this is not a book about hedonism or sex. Although the title talks of joy, this is more a attempt to present some interesting behavioural psychology using a quirky framework. So if you're looking for smut or slut, this is not the book for you!

What the book does do is attempt to take the famous "7 deadly sins", and examine them from a psychological point of view rather than a moral one. Many of the sins in question (anger, for example) are not inherently wicked, but simply are emotions that have positive and negative aspects. The author looks to explore some of those more positive aspects, especially those which are interesting.

This is a fairly light read, and I finished the book quickly. The research is presented in a simplistic fashion, but that is good as it helps to avoid getting too bogged down in detail. This is a coffee table book rather than an in-depth study aid, although there are still references and bibliography for further reading if you should wish. After a while you notice that there is a constant phrasing along the lines of: "So they thought it might happen. Did it happen? That's exactly what happened". It can get a little irritating after a while to have these constant affirmative set ups, and I've never come across a writing style that uses it before (for good reason I would now argue!)

My only worry with this book is that it's not especially profound or revelatory. Granted it is intended more as a light read, but I do wonder if I will forget everything in it after a couple of weeks.


The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life makes it Hard to be Happy
The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life makes it Hard to be Happy
by Michael Foley
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful if a little demoralising, 6 May 2012
After reading some of the truly impassioned return comments, I have slight reservations about writing my own review! However I hope that the 4 stars I have given will appease as a sacrifice to the god of Foley, as this man clearly has fans (coverts?!)

I generally go for psychology as opposed to philosophy, and although this book is perhaps somewhere in the middle, I did find it refreshing to read an author who poses questions without feeling a need to answer them. I'm not sure I would go as far as "Achingly funny ... vastly entertaining" (Daily Mail) or "[laugh] harder than you've laughed at a book of pop philosophy" (Guardian), but as I confessed this is a new genre to me so perhaps other pop philosophy books are somewhat dull. The author writes with the wise opinion of someone who has a streak of observational comedian in him, and does indeed spot out some of the more silly rituals of modern life. But I'm not sure any more so than a stand-up such as Peter Kay. It's entertaining, but not "vastly" so.

The book is split into 5 parts with titles such as "The Problems" and "The Strategies", but I have to say I didn't notice considerable difference between one part and the next. It has the feel of a plot-line (if such a thing is possible in a non-fiction book), but each chapter reads somewhat like the last, and I wouldn't say that it is as defined as a problems -> sources -> solutions approach.

As others have commented, Foley's style can sometimes come across as a little nostalgic. As I read the book I found myself walking a tightrope of opinion between believing him to be a wise-seer and a moaning-old-man. It's subjective to each person I expect, but I found Foley's constant praise of the past and criticism of the present and future a little demoralising. Tremendous leaps forward in living standards (clean water, sanitation, communication) are utterly ignored in favour of a rather rose-tinted view of how much better things were 'back then'. Unfortunately the definition of 'back then' is never really explained! And I find it very hard to believe that people in the middle ages found their lives to be a sea of bliss as they starved and died from bubonic plague.

So read this book if you want a critical look at society and some of its more absurd and pointless aspirations. But don't be surprised if you come away a little disillusioned about where to go forward from there.


Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature
Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature
by Mark Earls
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Glad to get to the end!, 29 Mar. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is probably the first book I have read when I was glad to stop reading it. Let me clarify that:

I read books like this during my lunch at work, as it provides a welcome break from the office and a chance to muse over some psychology and philosophy points that I invariably don't live out in my life. To that end, I like a book which stimulates and challenges my thinking, but also provides a good sense of direction. I like to pick up little tit bits to ponder in the afternoon.

The problem with this book is that it is not at all fun to read. It's the reading equivalent of that shaky-hand wire game, and you have to constantly concentrate and keep check of yourself. I do think the topic being discussed is important and highly relevant. Critical even. But I found myself constantly hoping that the next page would be a good place to stop for the day, and that meant that it took the best part of 3 months to read this book, by which time I had forgotten most of the points made at the start. It's also fairly heavy on the marketing lingo at times, so be prepared to puzzle over what "MVC" and "MIC" are?

My core criticism of the book is that it doesn't seem to really know where it is going. It builds and builds and builds like there is going to be some kind of epiphany moment brought on by all the countless examples and case studies. But you never really reach that summit, and so rather than providing answers it just poses more and more questions. You leave feeling intellectually battered and bruised, and looking forward to going back to your 'real world', even though you have now been convinced that it is a false and useless real world. The crux of this book teaches you one thing: people are relational and social; businesses have misunderstood (or refused to accept) that. But it doesn't really provide much in the way of direction for what to do about this. The examples of success given are all there, but you feel they don't really apply--can't be applied?--to your own situation.

One final point, the book is completely inaccurately subtitled. A better subtitle would be "Why you will rarely change mass behaviour because you don't understand our true nature". It doesn't tell you how to do it; it just points out that most people are not doing so. Scratch that, it does tell you how to do it. Somewhere. But I can't remember what the answer was...
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 1, 2012 8:17 PM BST


Page: 1 | 2 | 3