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Colin Raven

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Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life
Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life
by Jonathan Bate
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A fitting biography, 2 Dec. 2016
I didn't know a great deal about Ted Hughes before I read this book. Poetry is not, shall we say, my strong point. I was inspired to buy it by a BBC 4 documentary on Hughes and I was not to be disappointed.

As a biography combining both the personal and literary dimensions to Hughes' life, the book is superb. Indeed, its great strength is to make meticulous and sensitive use of the vast Hughes archive to show just how much the personal and poetic collapsed into each other. This, of course, mainly means that Bate is very successful at charting the evolution of Hughes' poetry from external experiences to an increasingly confessional method of writing and thought within the context of the triumphs and tragedies of Ted's life. Another great strength is that none of the parties are judged, despite the fact that the depth of emotional feeling discernable in many of the people involved makes the story a deeply personal one. The reader is presented with an intense and wonderfully written account but ultimately left to make up their own mind. For myself, I felt sympathy and dislike for Hughes in roughly equal measure. I also felt, for the first time (being a novice in poetry), the full force of his writing and thinking.

In sum, a sensitive, enthralling biographical portrait that makes wonderful use of a remarkable body of evidence. The final paragraphs brought tears to my eyes; it is that sort of book.

Nobility and Kingship in Medieval England: The Earls and Edward I, 1272-1307 (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series)
Nobility and Kingship in Medieval England: The Earls and Edward I, 1272-1307 (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series)
Price: £19.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the reign of ..., 2 Aug. 2014
Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the reign of Edward I, or in the nature of medieval kingship in general. Spencer displays a profound grasp of his subject - the community of earls under Edward I - and attempts a major revision of the 'masterful' view of previous historiography of relations between Edward I and his earls. Spencer is, I think, successful in this.

This book has several advantages over other works on similar topics. Firstly, by considering the earls and their importance at the centre and in the localities Spencer is able to convincingly demonstrate his argument. Secondly, this is not a particularly long book. Thus, Spencer is able to consider the group of earls as a whole, rather than getting bogged down in a 500 page biography of one earl in particular. This approach enables Spencer to have very important things to say about a very important topic, while also making the book more readable.

It would, however, be nice if CUP had managed to produce this book at a lower price.

Highly recommended

The Lancastrian Affinity, 1361-99 (Oxford Historical Monographs)
The Lancastrian Affinity, 1361-99 (Oxford Historical Monographs)
by Simon Walker
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 30 May 2014
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Simon Walker managed to produce a remarkable study of a remarkable retinue, that of John of Gaunt. This book has extremely important things to say about the nature of bastard feudalism, and the nature of local society in the areas of Lancastrian influence. More broadly, Walker is about to show very clearly the nature of the two-way dialogue between a lord and those within his influence. Through study of the Lancastrian Affinity, Walker shows that the gentry, and the other 'receivers' of lordship, had a powerful voice and a greater deal of autonomy than had been previously thought. The exercise of lordship was clearly not just 'top-down'.

As the other reviewer has said, this book is not really one for bedtime reading, despite Walker's excellent writing abilities, simply because of the nature of the highly detailed and technical subject material. But, if you want to read a very good local level study of the later middle ages, then ,apart perhaps from Carpenter's Locality and Polity, there is no better place to start

Duncan Edwards: The Greatest (MUFC)
Duncan Edwards: The Greatest (MUFC)
by James Leighton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Big Dunc, 12 Feb. 2013
Excellent book about a fascinating subject.

The author transfers a great amount of detail into this book, but at the same time keeps it readable and highly interesting.

Duncan Edwards was, at the age of 21, one of the greatest footballers England has ever seen. He was destined to become one of the greatest, if not the greatest, players of all-time, but all this was tragically cut short by the Munich Air Disaster in 1958. His story, described brilliantly in this book, is most definately worth reading, and certainly deserves a lot more recognition.

The Wire: Complete HBO Season 1-5 [DVD]
The Wire: Complete HBO Season 1-5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dominic West
Price: £44.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wire, 17 May 2012
The Wire is quite simply the best tv series I have ever seen.

The plot is unpredictable and the settings, actors and production are extremely realistic and believable.

usually i get a bit restless after watching a program for more than a couple of hours, but i could watch the wire all night without moving a muscle. I often end up watching 5-6 hours at a time, and I only stop because I have to go to bed

A must see.

Rugby World Cup 2011 (PS3)
Rugby World Cup 2011 (PS3)
Offered by * The Game Monkey *
Price: £6.97

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars RUBBISH, 26 Aug. 2011
this is simply not good enough

lazy on almost every level, its almost a carbon copy of 08 but without having the saving grace of featuring the best two teams in the world, australia and new zealand!

terrible graphics and gameplay inherited from 08, which was bad enough for a 2007 ps2 game but for this day and age what is essentially a re-release should probably be done under the trade descriptions act.

im returning my copy

cant believe ea etc expect to be able to fob me off with this rubbish!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 26, 2011 4:08 PM BST

Rugby 08 (PS2)
Rugby 08 (PS2)
Offered by My Bay Hospice
Price: £39.90

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So many mistakes...., 28 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Rugby 08 (PS2) (Video Game)
Rugby 08 just has too many mistakes when compared to other games to be considered good. The gameplay on Madden 08 is so much better it would be logical to think there was a 6 year gap between the games coming out!!!! The gameplay is so unrealistic it becomes infuriating. Obviously rugby games have less of a global market than games like Madden or NBA but the mistakes are SO lazy and careless its unforgivablee. There are too many examples to include in a review but some of the most annoying ones are the inaccuracy in player ratings and positions, eg Lewis Moody 1st position as flanker, Juan Martin Hernandez has a player rating of 60 something despite being arguably the best player in the world at the time, scrums are pointless as having a strong or weak scrummager makes no difference, tackling is unrealistic with scrum halves dump tackling props every other play, turn overs at rucks occur randomely regardless of how many players you have at the breakdown. I could genuinly go on all day.

However, despite the grevious faults its still worth buying because unfortunately its the only rugby game out there. Once (if) all the stupid inadaquencies are accepted then is a very fun game.

So buy!!!!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 28, 2010 3:24 PM BST

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