Shop now Shop now Shop now Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now
Profile for Dr. R. Brandon > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Dr. R. Brandon
Top Reviewer Ranking: 861
Helpful Votes: 2174

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Dr. R. Brandon (England)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Curtain Call
Curtain Call
by Anthony Quinn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.43

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Most Excellent and Enjoyable Read, 19 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Curtain Call (Hardcover)
This is a really enjoyable and deeply satisfying book. It is, perhaps, the most sophisticated in terms of construction of Anthony Quinn’s books so far. It involves the stories of three different groups of people living in late 1930s London whose lives slowly overlap and collide. Tension is maintained throughout the book as a serial killer is on the loose and not very distant from our groups of characters. Quinn introduces several different themes into his story; the underground gay community and police entrapment as an ever present threat, the theatre world and the life of a newspaper theatre critic (something of which Quinn himself has expert knowledge and based on the critic and diarist James Agate), the seedy club life of London and at the other end of the scale the circle of a successful society portrait painter.
The author has a lucid writing style and brilliant characterisation, and as always in Quinn’s novels, a very graphic topographical element so that you can track the protagonists in your mind’s eye very easily. The plot line is excellent and the frequent scene changes capture your attention and move you through the book at a pace. The thrilling denouement is most satisfying and believable and in no way an anti-climax.
Very highly recommended and an excellent and most enjoyable read.


Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists
Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists
by David Aaronovitch
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Highly Intellectual, Funny, Book That Addresses Serious Political Questions, 10 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Phew! This is a very powerful book that contains a number of interconnecting themes. The story of Aaronovitch and his family, and of British and European Communism, is related with a candour that is, at times, quite breathtaking.
The book is divided into three parts. The first is the ‘everyday story’ of a family of devout British Communists, their friends, their work, and their everyday routines. A very neat history. There follows a relatively short second section illustrating how this self-satisfied, neat, world slowly disintegrated with the death of Stalin, the invasion of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and the revelations of the East German Stasi. Disintegration in the Aaronovitch family was helped along by father Sam’s failure to secure a top job in the British Communist hierarchy. There then follows the third section with what Aaronovitch refers to as ‘telling the real story’.
The ‘real story’ is very powerful and reveals not only duplicitous and treacherous behaviour in a Party that young David had thought to be trustworthy, but adulterous behaviour in his own family. All of which had a very deleterious effect upon the family and David’s siblings but even lead to extended psychoanalytical sessions for David himself. During this section Aaronovitch deals not only with the traumas taking place in the family but also describes in detail the extensive show trials taking place in Eastern Europe and the mental processes involved in trying to accommodate and justify these patently unjustifiable events. Many of the innocent victims of the trials were known personally to British Communists who were still prepared to believe in their guilt. The tortured political rhetoric of Professor Hobsbawm and other academics is dealt with at length.
I found the first section ‘quaint’, and perhaps the related ‘yobbish’ behaviour of the teenage Aaronovitch somewhat annoying, as is probably intended. However, later sections move on to a whole new level of seriousness and are very well argued and very thought provoking. A highly intellectual book of very considerable merit, often very funny, that will appeal to all interested in serious political questions.


Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5-inch Tablet(White) - (ARM Exynos 5 Octa-Core 1.9GHz, 3GB RAM, 16GB Storage, Wi-Fi, Android 4.4)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5-inch Tablet(White) - (ARM Exynos 5 Octa-Core 1.9GHz, 3GB RAM, 16GB Storage, Wi-Fi, Android 4.4)
Offered by redhatelectronics
Price: £463.52

5.0 out of 5 stars A Sheer Delight to Use, 1 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A thing of beauty and lovely to use. Absolutely exceeded my highest expectation. The inbuilt sat-nav is also excellent for those who do not have a device built into their car. Very fast and easy to use, a sheer delight. I wish I could think of a reason to buy another one.


The Streets
The Streets
by Anthony Quinn
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Victorian Social Surveys Made Exciting and Entertaining, 1 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Streets (Hardcover)
A very enjoyable book with an interesting plot line and really quite topographical as we have come to expect from Anthony Quinn. The story is set in Somers Town, adjacent to St Pancras Station, around 1882 prior to the extensive re-development of the area. It was interesting for someone who knows the place to read how the streets of Somers Town used to resound to the crush of activity, the commerce in every type of shoddy ware to sustain life, and the dreadful multi-occupancy of the previously select Georgian terraces. The plot has been extensively outlined in other reviews, suffice to say it concerns the adventures of a troubled young man employed by a newspaper conducting a social survey of Somers Town to be published weekly, to the delight and horror of the public, as ‘The Labouring Classes of London’. The author has acknowledged his debt to Henry Mayhew’s classic, ‘London Labour and the London Poor’ and a similar renowned survey by Charles Booth, thus the descriptions of appalling living conditions, and the constant daily struggle of the chronically poor to survive, ring true.
The plot line is a bit bumpy in parts, the unfolding of the scandal of the establishment landlords of the slum property is very carefully followed whilst the denouement takes place in great haste and leaves the reader somewhat mentally sprawling. Nevertheless the characters are generally believable, the scene setting quite excellent and the social issues raised as to how the condition of the poor should be relieved, always interesting.
This, the third of Anthony Quinn’s novels, maintains his excellent story-telling whilst utilising three quite different social issues. This enjoyable book renders Victorian social surveys exciting and entertaining, and is highly recommended.


The Invention of Russia: The Journey from Gorbachev's Freedom to Putin's War
The Invention of Russia: The Journey from Gorbachev's Freedom to Putin's War
by Arkady Ostrovsky
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gripping And Informative Material But Not A Good Read, 22 April 2016
I am reluctant to say that this book is badly written, but it is. This is surprising given that the author is a journalist and has studied English literature. However, the redeeming feature of the book is that it has lots of interesting information. It follows the major changes that have taken place in Russia since the death of Stalin, and reflects the important political shifts by examining the part played by key newspapers, journals and television. It can be shown that control of these media outlets and the sort of content they presented tracks the political situation in Russia remarkably well, their importance being only too clear to those making a bid for power.
Ostrovsky shows that however welcome the changed policy of Gorbachev’s ‘Perestroika’ was, the liberalisation of the media and openness inevitably lead to disaster. His policies allowed people to criticise the government and draw attention to the chronic shortages and failed services. However, Gorbachev a convinced Communist, chose to preserve the command economy that guaranteed these economic and social failures and was doomed to fail. It was Yeltsin who saw that the economy must be liberated in order to supply the everyday needs of the population and embarked on the completely mishandled policy of privatisation of state industries and the creation of oligarchs.
It was clear that after Yeltsin a strong, charismatic, authoritarian leader was required to bring some order to the wild-west economics of the country. Hence the emergence of Vladimir Putin with the help of the media oligarch Berezovsky. Putin was openly modelled on and compared to the hero of a long running television series, ‘The Seventeen Moments of Spring’. Slowly the media were brought under increasing state control.
There is a lot of interesting detail in this book, but its structure does not lead to easy access or facilitate re-reading. Also despite a lot of detail on the rise of the oligarchs and their take-over of state assets, I remain unsure of exactly how this process took place. Gripping stuff but not a good read.


Giap: The General Who Defeated America in Vietnam
Giap: The General Who Defeated America in Vietnam
by James A. Warren
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Useful Synopsis of the Vietnamese Wars, 21 Mar. 2016
Although this short book is titled ‘Giap’, it is not, in fact, a biography of this famous Vietnamese general. Rather it is a synopsis of the formation of the Vietnamese Communist Party and the wars of resistance against the French colonialists, the Japanese occupiers, and the Americans and their South Vietnamese allies. Throughout, the author examines the role of Giap and his personal contribution to the strategy of resistance, and to the subsequent aggressive war of conquest. Using publications by Giap and the limited amount of information available regarding debates within the Communist Politburo the author shows how Giap varied his approach from hit-and-run tactics, to medium set-piece battles and finally to major armoured attacks, and how these approaches were mixed or reversed depending both upon the strength of the enemy and public opinion in the homeland of the enemy. Some limited information is available regarding alternative points of view put forward by other generals such as Nguyen Chi Thanh who was on the ground commanding forces in South Vietnam. The book, by necessity, has to be an examination of the strategy of General Giap as very little is known about his private life.
Often books that examine war strategy and battle plans can become tedious but that fault is avoided in this work. The author never becomes mired in detail but supplies sufficient information for the reader to appreciate the progress and nature of the battles and campaigns but moves things along quickly. The narrative is also made more interesting by the brief summaries of the natures and approach of the changing French and American generals and politicians involved.
The strategic brilliance of Giap and the Vietnamese Communist leadership is evident but it is often forgotten that this approach to war was totally without regard to the frightful loss of life of their own forces and was often prosecuted with the widespread use of terrorism and assassination. A useful book for those interested in a brief review of the Vietnamese wars and the nature and reasons for the French and American defeats.


A Scream in Soho (British Library Crime Classics)
A Scream in Soho (British Library Crime Classics)
by John G. Brandon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cracking Detective Novel of Its Time (1940s), 15 Feb. 2016
This book was originally published in 1940 and is a cracking example of a book of its time. It is not ‘politically correct’ and refers in very disparaging terms to Germans, can easily type other national traits, concedes that women are probably unfit for certain roles and clearly believes that a person’s character can be discerned by the ‘cut of his jib’. The central character Inspector McCarthy lives and operates in Soho and as we might expect from a book of this time has a number of ‘salt of the earth’ adherents who help him in his investigations. McCarthy also appears to be a master of disguise.
The plot centres on murder and espionage in a blacked-out central London and moves along at a fast pace, there is never a dull moment. The writing style is lucid and the book divided into short snappy chapters. A good easy read for those who would like a taste of the detective novel of the 1940s. Reminiscent of Edgar Wallace. The book also contains a good introduction.


The Porcupine
The Porcupine
by Julian Barnes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping Read on a Number of Levels, 31 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Porcupine (Paperback)
This short, but very well written and constructed novel, is really quite thrilling and hard to put down. You find yourself turning the pages wanting to know the outcome of the trial of the fictional Stoyo Petkanov, deposed leader of a former Soviet satellite country. Although a work of fiction Julian Barnes has clearly based the story on the trial of Todor Zhivkov, former General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party. Many of the actions referred to, including the longevity of the rule of the leader, Zhivkov remained in power for 35 years (1954 – 1989), the early death of the Secretary for Culture who was the daughter of Zhivkov and the fact that Zhivkov was simply tried for embezzlement, are all mirrored in this novel.
I found the story particularly interesting because it raises many questions as to how former leaders of dictatorships should be treated. In this case the public prosecutor finds it extremely difficult to apply the law in a straightforward and legal manner which prevents him from dealing with obvious major crimes against the state of false arrests, curtailment of freedoms, executions etc., and, is the evidence itself that he has been given true? Also the prosecutor faces the problem that not everyone, including his wife, agrees that the trial should even take place. One is reminded of the disastrous Milosevic trial.
A fascinating story on a number of levels and a gripping read. A short beautifully constructed book is so refreshing.


The Record of an Adventurous Life
The Record of an Adventurous Life
by H M Hyndman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.04

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Word ‘Sketches’ of Early Socialist Pioneers and Others, 27 Jan. 2016
This entertaining book contains some 28 chapters on the different places visited and the different people known to Henry Mayers Hyndman (1842-1921) in the course of his interesting career as a political activist. Hyndman was the leader and a founding member of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), one of the leading Socialist societies in the early days of the Socialist movement in England. The Democratic Federation, later the SDF, was founded in 1881 and one of its earliest campaigns was in support of Irish emancipation. Hyndman, Oxford educated and financially comfortable, was a controversial Socialist leader almost from the start, and still attracts negative comment to the present day. An early rift occurred between Hyndman and Karl Marx when Hyndman published a pamphlet, ‘England for All’ explaining Socialist and Collectivist ideas and borrowing without attribution ideas that had first appeared in the work of Marx and Engels. Hyndman was outspoken and a strong-willed but nevertheless attracted many eminent characters to the SDF including William Morris, John Burns, Harry Quelch, Belfort Bax, Andeas Scheu, and the Avelings (Edward and Eleanor Marx). Inevitably splits occurred between such an opinionated set of people but in most cases reconciliation later took place, particularly with William Morris.
This book is not a history of the SDF nor a continuous narrative but a series of ‘sketches’ which include experiences in Italy, Australia and America. Hyndman met, and in many cases had long friendships, with many important people and chapters are given over to descriptions and opinion regarding Mazzini, George Meredith, Disraeli, Karl Marx, Clemenceau, William Morris, Randolph Churchill, Wilhelm Liebknect and Jean Jaures, and bywords on many others. Often the chapters leave you wanting to know more but these brief comments are interesting nevertheless.
This is a print-on-demand reprint of the original 1911 copy. The book does not contain an index or reference notes but the chapters are clearly titled and make finding your way around easy. The writing style is good if a little ‘flowery’ by modern standards (Hyndman was a prolific writer and journalist) and the book makes an interesting read for those wanting to know a little more about some of the early Socialist pioneers and leading English statesmen of the day.


Eleanor Marx: A Life
Eleanor Marx: A Life
by Rachel Holmes
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Tale of a Woman of Prodigious Talent, 15 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Eleanor Marx: A Life (Hardcover)
I enjoyed reading this interesting and weighty tome about the life of Eleanor Marx, committed international Communist and life-long campaigner for the rights of workers (men and women). I do have a few minor criticisms that prevent me from giving a full five star rating, however. I found some of the sentence construction in the early chapters annoying and had to re-read occasional sentences a second time to extract their full meaning. There are a few historical inaccuracies. For example, George Gilbert Scott did not design St Pancras Station and Annie Besant did not lead the Matchgirls Strike. Perhaps my most serious criticism, however, is that the author intrudes too often into the narrative with her own political views.
The book relates the full life of Eleanor Marx, youngest of the three surviving daughters of Karl and Jenny Marx. Eleanor turns out to be a woman of exceptional gifts and energy. She mastered English, German and French to a level of proficiency that allowed her to translate at numerous conferences for foreign speakers. Later she also mastered Yiddish when she became interested in the life of Jews in the East End of London. She undertook prodigious quantities of work for the various causes she supported. These ranged from acting as secretary and researcher for her father, to supporting various labour unions particularly the Gas Workers and General Labourers Union of Will Thorne, who she also helped with his education. Eleanor was a founder member of the Social Democratic Union (SDF) of Henry Hyndman and provided much work as party secretary and was a very able speaker and campaigner, later being in constant demand at all socialist events. Although there was a rift with Hyndman who supported nationalist rather than internationalist labour policies, Eleanor later rejoined the SDF out of pragmatic considerations and never ceased to campaign for the rights of labour.
Throughout her life Eleanor (and Engels) were keepers of the ‘flame’ of Marxism and both exerted prodigious efforts to bring the often chaotic writing of Marx into print.
Of course, as many will already appreciate, the tragedy of Eleanor’s life was her love and partnership with Dr Edward Aveling. It is hard to understand her liking for this man who was often loathed by others, a man of numerous infidelities, a spendthrift, inveterate borrower and embezzler. It is true, however, that Aveling did have a number of talents which included acting, public speaking and perhaps, most important of all, the ability to work with Eleanor on their numerous campaigns. Eleanor for her part felt sorry for Aveling, a persistent hypochondriac, and seemed always prepared to forgive his numerous transgressions until finally, just when things seemed to be going well, she was confronted with such appalling behaviour that she chose to take her own life.
An epic story of a wonderfully talented woman who, whilst never attaining the leadership role, never stopped working for others but whose own life was to finally end in tragedy. This book will particularly appeal to those interested in pioneers of the rights of ‘man’ and the early labour movement in Britain as well as the general reader.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20