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Reviews Written by
C. Salmon (south africa)
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Birdsong
Birdsong
by Sebastian Faulks
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but thoroughly compelling, 9 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Birdsong (Paperback)
It was interesting to read others reviews of this book. Some hated it, thinking the prose over-elaborate and the sex scenes ridiculous. Others loved it, seeing it as a realistic depiction of WW1. I was pretty much the latter. Some of the descriptions I found over-elaborate, some of the characters communication is overly stilted and formal which I found frustrating. Say what you mean!

That aside, the reason I loved this book is its stark and brutal depiction of war. I dont know how realistic it is, I dont know if the trauma the soldiers were exposed to was as unrelenting as the book, but no-one reviewing this book was there, and we have to rely on the writers research. At times I have no doubt trench warfare was every bit as bad as this book describes, 37 odd million died in WW1, and that figure speaks for itself. I have never read a book which describes the sheer horror and futility of war as well as this one, especially the impact of this terrible existence on the protagonists. I can only imagine how damaged the surviving soldiers were in having to readjust to normal society afterwards, mainly without adequate psychological counselling.

War to me is fascinating, that a seemingly intelligent race can create such hell for ourselves, and so carelessly cast aside millions of lives, each with their own dreams and desires. This book brought their horror alive for me, and for that I think this book is well worth reading, if only to appreciate what earlier generations had to deal with, and hopefully learn from their mistakes. its staggering that we are still fighting wars across the globe. Our atrocities fade so quickly from common consciousness, and I think it is important that these memories are not forgotten, cliched as it sounds. I am extremely thankful to be alive in 2010, and to be able to enjoy my life in peace.


When A Crocodile Eats the Sun
When A Crocodile Eats the Sun
by Peter Godwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Heart breaking, 13 Jan. 2010
As a South African I really enjoyed this book. Firstly because I spent my honeymoon in Zimbabwe in 2004. At the time my wife and I were wondering whether spending a week in Vic Falls was contributing to Mugabes dictatorial regime or providing much needed tourist income for the locals who work in the region. We decided on the latter, and had an incredible time in a wonderful place. Zimbabweans on the whole are lovely people, friendly and open. They deserve so much better. I often think about the people we met and the times we had that week. The craks were definitely showing though, and thanks to the lack of media exposure at the time, I had no idea things were as bad already at that time as detailed in this book. Shocking, and so so sad. The potential there is enormous.

I also enjoyed it because I lived abroad for a number of years, and completely empathised with the authors yearning for Africa, his passion and love for his country juxtaposed with the terrible events occurring. Lastly the problems in Zimbabwe are to a large extent mirrored in South Africa, and time will tell whether we will take their path or another one. Made it really interesting for me, so this review I guess is a completely personal perspective. I do think though that anyone would be interested in this personal and moving account of such a turbulent time in Zimbabwe.

My only criticism is at times I found the family accounts a bit tedious, but on the whole its a great book, and well worth reading.


Fortune-Teller Told ME, A: Earthbound Travels in the Far East
Fortune-Teller Told ME, A: Earthbound Travels in the Far East
by Tiziano Terzani
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound, insightful and wistful, 24 Sept. 2008
I loved this book. I found Terzani's wistful yearning for the world gone, now submerged in materialism and concrete mirroring my own sadness at watching beautiful places ruined by needless development.

At times I found the endless fortune tellers soothsaying a bit boring, but his descriptions inbetween, especially of Singapore, Malaysia and Burma were beautiful. He was insightful and profound, sometimes even quite pigheaded and judgmental, which I found very refreshing in this world of political correctness. One of the best travel books I have read.


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